Latest articles by The Solar Nerd

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

Illustration: loan fees
Solar loan dealer fees explained
Installing solar panels on your home is typically a five-figure purchase, so a majority of people take on financing to pay for it. It’s often easiest to get financing directly from your solar installer. The installer will give you a solar installation proposal with a financed price, and you won’t have to deal with your bank or any other lending institution. Simple, right? We're solar nerds, not finance nerds. Be sure to consult with a professional financial advisor before making major financial decisions.
Breaking news
Inflation Reduction Act: what it means for home solar
After the death of the Build Back Better bill, a pared back climate bill that also died, machinations in the senate, and an unexpected last minute back-from-the-dead effort, President Biden signed the Investment Reduction Act this week. It’s being called the largest investment in combatting climate ever and the most significant environmental legislation since the Clean Air Act. The IRA covers a large swath of things intended to lower the cost of energy and prescription drugs, of which are outside the scope of this blog.
Photo of a sign with the words "air con"
Solar powered air conditioning for your home
If you live in a climate where air conditioning is a significant part of your electricity usage, that probably means it’s a good climate for solar energy. Does that mean you can power your air conditioner with solar electricity? You absolutely can, but we should explain exactly what that means. If your idea is to power an air conditioner directly with solar panels - that is, connect some solar panels directly to an AC unit and essentially run it off-the-grid - it is possible.
Photo of a Telsa solar panel. Courtesy Tesla Inc.
Tesla 400 and 425 watt solar panels: an overview
Tesla’s Energy division gets less attention than its vehicles, but it continues to plug along, with 345 MW of solar panels installed in 2021. For many years, Telsa (and SolarCity before it was acquired by Tesla) installed solar panels from other manufacturers, including Q Cells, LG, and Panasonic. For a few years, Tesla and Panasonic had a partnership to manufacture solar panels at the Gigafactory in Buffalo, but that relationship ended in 2020.
Solar panels in Reno, Nevada
Nevada net metering rules demystified
When it comes to solar energy potential, Nevada is one of the best places in the country. That’s why some of the largest utility-scale solar power plants are located in Nevada, such as the 552 megawatt Copper Mountain Solar Facility and the 392 MW Ivanpah concentrating solar facility. Utilities in Nevada, however, aren’t quite as keen when it comes to solar panels that are owned by homeowners. After all, every kilowatt-hour of electricity that a homeowner generates with their own solar panels represents lost revenue for the utility companies.
sonnenCore battery
California's SGIP solar battery rebate explained
As solar panels have become mainstream in the United States and especially California, energy storage has become more and more important. California is trying to deploy as much energy storage as possible, with gigawatts worth of batteries coming online. Homeowners can get in on the act too. Even if you have solar panels, your home won’t have electricity during a blackout unless you have a battery. The Self-Generation Incentive Program is operated by the California Public Utilities Commission (CPUC).
Photo of a cracked solar panel
What can you do about a cracked solar panel?
Solar panels for home and commercial use are really tough. They’re designed to withstand hurricanes, rain storms, and hail, and will usually continue to work for 25 years or more. That doesn’t mean they’re indestructible. While they’re designed to withstand impacts from one-inch hail, a wayward baseball or unusually large hailstone can shatter the tempered glass. If this happens, you might notice the telltale spider pattern of broken glass. What can you do about it?
Photo of a north compass arrow
Can you put solar panels on a north facing roof?
If you live in the Northern hemisphere, solar panels will receive the most sunlight if they face south. (This is reversed in the Southern hemisphere, so if you live in Australia the preferred direction is north). If you’re a homeowner interested in solar, you might not have this option: maybe the south-facing part of your roof is interrupted by vents, skylights or gables, or is shaded by trees. West is usually the next best option (which generates electricity during the evening peak) followed by east.