Updated 1 week ago

Pros and Cons of Solar Energy You Need to Know in 2024

Written by Jamie Smith , Edited by Catherine Lane

Find out if solar panels are right for your home

Figuring out if solar panels are right for your home can be daunting. If you’re looking to install solar panels, you’ll come across a wide range of information listing out all the good (and bad) that solar has to offer. 

In most cases, the benefits of solar panels outweigh the drawbacks. But solar energy isn’t for everyone! We compiled a comprehensive list to help you understand the pros and cons of solar energy in 2024. 

Key takeaways

  • The five biggest advantages of solar energy are that it can reduce electricity bills, it’s more affordable than ever, it is free of carbon emissions, it’s a renewable resource, and it has many diverse uses.

  • Solar energy has downsides: It requires a substantial investment, it is an intermittent energy source, and it requires specific conditions to work its best.

  • Solar panels can pay for themselves in as little as 10 years, and payback can be even shorter with the federal tax credit and other incentives.

Solar energy pros and cons

  • Saves money on electricity bills

  • Protects you against rising electric rates

  • Cheaper than ever

  • Environmentally friendly

  • Increase home value

  • Renewable resource

  • Benefits community

  • Diverse uses

  • Technology keeps improving

  • Solar incentives

  • Works in different environments

  • Increases energy independence

  • Low maintenance costs

  • Great financial investment

  • High upfront costs

  • Solar panel manufacturing has an environmental impact

  • Solar panel recycling programs are limited

  • Installations can impact the surrounding area

  • Can increase property taxes or homeowners insurance

  • Value depends on local policy

  • Finding the right installer can be difficult

Find out if solar panels are right for your specific home

Advantages of solar energy 

We’ve decided to give you the good news first – the advantages of solar energy are listed below. 

Solar saves money on your electricity bills for 25 years or more

The biggest benefit of solar energy is that it can reduce your electricity bills. 

As of 2024, the average household can save about $1,500 per year on electric bills when they install solar panels! With these levels of savings, most homeowners can break even on their solar investment in 12 years or less. 

Solar power systems save money by reducing how much energy you need to buy from the grid. In areas with net metering policies, you can even sell excess energy your solar panels generate to your utility, saving you even more money!

Insurance against rising power prices

Electricity prices are high and only keep getting more expensive. According to the U.S. Energy Information Administration, the average cost of electricity is about $0.16 per kilowatt-hour (kWh) - a 4.1% increase from last year. 

Solar panels protect you from these rising electricity costs by generating electricity for your home to use. Instead of buying power from your utility that raises rates every year, you can use the solar energy generated right on your roof. 

As electric rates get higher, you’ll still be using that solar power, saving you even more money each time your utility raises its rates. 

Solar is cheaper than ever

While electricity prices have continued to climb, solar panel installation costs have steadily fallen

In 2010, the average-sized solar system cost over $50,000. Today, it costs less than half that!

Line graph showing the decline in the cost of residential solar from 2010 to 2023

According to our 2024 Solar Industry Survey, 54% of solar installers reported the price they paid for solar panels decreased in 2023.

Solar energy is environmentally friendly

No carbon emissions are released into the atmosphere when solar panels generate electricity, making solar energy a clean power source. Most utility companies source their energy from fossil fuels like natural gas and coal, which have widespread negative health and environmental impacts when burned. 

Solar is also a renewable source of energy, meaning that the sun’s power won’t deplete as we use it to make solar electricity. The sun’s energy will never “run out” – so you can always take advantage of it without hurting the earth!

Homeowners who install solar panels have a lower carbon footprint and help in the fight against climate change.

Solar panels can increase home value

The experts at SolarReviews analyzed over 400 homes on Zillow and found that, on average, homes with solar panels sold for 6.8% more than homes without solar panels. 

Installing solar panels improves your home’s value and can make it attractive to future home buyers!

Solar energy is a renewable energy source

Solar is also a renewable source of energy, meaning that the sun’s power won’t deplete as we use it to make solar electricity. The sun’s energy will never “run out” – so you can always take advantage of it without hurting the earth! 

Fossil fuels, on the other hand, are a finite resource. There is a limited supply on earth, and when we run out, it’s gone.

Solar energy benefits your community

Solar is a clean energy source, so no carbon dioxide or other harmful pollutants are released when it’s generated, increasing overall air quality and human health. The more solar we use, the less air pollution there will be!

Home solar can also reduce stress on the electricity grid, especially when paired with battery storage. With fewer people using the grid, the chance of a power outage decreases. When you go solar — you’re the nicest neighbor on the block! 

Solar power has diverse uses

Photovoltaic energy can be used in many small and large-scale projects. From powering a home to running space satellites, solar panels are a great way to access energy in even the most remote places. 

Solar panels are most commonly used on residential rooftops and large solar farms. However, some smaller-scale uses include solar phone chargers, solar-powered outdoor lights, and portable solar panels for camping and RVs.

Solar technology keeps improving

Thanks to various technological advances in solar, solar panels today are nearly 40% more efficient than they were in 2010. 

The solar industry is key to a clean energy future, so a lot of work is being put into researching and developing the best technologies possible. New types of solar cells are being fine-tuned every year to create the best solar panels possible!

Solar incentive programs can keep costs low

There are a variety of solar panel incentives and rebate programs to help make solar more affordable. 

The largest incentive is the federal solar tax credit, which provides homeowners who install solar panels or batteries with a tax credit equal to 30% of their system installation costs. 

