Don't buy solar panels: 7 reasons why you should hold off (2023)

The science is clear: to prevent further climate change, the world must abandon fossil fuels for clean sources of energy.

The transition to clean energy is already underway, and solar panels are leading the charge: they’re now among the cheapest sources for utility power, and many Americans have successfully added them to their homes.

As good as solar panels are, the fact remains: rooftop solar isn’t right for all households.

In this article, we’ll go over all the reasons to avoid buying solar panels.

The 7 reasons

    Find out how much you will save on your monthly electric bill with rooftop solar panels

    #7 Your roof isn’t suitable for solar panels

    Home solar panel systems are nearly always placed on the roof. This is because most roofs possess the two necessary ingredients: lots of sunlight for the solar panels, and a surface to mount them on.

    But what if you don’t have a roof to call your own, or you have a roof but it just isn’t up to the job?

    Here are all the roof-related factors that could either prevent a successful solar installation or make it uneconomic:

    • You don’t own a house: You could be renting your home, living in an apartment, or staying with your parents. Whichever it is, you can’t install rooftop solar panels unless you have your own roof (although there are other options to consider).
    • Your roof is too old: While solar works on most roof types, the roof has to be strong enough to handle the stress of panel installation and bear the panels’ weight. If your roof is already weak or damaged, adding solar panels to it will only make things worse.
    • You’re about to get a new roof: If you’re due for a roof replacement soon, you’re better off waiting till that’s done. If not, you’ll be forced to remove the panels before the new roof goes up, and go through a whole new installation process to get them back up again.
    • Your roof is too small: The average home requires 16-20 solar panels, which takes up 280–351 square feet of space. If your roof is too small to fit enough panels, you won’t see much change in your utility bills.
    • There’s too much shade: Consistent shade on your roof, whether from nearby trees or neighboring buildings, is bad news for solar panels, which don’t perform well without direct sunlight.
    • The roof’s layout is unfavorable: Roofs that face away from the sun, or have an unfavorable slope, generate lower levels of solar power.

    #6 There’s nowhere else to put solar panels

    The roof of your home is the most common site for solar panels — but it’s not the only place they can go.

    Many homeowners get creative and find another site, such as their backyard or atop another building on their property

    However, if you neither have a suitable roof nor an alternative location, you’re left with nowhere to put the solar panels.

    • Ground-mounting isn’t possible for you: Solar panels can be set up on special ground mounts where they are angled towards the sun for optimal performance. This option requires a lot of open space, however, so it’s unlikely to work if your property is under an acre in size.
    • No other structure is available: Solar panels can be placed on sheds and carports, or backyard structures like gazebos and patio covers. If no such structure exists on your property, you’re out of luck.

    #5 You plan to move or sell your home

    If you’re planning on leaving your current residence within the next few years, pause and reconsider whether solar panels make sense for you right now.

    That’s because moving a solar panel system can be difficult, if not downright impossible.

    Firstly, your current home may have the space for solar panels, you might move into a house that doesn’t.

    Secondly, your attempts to relocate your solar system could get blocked by local building codes in your new location, which may be more restrictive.

    Finally, even where moving the panels is possible, the whole process might be too expensive. Removing solar panels from a roof costs $2,800 to $4,800 on average, and you’ll have to pay again to have them reinstalled on your new home.

    All that said, I should point out that research by Zillow says that solar panels increase your home’s value by 4.1%. This means that given the right circumstances, installing solar before you move could actually prove profitable for you.

    #4 Your electricity costs are already low

    According to a survey by the Pew Research Center, 96% of homeowners have installed solar, or are considering doing so, to save money on utility bills.

    This makes perfect sense. Many American households spend hundreds of dollars every month on their power bills — and solar panels are often the most effective way to slash that amount.

    Financial modeling by SolarReviews shows 25-year bill savings in the amount of $78,682 for solar panels installed in San Francisco in 2023, for instance.

    However, you may not be spending much on power to begin with for one or more of the following reasons:

    • You have a small house
    • You have a small household size
    • Your home and appliances are energy efficient
    • You enjoy low electric rates from your local utility

    If that’s you, and you pay $50 or less a month for electricity, then installing solar probably isn’t worth the time and effort.

    Check whether a solar installation would be worth it for you with our calculator

    #3 You’re not eligible for incentives and rebates

    The solar tax credit is currently worth 30%; you can use it to save nearly a third of the price of your solar system. This incentive can play a huge role in improving the payback period of a solar system purchase.

