Latest articles by The Solar Nerd

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

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Can you negotiate with a solar installer?
People are accustomed to haggling on the price of a car, but you can negotiate the price of other products and services too. Did you know that you can even haggle the price of a mattress? I’ve never done it, but apparently it’s a thing. A solar array for your home is a great investment, and there are many incentives that make it an even better deal, but some come in the form of tax credits, which means paying the full cost of the system upfront and then waiting until tax time to get your rebate.
Photo of a sunny California seashore.
California solar tax credits and incentives - the complete guide (2020 edition)
If your home is a good candidate for solar, it can be a great investment even without tax credits and other incentives. But there’s no doubt that getting money back on your home solar installation makes the investment a lot more attractive. In the US, the solar federal tax credit of 26% is the only nationwide incentive. To find other rebates and programs, you need to look at your state and local governments, utility companies, and other organizations.
Photo of trees surrounding a house.
Is there anything you can do when a neighbor’s trees shade your solar panels?
One of the important things that determine if your home solar panels will be successful is whether they are clear of shade throughout the day. Even in locations that aren’t traditionally thought of as being good for solar, if your property has a clear view of the sun throughout the day, solar panels can generate enough power to provide 100% of your electricity needs. But if shade blocks your solar panels for even part of the day, that can have a drastic impact on your energy production.
Illustration of different contractors.
Finding the best solar installation companies near you
Getting solar panels installed on your house might seem a little exotic, especially if you live outside of states like California, Hawaii, and the Sunbelt where solar is very popular. In reality, it’s less complicated than you might think. It’s actually not much different from hiring a handyman for a larger house project. You research companies, check their credentials, get multiple quotes, review a proposal, then sign a contract. Then you wait for the installation and permitting work to be completed.
Top solar charge controllers compared
If you have a battery bank in your RV, boat, or other off-grid setting that you want to charge with solar panels, you need a charge controller. In a system where solar panels charge a bank of batteries - whether lead-acid or lithium-ion - a charge controller sits between them and regulates the flow of electricity into the batteries. While grid-connected solar panel systems also use charge controllers, this article will focus on smaller scale applications, such as 12 volt systems for RVs, boats, and cabins.