Using a solar power system to get energy is a great solution for the increasing energy crisis. As it is a clean, renewable, and free energy source, using solar energy saves your money and the environment. Also, this is the best energy source for the people who love to live off-grid or for the people who have to live off-grid for many reasons. You can use this solar energy for simply lighting a bulb to power up your whole house. Even the large factories use solar energy to power up their factories, which is indeed a great solution for environmental pollution.
So as there are many advantages of using solar energy did you ever think whether there are any disadvantages of using the solar power system? Yes, there are some disadvantages to using solar energy. But all the disadvantages depend on the nature of the area you are living in, your preference, the way you hope to use solar energy, and your need for an alternate/backup energy source.
So let’s go through the disadvantages of using solar energy.
#1. Initial cost
A solar power system has several major components;
- PV solar panels
- Charge collector
All these components are fairly expensive. Also, you have to pay a hefty amount of cash for installation too. So the initial cost for a solar power system is higher than the initial cost you have to pay for a grid connection. Even though there are less expensive components available in the market most of them are low-quality material. So it is better if you get the service from an authorized solar company.
If you are installing the system on your roof you have to pay extra for repairing it if it is not strong enough to hold the solar panel.
When installing a solar power system you need a separate space for it. If you are fixing the solar panel for your home you can easily fix the panels on your roof. Still, you need a well-insulated space with proper temperature to store your battery and the inverter. If your house is small you this can be a problem for you.
If you are fixing a solar power system for a large building like a factory you need a separate space to fix the panels because you should have a large number of panels to produce enough energy to power up the whole building. Your roof might not be enough to fix all these panels. This can be a big disadvantage if you do not have much space on your land.
#3. Low efficiency
Even in optimal conditions, solar panels have a 22% energy conversion rate only. This is not enough for some users. So this is highly dependable on the user’s energy usage rate. If your energy usage rate is high solar power systems might not be a suitable energy source for you.
Some even state that when compared to the initial cost the efficiency is not enough. But it is highly dependent on you.
If you use a large amount of energy you can install a hybrid system. So you can use both solar and grid power. This will decrease a significant amount of your monthly electricity bill. Something is better than nothing, right?
#4. Energy storage
If you are using an off-grid system you must use a battery to store energy. If you use a hybrid solar power system, using a battery depends on you. Many solar companies may encourage you to buy a battery because it will save the extra energy produced by the panels.
Some users think this is a disadvantage as you have to replace the batteries more often unlike other components. Some batteries can only be used up to 2 -3 years but some batteries can be used up to 5 years. But batteries are comparatively cheap so replacing a battery is not a big problem if your solar panel can cut off a significant amount from your electricity bill.
Also when you are using a battery you have to maintain the battery well. It needs a well-insulated space with the right temperature. Any mishandling can damage the battery. This will indeed damage the system if the battery is inside the system. So you have to be careful.
Some suggest using the solar power system only in the daytime when the sun is up and to use the grid power at night time. This totally depends on your will.
Weather can severely affect the efficiency of your solar power system. Even though it works on cloudy days the efficiency will be very low. Also in the winter seasons if there are snowstorms your solar system may not be able to generate energy for days. But if you have a high capacity battery you will be able to use the stored battery for those days. Not just the snow storms but the sand storms also can affect the efficiency of your solar panels as the dust particles block the sunlight.
Also, heavy rain, snowstorms, hurricanes, and sand storms can damage your panels. Even though the panels are designed to resist extreme weather, some fallen objects like tree branches can damage the panels. The repairing cost also very high. Some companies do not even cover environmental damages under their warranties. But you can always insure your solar power system.
#6. Reliability on sunlight
The efficiency of the solar power system is highly dependable on the amount of sunlight it receives. It does not have to be direct sunlight. But under direct sunlight, the efficiency is very high. The amount of sunlight the panels received depends on the nature of the location. So you cannot install your panels everywhere you want.
Some lands do not receive much light even in the daytime. By installing a solar panel in such an area you cannot get much energy. So it will be a big disadvantage for you.
Also if the place you are going to install your solar panels have tall trees make sure to remove the tree branches above the panels as they block the sunlight and the tree branches can fall on the panels. Also, fallen leaves and other debris will increase the times you have to clean the panels.
#7. Maintenance cost
Unlike the grid connection, the solar power system needs regular maintenance. The solar panels need to be cleaned if dust, snow, or debris accumulated on the panels. The cleaning can do by yourself if you are compatible enough, if not you have to pay for professionals to clean your panels. Because these solar panels can be damaged if you use the wrong equipment or handle them in the wrong manner. The repairing cost is very high. So this is a disadvantage as you have to pay money for cleaning.
Also, you must check the panels to make sure there are no physical damages to your panels. If the panels are damaged there is a possibility of water leakage into the panels resulting in permanent damages. You can get to know about solar panel maintenance by reading this “How to maintain solar panels”.
Also, your battery needs special maintenance, especially during the winter season. In the winter season because of the cold temperature battery loses its efficiency. To avoid that you may have to build a special storage space for the battery. Also, you should check your battery regularly to make sure that there are no physical damages. The battery needs to be replaced after its lifetime is over. This costs you some money. Also when you are not using the solar power system you have to store the batteries properly (‘How to store solar batteries’). This also needs separate space and sometimes can cost you extra money.
Even though using solar energy protects the environment, the production of the components of the panels causes environmental pollution.
Production of PV panels results in toxic materials and hazardous products. Also, the installation and transportation process results in air pollution.
#9. Waste disposal
When you are disposing of the components of the solar power system, you cannot dispose of them as normal household waste.
When you have to dispose of the panels and other components you have to dispose of them properly as electronic waste, most of the time you have to pay for this. Also, you can recycle them but this also requires money. Also, you can give it to a scrap dealer.
When disposing of batteries you have to be extra careful as some batteries like NiCd batteries contain toxic metals like Cd. So you must dispose of your batteries as e-waste. This will cost you money as we mentioned before.
As we described before most of the time waste disposal is not free so it is a disadvantage of using the solar power system. But as the panels have around 25 years of a lifetime you should not worry much about that. If your panels are in good condition you can even sell those. The main thing you have to worry about is battery disposal as you have to replace your batteries more frequently than other components.
| Conclusion |
Even though using the solar power system gives you many advantages, it also has some disadvantages too. Most of the disadvantages depend on the area you are living in and your energy usage. If you can see past these disadvantages solar energy is actually a very useful energy source.