As a homeowner, you may have some big, pressing questions about solar. Solar energy is a renewable source of energy that has been around for years. Though rising in popularity within the last 20 or so years, solar energy for residential consumption has been growing, developing, and improving since the early ‘70s.
Many of your questions likely surround the sustainability or reliability of solar energy, but what does reliability look like in the context of solar? Though it has been present in our lifetime, we still heavily rely on fossil fuels as our main power source. This begs the question; can we really rely on solar to power our homes and businesses?
We understand reliability as the quality of being trustworthy or of performing consistently well. This can manifest in many ways in the context of solar. For example, contrary to popular belief, solar panels can function through harsher weather conditions, such as rain or snow. Since solar technology is constantly improving, there are hardware and software products that will ensure your system’s reliability regardless of your location or the efficacy of the grid. Let’s take a closer look at the aspects that contribute to the reliability of solar power:
Location and Climate
Location, location, location is important when it comes to solar power production, but it is not necessarily the most important aspect. If you reside in an area such as Hawaii or California, the sun is likely present throughout the day and provides you with the perfect conditions to confidently rely on solar power.
So, what about areas like rainy Vancouver or Seattle? These cities average 1,940 to 2,100 sun hours per year, compared to upwards of 3000 hours for sunnier areas. Sun hours are the number of hours in which the sun is shining. Residents in sunnier climates can reap the benefits of having more sun hours annually, but can also experience a hindrance in their solar panel efficiency if temperatures exceed 35° C. Thankfully for those in the Pacific Northwest, rain is a great way to clean your solar panels and keep them running efficiently.
Fortunately, residents with fewer sun hours can opt for a grid-connected system, with the option of adding battery storage or a backup generator. Regardless of the weather patterns in your area, your solar system should continue to function reliably. Limited sun hours may equate to less power production on solar alone but with grid connection and the proper solar system, you can diversify your energy sources and experience the same confidence as those with longer sun hours. To ensure a solar system is right for you and your home, consult a solar installer in your area to conduct a professional home assessment.
As discussed, because cooler climates have fewer hours of available sun to convert into energy, you’ll need reliable solar technology that lasts through most weather conditions. Thankfully, solar panels are a reliable technology with a low failure rate, long lifespan, and low maintenance for optimum performance.
Solar panels have a long lifespan of up to 25 years. Barring any defects, your solar panels will run smoothly with little stress added to your plate. For example, rain is an easy way to have your panels cleaned. If there is little rain in your area and a lot of dust or smog, you may experience a decrease in production. If you do, your installer will be able to recommend the best course of action. Otherwise, solar panels require little to no cleanings or maintenance.
Solar panels are also incredibly stable. Between 2000-2015, solar panels had an extremely low failure rate at .05% annually. Because the rate 20 years prior was twice as high, you can imagine how much solar has improved in the last 7 years! Not only do solar panels last, but they will also perform consistently well throughout their lifetime.
Battery storage is an excellent addition to your solar system. Though efficient solar panels and grid-connection will keep your power on in regular conditions, extreme weather conditions can affect the grid and result in power outages.
With a battery backup, you can secure power for your home when the power goes out as it contains energy harnessed from your solar panels during the day. This is known as a solar + storage system as you can store solar energy for emergency purposes, providing you with a consistently reliable energy source.
Finally, you can rely on solar to be a safe investment. Not only do solar panels last a long time, but their warranties can range from 10-25 years. This means you can take comfort in knowing that if you have any defects with your solar panels, your manufacturer will have you covered. However, the warranty period does not equate to the lifespan of your solar panels. Your solar panels could last much longer than their warranty period, though their efficacy will decrease after 25 years. Regardless, solar is something you can trust.
Not only can you trust solar hardware technology, but there are also energy management software platforms that provide you access to your system’s performance. InsightCloud and InsightMobile are Schneider Electric Solar’s energy management platforms that allow you to monitor and control your system through a user-friendly interface. With Insight, you can compare your energy intake history and see how reliable your system is.
To make a long answer short: yes, we can rely on solar to power our homes and businesses. The technology is constantly improving, you have options regardless of location, and you can have confidence in your system, knowing the power will stay on despite outages. Plus, solar energy is sustainable! So, really the question should be, why shouldn’t we rely on solar?