Is solar energy expensive to maintain?

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Is solar energy expensive

Is solar energy expensive for the average homeowner? No: Solar energy is free. Solar systems have capital costs, but they are progressively getting more affordable. In a domestic situation, there are usually two types of solar panels. The photovoltaic (PV) panels absorb light photons to produce direct current (DC) electricity. There are solar thermal panels that absorb solar energy to heat water. For more than fifty years solar technology had a residential application. Over the last decade, the PV solar panels manufacturing technology has improved. With the improvements, there were also better generating efficiency in the panels. As sales of solar panels grow the ancillary equipment used in solar kits is also getting better.

There are now more businesses designing site-specific systems, getting approvals for solar connections and installing them on clients’ rooves. The full solar energy kit can include backup batteries. Setting up a solar power generating system is not as expensive per kilowatt as they once were.

Maintenance is not optional

After installing a solar energy system, the operating costs are negligible. Even though the operating costs are close to zero you will need to budget for the costs of maintenance. Maintenance work will include inspecting the solar panel and wiring each year and cleaning the panel surfaces. Normally maintenance contractors schedule and do annual maintenance.

There is no expense to use the electrical system. One might choose a hybrid system (solar backed up with batteries and a charge controller). With a hybrid solar setup, there is potential to operate off-grid. Connect homes with solar panels but no batteries to the electricity grid. They can use the utility electricity grid for power at night. Grid-tied homes use their solar power during the day. A homeowner can sell any excess power generated by the PV system to the utility.

Solar PV system make-up

The life of the solar operating system depends on the quality of the panels, the wiring and various electronic components. The quality of installation work of the components into the solar system can impact the life of the whole unit. The solar PV panels’ typical guarantee is for 25 years. Most panels last for years longer. The operating life of the inverter (micro-inverter or string inverters) is shorter than the panels they support. The inverter life is about 15 years. The replacement may be during the first 10 to 20 years after installation. Batteries add additional/ different costs for the PV system. New maintenance items arise when solar batteries are in the system.

The thermal system make-up

If you have thermal solar panels on the roof making hot water the maintenance costs need to be budgeted. There may be added maintenance if the water quality is poor. Long lengths and metal types of pipes used in the water system cause a build-up of sediment and residues. The quality of materials used in the installation can affect lifespan. Also, environmental exposure of the system could affect the life of the system. Fluid with sediment for corrosion in the pipes or thermal changes of the piped fluid can impact maintenance costs. The system with exposed uninsulated piping has reduced thermal efficiency. Ambient panel temperature will heat the fluid but cool (or freezing) temperatures along the pipes will offset that heat gain.

Utilities use renewables

IRENA reports that renewables are among the cheapest sources of electricity. Producing low-cost electricity at a large scale is achievable. (hydro-power, (land-based) wind power and solar electricity). Generating power from renewables is cheaper than coal, natural gas and nuclear power. The utilities generate electricity from a mix of energy sources. A utility’s electricity comes from a mix of conventional and renewable energy sources. The utility sets the meter price of electricity to recover its cost and profit.

Using solar energy, expensive?

When the price of power from the utility is sufficiently high more homes owners rationalise installing solar energy systems. The payback period is the time to recover all the capital cost and installation outlay. A short payback period will justify purchasing a new system paid from utility bill savings.

After the purchase and installation of a residential solar PV system, there are ongoing savings from using solar-generated electricity. Savings can be sufficient to recover the initial outlay over time. Maybe you consider solar energy expensive to set up but they save money in time. Renewables aren’t expensive to operate or use but they do need maintenance.

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