Choosing Cleaner Energy: Propane vs. Solar?

Solar panels against a stormy sky

During the last several years, the conversation has changed from, “Should I be interested in saving the environment?” to “How can I help save the environment?”. The answer lies in being the best steward of the environment by using the cleanest methods of energy that are available today.

Many environmentally-conscious consumers are currently interested in whether propane or solar would be the best solution for their energy needs. While both solutions have merit, propane offers benefits that solar just can’t match.

Getting Started With Propane vs. Solar Panels

The first thing most homeowners consider when evaluating alternative energy is cost. Common questions include the upfront cost and potential savings. Also common are the ease of getting started and the life span of the new technology.

Be aware that many solar panel companies will void their warranty if solar panel installation is done by a homeowner. Furthermore, the energy captured by the sun must be stored in some sort of battery to have any practical use. The other weaknesses of solar panels will always remain – nighttime and cloudy days. When the sun goes down so does their energy source and the sun hidden behind clouds presents the same problem. In contrast, propane is always ready to work.

Propane-powered homes are mostly powered by a single storage tank that in most cases is buried to keep your yard looking beautiful. Another benefit to homeowners is that the propane company owns the tank which makes them responsible for the maintenance and upkeep, and keeps your up-front costs low. Since propane prices have historically been less than natural gas or electricity, the cost savings coupled with the positive effects on the environment make propane extremely practical in the residential home arena.

Once the propane is installed in your home it is ready for the most difficult tasks. For heating a home propane is the clear winner. Propane is superior for any energy-intensive appliance. And when a propane backup generator has also been installed the worries of electrical power outages become a thing of the past.

Choosing an Ethical Energy Source

Another consideration is whether either power source is better for America. A popular and growing trend is called ethical consumerism, which is a fancy way to say that consumers have a natural curiosity about the origins of the items they purchase. Look no further than the popularity of farm-to-table products to understand this concept.

Propane is made right here in America and is a byproduct of natural gas and petroleum, and most recently for renewable propane, biomass. Currently, most of the minerals needed to produce solar panels are mined on other continents while seven out of the 10 largest solar panel manufacturers are based in China.1

Solar Panels Don’t Last Forever

Once a solar panel reaches the end of its life, typically 25 – 30 years, it must be discarded. Solar panels are held together using epoxy and glue which makes them hard to disassemble and is not good news for recyclers. They should be recycled, but not a lot of good options exist. And because there are no federal mandates that require recycling, the US National Renewable Energy Laboratory states that less than 10% of today’s solar panels are getting recycled.2 The Chemical and Engineering News magazine also shared their thoughts by saying this is an “enormous problem.”3

In 2021, the waste from expired solar panels equaled 30,000 metric tons. A recent article in the Wall Street Journal estimates that by the end of 2050, this figure will swell to 10 million tons of waste.4 At the end of the day, many solar panels end up in landfills while propane tanks simply need refilling.

Propane: A Greener Alternative to Solar in Missouri

The search for clean energy in America is far-reaching and ongoing. For Missouri, the search is over. Propane is the most environmentally friendly choice. Propane is relied on in homes, businesses, agriculture and transportation. And with renewable propane use growing daily, the decision to use propane has never been wiser – or better for the environment.