Solar Energy Disadvantages

Solar energy disadvantages aren't always covered in any detail as the solar panel companies probably don't want to give you the negatives. But as I'm not trying to sell you PV panels here goes.

Solar Energy Disadvantages

  1. Darkness - This is probably the greatest of all the solar energy disadvantages as your Solar thermal and PV panels require light to operate. They don’t need direct sunlight, although they will be more effective the brighter and more direct the sun light is.

    While the whole darkness thing is fairly obvious you’ll also need to consider that in our climate during the winter it gets dark before most of us get home from work. This means your photovoltaic panels (PV panels) will stop producing electricity before you get home to use it.

    So unless you work from home or are retired that means that all the electricity your PV panels produce during the day when you're at work is being exported to the grid.

    Then when you get home in the dark and start using electricity you’ll be buying it from your normal supplier. You will still make money from the electricity produced while you're at work through the FiT or NIROC schemes.

    The darkness doesn’t affect solar thermal panels as much as they will store the hot water in your tank until you need it. 

  2. Storage - currently very few people install battery packs as they have in the past been very expensive and not that great. However technology has moved on at some pace meaning you can buy high quality battery packs. So you can store the electricity produced during the day while you're out to use after dark.

    This also does away with having to sell your unused electricity back to the grid if you don't use it at the exact time it's produced. Now you can store it until you need it. This means, instead of selling it at a few pence you can use it at home and avoid having to buy a unit from the grid at full price.

    With a battery pack you can therefore get paid for producing the electricity and then use it all. Thus maximising your return and reducing your payback period.

  3. Initial cost – Another major disadvantage of solar energy is the initial cost of buying and installing PV panels in particular can be pretty expensive. With an average 4KWp photovoltaic installation potentially costing around £5,000-£8,000. 

    This price will obviously vary depending on the suppliers and additional equipment you may choose to add due to your site conditions such as micro-inverters or harvesters etc.

    Remember that the vast majority of your costs for the next 20 years will be included in this initial outlay as maintenance should be minimal. 

    However it is advisable to allow a sum of money to replace your inverter (approximately around 10% of the initial installation cost) during the initial 20 year period. 

    I'd advise you to get at least 3 quotes before doing anything and make sure you are comparing like with like.

  4. SizeSolar thermal panels will only take up a few meters of roof whereas photovoltaic panels will take up a lot of space (a typical 4KWp system) will require around 26m² of roof.

    If you have roof windows in your roof this will affect the fitment of panels and may mean you can't get as many panels on as you'd like.

    If you do have obstacles on your roof like roof windows etc. you do still have alternatives. You could place your PV panels on a ground mount in your garden (maintenance is also easier if they're mounted on the ground). 
Solar Energy DisadvantagesGround Mount Solar Panel Installation

Solar Energy Disadvantages - Conclusion:

To summarise, while there are a few solar energy disadvantages when using it to create electricity or hot water. It’s important to consider them in conjunction with the advantages before making your decision.

It’s also important to remember that the cost of traditional energy sources will continue to increase while your PV panels will typically pay for themselves in 6-8 years followed by 14-16 years of NIROC or FIT payments (hence the investment potential of solar panels).

Before making your final decision, have a look at my article explaining the advantages of solar panels as well as my other articles on PV panels.

› Disadvantages of Solar Energy

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