Everywhere you turn people are saying “go green”. More and more people are looking for alternatives to heat and power their homes. One alternative is solar energy. There are both benefits and pitfalls to solar energy.

The Benefits

•Solar power is predictable. It is easy to predict how much electricity your system will produce because the amount of sunlight that hits your roof doesn’t vary that much. This means it is also easy to predict how much you will save in electric bills.

•Solar power will lower your electric bill. Solar power will offset the usage of conventional electricity especially in places where the price for grid power is high — like California, Hawaii and much of the northeast.

•Solar power is safe and clean. Solar energy systems produce emissions-free electricity.

•Installing solar panels may also help you qualify for a tax credit. For more information on energy tax credits click here.

The Pitfalls

•Solar power can be predictable but it is also variable. In other words, it can be predicted on a long term basis but not on a daily or even weekly basis. For example, solar panels won’t produce electricity at night.

•Solar power can be a more expensive alternative in the short term. The price of solar panels continue to fall but there are many aggressive financing options. If your state has no tax incentives and electricity prices are relatively low solar would be an expensive option for you.

•Some homes just don’t work. The roof must be in good condition with an unobstructed southern exposure. If the house is surrounded by trees and tall buildings solar panels will probably not work. A ground-mounted system is an option only if you have sufficient space in your yard.

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