The Advantages and Disadvantages of Solar Energy

The solar energy that the Earth receives from the sun in just one hour is enough to meet the global demand for a complete year. Even though all this energy cannot be collected, a fraction of it can certainly be utilized by installing a portable solar panel. This can make a huge difference as solar energy is renewable and does not produce harmful emissions like fossil fuels.

The Advantages and Disadvantages of Solar Energy

Solar power has been deemed inefficient and expensive by many. However, it has proved extremely beneficial both for the economy and the environment. If you are interested in installing a solar electric system in your home or office, keep reading to learn about the possible advantages and disadvantages of solar energy.

What Is Solar Energy?

Solar radiation is light energy from the sun that is also known as electromagnetic radiation. All parts of the Earth receive at least some sunlight over the year. However, the amount of radiation received in one region differs greatly from another. Solar technology is designed to capture and convert this radiation into useful forms. There are two main types:

1. CSP

CSP (Concentrating Solar-Thermal Power Basics) uses mirrors to concentrate and reflect sunlight onto receivers that collect solar energy. Energy is converted to heat, turned into electricity, and stored for use later. CSPs are used in large power plants.

2. PV

PV (Photovoltaics Basics) is commonly used in solar panels. PV cells on a solar panel absorb sunlight. This energy generates an electrical charge, which moves due to the internal electric field inside the cells which leads to an electrical flow.

Advantages of Solar Energy

1. Reduces Dependency On the Grid

The electricity generated from solar energy can meet all of your electrical needs based on the system's type and size. This helps reduce dependency on the grid and allows you to save on electrical energy bills. If you install a setup that is big enough, you can even generate more than you need and give away extra electricity back to the grid. You can also get paid in return through SEG (Smart Export Guarantee). 

2. A Renewable Form of Energy

This is probably the greatest advantage of solar power. Sunlight and energy from the sun is a constant renewable source that can be harnessed in almost all parts of the world daily. We are unlikely to run out of solar energy as long as we have the sun. According to scientists, sunlight will be available for at least five billion years. Unlike fossil fuels like coal, oil, and gas that produce deadly emissions, the sun provides a clean as well as renewable source of energy that is ready for us to harness.

3. Solar Electric Systems Are Low Maintenance 

The best part about a solar energy system is that it requires little to no maintenance. You are only supposed to keep them clean, and a few thorough cleaning jobs yearly are good enough. 

You can even hire a cleaning company to do the job cheaply.

Solar panel manufacturers offer a 20 to 25-year warranty, which is more than what most machines and appliances come with. Since a solar energy system has no moving parts, it is not prone to wear and tear.

You may need to change your inverter every five to 10 years as it continuously works to convert solar energy into electricity. Cables may need maintenance, too, for maximum energy efficiency, but other than that, very little maintenance is required. You will not have to spend too much compared to the initial buying cost.

4. Multiple Applications 

Solar energy can be used for an array of purposes. It can be used to generate both electricity and heat. Solar systems are used to produce electricity in areas with no grid connection, distill water in regions with little clean water, and help power satellites in space. Solar energy can also be incorporated into materials used for buildings. An example is transparent solar energy windows.

5. Continuous Advancements

The solar power industry is constantly evolving and advancing. Improvements are being made in existing systems, and modifications are in process to produce even better systems in the future. The innovations in nanotechnology and quantum physics have increased solar panel effectiveness threefold.

The best part is that opting to use solar panels is not only great for the environment as solar energy is eco-friendly, but it also helps reduce the consumption of fossil fuels, which are a major factor behind global warming.

Disadvantages of Solar Energy

1. Relies Heavily On Weather Conditions 

Even though solar energy can be collected on a rainy/cloudy day, the effectiveness of solar power generation is hindered. Solar panels rely completely on sunlight to absorb energy, so reduced sunlight can affect how much electrical energy you can generate. Note that solar energy cannot be collected at night. You can consider thermodynamic panels if you want to run a water heating solution in winter at night.

2. Initial Purchasing Cost Is High

The initial investment to get a solar system is quite high. You must pay for batteries, wiring, inverter, solar panels, and installation. Apart from this, you may even have to get roof repair work done if your house/office top is not sturdy enough. You will also have to pay local contractors to get your permits as well as sales tax according to state laws. The good news is that since solar technology is constantly evolving, it is quite likely that the prices will become reasonable very soon.

3. Battery Storage Is Expensive 

Solar energy can be used immediately but must be stored in batteries for later use—the batteries required must be large to store a good amount of energy. The solar electric system charges them up during the day for power at nighttime. Even though this solution is great, it is not very affordable as batteries are costly. Most people use solar energy during the day and take power from the grid at night to reduce energy storage costs. This works well for most as electrical energy required during the day is usually significantly higher for most homes and offices.


Sunlight is a renewable source of energy that can be harnessed using solar panels and a proper solar electric system. Solar energy is the future which is why taking the initiative to switch to this greener form of energy is your best bet. Not only is it great for the environment, but it can also help reduce billing costs.