Solar Energy Mythbusting

Myths come from incomplete knowledge. They seem to make sense when the facts aren’t readily available. There used to be a lot of skepticism about solar energy, whether it could be affordable to make solar panels to produce electricity, but now we know the answer is Yes. Still, the skepticism has continued and produced many myths about solar energy. Let’s bust four of the most common myths about solar energy.

Myth 1: Solar panels do not work in cold snowy weather or when it is cloudy.

What solar panels do is convert sunlight into electricity. It does not matter if it’s warm or cold outside. In fact, solar panel systems work more efficiently in cooler temperatures. Solar panels are used extensively in the United Kingdom and Germany where they do indeed have cold, snowy winters. Clouds can block some of the sunlight, but solar panels continue converting the available sunlight into electricity.

Myth 2: Solar panels are ugly and will bring down the value of my house.

Actually many people think solar panels are sexy! They’re not big and clunky like they were 20 years ago. Today’s solar panels are much thinner, sleekly designed and most people see them as an enhancement, not a detraction. A study by the US Department of Energy’s Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory found that home resale values increase an average of $4 for each additional solar watt installed. A typical 5kW system could increase your home’s value by as much as $20,000. Not only will the value of your house go up, but the Department of Energy also found that houses with solar panels sell 50% faster.

Myth 3: Solar energy is too expensive because you have to buy batteries.

If you wanted to go off the grid and rely solely on solar energy, you would need to buy batteries to store electricity and this can be very expensive. That’s true, but most people who install solar panels stay connected to the grid. On peak days your solar panels will produce more electricity than you can use in your home and if you’re connected to the grid, you’ll be selling that electricity to your utility. Then during the night or on days when your solar panels aren’t producing as much, you’ll draw electricity from the grid. The result is a stable electrical supply, mostly from your panels, and a much lower monthly electricity bill.

Myth 4: Now that we have clean coal, we don’t need to have people investing in solar energy.

Coal is the dirtiest fossil fuel we burn to make electricity. “Clean coal” is a relative term—it should be called “cleaner” coal to avoid giving the impression that burning coal is no longer a problem. So-called clean coal technologies are being developed (that’s right, they’re still being developed!) to lessen the environmental impacts of burning coal. It still increases the levels of mercury, smog and carbon pollution. Solar power, on the other, is clean energy—pure sunlight is being converted into electricity.