18 Solar Panel Myths Busted!

Solar panels in a field with bright sun in the sky

It’s official! Solar energy has become mainstream, and every day, more and more folks in the US invest in this clean, renewable energy source.

Yet, despite its growing popularity and proven effectiveness, solar energy remains surrounded by myths and misconceptions.

Unfortunately, in this digital age, there’s no shortage of misleading information out there that can deter those who are on the fence about whether or not to go solar.

We’re here to put the record straight, debunk the nonsense, and bust those common solar panel myths once and for all.

1. Solar Panels Are Too Expensive

$100 bills

This myth may have been true around a decade or so ago when the equipment was more expensive and government solar incentives were non-existent.

Fast-forward to 2024, the landscape has dramatically shifted, as there has never been a more affordable time to go solar. 

Compared to a decade ago, solar equipment has dropped in price by around 50%. And you have all the government incentives to take into consideration, which can give you a much faster return on your investment. 

For example, you can get:

  • A 30% federal tax credit
  • An up to 96% reduction in your energy bills
  • Farms and agricultural businesses can apply for an up to 50% grant toward the cost of a solar system
  • Bonus tax credits are available depending on which state you live in
  • Your state may have other financial incentives for going solar

So while there is still a decently sized investment required upfront, you can get your money back within a year or two of flipping the switch.

2. Solar Panels Don’t Work When It’s Too Cold or Too Hot

Snow covered field with trees and building

Solar panels can work perfectly well in hot and cold temperatures. However, they begin to decrease slightly in efficiency when the weather warms up too much.

The ideal operating temperature for solar panels is 77°F. When it gets hotter than this, their efficiency levels drop slightly, but they are more than capable of withstanding heat in excess of 149°F.

Sun-drenched California is notorious for its continuous heatwaves, yet it has around two million solar solar systems in operation!

As for the cold?

Solar panels love the cold because, unlike the heat, it helps increase their efficiency levels. You can find solar panels in Alaska, Greenland, and even Antarctica!

3. Solar Panels Stop Working When It’s Cloudy

Your solar panels do just fine, even when it’s cold, gray, and miserable outside. 

When it’s bright and sunny, your solar panels will work hard at their optimal level. When the clouds are out, your solar panels will still work hard, just slightly less so than if it were sunny.

This is because solar panels do a great job of capturing indirect and diffused light as well as direct sunlight.

Bifacial solar panels are a great example of this. They have solar cells installed on the panel’s front and rear. The front of the panel captures the direct sunlight, while the rear captures the indirect light that reflects off the ground.

In a similar fashion, a solar panel will be busy capturing all that indirect light when the weather is bad.

4. The Government Is Giving Away Free Solar Panels

There is an abundance of “free solar panel” ads floating around on the internet. You may have seen them crop up on websites or social media.

The ads differ slightly but the general claim is that the government will give you free solar panels in a bid to move the USA into a clean energy future and free you from sky-high energy bills.

Unfortunately, no one – not even the government – is giving away solar panels for free.

While some of these ads are complete and utter scams, most are either power purchase agreements or solar leases.

The former does install solar panels for “free” but you are then locked into a lengthy agreement where you have to pay for the electricity you generate.

The latter also provides solar panels at no cost but the catch is that you don’t own them. Instead, you pay a monthly fee to lease them.

Essentially, if an ad for solar energy seems too good to be true, then steer well clear.

5. Going Solar Means $0 Energy Bills

Sorry to break it to you, but all grid-tied solar PV systems will still incur an energy bill of some sort.

By consuming the energy your solar panels create and by selling the excess solar-produced energy to the grid in exchange for energy credits, you can significantly reduce your energy bills. In some instances, this can be as much as a 96% reduction.

However, utility companies apply additional charges that cannot be offset by energy credits. For example, standing charges, network usage costs, demand charges, and taxes must be paid whether or not you have a solar system installed.

The only way to truly get your energy bill down to $0 is by going off-grid entirely.

6. Solar Panels Don’t Last Long

Solar panels last for ages! 

