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9 Common Solar Panel Myths

Updated: Apr 23

solar myths and facts

The solar energy industry is dynamic and quickly advancing. As a result, what might have been accurate just a decade ago could be common misconceptions with your potential clients today. Let’s examine some of these solar myths and explore the actual truth.

Solar Panel Myth 1: Solar Panels Are Too Expensive

Although solar energy was quite expensive just 15 years ago, this is no longer true today. The cost of installing solar panels has fallen dramatically in the last couple of decades, making it affordable to many homeowners. Although it varies by location, most residential solar energy systems have a payback of 5 – 10 years from electricity bill savings. Yet, the design life of a solar power system is around 30 years. This means that solar system owners enjoy many years of “free” electricity.

In locations with higher electricity rates, solar power systems pay for themselves more quickly through savings than in states. Conversely, in areas with lower electricity rates, savings are generally smaller. Hawaii, California, and Massachusetts have some of the highest electricity rates, while Idaho, Washington, and Louisiana have some of the lowest.

There is currently a 30% tax credit in the United States for solar PV systems. A tax credit is a dollar-for-dollar reduction in taxes owed to the federal government. Therefore, a $15,000 solar system could qualify for a tax credit of up to $4,500. Homeowners should speak with a tax specialist to determine if they can take advantage of this incentive. Also, there are rebates available in some areas, but the details vary by location.

If homeowners can finance a solar system, it can be cashflow positive right away, depending on the interest rate and loan term. This means that the cost savings on the electric bill are greater than the loan payments in many instances. Some financing options specifically cater to financing renewable energy systems, and many homeowners can also take advantage of home equity loans.

However, solar systems with batteries are still relatively expensive. So this myth is actually still true for solar plus battery storage.

Solar Myth 2: Solar Panels Don't Generate Much Power In Cold Climates

There’s a seasonality to solar energy production in the United States because we're in a middle latitude and not right on the equator. Due to the tilt of the Earth, winter days are shorter than summer days, and the exact difference varies by latitude.

Typically, solar energy production is higher in July and August than in December and January. However, unless a home is in the North or South Pole or somewhere relatively close, solar energy systems can really crank out a lot of clean energy in the winter months.

Although output is somewhat lower in the winter, solar energy systems still produce significant power. Solar PV panel efficiency is actually higher when they are cooler. This is because PV systems generate electricity from sunlight, not heat. In fact, when panels get too hot, they produce less power because they become less efficient.

Solar arrays also generate more energy when they are at a steeper angle in the winter because the sun is lower in the sky. Most solar photovoltaic (PV) panels are mounted flush on house or garage roofs, so the exact angle depends on the roof's pitch. Thus, homes with steeper roofs will usually generate more electricity in the winter than houses with gently sloped roofs.

Solar Panel Myth 3: Solar Installations Do Not Have Warranties

The majority of solar panels, inverters, and batteries come with equipment warranties, but they vary by the manufacturer. It is important for your clients to understand warranties when selecting solar equipment because they help protect the solar energy investment. Most solar installers also offer a warranty that covers labor. There are two types of solar panel warranties: power performance guarantees and product warranties.

Solar Panel Power Performance Guarantees

Solar panels become less efficient as they age. Power performance guarantees ensure that they produce a certain percentage of their original capacity after a designated period. The exact rate varies by the solar panel manufacturer. Many manufacturers offer a guarantee that panels will produce at least 80% of their original output after 25 years.

Solar Panel Equipment Warranties

Product warranties cover the integrity of the panels themselves and protect against material or workmanship defects. Most major manufacturers offer solar panel equipment warranties for at least 10 – 12 years, but often up to 25 years.

Solar Inverter Warranties

The length of inverter warranties varies a lot depending on the product manufacturer and the type of solar inverter. A string inverter (or a central inverter) is a standalone unit. Residential solar systems typically only have one or two because multiple panels are connected to a single inverter. If a string inverter fails, the entire system could stop producing power. Their warranties usually last 5 – 15 years, but some manufacturers, such as SolarEdge, offer extended warranties for an additional cost.

By contrast, microinverters are mounted on the backside of each solar panel, so systems have multiple units. If one fails, only the associated panel will be affected. Microinverters often have warranties of up to 25 years.

solar panel myths

Labor & Service Warranties

Although solar panel and inverter warranties protect the equipment itself, they don't always include labor. However, many solar panel installation companies offer their own warranties on labor. The length of these warranties varies by the contractor but typically ranges between 3 – 10 years, but some solar panel installers offer longer warranties.

Offering a longer labor and service warranty is a way to set your company apart from the competition. But, it is critical to honor your warranties, so don't offer a long warranty if you don't think you can deliver.

