What Are the Advantages and Disadvantages of Solar Panels? 

With 2023 being Eskom’s worst year yet for load-shedding in South Africa, the popularity of solar panels has soared. When you install solar panels – also known as photovoltaics – you’ll have significant savings on your electricity bills, reduce your carbon footprint, and even boost your property value. 

Solar energy is an immense yet largely untapped energy source with growing validation as a beneficial resource. However, before purchasing a system, it’s essential to research and consider which options best suit your needs. Let’s learn about the advantages and disadvantages of photovoltaics to help you decide what’s best for your household.

What Is Solar Energy?

Solar energy is electrical or sometimes thermal (heat) energy derived from photons from the Sun, the same essential energy that feeds our plants and gives life to our planet. It uses solar panels made of numerous photovoltaic (PV) cells that use semiconductor materials, usually silicon. The semiconductors absorb the incoming photons when the Sun shines on the PV cells, releasing electrons in the process. Those electrons then flow through the PV cells in one direction as DC (direct current) electricity.

From there, the DC electricity either flows into a portable power station containing a battery for storage or runs through an inverter that converts the DC into AC (alternating current) electricity that homes and businesses need. 

Then, the AC current either directly runs your appliances that are plugged into the portable power station, or you have the option of tying into a Smart Home Panel for the easiest integration into your household electricity. 

What Are the Advantages of Solar Energy?

Solar energy has numerous advantages for various applications, especially when installing photovoltaics in your home. Spend some time researching the options available, and consider all the factors below to help you choose the best photovoltaics for your home

1. Renewable Energy Source

Solar power is the best renewable energy source we have available. It’s completely limitless and renewable; it’ll be available as long as the Sun shines in the sky. Since it comes from the Sun, it’s also free.

2. Reduce Your Carbon Footprint

The only carbon produced from photovoltaics is during its manufacture, and even that footprint is lessening as technology keeps improving. After that, their electricity is incredibly clean, producing no carbon dioxide or other greenhouse gases and no toxic byproducts. That way, you know you’re doing your part to help reduce the impacts of climate change and environmental pollution.

3. Reduces Electricity Bills

If you have a grid-tied system, photovoltaics can significantly reduce your electricity bills. In some areas like Cape Town, where you can take advantage of net metering, you may even get paid for the excess electricity you sell back to the grid. 

Alternatively, you can opt for photovoltaics and a portable power station with enough capacity to go off-grid and eliminate your electrical bills altogether.   

3. Energy Independence

You’ll have complete energy independence if you opt for a grid-tied hybrid system or an off-grid system complete with photovoltaics and a battery backup system that’s large enough to suit your energy needs. You’ll no longer be dependent on the grid in any way. 

This way, when the grid goes down, even during load-shedding, you can keep your lights on and your essential appliances running. If you get a battery with enough capacity, you can even run energy-intensive appliances like air conditioners and electric heaters.   

4. Solar Panels Increase Home Values

Installing permanent EcoFlow Rigid Solar Panels like EcoFlow’s 400W Rigid Panels on your home has been proven to increase the value of your home. This is a fantastic option for those who may want to sell their home sometime in the future.

With enough panels and savings, that can add up fast. Another way of looking at it is that homes with PV modules, on average, sell for 4% more than those without, with some sources suggesting it could increase your value by up to 8% in South Africa. 

5. Long-Term Savings

The longer you have photovoltaics installed at your home, the more savings you’ll have. Once you’ve passed the solar payback period or the time it takes to get a return on the investment of setting up your photovoltaic system, you’ll start saving thousands to tens of thousands of rands every year. 

6. Low Maintenance

Photovoltaic panels are relatively easy to install and require only minimal maintenance afterwards. Usually, all that’s ever needed is a simple cleaning once or twice a year, depending on your climate. Those in dry, dusty climates may need to wash their panels twice a year, while those in rainy climates may not need to wash them at all.

7. Portability

One advantage of photovoltaics that you don’t get with other renewable energy systems is that you can pack your power supply with you. When you couple EcoFlow Portable Solar Panels with a lightweight, portable power station like EcoFlow’s RIVER 2 that you can charge with a portable solar panel, you can take it anywhere, even hiking in the mountains or relaxing on the beach. 

