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Let’s debunk the top ten common myths about solar energy

There is a lot of non-credible, and non-factual information about solar energy technology.

The rapid global growth of the technology has given consumers greater access to more information than ever before. Unfortunately, not all of this information is produced in goodwill.

In this blog article, we debunk the top ten common myths you may have heard about solar energy.

1. Solar Production relies on government subsidies and handouts

Just a few decades ago, solar energy was expensive, significantly reducing their economic feasibility. A lot has changed since then. The price of solar energy has declined by 80% since 2009, with utility-scale projects averaging a price of $43-$53/MWh. In comparison, natural gas costs between $42-$78/MWh. Coal has a price of at least $60/MWh. The numbers don’t lie; solar energy offers cheaper electricity than fossil fuels.

2. A solar system puts a lien on your house

Liens are defined as legal rights against assets that are typically used as collateral to satisfy a debt. It allows a creditor to seize property if financial obligations are not met. With that said, solar liens apply only to an individual’s panels, not their house or other property. Liens were quite common during Ontario’s Micro-FIT program, which has since been shut down. Additionally, the growing number of regional net metering policies has greatly reduced the necessity of solar liens.

3. Solar panels may be too heavy for your roof

Solar panels are designed to be mounted on residential, commercial, and industrial roofing. The average weight of a solar installation is 4 lbs per square foot. Residential roofing can reliably handle up to 20 lbs., meaning solar panels aren’t a significant burden. However, old or compromised roofs aren’t suitable for solar panels as they may not bear the weight well. If a roof is not in good shape, a solar installation can make the fix far more expensive. Getting a professional roof inspection before deciding to go solar helps avoid costly complications down the line.

4. Solar panels are dangerous and struggle to get insured

Solar power is a very safe energy source. The panels won’t explode, and they won’t set fire to your roof either. Insurance coverage also shouldn’t be a concern, as most home insurance policies automatically cover your panels after they’re installed. Some exceptions apply (ex. ground-mounted solar), which may require a homeowner to get an add-on policy.

5. Solar doesn’t work in a snowy climate

Snow can certainly reduce solar panels’ effectiveness for a short duration, but solar energy remains viable in any climate zone. Heavy snow may require manual clearing of panels, but not always. Solar panels are installed following the inclination of the roof which helps direct runoff, and anything that accumulates will eventually melt away as the panel warms up. Today, weather-related efficiency loss isn’t the issue it once was, thanks to great strides being made in solar panel innovation.

6. You need to buy expensive batteries to go solar

The vast majority of homeowners with solar panels rely on net metering as opposed to batteries. Net metering creates a ‘give and take’ relationship between a solar installation and the local electrical grid. Solar panels feed (credited) surplus electricity into the electrical grid, and in exchange, during times when the panels fail to meet demand, electricity is pulled back from the grid. Batteries are only necessary if you want to be completely self-sufficient with your electricity production and storage.

7. It’s illegal to go off the grid

It’s perfectly legal to go ‘off the grid,’ but it’s more expensive. Enough panels would need to be purchased to completely meet energy demands from an analysis of household electricity use. Also, batteries would need to be purchased to avoid intermittent electricity hours. For these reasons, most solar owners maintain their utility connection.

8. The fire department can’t save your house if panels are mounted on it

The fire department will still save your property if you have solar panels. Some firefighters are provided training on how to put out fires on homes with solar panels on the roof.

9. Animals will nest under your solar installation

Birds, squirrels, and other animals may nest under solar panels. Luckily, it’s easy to avoid this pest problem. A mesh wire ‘critter guard’ is an effective way of eliminating any nesting opportunities, and can be installed simultaneously with the panels.

10. Solar energy is an added expense
Solar energy is not an added expense; it saves homeowners significant money in the long run by eliminating most of a home’s electricity charges. Solar modules typically last for 20-25 years, so the investment will easily pay for itself. The upfront cost of solar remains a barrier today, but through subsidies, tax credits, or other solar incentives, it can be decreased significantly.

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