Rosie on the House: Debunking Solar Power Myths |

Rosie Romero special for the Arizona Daily Star

There are many misconceptions regarding residential solar panels (systems). It can be difficult to decipher the truth from the myths.

Randy Cole, owner of Fox Valley Electric and Solar, a Certified Rosie Partner, explains the truth behind some of the most common myths.

Myth: Solar energy only works when the sun is shining.

It can be true and a myth depending on a few factors. As their name suggests, solar panels produce power when there is sunlight.

Truth: Solar power works regardless of the weather.

Regardless of the weather, the sun’s rays will arrive on Earth, although a cloudy day may reduce production. Most systems produce enough power during the day, creating a surplus, especially in colder months, which will create credits in a grid-tied system. However, in order to use the surplus and not depend on the network, you need batteries with a “smart” transfer switch connected to a household generator. It’s a good option for extra power. This allows the house to generate electricity throughout the night, in the event of a power outage or when it is cloudy. The house remains connected to the network as is the case for water and sewers. The storage battery will kick in when the grid fails, maintaining critical circuits like refrigerators and medical equipment.

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Myth: Solar panels are not efficient.

Truth: Solar panels are very efficient.

The efficiency of solar panels is measured by the amount of available energy from the sun that is transformed into usable energy. Because the sun produces enormous amounts of energy, solar panels will provide enough power to meet your home’s needs at a cost that is typically less than electricity supplied by the utility grid. According to the National Renewable Energy Laboratory, in 2020 residential solar installations used panels with efficiencies between 16% and 22%. The majority of racks installed in 2020 used panels with efficiency ratings of 19%, right in the middle of this range. The more efficient the solar panels, the higher the energy output, resulting in more savings for the homeowner. The first solar panels accounted for only about 1%.

Myth: Installing a solar system is free.

Regardless of what the seller or advertisement tells you, a solar system is never free. These companies actually sell you utility bills at no cost.

Truth: There is no such thing as a free solar system, but you can achieve $0 energy bills.

Don’t confuse a zero-cost energy bill with free solar power. You still have to pay for the panels. Once you pay them, you can have a zero cost energy system without a utility bill every month.

Myth: Solar energy is too expensive.

Truth: Solar power doesn’t have to be expensive.

Although the cost of a residential solar system can range from $15,000 to $39,000 in July, you don’t have to pay for everything at the time of installation. Several solar financing options allow you to pay for it over time. There are also local, state, and federal tax credits of up to 26% of the system and rebates to offset costs. The Federal Residential Solar Power Credit is a tax credit that can be claimed against federal income tax for a percentage of the cost of a solar photovoltaic system. According to Energy.gov, in December 2020, Congress passed an extension of the Investment Tax Credit, which provides a 26% tax credit for systems installed in 2020-2022 and 22% for systems installed in 2023. (Systems installed before December 31, 2019, were eligible for a 30% tax credit.) The tax credit expires beginning in 2024 unless Congress renews it. To learn more about the tax credit and find out if you qualify, visit tucne.ws/1l0q.

Myth: The return on investment is too long.

This may be the case if you move within a year or two of installation.

Truth: Solar panels add value to your home. The cost can be recovered when the house is sold. If you stay in the house, you should start seeing your return on investment as early as six years, especially if you take advantage of available credits. Avoid leases and power purchase agreements, as transferring the contract to the new owner during the sale can be difficult. Standard solar financing allows for an affordable monthly payment and simplifies the sales transition.

Myth: Panel maintenance is a nightmare.

Truth: Panels require little maintenance.

Solar panels require little ongoing maintenance. In a dusty environment like Arizona, you might want to clean them once a year to maximize power output. The solar installation company will help you maintain or resolve any issues with the panels. That’s why it’s better to have professional installation instead of installing them yourself. Most panels have a 20 to 25 year warranty.

Myth: Installing solar panels is not necessary because the electric company will fix my home’s electrical problems in the event of a power outage.

Truth: A homeowner’s responsibility for incoming electrical service generally begins where the utility company wires run into the house. The customer/owner is responsible for the installation, maintenance and repair of all equipment beyond the service connection point, except the electric meter.

The benefits of installing a solar panel can far outweigh the reasons not to. Before making a decision, do your research. Talk to your neighbors who have solar power and contact a few reputable installers.

An expert in the Arizona home construction and renovation industry since 1988, Rosie Romero is the host of the syndicated Saturday morning show Rosie on the House, which airs locally from 10-11 a.m. on KNST (790- AM) in Tucson and 8 a.m. to 11 a.m. on KGVY (1080-AM) and (100.7-FM) in Green Valley.

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