In fact, the oldest known solar panel still in operation is the TISO-10 (TIcino SOlare) PV system. It was grid-connected in 1982 (over 40 years ago), and even though it has never been refurbished, it’s still working today!

Their longevity is perhaps one of their greatest features because it will be a couple of decades at the very least before you have to start thinking about replacing them.

Although it varies between manufacturers, a typical warranty for a solar panel is a 10-year limited product warranty for labor and materials and a 25-year limited power warranty. 

This guarantees that your solar panels will maintain a certain level of performance over the warranty period. Usually, it states that the panels will perform at 80% of their initial efficiency by year 25.

7. The Solar Panel Installation Process Is Complicated

Workmen installing solar panels

When you work with a reliable solar developer (like 8760 Solar), the process is actually not complicated. 

Sure, it may take several months to complete and there are a number of steps to the process, but your solar developer will take care of everything from start to finish.

You may be surprised to hear that the actual installation of the solar equipment takes very little time at all. Residential systems can be installed in a matter of hours, while commercial and business systems take a few days.

8. Solar Panels Aren’t Very Efficient

You’ve likely heard that solar panels are only 15% – 22% efficient. That does sound like a low number, but the truth is that solar panels don’t need to reach higher levels of efficiency to generate a sufficient amount of power.

If you have a properly sized system for your electricity consumption requirements (something your solar developer can determine), then they are more than capable of producing enough electricity and then some.

The sun is incredibly powerful – 430 quintillion Joules worth of the sun’s energy hits the surface of our planet every single hour. To put that into perspective, it’s enough energy to supply the entire planet’s energy needs for an entire year!

Your solar panels will, of course, absorb a minute fraction of that power, but it’s still enough to keep everything running.

9. I Should Wait to Get Solar Because It Will Be Cheaper in the Future

Close up of credit cards

Solar technology continues to evolve at a rapid pace. The most popular solar panel type can now reach an efficiency rate of up to 22%, which is more than sufficient for most people’s needs.

Sure, you can wait for a “better” technology, such as building-integrated photovoltaics, but it won’t necessarily be cheaper.

Besides, what makes solar so cheap right now is the plethora of incentives and tax credits. Governments come and go, so you never know when these solar-friendly policies might end.

10. Solar Panels Require More Energy to Manufacture Than They Can Produce

This is, again, not true.

According to a study published in 2013, solar panels have a “payback period” of between one to four years before they have paid off their energy debt. 

Bear in mind that this study is over ten years old, so with the increased efficiencies seen in modern solar panels, this payback period is likely to be even shorter now.

11. Solar Panel Production Is Bad for the Environment

Solar panels contain precious metals and silicon that must be extracted from the earth. The mining process creates greenhouse gasses as does the panel manufacturing process.

However, it’s virtually impossible to manufacture anything without having some kind of impact on the environment. 

Solar panel manufacturing will create emissions equivalent to 50g of CO2 for every kWh of electricity the panel produces. But, after three years of use, they become carbon neutral. This amounts to around 20 times less than the carbon output of coal power.

It’s important to remember that once the solar panel has been created and installed, it stops creating any further emissions. In contrast, fossil fuels continue to produce staggering amounts of emissions long after they have been extracted from the ground.

12. Broken and Old Solar Panels End Up in Landfill

Landfill with a digger

Solar panels contain a lot of reusable materials. Around 95% of it can be recycled, including its glass panels, aluminum frames, silicon cells, and other metals.

There are a lot of initiatives underway in the US that aim to increase solar panel recycling efforts. According to the International Renewable Energy Agency, there will be enough recycled solar panel components to create around 60 million new panels.

Furthermore, since solar panels last such a long time, we have a few years to get these initiatives up and running properly before defunct solar panels start becoming a real concern.

13. Going Solar Means Going Off-Grid

Going solar doesn’t mean you have to go off-grid. Most US-based residential solar systems will be on-grid as will commercial solar installations.

This is because solar users can engage in something called “net metering.” This is where the excess solar-generated energy is sold to the grid in exchange for energy credits, which can be used when the solar panels aren’t generating power.