    Net metering, available in 38 states, is another valuable incentive to be aware of. It allows you to sell surplus power to your utility at retail rates. Exemptions on sales and property taxes are also common, and some states even offer tax credits, for instance, the $5,000 up for grabs in New York.

    But if you don’t qualify for incentives — the 30% tax credit, for instance, is only available if you pay federal taxes — then solar energy may not be your best option.

    Learn more: Find out which solar incentives and rebates you qualify for.

    #2 Your quote appears too good to be true

    You’ve heard the old saying: if it’s too good to be true, it probably is. These words definitely ring true when it comes to solar offers.

    Explosive growth in the solar industry over recent years has attracted plenty of fly-by-night operations, and their antics steal consumer attention away from reputable ones.

    These dodgy operators make false promises about your solar power production and bill savings, and then pressure buyers into contracts with aggressive sales tactics.

    They may also try to reel you in with ridiculously low prices, which is only possible because the solar panels are low-quality or defective, or because they don’t factor in the high costs of after-sales and warranty support as they don’t plan on providing these services.

    Given that solar panels are designed to last at least 25 years, we recommend you steer far away from such solar cowboys.

    Learn more: Questions to ask a solar company before you sign a contract.

    #1 The economics aren’t right for you

    There are many things to watch out for when weighing up the economics of solar for your home; check to see if any of them apply to you.

    Factors that reduce the returns from solar panels:

    Here are the factors that adversely affect your financial return from installing solar panels:

    • High upfront costs: While solar panels are often available for $15,000 or less, your costs could be higher if you live in a high-cost location or require a tricky installation.
    • Space restrictions: You can’t install a system large enough to deliver adequate electric bill savings.
    • Roof issues: Your home’s solar potential is affected by shading or a non-ideal direction and angle.
    • Low energy costs: You spend little on electricity to begin with, either because your energy consumption is low or your utility rates are cheap.
    • Unfavorable financing: Your solar loan options have high-interest rates or impose onerous conditions like a first-priority lien because you have poor credit history.
    • Lack of incentives: You don’t qualify for valuable solar incentives like the 30% tax credit or net metering.

    Any combination of these factors means you’ll see lower utility bill savings and a longer solar payback period.

    That said, many homeowners that have less-than-perfect conditions for solar are still able to save thousands of dollars by installing solar panels. Just make sure that solar panels are worth it for you before you make any decisions either way.

    Calculate solar system costs and savings for your specific home

    Key takeaways

    • Without adequate space – be it on your roof, backyard, or even something like a carport – it’s impossible to install solar panels.
    • Incentives play a key role in making solar affordable, so make sure you qualify.
    • Avoid taking out a solar loan that has a high-interest rate or places a first-priority lien on your home.
    • Calculate your solar payback period before making a decision to purchase.


    Don't buy solar panels: 7 reasons why you should hold off? ›

    In most cases, installing residential solar panels is worth it. Solar panels typically last 25 years or more and can dramatically reduce or even eliminate your electricity bills — you can save an average of $1,346 annually on energy bills by going solar. Solar is a large upfront investment.

    What are reasons not to get solar panels? ›

    Pros and Cons of Solar Energy
    Advantages of Solar EnergyDisadvantages of Solar Energy
    Energy independenceSpace constraints
    Long-term savingsEnvironmental impact of manufacturing
    Low-maintenanceDifficulty with relocation
    Benefits the communityScarcity of materials
    5 more rows
    Jan 5, 2023

    Are solar panels really worth it? ›

    In most cases, installing residential solar panels is worth it. Solar panels typically last 25 years or more and can dramatically reduce or even eliminate your electricity bills — you can save an average of $1,346 annually on energy bills by going solar. Solar is a large upfront investment.

    What I wish I knew before installing solar panels? ›

    15 Things to Consider Before Installing Rooftop Solar Panels
    • Does your roof need repairs? ...
    • What is the shape of your roof? ...
    • Which direction do the slopes of your roof face? ...
    • How much weight can your roof handle? ...
    • Where will the water go? ...
    • What about nature's other surprises? ...
    • How do you connect to the grid?

    What is the main problem with solar? ›

    Solar Energy: An Overview

    The cons are that it only produces energy when the sun is shining, needs a significant amount of land, and that certain solar technologies require rare materials.

    Do solar panels damage roof? ›

    Solar panels can cause roofing materials to deteriorate faster due to the extra weight, and they can also create an extra load on your home's cooling system. However, if installed and maintained properly, solar panels should not damage your roof.

