9 Popular Myths About Solar Panels Busted

March 12, 2024

Despite being one of the fastest-growing players in the renewable energy game, solar power takes a beating in the rumor mill.

What prompts the criticism directed at solar energy? Those supporting traditional fossil fuels are anxious about the prospect of losing their market dominance to solar energy. Many word-of-mouth misconceptions are created and later promoted by such people.

In this blog post, we will debunk the most popular solar myths and tell you the only facts about solar panels. In addition, you will learn how to promote accurate information about the topic. Keep reading for insights.

Solar Myth #1: Solar Panels Work Only on Sunny Days

Probably, it comes from their name “solar” that people have this common misconception. Solar panels are powered by the sun, so when it’s cloudy or rainy, panels might not work. Sounds logical.

However, even when the skies are gray or overcast, and even in chilly weather, solar panels keep the electricity flowing. While their performance might take a hit in these conditions, they’ll still churn out some power.


Popular Myths About Solar Panels Busted 5

Solar panels are as sturdy as nails, functioning just fine in any weather. Panels thrive on solar radiation rather than direct sunlight. In other words, they’re good to go whenever possible.

Here’s a simplified breakdown of how the photovoltaic effect gets the job done:

  • Sunlight beams down, zapping the solar cells and jolting those electrons awake.
  • These charged-up electrons start zooming out of the cell layers’ junction, forming an electric current.
  • Metal plates and wires are poised to catch high-velocity electrons and turn their energy into electricity.

Come rain or shine, solar panels keep on trucking. They’ll power through the rain, snow, and even hail, although heavy snow might put a dent in energy production compared to rain.

No need to worry about cold or cloudy days either. Solar panels keep chugging along, harnessing solar radiation regardless of the weather. So, that is a big solar myth about PV panels working only on sunny days.

A residential street with solar panels installed on houses

Solar Myth #2: Solar Panels Have To Face South

That’s one of the most common misconceptions about solar energy. While it’s a popular solar myth because southern side generally receives more sunlight, you can actually install panels on roofs facing any direction. The truth about solar panels is that as long as you position and angle them correctly, those panels will produce enough electricity.

Finding the perfect angle for your solar panels hinges on your property’s layout and the tilt of your roof. Ideally, you want those panels squarely facing the sun when it’s at its peak during summer days. A useful guideline is to align your solar panels with an angle equal to your latitude for optimal yearly energy output. For instance, if your latitude clocks in at 35 degrees, setting your panels at 35 degrees would be spot-on.

However, keep in mind that this might slightly reduce your system’s efficiency in winter, as the sun tends to hang lower in the sky. To ensure year-round productivity, some homeowners and businesses opt to tilt their panels between their latitude and latitude plus 15 degrees.

Solar Myth #3: Going Solar Means Going off the Grid

While you can set up an off-grid solar panel setup with solar batteries, most folks opt for a grid-tied system. This setup lets you tap into solar power during the day and switch to grid electricity after sunset.

Let’s debunk this solar myth: achieving all your power requirements through solar is still possible. Thanks to a beneficial policy called net metering, your utility gives you credits on your bill for extra “juice” your panels produce. You only pay for the electricity you draw from the grid, and any surplus production results in credits that carry over to subsequent bills. Even if your panels outdo your power needs for the month, your bill will show a negative balance.

Keep in mind, though, that net metering rules can vary depending on where you live, so it’s wise to chat with your utility company before diving into solar.

Solar Myth #4: PV Systems Require a Lot of Maintenance

While it’s one of the most popular myths, it hinges on your solar gear. Solar panels, most mounts, and inverters are built as tough as nails. As a rule, systems without clunky batteries or moving bits hardly need a homeowner’s touch for maintenance.

The truth about solar panels is that they require cleaning every now and again. As a rule, solar panels clean themselves every time it rains. Because they are installed at an angle – instead of laying flat – excess water can slide off. After a particularly heavy downpour or storm, however, you might want to check your solar panels for debris, such as branches or twigs. Remove any such items to ensure the optimal efficiency of the solar panels.

