Solar Energy vs. Regular Electricity
For most homeowners, utility electricity represents the default. They take whatever power they need from the grid and pay fees to their utility provider every billing cycle. However, a growing number of homeowners are now exploring the possibility of adding solar photovoltaic (PV) panels to their roofs.
This article explains why this trend is happening. It also outlines some of the benefits that solar energy has over traditional grid electricity (and vice versa).
Why Solar Power Is Better Than Regular Electricity
There are actually several distinct advantages that solar PV has over conventional grid power, including:
Utility electricity is normally generated from fossil fuel inputs such as coal, natural gas and oil. Burning these fuels to generate power emits CO2 and other harmful greenhouse gases. This pollution leads to worsening air quality and climate change.
By contrast, solar PV technology doesn’t pollute (once it is installed). Instead, it silently converts clean sunshine into equally clean electricity to power your home and appliances. This allows you to reduce your carbon footprint and leave a better planet for future generations.
In many major utility markets across the United States, solar power has already reached grid parity. This means that the total cost of installing and using PV panels over the next 25+ years of their warrantied lifetimes is cheaper than continued reliance on utility electricity over that same timeframe.
In fact, monthly, annual and lifetime savings are the primary drivers behind solar power’s meteoric growth over the past several years. Why pay for expensive grid electricity when you can generate your power using free sunshine? This question is especially relevant given that utility rates tend to increase over time — while the sun remains free forever.
As climate change worsens, extreme weather events will likely become more severe. Consequently, grid outages and rolling blackouts may also become more common. However, with on-site power generation, solar customers can keep the lights on — even if the rest of the neighborhood goes dark.
It’s important to note that this benefit doesn’t materialize automatically. That’s because many solar PV systems come with a safety feature that automatically turns the installation off during grid outages. This is to prevent utility technicians from accidentally touching “live” wires as they repair downed lines.
In order to benefit from continuous daytime power, Route 66 Solar recommends installing a PV inverter that can override this safety feature. For reliable nighttime power during grid outages, it recommends adding on-site solar battery storage as well.
Why Grid Electricity Is Better Than Solar Power
The main advantage of utility power is familiarity. As mentioned before, the grid is the default for most homes. In effect, you don’t have to do anything at all if your home is already connected to the electricity network.
Zero friction involved.
Going solar requires conducting research, scheduling property inspections, and financing your installation using cash, solar loans or solar leases. Although the long-term benefits of clean, renewable power far outweigh dirty and expensive grid electricity, claiming those benefits takes money, time and energy.
Moreover, solar panels stop working when the sun goes down. This is in sharp contrast to grid electricity, which operates continuously 24/7 (unless there’s a blackout, of course).
However, you can use solar batteries to overcome this hurdle. Even so, most homeowners simply use solar power during the day and grid electricity at night. If yours is a state that offers net energy metering, you can feed unused solar energy into the grid — typically in exchange for utility credits that you can apply to future bills.
Is Solar Right for You?
When it comes to sustainability, affordability and reliability, solar energy emerges as the clear winner every time. These advantages will only become more pronounced as utility rates and blackouts increase over time.
The sooner you begin exploring your solar options, the sooner you can start claiming these powerful benefits.