Key Solar Panel Disadvantages Explained

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Jack Ayre

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Solar energy systems are seen by many to be the future of green energy generation, giving people access to a renewable energy source they can rely on and own, moving away from fossil fuels. Solar energy advantages have been highlighted many times by ESE, with the greatest being a reduction in energy bills.

But what about the disadvantages of solar panels? We believe it’s only fair to highlight the potential downsides of solar energy systems, but at the same time, show ways in which the disadvantages of solar power can be mitigated.

Disadvantages

The following are probably some of the biggest solar energy disadvantages:

  • High Initial Costs – This is perhaps the biggest roadblock to those who are thinking of installing solar panels. A solar energy system is a sophisticated piece of engineering with an expensive manufacturing process. On top of that, solar panels and inverters each come in different qualities, meaning it may be worth paying a premium to have a higher efficiency, long-lasting home improvement that offers long-term savings. Finally, there’s the labour involved with installing solar panels. Overall, the costs can be high, especially when taking into account that it will take more than a year to start seeing returns.
    • Schemes – Whilst the initial cost is indeed high, there are ways to reduce it. For one, funding through Government Incentives. Believe it or not, the government wants you to buy Solar Panels and is putting money towards Schemes such as ECO4.
    • Financing – Financing is a way to have your Solar Panels installed immediately but pay over some time. It’s worth taking a look at, but beware that longer periods may result in incurring interest. We offer excellent solar finance options at ESE.
    • Guarantee – Once you buy with ESE, you have a warranty for both Solar Panels and Solar Battery Storage for 26 and 17 years respectively.

 

  • Unexpected Costs – Outside of inferior companies charging hidden fees, there are some considerations to make when thinking of getting a solar system. For one, what is the health of your roof? The weight and potential wind load of solar systems can expose weaknesses in an old or damaged roof. Furthermore, the technology of solar energy systems is advancing.
    • Professional Quote – Groups like ESE take all factors into consideration when we visit the site. This includes checking the health of your roof and ensuring that all installations will perform efficiently.

 

Performance Fluctuations

The performance of a solar energy system is weather-dependent. When sunlight hits solar panels, you generate electricity, but there can be interference. The following are the disadvantages of solar energy in the realm of performance.

  • Shading – Weather elements, such as clouds, can block light from reaching your solar panels. That being said, solar panel technology has come a long way, and good-quality solar power systems have increased efficiency in poorer weather conditions. Shading, however, is something that will be a persistent problem. You will still produce electricity, but the sustained shade of something such as a chimney or a tree will reduce efficiency.
    • Battery – To achieve full energy independence, it’s important to consider investing in a battery storage system. This is because batteries can store the energy your solar panels generate when the going is good for use later. 

 

  • Solar Energy Storage – Having a renewable energy source is great, but you lose a lot of your advantages if you fail to store it. Solar power battery storage is the solution, but this adds to the bill.
    • SEG – SEG is a huge benefit to a solar power system. It allows the user to sell all energy generated that is stored back to the national grid. Not only will you have energy independence, but you’ll have a side income too.

 

  • Rooftop Limitations – The UK is in the northern hemisphere. This means that if there was one direction your solar panels should be facing, it should be southwards, for the most optimal energy production results. Nonetheless, some houses face east/west rather than north/south. Not only that, but some roofs just simply don’t have the space.
    • Optimisation – Tilt mounts can be used to angle solar panels in different directions from what the roof faces.
    • Microinverters/Power Optimisers – These technologies help optimise the solar energy system. These can mitigate issues such as shading.
    • Garden Installation – It’s possible to have your solar panels installed in your garden rather than your roof. Even if your garden doesn’t have the most space either, you can use a special mounting option called a pole-mount.

 

Solar Panel System Efficiency

There are disadvantages of solar energy system efficiency that are valuable to be aware of.

  • Solar Cells – Solar panels as a renewable energy source gather DC power through solar cells. Different solar cells have different levels of efficiency. For reference, monocrystalline is the most efficient as well as the most expensive. Polycrystalline is a middle ground, whilst thin film is a flexible and low-cost choice for non-conforming roofs and commercial spaces.
    • Investment Mindset – Remember, when it comes to Solar Panels, it’s best to consider it as an investment. We would recommend always choosing the option that gives you the best return over time as lowering electricity bills is the goal.

 

  • Maximum efficiency limitations – Even the most advanced solar cells have a theoretical limit. It’s currently around 25-30% efficiency, without any obstructions such as shading. This can get in the way of projected energy cutting.
    • Oversizing – One way to compensate for efficiency limitations is to oversize by a small amount.

 

Solar Energy Advantages and Disadvantages

The following is a quick rundown of advantages, so you can compare directly to the disadvantages of Solar side by side.

Solar Energy Pros

  • Reduced Electricity Bills – Solar panels provide freedom from the national grid by allowing you to create your energy. This means that you can create all of the energy you use, effectively killing your electricity bill.
  • Lower Carbon Footprint – A solar system produces power through green, clean energy. This kills reliance on fossil fuels almost entirely, which is not only finite but also has a negative environmental impact.
  • Potential for Energy Independence – To be independent from the national grid means not being subject to power outages, or worse, the energy price hike that is continuing to this day.

 

Disadvantages Of Solar Panels – FAQs

Are solar energy systems future-proof?

There are several reasons why Solar Energy is worth it, and always will be:

  • Renewable energy – Sunlight is an unlimited resource. Since there’s no indication that the sun is going anywhere anytime soon, Solar Power is likely to be a thing well into the future.
  • Governmental Support – Regardless of your opinion on the government, they have a lot of resources, and you can usually trust that they’re serious about something when they put money behind it.
  • Technological Enhancements – The technology behind Solar Panels is getting more sophisticated. The majority of solar panels are modular, allowing you to add add-ons and such as needed. 
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Born in North West England, Jack kicked off his career in the insurance arena, dealing with claims for three years. Always up for a challenge, Jack leapt out of his comfort zone and embarked upon 5 years of excitement with the military.

Working for the Ministry of Defence, Jack specialised in counter-terrorism which took him to places such as Dubai, Oman, Iraq, Norway and Bahrain. During this period he worked with various Governments implementing strategic operations to prevent terrorism.

After travelling around various countries Jack increasingly came across various forms of solar from large solar farms to domestic solar panels. From here Jack took a keen interest in all things solar and started reading about the technological capabilities with a view to entering the industry after his career in the Ministry of Defence.

Once home after 5 fruitful years, Jack had 3 months leave in which he immersed himself in a solar crash course and got applying for jobs within the solar sector. He came across ESE Solar, a long-established forward-thinking company whose head office was only a stone’s throw away from him. He picked up the phone to see if there were any vacancies and within a week had a successful interview and obtained a full-time job, starting in the technical team.

Within the first few months, Jack onboarded in various online courses during work and social hours to speed up his knowledge of all things solar. Due to his strong work ethic and thirst for knowledge Jack was promoted to Head of Technical at ESE Solar. He currently leads the team and oversees the product development of new technologies within the company alongside assisting where necessary on their maintenance department.

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