Solar Power Just Keeps Getting Cheaper

Posted on August 22, 2013 | Back to blog

Home Tech

Why solar power?

Solar power has been around for a long time. But it’s only become economically viable in the past couple of years, especially for residential installations. Solar panels are getting cheaper and cheaper, and the ROI on residential installation just keeps getting better and better.

Early adopters

In the early days, many people who bought solar panels didn’t install them simply to save money. At the time solar panels were truly cutting edge technology, and tech-savvy, environmentally conscious people wanted to be the first on their block or in their neighborhood to have them. It was more about saving energy and natural resources than it was about saving money – at least at first.

Even in the early days, solar power was vital for producing electricity “off the grid.” If you wanted to live in a place without access to the electrical grid, solar power was pretty much your only option. In the case of off-the-grid living, ROI didn’t matter. The whole point was that you were living completely off of the grid, and solar panels lasted long enough to make it worth your while.

Why not solar power?

People have a lot of misconceptions about solar power. The first is that it takes more energy to produce the solar panel than users can ever hope to generate, making the production of solar panels more damaging than burning coal to produce electricity.

Time to call shenanigans that. It’s simply not true. Solar panels take between 1.5 and 3.5 years to produce the same energy it takes to produce them – assuming your area has the enough sunshine to pull it off.

Panels only “work” in places with sunshine

You’ll find solar panels in places where they aren’t really appropriate, like Seattle, WA. Seattle only gets 58 days of sunshine a year! With only ~60 days of sun a year, it’ll take an awful long time for that shiny new solar panel to pay for itself, let alone start generating any kind of “profit” for its owner.

It’s vital to make sure your neighborhood gets enough sunshine every year to justify the expense and hassle of installing solar panels on your property.

Step aside, Florida

According to the National Weather Service the states with the most sunshine are

  1. Arizona
  2. California
  3. Nevada
  4. New Mexico
  5. Texas.

Cost per watt

You can get a good idea of exactly how far the price has dropped on solar panels since they were introduced by clicking here. The technology has never been cheaper, and that’s making it even more competitive with traditionally cheap energy sources like coal. That’s just one article though, and it’s hard to say whether or not it’s telling the truth. According to these charts, solar is still twice as expensive as burning coal to generate electricity.

Maintenance on solar panels

There isn’t really any maintenance. All you have to do is hose them off when they get dirty. If you have a lot of solar panels, there are automated systems you can build or buy to help you save a little time.

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