Latest articles by The Solar Nerd

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

Photo of a small solar panel and portable battery, suitable for charging a smartphone.
The best solar phone charger (solar panel and battery pack tested)
If you want to use solar energy to keep your smartphone or portable electronics charged, you can find hundreds of choices on Amazon. We took a close look at a few of them in an earlier article. While some of them do a pretty good job, it’s also true that most of them don’t work nearly as well as most people expect. If a product is advertised as a solar phone charger, you generally expect it to actually charge your phone on a sunny day.
A photo of the Enphase IQ8 microinverter
Enphase IQ8 vs IQ7: Is it worth the upgrade?
Enphase, the maker of the most popular microinverters in the US solar market, announced that it will be releasing the latest version of the IQ series later in 2021. Product releases from Enphase are often a big deal, because microinverters and power optimizers now dominate the residential solar market, accounting for about 80% of all installations. New features from Enphase are good news for consumers, and also have the potential to move other inverter manufacturers to adopt those features to stay competitive.
Photo of a large solar panel installation
How many solar panels would be needed to power the USA?
From the start, let’s make it clear that there are no serious proposals to power the planet using only solar energy. The renewable energy technologies available today - solar, wind, geothermal, tidal, hydro, along with energy storage - are complementary. Each technology has strengths and weaknesses, but when we use all them in concert, it’s possible to power the entire planet with clean energy. Even so, it’s an interesting thought to consider how many solar panels we would need if that was the only power source available.
Example of what inverter clipping looks like.
What are inverter clipping losses in a solar array?
If you’re a more detail-oriented (or perhaps nerdy) person, you might spend a lot of time studying the technical specifications of your home solar system. Maybe you want to better understand a system you already own, or you’re comparing quotes from installers and trying to make the best choice. Once you get beyond the basics like the system output and inverter type, one of the concepts you might encounter is called inverter clipping, which is closely related to the DC/AC ratio of the system.
Freedom Forever Solar: The complete review and consumer guide
Freedom Forever is a relatively new company on the solar installation scene, but it has grown very quickly, reaching 6th place on the Solar Power World list of residential solar installers. In the most recent year, Freedom Forever installed 92 megawatts of solar. The company operates in most of the major solar markets in the US and employs over 1,700 people. If you’re looking for a solar installer for your home, there’s a good chance that you’ve come across their name.
Photo of a calculator
What is the best way to finance solar panels?
For the fiscally-minded homeowner (and what homeowner doesn’t care about their investment?), adding home solar panels can be a way to add equity to your house, slash electricity costs, and make a great long-term investment. On top of that, you’ll be helping the environment too. Sounds like a no-brainer? Maybe. How much you can actually save with solar panels depends on a few factors. For example, not every roof is equally suited for solar panels.
An photo of a solar panel racking system.
How are solar panels installed on a roof?
The most visible part of a home solar system is the panels. Around 95% of homeowners choose a roof-mounted (rather than ground-mounted) system, so how the panels are attached to the roof is a key detail of the installation. Solar panels are attached to a roof using a mounting system. The most common type is a rail-based system, which uses aluminum rails as the structure onto which the panels and other components, such as wiring and inverter components, are attached.