3 Things You Probably Don't Understand About Solar Energy

The influx of cheap, low-quality solar products in emerging markets has remained a pervasive problem.

What are some common misconceptions that many people have about solar energy? originally appeared on Quora, the place to gain and share knowledge, empowering people to learn from others and better understand the world. You can follow Quora on Twitter, Facebook, and Google Plus.

Here are some things people get wrong about solar energy:

The influx of cheap, low-quality solar products in emerging markets has remained a pervasive problem. Off-grid families who have invested in low-quality solar products often lose trust in solar because these products tend to break after only several months of use. Luckily, as the energy access industry has matured over the last several years, the importation of many high-quality solar products into many emerging markets has helped to change consumer perception of solar.

When a solar product isn’t functioning as intended, the culprit is usually the battery, not the solar panel. The lifespan of solar panels in off-grid lighting products tend to be 20+ years, whereas batteries may have only a 2-5 year lifespan, depending on the battery chemistry. Consumer and distributor education about this common source of product failures - the battery - is important to increase frequency and effectiveness of product repairs and to maintain trust in solar.

Even though solar panels are stationary once installed, they still need to be cared for in order to operate at maximum efficiency. Some of the steps that solar panel owners can take include ensuring the panels are not partially or fully shaded during various times during the day, and to frequently clean the panels to remove dirt from the surface that might be blocking the sun’s rays.

This question originally appeared on Quora. More questions on Quora:

* Business: What are the advantages and disadvantages of a pay-as-you-go business model?

* Solar Energy: What have you learned from working with solar energy product partners and solar energy distribution channels?

* Money: What role does mobile money play in financial transactions in Sub-Saharan Africa?

Photo Credit: Smitt/Getty Images