Debunking 10 common myths about home solar energy

November 5, 2023

Don’t let these common myths steal your sunshine, going solar can be a great addition to your home or business

Solar panel systems are becoming increasingly popular for homeowners across the county. Many homeowners and businesses are recognizing the benefits of having rooftop solar panels. You can generate clean energy on your roof, lowering your utility bills and carbon footprint.

Plus government incentives and industry innovation have made solar panels more accessible than ever to American homeowners. Clean energy consumers have options and Enact is here to help homes and businesses get custom solar designs.

However, there are many myths surrounding solar systems that keep consumers from making informed decisions. Solar panels have been around since the 1970s and have changed a lot. Some myths keep homeowners from making serious decisions about their energy options.

10 debunked myths about solar panels

MYTH: Going solar is expensive

You don’t need to be rich to see the benefits of solar. The cost of installing solar panels has dropped by over 40% in the last decade. A residential system can cost anywhere from $10,000 – $25,000 before government tax credits. That price used to be around $40,000 in 2010.

While you can pay for solar upfront, there are many financing options available. Solar can still be worth the investment, if the loan payments are cheaper than your current electricity bill.

Additionally, solar panels can pay for themselves overtime by reducing your monthly utility bills. A good solar system may be an investment, but like an investment — solar can have a return on investment.

Government incentives help alleviate the financial cost of going solar through the federal Investment Tax Credit program. Some states and local governments offer additional incentives, such as tax credits and rebates. There are even low-income programs available for clean energy.

MYTH: Solar panels don’t last long and are bad for the environment

A good solar system will sustainably power your home for decades, saving you money every month. Solar panels have warranties that cover damages for 15-25 years, depending on the brand. At the end of your warranty period, your solar system can still work for a while.

Solar panels are made to be durable and are protected with a thick layer of tempered glass. This shields panels from rain, snow, hail or wind damage. Innovation has improved solar technology so even as efficiency decreases over time, your home will still see clean energy.

In recent years, there’s been a concern regarding the environmental sustainability of producing clean energy equipment. We know solar panels do not produce air pollution when operating and have a positive impact on the environment.

Despite the production of solar technologies being reliant on fossil fuels, the energy it requires to produce solar technology is less than the energy solar panels produce over their lifetime. There are also solar panel recycling options for homeowners.

MYTH: Solar energy is not efficient

Residential solar panel systems are increasingly efficient with continued innovation in technology improving their performance. Solar conversion efficiency is the percentage of sunlight that is converted to electricity. High-efficiency solar panels can produce more electricity per square foot, making them a popular choice for residential installations.

Modern solar panels can convert sunlight into electricity with an efficiency ranging from 17% to 20%, depending on the type and quality of the panels. This number might seem low, but remember solar panels can only process certain wavelengths of light, with the remainder being reflected off the panel.

Factors such as weather conditions, panel orientation and maintenance can influence overall efficiency. But the continuous development of technology has significantly increased the efficiency and reliability of residential systems. These systems have become a cost-effective and environmentally friendly solution for many homeowners seeking to reduce energy costs and decrease their carbon footprint.

MYTH: Solar panels can power your home in an outage

Solar panel systems do bring energy independence from the power grid, to an extent. A solar system can be a great way to provide low-cost energy for decades, with minimal reliance on the power grid. This does not mean your home will be powered during an outage (unless you have a battery).

When the power goes out, due to extreme weather or accidents, your system inverter will switch off. This is to protect utility technicians who need to act quickly and operate on electrical lines. To safely power your home during an outage, you will need to add a storage battery to your system.

MYTH: Solar installation can damage your roof

The installation of solar panels and mounting equipment will not damage your roof if properly installed by a professional. Like all home improvement projects, there is a slight risk of damage which is why it’s best to trust an experienced solar installer.

Most solar installations require drilling through your roof for mounting equipment to attach to your rafters. When properly done with gaskets or sealants, solar installations do not cause leaks or roof damage.

Before the installation, all roofs must be inspected for age, damage and integrity. Installers care about your roof and want to provide a high-quality system for decades. Solar panels can last for 25-30 years or more, meaning the quality of your roof is important. Sometimes after inspection, homeowners may need repairs or a new roof.

Solar panels can even be somewhat protective over your roof, shielding it from weather. Solar panels cover your roof which can protect it against damage from direct sunlight, rain or hail.

MYTH: Solar panels can’t be recycled

Yes, solar panels can be recycled after use and the process has become increasingly streamlined as the demand for sustainable energy solutions grows. The recycling of solar panels involves separating the various components, such as glass, aluminum and silicon-based photovoltaic cells, to extract valuable materials for reuse. The recycled materials can then be used to manufacture new solar panels or other products, reducing the need for raw materials and minimizing environmental impact.

