You may hear friends, family, or even the news discussing the growing popularity of solar panels and wonder, “Is solar power really reliable?” Businesses like Apple, Amazon, and Walmart run on solar energy, so is it only efficient on a large scale?
We have the answers to all your questions so you can confidently install your panels. Let’s look at solar panel reliability and determine if everything will work the same way it always has.
How Does Solar Power Work?
Before we can discuss reliability, it’s essential to understand how solar panels produce power in the first place. Everyone knows that they convert sunlight into electricity, but how does that work? All the panels contain photovoltaic cells; when sunlight hits this cell, it shakes loose electrons and makes them flow. At its simplest, electricity is just that—flowing electrons!
The process isn’t finished yet. These flowing electrons aren’t quite right for home use—but a solar inverter will help. The electricity travels into your inverter, where the energy turns into AC power that you use when you plug something into a wall outlet. In short, rays of sunlight touch photovoltaic cells, electrons flow, and an inverter then makes usable electricity.
Will You Ever Lose Power?
Now that you understand how the panels work, you’re probably wondering what happens at nighttime—or on a cloudy day, for that matter. Are you limited to power only when the sun is shining? The short answer is no!
Let’s look at cloudy days first. Cloudy days aren’t the same as nighttime; even without a visible sun in the sky, the environment is still lit by the sun’s rays. While direct sunlight is more effective at producing electricity, your panels will continue to generate power even when it’s overcast.
Nighttime is a different story. Your panels will generate little to no power after the sun sets, but that doesn’t mean you experience a blackout every night. That’s where the grid comes in. Switching to solar energy isn’t the same as “going off the grid.” When you install panels, your home remains connected to the electrical grid that powers all the other solar-panel-lacking houses around you.
So regardless of the power your panels produce, you always have a backup: the electrical grid. If you have several overcast days in a row and your panels can’t produce enough energy to power your home, no worries! You’ll seamlessly enjoy electricity from the grid.
What about blackouts? If your home is connected to the grid and you don’t have solar batteries, it will lose power along with all the other houses on your block when the grid fails. All systems tied to the grid are required to shut off until the grid comes back online—unless you invest in solar batteries.
Solar batteries are an optional add-on to a solar panel system. You need the panels and the inverter to use solar energy, but batteries are not required. However, batteries allow you to store excess energy and save it for a rainy day—sometimes literally.
Do Solar Panels Fail?
Solar panels can fail, yes. However, according to a National Renewable Energy Laboratory study, only 5 panels out of 10,000 failed—that’s 0.5 percent. While this number is small, keep in mind that it may be even smaller in your area. The study looked at panels in a wide range of environments, so places with harsher weather may have experienced more failures.
In the unlikely event that your solar panels do fail, it isn’t the end of the world. Trustworthy solar installation companies provide warranties with their panels, usually from 20 to 30 years. If the panels break before then, the company is on the hook to replace or reimburse you for the loss!
Is Other Solar Equipment Reliable?
While it’s all well and good that solar panels themselves are reliable, what about the other essential equipment? Inverters are crucial to the electrical conversion process, and they are also backed by warranties. These range from 10 to 25 years, making them more likely to fail than your panels. However, you can save yourself a headache by investing in a model from a trusted brand.
The racking system (the frame that connects your panels to your roof) usually comes with a 10- to 20-year warranty, but as long as you keep an eye on it toward the end of the warranty, you’ll be able to replace it quickly and for a minimal upkeep cost.
What About Maintenance?
Upkeep and maintenance are also an aspect of reliability. If your panels don’t fail but they constantly require a technician coming to your house to monkey with the panels, that would also feel very frustrating. Thankfully, maintenance is generally very light over the lifespan of a solar panel system. Most companies recommend a cleaning at least twice a year (which can be a quick spray down with a hose).
If you’re worried about the health of your panels, you can add a monitoring system to your setup, which will show you the energy production of your panels each day. The monitoring system can also show you whether the panels are maintaining their efficiency.
Are Solar Panels a Safe Investment?
At the end of the day, this is the most essential question. We think solar panels are an incredibly safe investment. First, most American homeowners completely pay off their investment within a decade and begin “profiting through savings” after that. With warranties extending past two decades, there’s almost no doubt that you will make back your money and then some.
Finally, we haven’t even mentioned government incentives! There are several rebates and incentives (from federal to state to local) that encourage Americans to install solar panels. These can save you a few thousand dollars on the installation process, so look into it before you sign any checks! If you want to install solar panels in Las Cruces, contact us—we can help.
Now that you know that everything will work the same thanks to the reliability of solar panels, talk to your local solar panel installer without worrying that your system won’t last!