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Should You Switch to Solar?

As a reader of this newsletter, you’re no stranger to the threats to our power grid.

Cyber-terrorism. Physical attacks. An electromagnetic pulse. Any one of these could prove devastating.

Natural disasters, poor energy policy decisions, and greater demands are putting more strain on our power grid than ever before.

And the infrastructure itself is falling apart. Many experts believe a widespread, long-term grid collapse is just a matter of time. If the entire grid does collapse, the consequences will be devastating. Up to 90 percent of the population will die within a year because of disease and starvation.

It’s a situation that bears thinking on.

If the grid goes down, you can’t prevent the supply chain disruptions. Grocery stores will be stripped of food. The medical system will be without the resources it needs to function.

But, you can see to your own comfort and survival as well as your family’s.

And one way to do that is by making sure the power stays on in your home.

One way to do that is to make the switch to solar power.

Depending on where you live, solar is an option worth considering. But there are pros and cons you need to weigh before making a decision.

Great Things About Solar Power

One of the best things about solar power is that it doesn’t run out. Sure, you may have to do without power sometimes. When it’s raining or at night, you solar power production will stop. If you have a battery system to store excess power, though, being without electricity will be rare.

Another great thing about solar is that it’s quiet. If the grid does go down, you’ll be able to find the houses using generators for power just by following the roar of the engines. That’s not a problem with solar.

If you are look at getting off-the-grid one way or the other, you’ll find that the cost of installation for a solar system is cheaper that most other alternative power systems.

And while solar panels require a significant up-front investment, they will save you money over the long term. Right now, both the federal government and many states offer tax incentives for installing solar power, so you could dramatically cut your up front investment. I’ve seen estimates for my own home that have a break even point in as little as five years—that’s how long it would take for my power savings to pay for the up-front costs. (You can get an estimate of the cost to install solar on your home right here.)

Finally most solar systems are rated to last 25 years or more. If you keep your panels clean, you home will continue to create free power with little maintenance required … and it will do so for decades.

The Downside of Going Solar

The biggest drawback of making the switch to solar power is the up-front cost. Purchasing and installing a solar system that will support the power demands of your home is still an expensive investment.

The good news is that some more affordable options are starting to become available on the market. For example, flexible solar roof shingles are becoming a more viable and more affordable option.

The second biggest drawback is that several things will interfere with your production of power when using solar. Obviously, your solar array won’t produce any power at night. Pollution—if you live in a city—will affect how efficient your solar cells are. And, of course, weather is an important factor. If you live in an area that is sunny on most days, the weather may not be a worry. But in areas that get a lot of overcast days, it could be a problem.

Because of the intermittence of power production, you have to make a choice. You can either install a stand-alone solar power system that uses battery storage to provide for your power needs when solar production declines. This option adds to the up-front cost of installing your solar power system.

Or you can stay connected to the grid. If you stay tied to the grid, your system will feed excess power into the grid. And it will draw power from the grid when necessary. If you stay tied to the grid, your solar power system will be forced to shut down during power outages to protect the safety of utility technicians. So in the event of a power outage, your solar power system will be useless.

Determining whether or not you should go solar depends on many things—your location, whether or not you have a south-facing roof, how much power you use annually, and how much you are willing to invest to make the changeover. Going completely solar and taking your house off the grid has long term financial benefits and will put you in a much better position if the grid collapses, as many experts anticipate.

P.S. If you’re not ready to make the leap to a completely solar-powered home, may I suggest you dip your toe in the water with a solar-powered backup generator. My Power Whisperer will silently meet your essential power needs during power outages and you can recharge it over and over again … all you need is a sunny day.