While there are many benefits to solar energy and energy storage, I believe it is important to look at both the pros and cons of this technology so that you can make an educated decision about what is in your own best interest as a property owner.
Since most solar companies will only tout the advantages of solar panels and solar batteries, let us start with the disadvantages of this technology. First and foremost, if your home or business does not consume much energy, solar panels and solar batteries are not going to be a good fit for your situation.
The general rule of thumb in California is that if your home does not have at least a $200 per month electric utility bill, it will not “pencil out” for you to go solar.
The same is true for businesses. If your business does not have at least a $1,000 per month electric utility bill, the financials of the project are not going to be as attractive as a business that is paying $5,000 or $10,000 per month.
While energy consumption is an important factor in determining whether it makes sense to go solar, so is the available roof space or vacant land that the installation is to occupy. If your home or business has a small roof, no parking lot (in the case of a business), and no vacant land where the installation can be housed, it will be nearly impossible to build a solar system that will offset the energy needs of the home or business. One disadvantage of energy storage is that it does not save money for homeowners like solar panels do, although it does for businesses that have demand charges.
A final disadvantage to both solar panels and solar batteries are the declining incentives available for these projects in 2021. Millions of California property owners have already installed solar panels and solar batteries, so the utility and state rebates have all been exhausted (except for the California SGIP program), meaning you will pay more for your project than someone who adopted the technology 5 years ago.
I consulted on this solar project for a homeowner in Redondo Beach who was in the process of purchasing a Tesla.
Now let us look at the advantages of solar energy and energy storage.
First and foremost, as you probably know, the biggest “pro” of solar energy is that it saves property owners money on their electricity costs.
The second biggest “pro” of solar energy is that it helps save the planet by reducing fossil fuel emissions.
Another advantage for California home and business owners is that the adoption of this technology allows them to ensure they have electricity when the grid is down. The state of California is currently still offering a one time cash rebate for the installation of energy storage (these funds are subject to exhaustion). Although financial incentives are lower than they were in the past, in 2021, there is still a 22% Federal tax credit for investment in both solar panels and solar batteries.
Financing options have made it extremely easy for property owners to go solar and save money without investing in the project outright. Utility rates are so high in California that the average California homeowner with a $300 per month electric utility bill can go solar AND install a solar battery and still save money on their monthly electricity costs if they finance their project.
The same goes for businesses and non-profits. With PACE (property assessed clean energy) loans and PPAs (power purchase agreements), there are multiple ways for a business or non-profit to go solar and save money without having to invest in the project upfront.
As the technology for both solar panels and solar batteries continues to improve, the costs continue to come down. Finally, for those of you who have an electric car or are planning on buying one (or several), installing solar panels has the added benefit of eliminating your gas expense. Once you have installed solar at your home or business, you can drive on sunshine for as long as you own your electric car!
Want to see if going solar (with or without energy storage) is right for your home or business? Get started by emailing us an electric utility bill, a picture of your electrical panel or switchgear, and a picture of your roof today: firstname.lastname@example.org
By James Kennedy, Founder, and President, Beach Cities Solar Consulting LLC