Several companies now specialize in the recycling of solar panels, providing an essential service for managing the growing volume of retired or damaged panels. Governments and organizations have also begun implementing regulations and initiatives to encourage the recycling of solar panels, ensuring that these renewable energy devices remain environmentally sustainable.

MYTH: Solar can’t work in cloudy, rainy or cold weather

Solar panels can generate electricity in cloudy, rainy or cold weather — although their efficiency is reduced compared to sunny conditions. Cloudy weather decreases sunlight, leading to lower power output. Rain can temporarily affect performance but often helps clean the panels, improving efficiency. In cold weather, solar panels perform slightly better due to improved electrical conductivity.

To make the most of solar panels in such conditions, homeowners can install extra panels, use battery storage for surplus energy and ensure regular panel maintenance. Optimizing the panel angle for seasonal changes is also beneficial along with selecting high-efficiency panels for enhanced performance under limited sunlight.

Solar panels may not produce their maximum output during adverse weather but remain an eco-friendly energy source throughout the year. Their capacity to generate electricity makes them a practical and sustainable choice for homeowners seeking to reduce energy costs.

MYTH: Solar doesn’t work in northern climates

Residential solar can absolutely work in northern climates, although their efficiency may vary with seasonal changes. The key factors to consider include the region’s sunlight exposure and the specific design and orientation of your solar panel system.

Northern climates that experience shorter days and less intense sunlight during the winter can see reduced energy production during this time. However, solar panels are designed to capture daylight even in low-light conditions. During the longer, sunnier days of summer — these systems can produce surplus energy, which can be stored or fed back into the grid.

Residential solar is a viable and eco-friendly option in the northern U.S. They can help reduce energy costs and environmental impact, offering a sustainable and economical solution for homeowners in these areas.

MYTH: The government will give you free solar panels

There are significant government incentives for solar panels from the federal government and many state governments — but you will still need to pay for the cost of your solar panel system. If you see online advertisements advocating “free” solar panels due to government programs, chances are the advertisement is either a scam or misleading.

The most significant solar incentive, offered to all American homeowners, is the solar Federal Investment Tax Credit. The solar ITC equals 30% of the costs of a new, qualified clean energy system installed between 2022-2032. Meaning, 30% of the cost of your panels, inverters, storage battery and installation costs can be reduced from your overall taxes.

MYTH: Going solar means going off the grid

Going “off the grid” doesn’t mean building a cabin in the woods, it just means your home isn’t connected to the electrical grid. While a solar and storage system can power your home’s energy needs, not every system can comfortably power an entire home. Most solar homes are still connected to the grid.

Many households choose to go solar to reduce their utility bills by supplementing grid power with solar power. You don’t need to go off-grid to see solar savings. For example, if you bought an electric vehicle and want to mitigate the increased energy usage, a solar system can keep your utility costs down.

Off-grid systems are typically for mobile homes or structures with minimal energy needs. Additionally, off-grid systems are limited by the battery storage capacity available — which can be expensive.

How Enact can help you get solar and storage

Enact is in the business of solar design and service. Our team of experienced home energy advisors has helped thousands of homeowners get custom solar systems.

Whether you want to save money or live a more sustainable life, Enact can help you every step of the way. After our home energy advisors create the perfect solar system for your home, we coordinate the entire process with a top local solar installer in your area.

Through the Enact platform, you can see every step of the installation and permitting schedule. Afterward, the Enact Home solar monitoring platform can help you get the most out of your investment and help you understand its performance.

Our customers have access to hundreds of solar equipment and financing options, unlike a traditional installer. You can choose from a wide array of solar panel, inverter and storage battery brands.

If you’re interested in getting a free custom quote or have any questions, schedule a free consultation with our energy experts. We’d love to help you start your solar journey to savings and sustainability.

How can a solar panel system benefit your home

Benefit Number 1: Saving Money

The first key advantage of going solar is saving money on utility bills every month. Residential solar systems can have warranties for up to 25 years. Meaning you can have utility savings build up every month for decades with the right system.

Benefit Number 2: Sustainability

Solar panels harness energy from abundant sunlight into clean electricity. Solar energy is clean because it produces no carbon dioxide emissions. Carbon emissions, which can come from burning fossil fuels, can pollute our atmosphere and contribute to climate change. A home solar energy system can power your home and reduce your carbon footprint.

Benefit Number 3: Energy Independence

Solar panels do make you less reliant on the electrical grid. Using less energy from the grid makes you less vulnerable to rising electricity prices. By owning a home solar panel system, you gain a degree of energy independence and provide stability in the face of fluctuating utility rates.

Benefit Number 4: Energy Security

Home solar power systems can be accompanied by battery storage options. While solar panels alone can’t power your home in an outage (unless you’re off the grid), storage batteries can help keep the lights on. Battery storage provides homeowners with energy security during power outages, ensuring critical appliances and systems continue to function.

Written by David Bartle, content marketing associate.