Latest articles by The Solar Nerd

Keep up to date on industry news and articles relevant to green living and the solar homeowner.

The disappearing polycrystalline solar panel
Most solar panels on the market today as made with silicon. There are two types: polycrystalline and monocrystalline silicon. To make monocrystalline solar cells, a single large crystal is grown. In contrast, polycrystalline silicon is made from small crystals that are formed into a larger ingot. With both types, the silicon is sliced into thin wafers to make individual silicon cells. Growing a large crystal of silicon is a more difficult process, which is why monocrystalline solar panels have traditionally been more expensive.
sunny window
Using solar for home space heating: questions answered
If you’re interested in a heating a whole house with solar power, that’s a pretty big topic. There’s a few ways solar can provide heat, from photovoltaics that power a heat pump to solar thermal panels that capture heat directly. You can check out my article on solar heating if you want to get into the details. However, I’ve noticed that there’s consumer interest in heating just a single room with solar power, and even some products marketed for this purpose.
What are CdTe solar panels?
Most solar panels today - and virtually all that are sold for residential use - are made with silicon solar cells. Hundreds of millions of polycrystalline and monocrystalline silicon solar panels are manufactured annually. The economies of scale of this global manufacturing make it difficult for new technologies to break into the market, but one that has carved out a sizable market share is cadmium telluride. Also referred to as CadTel or CdTe for the atomic symbols for cadmium and tellurium, this is a thin film solar technology.
Pink Energy logo
Pink Energy (PowerHome Solar) Lawsuits: Tips for Consumers
In October 2022, Pink Energy (previously known as Power Home Solar) - one of the larger solar installers in the country - filed for Chapter 7 bankruptcy. According to a Facebook post, the company placed the blame on “rampant consumer discontent resulting from faulty Generac solar equipment” and announced that it would be closing permanently. Unlike a Chapter 11 bankruptcy in which a company reorganizes its debts in an effort to continue operating, a Chapter 7 bankruptcy means that the company will be liquidating its assets to pay off its creditors.
ADT Solar/Sunpro Solar logos
ADT Solar (Sunpro Solar) Aggregate Review
ADT Solar is a branch of ADT Inc, a company that is better known for home security products. ADT acquired Sunpro Solar in 2021, and has been expanding ever since. Why would an alarm company buy a solar company? Here’s what ADT said in a press release: “The closing of this transaction and the introduction of ADT Solar unlocks our ability to respond to customer desire for sustainable energy solutions they can use independently or combine with ADT’s smart security systems for a safer, smarter, and more sustainable home or business,” said Jim DeVries, ADT President and Chief Executive Officer.
Robert Linder/Unsplash
Solar panel glossary: kW, kWh, and mWh defined
If you’re doing research into home solar, you may come across some terminology that you’re unfamiliar with. A few common ones are kilowatts and kilowatt-hours. They’re confusing because of the similar names, but they refer to distinct things. Here’s an attempt at some simple explanations. What is a kilowatt? A watt is a measure of electrical power. A kilowatt is equal to 1,000 watts. The abbreviation for kilowatt is kW. (The W is capitalized because it is named after the Scottish inventor James Watt.
Cost of charging an electric car (and how solar can help)
One of the big selling points of electric vehicles is that they cost less to operate than gas-powered cars. This is usually true: with no oil changes, fewer mechanical systems that can fail, and even less wear on brake pads (due to regenerative braking), electric vehicles are generally cheaper to operate. The story is the same when it comes to fuel costs. In most cases, you’ll pay less for electricity to charge an electric vehicle than you would to keep an internal combustion engine (ICE) vehicle fueled with gasoline.
Illustration of a house for sale
Tips for selling a home with solar panels
Selling a house is always a stressful event, so anything that adds complication is unwelcome. Having home solar panels can be no big deal or make selling your house more difficult, depending on how you paid for them. An upside is that solar panels can add significant value to a home, which is something that your real estate agent can help communicate. There are also some things that you should do as a seller to make sure that the next owner has access to monitoring and knows what to do if issues crop up.