    How long does it take for solar panels to pay for themselves? ›

    The most common estimate of the average payback period for solar panels is six to ten years. This is a pretty wide range because there are many factors that will influence the number of years it can take to pay off your panels and the monthly savings you can expect.

    Are you really saving with solar panels? ›

    Solar panels cost money upfront, but will provide significant savings on energy bills over time. The average home can save between $20,000 and $97,000 over the lifetime of your solar panel system, depending on the cost of electricity in your area.

    Do you really save money with solar panels? ›

    Given solar panels usually last for 25 to 30 years before losing efficiency, you would still have 17 to 22 years of savings on energy costs. With an estimate of $1,500 each year in savings, you could easily save $25,500 to $33,000 on electricity during the life of your system—and that's if energy prices don't rise.

    What should I watch out for solar companies? ›

    Important things to look out for in the contract include maintenance and repairs, warranties, what happens if the manufacturer goes out of business, and how you'll be financing your solar panels.

    Should you clean snow off solar panels? ›

    To clear solar panel systems of snow are essential to ensure these clean energy sources are maximized and that potential damage does not occur. Clearing away the snow as soon as possible using safe methods is key for maintaining proper system functioning throughout the winter.

    What sort of maintenance do solar panels need? ›

    The only regular maintenance needed for your solar panels is cleaning and an annual inspection. Otherwise, as long as your panels are working properly, they won't need additional maintenance throughout the year.

    What is the life expectancy of a solar panel? ›

    The estimated operational lifespan of a PV module is about 30-35 years, although some may produce power much longer. While few systems are entering the waste stream right now, more systems will come to the end of their useful life in the next few decades.

    Do solar panels work at night? ›

    Do Solar Panels Work at Night? Solar panels can still provide electricity to your house at night, but they cannot draw power in the nighttime. The more sciency explanation is the photovoltaic effect—when solar cells get activated from the sun—which is what causes the generation of electrical current.

    Why are solar panels so expensive? ›

    According to the Office of Energy Efficiency and Renewable Solar Energy,14 the soft costs associated with a solar panel cost include installation, supply chain fees, overhead, sales tax, permit fees, inspection costs, sales, and marketing.

    What are 5 bad things about solar energy? ›

    The Top 5 Disadvantages of Solar Energy
    • Solar Panel Installations Can Be Expensive. ...
    • Solar Energy Doesn't Work at Night. ...
    • Solar Energy Storage is Expensive. ...
    • Solar Panels are Difficult to Move Once Installed. ...
    • Some Solar Panels Use Rare Earth Metals.

    What is the main con of solar energy? ›

    Solar doesn't work at night.

    Solar energy is mostly used in real time, with any excess delivered back to the conventional utility grid or a battery. Solar households must rely on utility grids or battery storage for power at night and in other situations when sunlight is limited.

    How much battery does it take to go off the grid? ›

    In a typical off grid cottage application, you would have a 24 or 48-volt battery bank which is somewhere in the range of 600 to 800 amp hour. They can go as high as 6,000 amp hour or more in larger systems.

    Does mold grow under solar panels? ›

    Solar panels are similar to your home's roof. They can slowly develop organic growth like moss, mold, mildew, algae, and lichen.

    Do solar panels make your roof hot? ›

    Solar Panels Reduce Heat in Your Attic

    Solar panels create a physical covering that shades your roof and reduces its overall surface temperature.

    Do solar panels void roof warranty? ›

    In most cases, solar panels will not void a roof warranty. However, you have to be cautious of some companies that may install solar panels without considering the consequences of some actions, such as drilling holes in your roof.

    What happens after I pay off my solar panels? ›

    Once you pay off your loan or buy your system outright you will essentially be getting energy for free. When it comes to payment, those who are using solar energy will still get a monthly utility bill. This will show how much energy you produced versus how much energy you used for the month.

    Does solar panels affect your house insurance? ›

    Most rooftop solar energy systems are covered by standard homeowners policies, which doesn't change your insurance plan. However, you may need to increase the amount of coverage on your home to account for the cost of the system which can then raise your premium.

    How long does it take solar panels to charge a battery? ›

    If a battery is completely drained, a panel can typically charge the battery within five to eight hours. The total charging time will vary depending on the state of a battery. If a battery is totally drained, a solar panel can energize the cells within five to eight hours.

