Why Do People Go Solar?
There are several reasons why people install solar on their homes. Some people have multiple reasons to go solar. Let’s take a look at some of the five most common ones.
#1 Necessity (The simple bare necessities ♫)
Some locations have no access to grid power, or if they do, it is exorbitantly expensive to connect to it. Island homes, hunting camps, remote cabins, and boats come to mind. In these locations, the options often come down to off-grid solar and/or using a generator.
Using just a generator means turning on the generator every single time you need any power, even just to turn on a small LED light. By installing solar panels with a battery bank, they don’t need to deal with the generator being on, making noise and burning fuel, every time they need power. A generator is often a helpful tool to have when living off grid, assisting the solar in keeping the batteries topped off during a string of bad weather, but you can control when you have the generator on and for how long, preserving your quiet time and fuel.
#2 Financial $$$
In most locations, installing a grid tie solar system, where you just make some of your power, sell any extra power during the day to the grid, and buy back any additional power you need, makes good financial sense. By staying connected to the grid, you never have to worry about not making enough power in bad weather, the grid will sell you any power you need, same as before you went solar. You just buy less power, saving you money.
If you combine this with energy conservation, you will enjoy greatly reduced monthly electric bills. According to GTM Research, as of 2016, the cost of going solar in twenty states in the US was less expensive than traditional fossil fuel and other sources of electricity.
An added bonus to owning a grid tie solar electric system is that it has been shown to increase your property value, so if you sell the house down the road, you will likely get your investment back.
#3 Environmental ☼
Most electricity in the world is made with fossil fuels. There are some exceptions, some places are fortunate to have hydroelectric plants that are able to make most of their power with a renewable resource. For the rest of us, most of the electricity today comes from coal, oil, or gas fired electric plants. Solar electricity gives them the ability to use less of the dirty electricity that comes from it, and utilize the clean, renewable resources from the sun.
Sources of Electricity by 2014
- Coal = 39%
- Natural gas = 27%
- Nuclear = 19%
- Hydropower = 6%
- Other renewables = 7%
- Biomass = 1.7%
- Geothermal = 0.4%
- Solar = 0.4%
- Wind = 4.4%
- Petroleum = 1%
- Other gases < 1%
Source: U.S. Energy Information Administration (EIA)
Some may question how much of a difference can one person make. Who remembers the 70’s with the smog in Los Angeles and the hole in the ozone layer? By changing the fuel and chemicals we used, together we were able to clean up the air and allow the atmosphere to heal itself. By using fewer fossil fuels, we can help reduce the amount of pollution in the environment and reduce the effects of global climate change.
#4 Self Reliance
The ability to generate your own power, and not be dependent on anyone to sell it to you is very important to some people. Some communities cannot be beholder to others, so any power they need they must make themselves.
For example, did you know that the Amish are big users of solar? It’s estimated that 80% of the Amish families in the world’s largest Amish community of Holmes County, Ohio have solar panels. They even install them on their horse drawn buggies to power the required lights.
Small communities throughout the US, such as this one on Star Island in New Hampshire, are beginning to crop up that are choosing to be their own independent micro-grids, lowering their costs of going solar by buying a larger system that serves multiple homes at once. Some are completely off-grid, while other remain grid-tied reducing their costs by not having a large battery bank.
Some people want to be prepared for any disasters that may occur that can take down the power grid. They have installed solar to provide them power to be prepared for the worse, allowing them to have lights, communication, water, and more when all else has failed.
#5 Coolness Factor
Solar can be an interesting and fun hobby with technical appeal. They take pleasure in learning about and tinkering with their own solar systems. Is it always the most practical or affordable way to provide power to your man shed? Maybe not, but how cool is it have your own power plant out back ☺?
What about you?
Have you installed solar at your place? Why did you go solar? We’d love to hear from you.