Additionally, over time, temperature fluctuations cause contraction and expansion, which result in these fasteners becoming loose. Solar installers suggest inspecting all screws and bolts to make sure they are securely fastened. Fastening the solar system bolts prevents a decline in overall performance.

Naturally, systems without any moving parts tend to stick around longer. And let’s not forget about those lead-acid batteries—they’re high-maintenance. On the flip side, fancy lithium-ion batteries of the future boast a longer life and need hardly any TLC. Sadly, though, they come with a hefty price tag upfront.

 Two engineers installing solar cells on the roof in the city

Solar Myth #5: Solar Systems Will Store Excess Energy on Sunny Days

We keep debunking solar myths, and this one partially rings true. Let’s see how solar energy gets stored with a few facts about solar panels.

Solar setups without batteries can’t store energy. However, most communities offer a sweet deal called net metering. Here’s the lowdown: when your panels “squeeze” more juice than you need, the utility company credits your account for that surplus power you let into the grid.

Picture this: when the sun’s blazing, your solar rig pumps out extra green energy. It powers up your home first, then pumps any leftovers to the grid. Come nighttime, if you need to pull power from the grid, you can offset the cost using those solar credits.

However, it is possible to store extra energy panels produced on sunny days if you install special batteries. Lithium-ion batteries reign supreme as the go-to choice for storing solar energy. Compared to alternatives like lead-acid batteries, they boast longer lifespans, demand less upkeep, and occupy less real estate.

Solar Myth #6: Solar Panels Suffer in Extreme Weather

Although modern panels look sleek and esthetically thin, they are built tough, consisting of sturdy materials like steel, silicon, and reinforced glass, with no moving parts to worry about. Contrary to popular solar myths, they’re designed to weather some serious storms.

Before hitting the market, these panels undergo rigorous testing to ensure their durability. Particularly, they’re put through the wringer, enduring extreme temperatures ranging from scorching highs of 65°C to freezing lows of -10°C.

Apart from that, they’re subjected to shock tests, drop tests, and trials against hurricanes and hail. Withstanding winds of up to 140mph, these panels are built to withstand the worst.

However, regular upkeep and inspection help to prolong your solar panels’ lifespan. After a storm, check whether it’s necessary to tighten any bolts.

Solar Myth #7: Solar Panels Are Luxury but Never an Investment

People made these common misconceptions because of past experiences with solar setups, government incentives, and selling excess energy back to the grid. Still, we’re pretty confident that was never the whole story.

Now, let’s get real: putting up solar panels won’t turn you into a millionaire overnight, but it’s definitely a smart money move in the long run. What they don’t tell you about solar panels is that the sooner you invest in solar energy, the more beneficial it will be.

On average, solar panels “live” over  25 years, while their payback period varies between 6 and 9 years (depending on the state and capacity of solar installation). It means that you will save money on electricity most of the time. Sounds like a blast.

So, your setup should pay for itself before any of those warranties even expire. How many things in your house can boast that kind of return?

When debunking popular misconceptions, it’s essential to note that predicting electricity rate hikes is the most challenging aspect in calculating solar panel payback periods.

As depicted in Statista’s chart below, retail residential electricity prices in the United States have predominantly increased in recent decades. Residential prices are projected to go up further, growing by four percent in 2023, when compared to the previous year.

Solar Panels Are Luxury but Never an Investment

Source: Statista

Contrary to solar myths about panels as a type of investment, we want to assure you that solar panels are profitable if installed well and maintained properly.

Solar Myth #8: Solar Setups Don’t Have Any Warranties

Solar panels seem to have no backing as they are always exposed to various weather conditions. You can’t “hide” your panels from whatever falls from the sky.

Despite the presence of warranties for solar panels, inverters, and batteries, it’s essential to recognize that they vary. Understanding these warranties is crucial when selecting solar equipment, as they serve as the safety net for your solar investment. Additionally, most solar specialists toss in a warranty covering the sweat they put into the job.