    Why are my solar panels not saving me money? ›

    Many homeowners use more power after going solar

    If you start using more power after going solar than you were before going solar, you may not be saving money on electricity. Keep in mind that your solar system is designed to produce the amount of electricity your household was using before you went solar.

    How much money does 1 solar panel save? ›

    How Much Money Do Solar Panels Save Per Month? The average 5 kW residential solar system can save $100 to $150 monthly on electric bills. The actual savings depends on various factors, including solar array size, energy usage, and electricity costs in your area.

    Do solar panels work on cloudy days? ›

    Photovoltaic panels can use direct or indirect sunlight to generate power, though they are most effective in direct sunlight. Solar panels will still work even when the light is reflected or partially blocked by clouds. Rain actually helps to keep your panels operating efficiently by washing away any dust or dirt.

    How much will a 5kW solar system save me? ›

    Using this number and multiplying the estimated system output by how much you pay for your power, you can see that with an investment of around $6,000-$8,000 for a 5kW solar system you can save up to & over $500 a quarter, and an impressive profit of $54,300 over 25 years on your power bills!

    What would happen if everyone used solar panels? ›

    It would be a difference of 22 billion tones of carbon dioxide that would not need to pollute the air or cause global warming. This figure and calculation also include the use of fossil fuels in the actual production of the solar panels. In the long run, that figure may drop to zero.

    How does the solar tax credit work if I don't owe taxes? ›

    Tax credits offset the balance of tax due to the government. You do not get a refund if you have no tax liability for the year your system goes into service. If you paid taxes through withholding or quarterly estimated filings, the ITC can still be applied, and the prepayments you made may be refunded.

    Who is the most reliable solar company? ›

    The Best Solar Companies of June 2023. We've ranked our top picks for solar installation companies based on our detailed methodology and extensive research, and SunPower, Sunrun and ADT Solar scored the highest.

    Is there a lawsuit against SunRun? ›

    SunRun Inc. has been hit with a class action lawsuit alleging the San-Francisco-based solar energy company deceived consumers into leasing SunRun solar panels by making misleading claims about their cost savings and about the increasing costs of electricity.

    What is the commission on selling solar panels? ›

    Solar panel sellers are usually paid by commission, meaning you will not have a fixed salary range. Manufacturers offer varying commission rates, but the amount is generally based on a 5% base commission, a 2% time-based volume bonus, and 2% for self-generated leads.

    How do I keep my solar panels clear in the winter? ›

    A pulley-operated tarp can be a useful tool for keeping snow and debris off of your solar panels. By simply pulling the tarp over the panels during heavy snowfall, you can protect them from damage and keep them free of snow and debris.

    Do solar panels heat up to melt snow? ›

    Heat. The dark silicone cells of solar panels are designed to absorb heat from sunlight. Once any portion of a panel is exposed to the sun, a small amount of heat spreads throughout the panel and melts the snow.

    How often do solar panels need to be serviced? ›

    Solar panels only need maintenance two to four times a year, but check your solar companies manual for panel specific maintenance care. Fall and spring serve as good times to perform maintenance work because panels can need cleaning following winter where dust and debris can accumulate.

    What is the best way to clean solar panels on your roof? ›

    In most cases, the occasional rain shower will be enough to effectively and safely clean your solar panels. When it hasn't rained for an extended period, which is very common in California, a hose with a spray nozzle is likely enough to keep solar panels clean enough to operate well.

    How often do you need to clean solar panels on a roof? ›

    It is generally recommended to clean solar panels every 6 months to a year in order to maintain the productivity, efficiency, and effectiveness of the panels. However, based on where you live and the level of dirt and pollution, the need for cleaning may be more frequent.

    Does hail damage solar panels? ›

    Usually, hail does very little damage to solar panels. However, it can chip, crack, or even break open in powerful storms. For this reason, you should take steps to protect the panels in climates where hailstorms are frequent.

    What happens to solar panels when they stop working? ›

    Instead, dead panels are sent to an e-waste facility that will salvage what they can—usually the aluminum, glass, and copper. The rest of the panel's components are typically shredded and sent to a landfill.

    What happens after 25 years of solar panels? ›

    The industry standard for the lifespan of solar panels is 25-30 years. However, a solar panel won't die after 25-30 years – rather, its power output will decrease a significant amount below what the manufacturer projected.

    Do solar panels charge on rainy days? ›

    The good news is your solar PV system will still produce energy even when it's raining and cloudy outside. Solar panels installed on your roof can use direct or indirect sunlight, though they are most effective when they receive direct sunlight.

