Generating electricity from fossil fuels is a major contributor to greenhouse gas emissions, making it an unsustainable energy source. Solar energy, on the other hand, is a renewable energy source that can provide clean, free electricity to your home. While solar energy has many advantages, there are also some drawbacks that should be considered before investing in solar panels. The most obvious benefit of solar energy is that it is a renewable energy source.
In approximately 8 years after installation, your solar panel system will have fully paid for itself by providing free electricity to your home. 4 After that, you'll start earning money simply by doing nothing but having solar panels. And these solar cells usually last for decades, around 25 to 30 years, on average,  This becomes especially relevant if you want to be completely “off the grid” and have your home powered 100% by solar panels. If you are not connected to the electricity grid, you need energy storage devices (the most common is a lithium-ion battery) to store the energy that your solar panels produced early in the day and thus have energy at night. The production of these batteries also has an environmental impact due to the use of rare earth metals.
12 Fortunately, major technology companies, such as Apple, are exploring methods to recycle these rare earth elements in order to maintain a constant supply, which prevents costs from inflating due to growing demand. While it can be safely said that solar energy is certainly not as dangerous as the emissions and waste produced by other sources of energy, the production of solar panels also has a dark side. Another disadvantage is the dependence of solar panels on the climate. The more direct sunlight a solar panel receives, the more energy it can generate. When the weather turns cloudy, panel production decreases dramatically. Areas of the United States, such as Arizona, have a clear advantage in solar energy over areas such as Seattle, which spend much of the year under rain clouds.
Because solar energy is relatively new, maintaining your panels can also be a problem. In addition to the basic maintenance of solar panels, the repair of the panels must be performed by a certified photovoltaic energy technician. Finding such a technician and paying for a service call can be expensive. Solar panels are still quite large products, which means that they require a large amount of space for installation. The downside of size means that they cannot be placed in small areas and, in fact, require a large roof.
Additionally, some governments may classify solar panels as hazardous waste due to the small amounts of heavy metals (cadmium, lead, etc.) contained in them. This classification entails a number of costly restrictions: hazardous waste can only be transported at designated times and through selected routes. Batteries that store solar energy can help offset the risk of limited sunlight and provide power when needed. Homeowners may feel that switching to solar energy is less risky because they are covered by solar panel warranties. Even if your home is relatively open to sunlight during installation, unexpected future home or commercial property developments can quickly curb your investment in solar energy. The amount of space needed in your home for the installation of solar panels can also be a disadvantage.
Unless you want to pay more to have your system dismantled, unwired and transported elsewhere, solar panels get stuck in one position. The positive side of solar energy being renewable means that everyone can take advantage of the free energy provided by the sun. For example, solar water heaters work the same way as solar panels but are less expensive to install than complete solar panel systems. As with any type of power plant, large solar power plants can affect the environment in or near their locations. There is a race to make solar panels affordable while maintaining their quality and efficiency; however they still only convert about 20-25% of the sun's energy into usable electricity. Solar panels work best on sunny days but can still generate some electricity on cloudy days since it's ultraviolet light that generates the energy. The government will introduce legislation on the recycling of solar panels as they become more popular and widely used.
A first step in preventing a disaster could be for solar panel manufacturers to immediately begin pressing for similar legislation to be enacted in the United States. According to a report from the Office of Energy Efficiency & Renewable Energy, the average “payback time” of solar panels is between one and four years depending on the type of system. If you're thinking of adding solar panels and you live in a place that has periods of cloudy days you might be able to “store enough solar energy in a battery to use it even when the forecast is bleak”.