Your Best Excuses For Not Going Solar, Busted

By Jane | January 28, 2012

Solar Panels

Since we got our solar panels installed, I’ve been talking them up big time to any and all who’ll listen.

I love them.

I love waking up in the morning knowing that my house is going to generate more electricity than I’ll use all day. I love that I’m no longer burning coal to power my laptop. I love saving money on my electricity bill.

Talking about home solar to all and sundry means I have now heard every excuse under that great, powerful sun of ours for not going solar. Most of those excuses are a flimsy bunch of BS and I’m here to bust them.

Excuse 1: Solar panels are so expensive!!
Or they cost $0. And you save money. It depends a bit on where you live.

In many (most?) states and parts of Canada, you don’t have to buy anything to go solar. You can lease your panels right from the solar company which means there are no upfront costs, no installation costs, no maintenance fees, no charges for online monitoring tools, no permit applications, no headaches, no hassle.

You will pay a monthly lease (for our small home it’s less than $30), or pay the company for the power you generate. Either way, you should save a little each month compared to your previous electricity costs.

You can also watch your meter run backwards, which is kinda trippy. Then your utility has to pay you, which makes a nice change after all these years.

As a bonus, most solar companies offer great referral fees, so once your envious friends, family, and blog readers go solar, you save even more money.

If lease-type agreements aren’t available where you live, there are a few other options. Zero Down Solar Financing, Unsecured Solar Financing, Doing It Yourself with home solar kits, big government rebates…

The reality is, the days of plopping down $10,000 to get clean electricity at home are over.

Here are a few useful searches to get you started:
Residential Solar Lease + Your City
Home Solar Financing + Your City
Home Solar Kits

Excuse 2: Solar panels are just ugly
I admit I was a little worried about this before we got our panels. Our roof is low and the panels are easily visible from our front deck. Yikes. Do we really want those metal and glass monstrosities up there?

Turns out, now that they’re up there, the only time I notice them is when they’re glinting in the sun, generating clean energy for me to use.

But what will the neighbors think? Having solar panels on your roof is like a big sign that says:

I care about our planet, our natural resources, and the world my grandchildren will live in. Do you?

If you just can’t be convinced that something creating clean energy for you and your family is beautiful, look at it this way:

Would you rather have an ugly roof on a beautiful planet, or a beautiful roof on an ugly planet?

Excuse 3: I have the wrong kind of roof, house, yard, weather, or other sundry thing
No you don’t. I mean, I don’t know for sure, but it’s pretty likely that your home is just fine for solar.

Yes, solar panels can go on Spanish tile roofs. Yes, solar panels can go on roofs that don’t face south. Yes, solar panels can generate enough power even if you live in the Pacific Northwest/England/Vancouver. Yes, solar panels will work even if you have trees on your property. Yes, solar panels work in space (no, they don’t).

If one of those online tools told you your house is no good for solar, beware! Some of those tools are outdated or inaccurate. There’s one run by LADWP that says my entire neighborhood is “unsuitable for solar”. I’ve got a backwards-running meter that begs to differ.

The only way to know for sure if your house is cool enough for solar is to get a consultant out to take look. So stop arguing and do it already.

Excuse 4: I’m waiting for those rad next gen solar panels
This is the first excuse I hear from my techie friends. After all, they just read an article saying that some super new technology is on the way that will revolutionize solar panels blah blah blah…

These are the same guys (yeah, it’s always guys) who pre-order every new release from Apple whether they need it or not (they don’t).

The truth is, unless you’re running a grow op or a server farm in your house, the current panels are more than enough to generate all the power you need, or at least take a hefty chunk of the load. Who cares if five years from now your neighbor has the fancy new slimline PVs on their roof?

You will have had five years creating your own green power. What better way to not feel guilty about all those hours you spent playing Angry Birds?

Excuse 5: I would, but my partner/girlfriend/husband doesn’t want solar
First thing I’d do in this situation? Make them read this blog post.

If they’re still not convinced, find out why. Do they hate nature? Are they CEO of Big Coal Inc? Are they afraid aliens might be beaming signals into your panels? What? You should be able to talk them down from these or any other unwarranted fears.

If that still doesn’t work, here’s a good strategy. Every time you sit down to watch TV, sigh and say “Just imagine, we could be watching solar-powered TV right now.” While blending a batch of margaritas, say “If only these were solar margaritas.” Open the fridge and tell it mournfully “If only you were powered by the sun.”

After a few days of this, you’ll either annoy them so much they’ll give in, or they’ll leave you. Either way, you’ll be free to get solar installed! Win!