    Do solar panels work in the winter? ›

    Even in below-freezing weather, solar panels turn sunlight into electricity. That's because solar panels absorb energy from our sun's abundant light, not the sun's heat. In fact, cold climates are actually optimal for solar panel efficiency.

    How long does a solar battery last at night? ›

    How long can a solar battery power a house? Without running AC or electric heat, a 10 kWh battery alone can power the basic operations of a house for at least 24 hours, and longer with careful budgeting.

    Is solar worth it financially? ›

    In most cases, installing residential solar panels is worth it. Solar panels typically last 25 years or more and can dramatically reduce or even eliminate your electricity bills — you can save an average of $1,346 annually on energy bills by going solar. Solar is a large upfront investment.

    Is solar really cheaper than electricity? ›

    Although solar energy requires an initial investment to purchase and set up, people find that solar energy is a lot less expensive than electric power in the long run due to the rising price of electricity.

    Will solar ever get cheaper? ›

    The good news? Solar costs are very likely to decrease in 2023, making rooftop renewables affordable for more homeowners. In November 2022, the National Renewable Energy Laboratory (NREL) published its analysis of the cost of solar and energy storage (battery) system installations for the first quarter of 2022.

    What is the biggest risk of solar panels? ›

    General Risks of Solar Panels

    Fire is the greatest concern of solar panel development. While PVs cannot start a fire themselves, installation malfunctioning and overheated components can.

    Does having solar panels increase home insurance? ›

    You may not see an increase in your homeowners insurance premium after installing solar panels on your roof. However, you'll likely need to raise your coverage limits to account for the replacement cost of your solar panels, which will likely result in some increase to your premium.

    How long do solar panels last? ›

    Solar panels, also known as photovoltaic or PV panels, are made to last more than 25 years. In fact, many solar panels installed as early as the 1980s are still working at expected capacity. Not only are solar panels remarkably reliable, solar panel longevity has increased dramatically over the last 20 years.

    Why can't solar panels be more efficient? ›

    The Average Solar Panel Silicon Cells Are Not Very Efficient

    The semiconductors that convert sunlight into electrical energy are seen as inefficient as they only capture a fraction of the light they get.

    Is there a risk of radiation from solar panels? ›

    Some people have a myth about solar panels that they release dangerous radiation, which is harmful for human beings and leads to cancer. But the fact is that all these myths about solar panels are false. Up till now, there has been no evidence found that proves that the solar panel or radiation causes cancer.

    What percentage of solar panels fail? ›

    The loss of output over time, called degradation, typically lands at about 0.5% each year, according to the National Renewable Energy Laboratory (NREL). Manufacturers typically consider 25 to 30 years a point at which enough degradation has occurred where it may be time to consider replacing a panel.

    What are the dangers of solar radiation? ›

    Sunburn, immunodepression, photoaging, and photocarcinogenesis, are some of the most significant adverse effects of solar radiation in humans.
    • Use physical barrier photoprotection measures (clothing, hats and sunglasses)
    • Avoid sunlight exposure in the middle of the day (based on time of year)
    Jun 1, 2020

    Do solar panels void homeowners insurance? ›

    Most rooftop solar energy systems are covered by standard homeowners policies, which doesn't change your insurance plan. However, you may need to increase the amount of coverage on your home to account for the cost of the system which can then raise your premium.

    How long do solar panels take to pay for themselves? ›

    The most common estimate of the average payback period for solar panels is six to ten years. This is a pretty wide range because there are many factors that will influence the number of years it can take to pay off your panels and the monthly savings you can expect.

    How often do solar panels need to be cleaned? ›

    It is generally recommended to clean solar panels every 6 months to a year in order to maintain the productivity, efficiency, and effectiveness of the panels. However, based on where you live and the level of dirt and pollution, the need for cleaning may be more frequent.

    What is more efficient than solar energy? ›

    The greatest environmental impact is achieved by solar energy. Reliable applications are better for natural gas and coal. The effectiveness of solar panels can be between 15% to 20%, whereas coal could reach 40% efficiency and natural gas can reach 60 percent efficiency.

    What is the 100% efficient solar panel? ›

    A panel with 100% efficiency can transform all the light that hits the panel into electrical energy. However, since solar panels cannot absorb energy from the entire solar spectrum, they cannot convert sunlight into electricity with 100% efficiency.


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