Performance-based incentives like Solar Renewable Energy Credits, or SRECs, can put even more money in your pocket when you install solar panels!

Solar works in different climates and environments

Many people think solar panels will only work in extremely sunny places like Arizona. Believe it or not, some of the best states for home solar aren’t the ones that get the most sunshine! 

Solar panels can work in cold climates and, in fact, can operate better in them! Even cloudy weather can’t stop solar energy. Solar panels will still work in cloudy weather, but not as efficiently as they can in full sun.

Solar increases energy independence 

Solar panels allow homeowners to create their own energy instead of relying on the electrical grid, helping them achieve energy independence and take control of where their home gets energy. 

On a larger scale, solar energy systems in the United States would help the entire country achieve energy independence, reducing our reliance on other countries to get energy resources like foreign oil. 

Low maintenance costs

Solar panel maintenance is generally minimal and usually consists of solar panel cleanings once or twice a year to avoid dirt and buildup if you don’t get regular rainfall. 

Solar system equipment generally has very low failure rates because they don’t have moving parts, especially when you choose reliable brands and a trusted installer. Any issues or repairs that do arise are likely covered by a solar warranty

Solar is a great financial investment

Solar panels can pay for themselves in just a few years with the savings accumulated on your electricity bill. In some cases, solar panels can provide a better return on investment than something like an index fund. 

Calculate the payback period and installation costs of solar panels for your home

Disadvantages of solar energy

Despite all the benefits solar has to offer, there are also some downsides. After all, nothing’s perfect! Check out the disadvantages of solar power below:

High upfront cost

Even though solar panel system costs have dropped over the past decade, it’s still an expensive initial investment. 

In 2024, the average solar installation will cost between $18,000 and $20,000 before any incentives are applied. That’s a lot of money for many homeowners, but there are financing options to help with the high initial cost of solar panels.

Solar panel manufacturing has some environmental impact

While generating solar power is emission-free, manufacturing solar panels does have an environmental impact, though it’s generally less severe than that of mining and burning fossil fuels. 

Manufacturing plants release greenhouse gas emissions into the atmosphere, and mining for materials used in solar panels can damage the surrounding area. 

Solar panel recycling programs are limited

Solar panels can be recycled at the end of their 25-year lifespan. However, because most installed solar panels in the U.S. are still in use, there aren’t many solar panel recycling programs available. 

Limited recycling options mean that some panels that are decommissioned end up in landfills, which is less than ideal. 

Installing solar panels can impact the surrounding area

Large solar farms can negatively impact the ecosystems they are installed in. For example, a large ground-mounted solar system may impact the migration route of some animals. It can also amplify the effects of erosion in an area by disturbing the soil. 

Roof characteristics and size constraints

Not all roofs are suitable for solar. Solar panels work best on south-facing roofs with plenty of unshaded space.

Some homeowners might not have enough room for all of the solar panels needed to cover their electricity bills. This could be because their roof is small or complex or has many obstructions, such as skylights and vents. 

Solar is an intermittent energy source

Solar energy is considered an intermittent energy source because how much energy solar panels produce is generally weather dependent. Also, the sun's intensity varies with location, the time of year, and the time of day, so solar energy production is different all over. However, solar battery storage makes solar energy available anytime, even at night! 

Solar panels could increase your property taxes and homeowners insurance

Solar panels add value to your home, which is great! But it also means that solar panels will increase how much you have to pay in property taxes. However, many states and municipalities offer property tax exemptions for solar installations, so you won’t have to worry about increased tax payments.

Homeowner’s insurance is also based on the value of your home. If solar increases your home’s value, your insurance will likely increase, too. Speak to your insurance broker to find out specifics about your policy. 

Value depends on local policy

The initial cost of solar is the biggest reason customers turn away from it, which is why some states have created solar-friendly policies to make installing solar panels more accessible. 

Unfortunately, the policies and incentives you get can depend on where you live, who your utility provider is, and your eligibility. If you live in a state that doesn’t prioritize expanding solar, you might pay more for solar and earn lower savings. 

Finding the right installer can be difficult

Solar is a 25-year investment, so you must find a reliable installer. A few bad apples in the solar industry have made it hard for homeowners to figure out who to trust, and deceptive, spammy sales tactics leave a bad impression. 

Luckily for you, SolarReviews makes it easy for homeowners to connect with trustworthy local solar companies, taking the stress out of going solar. 

Find pre-screened solar installation companies near you

Is solar energy right for you?

Solar panels are worth it for most homeowners, but it all depends on your unique situation. If you live somewhere with strong incentives that will help bring the initial price of solar down, and your home’s energy costs are high, solar is an excellent solution. 

Enter your home’s information into our solar calculator to find out what the average cost of a solar installation will be for your specific home, incentives available in your area, and more. The benefits of solar energy are right around the corner!

Find out if solar panels a good investment for your home

Solar panels frequently asked questions (FAQ)

Still unsure about solar? Here are some frequently asked questions pertaining to the pros and cons of solar panels.

Written by Jamie Smith Content Specialist

Jamie is a Content Writer and researcher at SolarReviews. A recent graduate of La Salle University in Philadelphia, Jamie earned her B.S. in communications with a concentration in journalism, mass media, and public relations. Jamie has previously worked at a marketing company where she had the opportunity to highlight and promote small business owners through long-form stories and interviews. With a deep-rooted passion for creativity, Jamie stri...

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