Traditional Energy vs. Solar Energy: 4 Key Difference

Surging electricity rates have many homeowners educating themselves about solar energy, and the most pressing question is how it differs from traditional power. There are four distinct differences between traditional power and solar energy, from how energy is collected to environmental impact.

Energy Collection & Generation

Most traditional electricity in the U.S. is generated by coal, natural gas, and petroleum. These fossil fuels are burned to produce combustion gases, which pass through a turbine that spins its blades to produce electricity. 

With solar, rooftop panels utilize photovoltaic (PV) technology that absorbs sunlight to create electrical charges. An inverter converts that direct current (DC) electricity generated by the solar panels into alternating current (AC) electricity used by electrical grids. A homeowner with solar panels is still leveraging the electrical grid, but using their own solar-generated electricity.


Fossil fuels are available in just a few places around the world, making them a somewhat limited resource. As with anything in the consumer marketplace that is limited, prices are unpredictable, which leads to large swings in utility rates for consumers. 

Solar energy is renewable energy that provides stability for the homeowner as well as the utility company. Sunlight from month to month is very consistent, therefore, solar energy systems produce a consistent volume of energy. 


Traditional electricity will always come with a monthly utility bill, with winter and summer months spiking due to the use of heat and air conditioning. Despite a homeowner’s best efforts to turn off lights, use less hot water, or monitor the use of heat or air conditioning, those bills will keep coming.

Homeowners with solar energy systems see the light at the end of the tunnel—quite literally. The average solar system lasts 40 years, with most financing options lasting 25 years. This means an average of 15 years of completely free energy generation for those who own solar. While solar owners are waiting out their payment terms, they’re also enjoying significantly reduced energy costs.  

Environmental Impact

It’s no secret that traditional energy requires the burning of fossil fuels, which causes pollution and climate change. In addition, barren land left behind after mining fossil fuels is prone to erosion and other ecological issues that displace wildlife.

Solar power is clean energy that does not rely on fossil fuels and therefore has a net zero carbon footprint. As a renewable power source, it helps to reduce greenhouse gas emissions and mitigates climate change—thereby protecting humans, wildlife, and ecosystems. Considering solar? Use our Solar Savings Calculator to obtain a custom solar savings estimate for your home. We invite you to learn more about Smart Green Solar, our core values and our unique approach–which has led to us becoming a leading full-service provider in Rhode Island, Massachusetts, and Connecticut.

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