Solar Panel Myth 4: PV Systems Require A Lot Of Maintenance

Although this is mostly untrue, it does vary by the solar system equipment. Solar panels, most racking systems, and inverters are durable components. Solar power systems without lead-acid batteries and moving parts require very little maintenance from homeowners.

Although they boost renewable energy production, tracking devices tend to be less reliable than stationary solar systems. Arrays with no moving parts tend to last longer. Likewise, lead-acid batteries require ongoing maintenance. By contrast, next-generation lithium-ion solar batteries have a much longer lifespan and require no major maintenance. Unfortunately, the upfront cost of lithium-ion batteries is much higher.

Solar Panel Myth 5: Solar Homes Will Have Energy During A Power Outage

Unfortunately, most solar homes do not have power during grid outages unless they have a battery storage system. By design, solar systems automatically shut down production during an outage to protect utility company workers. If the system has batteries, the home will still have power.

Most grid-tied solar systems with batteries have a critical load panel. This allows homeowners to choose which circuits have power during an outage. Often, homeowners prioritize loads that prevent incurring loss first, such as the refrigerator.

Solar Panel Myth 6: PV Systems Will Store Excess Energy On Sunny Days

Solar systems without batteries do not have energy storage capabilities. The good news is that in most areas, utility customers can take advantage of net metering. This means that the utility company will credit an account for excess solar power that they feed the grid.

For example, on sunny days, solar energy systems will often produce surplus renewable energy. First, the solar panels will power the home, and then any excess will go to the utility grid. At night, if the house needs to draw power from the grid, homeowners can use the solar credits to offset the cost of this power.

Solar Panel Myth 7: PV Modules Will Damage The Roof

In many cases, solar panels can actually protect the roof because they can shield shingles against hail and UV damage from the sun. However, it is crucial to select a qualified solar installation company to ensure that they install the solar panels correctly.

Whenever possible, solar shoppers should use a solar contractor that has North American Board of Certified Energy Practitioners-certified installers and licensed electricians. Also, it’s helpful to choose a solar company with a good reputation for workmanship and customer service.

Solar Panel Myth 8: Homeowners Need A Special Insurance Policy To Cover Their System

Thankfully, most homeowners’ insurance policies cover solar systems. This is because it is typically considered a permanent improvement on the home, similar to a porch. However, it is crucial to ensure that the coverage of the policy is high enough to cover the cost of the solar system.

If the coverage limits are too low, it won't sufficiently cover the solar panel installation. Also, it is important to confirm that a solar system is protected in your specific policy by examining the terms of the insurance policy or by speaking with an agent.

Solar Energy Myth 9: Homeowners Will Have No Electricity Bills

Unfortunately, most solar homeowners will still have an electric bill, even if the solar system produces as much power as the home consumes. Going solar, however, can dramatically lower the electric bill.

Utility bills consist of two components: a supply charge and a transmission and distribution charge. This is similar to ordering a pizza by home delivery. The supply charge depends on how many pizzas are in the order. The transmission and distribution charge depends on how much the pizzeria charges for delivery.

For electricity bills, the supply charge varies by how much power the house pulls from the grid, and it is measured in kilowatt-hours. If the solar system produces the amount of energy that the home consumes, it is possible to eliminate the supply charge of an electric bill.

The utility company issues transmission and distribution charges for any property that has active electrical service. It is typically a flat rate charged to every residential customer each month, regardless of how much power is consumed. Thus, homes with active electric service will at least incur the monthly transmission and distribution charge. However, the solar system can eliminate the supply charge, which is often the lion’s share of the bill.

How Installers Can Debunk Solar Energy Myths

Dispelling solar myths through education involves proactive communication and providing accurate information. As a solar professional, focus on:

Informative Content:

  • Create blog posts, videos, solar proposal content, and infographics addressing common myths and providing clear, factual explanations. Customer Education Sessions:

  • Conduct webinars or workshops to interactively address myths, answer questions, and provide in-depth information. Website FAQs:

  • Maintain a comprehensive FAQ section on your company website, addressing and debunking prevalent solar myths. One-on-One Consultations:

  • During consultations, actively listen to concerns and debunk myths using reliable data and case studies. Social Media Engagement:

  • Utilize social platforms to share myth-busting content, engaging with followers and dispelling misconceptions. Partnerships with Local Media:

  • Collaborate with local media outlets to share accurate information through interviews or articles.

By consistently educating customers through multiple channels, you empower them with knowledge, debunk solar energy myths, and build trust, fostering a more informed and confident decision-making process.

It's Critical to Debunk Solar Panel Myths to Boost Sales

Debunking solar panel myths is crucial to closing sales. Misconceptions about cost, efficiency, or technology can deter potential customers. By dispelling these myths, you build trust, instill confidence, and provide accurate information. This positions you as a knowledgeable and reliable expert, fostering a positive perception of solar energy and increasing the likelihood of successful sales conversions.

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