Tuesday, 4 September 2012

Are solar panels right for you?

With the “greenification” of our culture, if you will, would you expect there to be an increase in interest in installing solar panels? And based on that supposition, how much of the world's energy would you guess is being sourced from solar? While you're at it, why not make a guess at how the cost of solar panel today compares with what it was a decade ago? Did you guess that it increased? You're in for a surprise. The reality is that the cost of solar power today is even less than 20% what it was ten years ago, and currently only about 1% of the world's energy is solar. That's pretty incredible, given trends that are moving more and more towards sustainability and economy. Circumstances like these make the prospects of delving into solar panel energy very attractive.
Installing solar panels is pricey upfront, but like energy efficient washing machines, the payoff is huge, and it kicks in right away. That said, because of the substantial initial investment, this is a decision you want to make carefully. The first and most sensible thing for you to consider is your weather. If you live in a place prone to long stretches of gray skies, it might not be your greatest source of alternative energy. If, however, you live in a region where there is some sun nearly daily, you have that in your favour. Another weather-related piece of criteria to consider is the frequency and severity with which you are the target of storms—and that includes wind storms, snow storms, rain storms, and hail storms—any inclement weather that could cause damage to your panels. If this is the case, insurance coverage for your panels may be a little higher than in an area that isn't so storm-laden. The reason for this is that it is more likely that your panels will need replacing or repairs due to storm-incurred damage.
Interestingly, though, the bulk of insurance claims for solar panels are actually related to theft, so the type of neighbourhood you live in may have a role to play in the cost of insuring your panels. That said, there are ways to protect against theft, and lower the risks (and thus the insurance rates) associated with it. For example, there are some panels designed with triggers that are activated when the cutting of wires is attempted, alerting multiple security personnel instantly of the attempt in moments via their phones.
It should be clarified, though, that solar panels don't always mean higher insurance costs. In fact, they can often lower your home insurance rates. One line of reasoning is that those concerned with environmental impact have a strong sense of responsibility generally, and are likely to take good care of their property.
It's not a decision to take lightly, but it definitely deserves some consideration...and with government incentives that encourage consumers to save energy, there may be a rebate in it for you too.


  1. To summarize, one US company asked CBP for a classification ruling that would set duty rates for the solar panels they were importing. The company proposed using a semiconductor classification, as the rest of the industry was doing. solar panels for homes