To achieve this, the solar PV system must be connected to the grid, otherwise, it’s not possible to send your excess power anywhere.

Off-grid solar tends to be more popular for remote and isolated areas, such as when it’s required to power woodland cabins or irrigation systems.

14. I Can Have As Many Solar Panels As I Want

Technically, nothing is stopping you from installing as many solar panels as you want, but there’s no point in doing so.

If you install more panels than you actually need, you will be wasting resources since you will never be able to use all of the electricity they produce. Besides, the larger the solar system, the more money it costs, so you will be wasting your hard-earned cash too.

Furthermore, utility providers can place a limit on grid-tied systems for how much electricity can be generated. This limit differs by utility company and whether or not it is a residential or commercial solar system. 

However, the upshot is that there’s no point getting extra solar panels that will exceed your limit.

When you work with a solar developer, they will analyze your property and determine the best size for your needs. They will already know about any utility-mandated limits and will ensure those are respected if your system is to be on-grid.

15. Solar Energy Increases Energy Bill Costs for Non-solar Owners

Finance graph on a mobile phone screen

This is a popular myth peddled by utility providers. They claim that solar owners push extra costs onto non-solar owners because they are no longer paying their fair share toward maintaining the grid infrastructure and services.

The truth is that energy bills are rising regardless of the number of solar panels there are in existence. And utility providers do make solar owners pay their fair share by applying additional fees on their energy bills (fees that can’t be offset by solar energy).

Ultimately, utility companies are more concerned about how the increase in solar energy affects their bottom line. Net metering policies threaten their profits, and so they are using this as an excuse to do away with it.

16. Solar Panels Are Expensive to Maintain

Your solar PV system was expensive, which means it must be expensive to maintain, right?

The good news is that your solar system is not a John Deere tractor. And unlike those iconic green machines, your solar panels cost very little to maintain.

Most of the maintenance can be carried out by yourself (don’t worry, this is also minimal) and a routine two-year inspection will only set you back a few hundred bucks.

Solar panels are incredibly resilient – they can withstand winds of up to 140 miles per hour, for example – so it’s highly unlikely they will break. Even if one sustains damage, you will only have to replace that individual part, not the entire solar system.

17. I Can’t Use Solar Energy When It’s Dark

Illuminated village at night

Okay, so this one is kind of true. Solar panels definitely don’t produce electricity when it’s dark outside. But that doesn’t mean you can’t use solar-produced energy during the night.

By incorporating solar storage into your PV system, you can store the excess energy your solar panels create during the day and save it for use when the sun goes down. 

Solar batteries also have the added advantage of providing you with backup power, which can help you reduce your peak load times. If you have a demand charge added to your energy bill, doing this will greatly reduce it.

18. Solar Panels Take Up Too Much Space

Roof-mounted solar panels don’t obstruct or get in the way, but what about ground-mounted solar panels? Farms and agricultural businesses in particular are generally concerned about how much space a solar PV system will take up and don’t want to sacrifice valuable farmland in favor of solar panels.

However, agrivoltaics provides a lucrative solution to this problem. By combining farming and solar panels on the same space of land, you can gain a double benefit from the same piece of land.

Practiced widely and successfully in Europe, agrivoltaics can provide a shaded area for sheep to graze, a wildflower haven for honeybees, or the perfect environment in which shade-tolerant crops can thrive.

Convinced to Go Solar? Talk With 8760 Solar

Rows of solar panels

Now that we’ve busted all those myths, hopefully, you feel more reassured about making the switch to solar energy.

At 8760 Solar, our job is to keep you accurately informed during each and every part of the process. It all starts with an analysis of your farm or agricultural business, and then we can give you a full quote.

We’ll guide you every step of the way, from helping you take advantage of all those incentives and tax credits we mentioned earlier to a smooth and quick installation.

We hope you’re feeling just as enthused about the benefits of solar energy as we are. If that’s the case, then please do get in touch so we can have a chat!

Text “READY” to 719 470-0254 or contact us via email: sales@8760solar.com.

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