Excuse 6: I rent
Yup, this one is tricky. Especially since most landlords are at least slightly insane. But ALL landlords love to save money. Send them this blog, talk up solar, tell them how it will shrink their bills and increase their property values. Do the research for them, invite a consultant over, make it easy for them to say yes.

Excuse 7: My roof needs replacing
This is one of the more valid excuses, I’ll admit. If you’re going to replace your roof in the next five years, you might want to wait. Or, you might want to talk to your local solar provider. They really want your business. Maybe they can help finance or offset the costs of replacing your roof? Or they could suggest rebates or subsidies that have worked for their other clients. You never know until you ask.

Plus, solar panels don’t necessarily need to go on the roof, so you still have options.

Excuse 8: Solar is only for bleeding-heart liberal hippy commies
It’s also for people who want independence from foreign oil, to improve the local economy, to create jobs, and to save money.

So that’s everyone then. Next?

Excuse 9: I’m going to sell my house… some day
Yu-huh. And?

Solar panels increase the desirability and the value of your home. According to an NREL study, solar homes sold 20% faster, for 17% more than non-solar homes just like them.

Enough said.

Sun-Powered Everything
Imagine waking up in the morning, hearing your coffee percolate, and knowing it’s being brewed by the sun. You flip on the air conditioning. Also sun-powered. The TV, the dishwasher, your laptop… that’s right… Sun-Powered Everything.

Trust me, it’s a great feeling.

A Little Plug For SolarCity
I’d be remiss in not giving a big-up to SolarCity. They did an amazing job with our installation, have given nothing but excellent service, and all their promises have so far come true.

Yes, I get a referral fee if you sign up using this link, so if you’re in Arizona, California, Colorado, Hawaii, Massachusetts, Maryland, New Jersey, New York, Oregon, Pennsylvania, Texas, or Washington D.C., ask them to come over and check out your home.

Have you done solar research for your neighborhood? Are you planning on converting to clean energy? If not, what are the obstacles keeping you from it? Share your experiences below.


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6 comments

  1. Comment by Eric

    Eric Reply March 27, 2012 at 9:32 pm

    Anyone know a provider in Texas for MOBILE HOMES? I’d love to be off the grid and don’t plan on going anywhere for a long time.

  2. Comment by Christine

    Christine Reply March 19, 2012 at 2:58 am

    Thanks for the great article. I agree that a roof covered with solar panels is a thing of beauty! We put our 33 panel, 7.5 KW, solar array up over a year ago, and because we live in Ontario Canada we are feeding back into the grid, and getting paid for it (last year we were paid around $6000).

    Everyone should be lobbying their regional and federal govts for a similar feed-in-tariff program, which encourages renewable energy projects, both small and larger scale. Otherwise the initial financial cost can be quite daunting.
    If you’re interested in learning more about our particular project, our array output info can be accessed online on Enphase Energy’s website, and is updated every 15 minutes and also shows cumulative data:
    https://eecs.enphaseenergy.com/public/systems/TgUA10919

    I’ve also written about our project on my blog, with pics:
    http://bit.ly/dSNtV9

    As Thomas Edison famously said “I’d put my money on the sun and solar energy. What a source of power! I hope we don’t have to wait ’til oil and coal run out before we tackle that.”

  3. Comment by linda m bishop

    linda m bishop Reply February 27, 2012 at 6:02 am

    how about this excuse/reason for not having solar yet: we live out in the woods. WAY out in the woods. there’s no cell phone signal. the only way we can get tv or internet is via satellite. the closest town likely to offer any possibility of having a solar system installer is 2 hours from here–and they are really not interested in making the trip to even give us an estimate. i would love to have solar!! what do we do now?

    • Comment by JaneM

      JaneM February 27, 2012 at 12:43 pm

      Ha. That’s a pretty good one. The problem with living in a big city in the US is that I get very city-centric in my world view. I tend to assume that what’s available to me is available to everyone. Thanks for the reminder that that’s not always the case!

      I wish I had a good solution for you, but sadly I don’t.

  4. Comment by Tanya Bushnell

    Tanya Bushnell Reply January 30, 2012 at 8:15 pm

    I’m so excited to hear that you got some shiny new panels on your roof! Excuse #7 is our only excuse for not having them yet.

  5. Comment by bryan cook

    bryan cook Reply January 30, 2012 at 9:44 am

    thanks for writing. i knew a lot of the info but there were bits of new stuff and i’m glad to see everything clear and in one place for to educate people. nice job.

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