Performance

Let’s debunk another solar myth: in reality, there are two kinds of solar panel warranties to keep in mind. First, there’s the power performance guarantee. As time goes on, solar panels experience a decrease in capacity. This warranty ensures they maintain significant output, delivering a specified percentage of their original energy production over a defined period. Usually, it’s around 80% after 25 years, give or take.

Solar Equipment

Then there’s the equipment warranty, assuring the durability of your panels and safeguarding against material or craftsmanship defects. Big players in the solar game often offer warranties for 10 to 25 years.

Inverters

Now, shifting our focus to inverters. Depending on the type and brand, these components come with different warranty lifespans. String inverters are like the lone rangers of the system, usually endure for 5 to 15 years. Some manufacturers hook up customers with extra coverage for a fee. On the flip side, microinverters hitch a ride on each panel’s backside, often rocking warranties up to 25 years.

Labor and Service

While these warranties have your back on equipment, they don’t always include the grunt work. That’s where labor warranties come into play. Many installers offer their own warranties, typically lasting 3 to 10 years or even longer for some top specialists in the field.

Offering a longer labor warranty can be a game-changer for your business, but don’t bite off more than you can chew. Ensure that you can deliver on your promises and stand firmly behind them.

Solar Myth #9: Only Roofowners Can Install Solar Panels

This is probably one of the most popular misconceptions about solar panels. People believe that no roof means no solar. However, this is just another solar myth.

To install panels on the roof, you need to get the green light from the roof owner—like if you’re renting a flat—but legally and installation-wise, you’re good to go for solar on a roof you can access, even if it isn’t yours.

Undoubtedly, you should make sure you’ll be around long enough to reap the benefits of solar savings.

Besides, your landlord might be down to join forces and invest in the property with you, so why not ask?

How Installers Can Debunk Solar Panel Myths

How Installers Can Debunk Solar Panel Myths

Like any other information, solar myths are passed through word of mouth. Particularly, in the time of digital communication, we tend to believe different comments we read online.

Let’s learn the ways to tackle those solar myths head-on with some savvy communication strategies:

Informative Content

Whip up blog posts, videos, proposal materials, and snazzy infographics that tackle common misconceptions head-on with straight-up facts. The more true information people get online, the more critically they will analyze solar misconceptions they happen to hear or read.

Customer Education Sessions

Host interactive webinars or workshops where you can debunk solar panel myths, field questions, and dive deep into the truth about solar panels.

Website FAQs

If you are a solar panel trader, keep your website stacked with a detailed FAQ section, hammering down on those pesky solar myths and setting the record straight.

One-on-One Consultations

When chatting with clients, listen carefully to their worries and hit them with hard evidence as well as real-life examples to bust those popular myths about solar energy wide open.

Social Media Engagement

Spread the word on social media platforms, sharing myth-busting content, chatting with followers, and busting those misconceptions for good.

Partnerships with Local Media

Join forces with local media outlets to spread the truth through interviews or feature articles, ensuring accurate information reaches the masses.

By keeping the educational ball rolling across various platforms, you arm customers with knowledge, debunk solar myths, and lay the groundwork for informed decisions, building trust every step of the way.

Dispelling Solar Myths and Shedding Light on Clean Energy Truths

Busting those widespread solar myths is key to shedding light on this green energy gem. Solar power has recently experienced significant advancements, and it’s high time we acknowledge its perks and how easy it’s becoming to tap into. By confronting popular misconceptions directly, our goal is to empower readers to make informed decisions about embracing solar energy.

It’s not just about saving money—it’s about refusing fossil fuels, slashing energy bills, and paving the way for a cleaner, greener future. Embracing the truth about solar panels sets us on the path to a brighter, more eco-friendly tomorrow.

Andy Worford
Andy Worford

Andy is a Founder, Chief Content Officer, regular contributor, and idea generator behind Solar Power Systems. He is well-versed in various aspects of solar energy, including photovoltaic systems, solar policy trends, and green technology innovations.

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