The Pros And Cons Of Solar Power

It is said that one hours worth of energy from the sun could provide the entire energy needs of the world for one year.


As South Africans, we are all familiar with the severe energy problems facing our national energy supply. Many homeowners are now looking at solar energy as a way to mitigate power outages, lower electricity costs and reduce their dependence on the grid.

Here are a few pros and cons of solar power to help you decide if adding solar panels to your home is for you:

1. Marginal cost of generation is zero

Once the capital cost of installation is paid off, the energy is free. Moreover, in most cases the return on investment for a solar power installation is significantly better than the returns you would get from investing the same money in other ways. Most homeowners now invest in solar power for the financial aspects of installing solar, rather than for the environmental benefits.

2. Lower electricity bills
A solar powered system reduces electricity costs by reducing your usage of electricity from the grid. Exactly how much you save depends on the size of your solar installation and your power usage.

3. Low maintenance costs
Maintenance entails simply keeping surfaces clean and dust free. Consequently, costs of maintenance for solar power installations are relatively low. Specialists provide cleaning services for a minimal fee or you can go the DIY route and do it yourself. The inverter is one part that may need replacement, typically at around 10 year intervals.

4. Solar power is clean, silent and fully renewable
Possibly the most important benefit of solar energy: it is a truly renewable energy source. Accessible and available worldwide, we can look forward to an inexhaustible supply of solar energy for the foreseeable future, at least another 5 Billion years according to scientists.


5. Increase in home value
Home buyers are prepared to pay a premium for a lifetime of energy savings. Real estate data indicates that solar power installations can add R50k to R100k to the selling price of a home where solar power is installed. Sellers can expect a good return on investment.

1. Cost

The installation of a solar power system is fairly costly. This includes paying for solar panels, an inverter, storage batteries, wiring and the actual installation. However, as new advances in solar technology have come to market in recent years, prices have come down steadily and the trend is expected to continue.

2. Weather dependant
Solar power is dependent on sunshine and no sunshine equals no power. Energy cannot be collected at night and there are seasonal differences in the amount of solar energy available. In cloudy conditions the amount of energy that can be harvested is substantially lower.

3. High cost of energy storage
Expensive batteries are used to store power that is not used right away, for use at night time when solar power is not available. In the daytime, solar power is used and a combination of battery and grid-power is used at night. Ongoing advances in battery storage are a welcome sign that storage costs will drop over time.

Solar energy is abundant, clean and renewable, but the manufacture and delivery of the technology leaves its own carbon footprint. Solar power technology is constantly improving and, while it’s not perfect yet, you can look forward to getting a good return on your investment over the long term.

Frans Theunissen of Fisherhaven Properties knows how to advise sellers on getting properties ready for the market. Frans launched his estate agency more than 30 years ago and has lived and worked in the area ever since. He has more than 30 years of experience, helping sellers to make a professional assessment of what can cost effectively be done to get a property ready for the market.

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