Latest articles by The Solar Nerd

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

Petersen-Dean logo
Petersen-Dean goes bankrupt: what this means for consumers
Petersen-Dean, a roofing and solar company founded in 1984 that operated in nine states, went bankrupt in 2020, leaving many of its customers in limbo. The company operated in Arizona, California, Colorado, Florida, Hawaii, Louisiana, Nevada, Oklahoma and Texas. They started as a roofing company, then began offering solar installations, especially in California where solar installations are required on some new homes. While the COVID pandemic was perhaps the straw to break its back, the company was apparently in poor financial health for some time.
A photo of a garage
Can you install solar panels on a detached garage or shed?
The average size of a home solar installation in the United States is around 6 kilowatts, which is about 17 high efficiency premium solar panels, or more if you go with a cheaper panel. That many solar panels takes up a lot of space, and you would need a large available roof area to accommodate them. But sometimes, your roof might not be ideal for solar. It might be oriented east-west (which generates less power than a north-south orientation) or, more commonly, you might have shading from nearby trees or buildings.
Photo of an Anker portable solar panel.
5 Portable solar panels with USB ports
Does your life involve taking lots of little electronic devices with you? Do you constantly worry about how much battery charge you have? Is the nearest outlet sometimes too far away? The solution that people typically reach for is an external battery. These are great and cheap, but suffer from a couple major flaws. First of all: you need to remember to keep them charged. If you have difficulty remembering to charge your phone, with an external battery now you have two things to keep track of.
Photo of all-black SunPower solar panels.
How do you improve the curb appeal of solar panels?
I personally like the look of solar panels on my house. I think they’re interesting to look at, and they’re often a conversation starter. But my solar panels face the backyard away from the street, so even if I didn’t like how they look, people casually passing by don’t see them. Not everyone has that choice: typically, you want your solar panels pointed south to capture as much sunlight as possible, but doing that might mean facing the panels toward the curb.
Door-to-door solar sales: don't get scammed!
How to avoid being scammed when a solar salesperson knocks on your door (7 tips)
With the exploding popularity of rooftop solar, competition among solar installers to capture as much of that market is intense. If you live in one of the hot markets for rooftop solar such as California, Hawaii, the southwest, and some northeast states, there’s a good chance you’ve heard your doorbell ring and found a solar salesperson at your door, ready to pitch you on the benefits of rooftop solar. It’s one thing to buy Girl Scout cookies (Thin Mints!
Photo of a large house.
How many solar panels are needed to run a 4,000 square foot or larger house?
If you have a very large house, you probably have high electricity usage too, possibly making your home a good candidate for solar. If you’re curious about solar and want to find out how many solar panels you’d need for your home that is 4,000 square feet or larger, the most accurate way to find that out is to get a professional solar installer to perform an analysis. A quick but somewhat less accurate way is to read your monthly electric bill and use our solar calculator to determine what your power generation and estimated system price would be.