On the other hand, if you like travelling comfortably in your campervan and have higher electricity needs, EcoFlow’s DELTA 2 Max is expandable and powerful enough to run portable air conditioners yet still compact and portable enough to pack with you. Thanks to its expandable capacity, it can even power your entire home. Then, when you want to travel with it, simply unplug it from your household system and pack it with you. 

What Are the Disadvantages of Solar Energy?

Solar energy has a few disadvantages, mostly related to cost and home-specific situations like old or shaded roofs or lack of space. However, even with the odd disadvantage, there are always alternatives that can make it work for you. Let’s take a look.

1. Solar Panel Costs 

Installing photovoltaics requires a significant up-front investment that not everyone can afford. However, photovoltaic costs have dropped significantly, and there are also tax incentives and rebates that can help lower that cost. Those savings could provide you with a relatively fast return on your investment.  

2. Sunlight Dependent

Since photovoltaics create electricity from the Sun, they’re entirely dependent on sunlight. This means they won’t produce electricity at night, and their output will diminish on cloudy days and during stormy weather. However, battery backup from a portable power station will store your electricity when the sun is shining, so it’s still available at night or whenever you need it.

3. Recycling Options Are Limited

One issue with photovoltaics is that current recycling options are fairly limited. However, if you were to invest today, your system would last a minimum of 25 years before it needs replacing. With all the growth in the solar industry, the odds are incredibly high that local recycling options will be widely available by the time you need to replace yours. 

4. Not All Roofs Are Suitable

Not all roofs are suitable for photovoltaics since you have to consider the orientation of your roof and trees or buildings that may shade your roof. This also depends on your location and the best angle for your photovoltaics. Some very old roofs would also need replacing or significant repairs before installing photovoltaics.

However, even if your roof isn’t suitable, there are multiple types of solar panels for your home. You can always use a ground installation if you have enough space or use flexible panels if you have unusual roof surfaces. You can also consider portable panels that can be moved around as needed, allowing you to optimise the incoming sunlight. The added bonus is that portable panels can travel with you wherever you want to go.

5. Can Take Up a Lot of Space

If you have high energy needs and your roof is unsuitable to support all the panels you need, you may be faced with trading up some of your yard space to supply your energy demands. However, there are still options available. For instance, you can install photovoltaics on a carport, garage, or greenhouse roof, use portable panels that you can move as needed, or use ground-based models on a tall stand that can dual-purpose as a shady spot to sit on a hot day, perfect for those in hot climates. 

You can even grow gardens or provide shade for livestock under your photovoltaics, called agrivoltaics, giving your animals and plants some afternoon shade when they need it the most.   

Frequently Asked Questions

What Are the Advantages of Solar Panels?

The main advantages of solar panels are the limitless, free, renewable, carbon-free energy they produce, along with the energy independence you’ll have. You’ll be able to produce electricity anywhere you need it without worrying about running out of power when the grid goes down.

What Is a Major Disadvantage of Solar Power?

The major disadvantage of solar power is the upfront cost, especially if you want the energy independence that a battery backup system would provide. The good news is that prices are dropping every year, and government tax incentives and rebates are becoming widely available. 

Final Thoughts

Solar power is quickly becoming the world’s preferred source of clean, limitless renewable energy, and for good reason. As technology keeps improving, their price keeps dropping. With Eskom’s load shedding, photovoltaics are rapidly gaining popularity for those who don’t want to rely on the increasingly unreliable electrical grid to keep their essential appliances running. 

Using EcoFlow’s Solar Panels can provide energy independence, reduce your utility bills, reduce your carbon footprint, and increase your home’s value. Ensure you understand your electricity needs and purchase an expandable system so you can add more panels and batteries later; after all, you may decide to install that new hot tub with all the money you will save on your power bill.

EcoFlow is a portable power and renewable energy solutions company. Since its founding in 2017, EcoFlow has provided peace-of-mind power to customers in over 85 markets through its DELTA and RIVER product lines of portable power stations and eco-friendly accessories.


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