Latest articles by The Solar Nerd

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

Stock photo of factory pollution.
Are solar panels environmentally friendly?
While growing rapidly, renewable energy still constitutes a minority of the energy usage in the United States. Because of that, people are still learning how it works and whether it’s really better than fossil fuel energy sources. It’s easy on the internet to find articles suggesting that not only are wind and solar energy not environmentally friendly, but that they’re worse for the environment than fossil fuels. For example, Donald Trump claimed that the noise from wind turbines cause cancer (it doesn’t).
Photo of solar panels.
What is the standard size of a solar panel?
If you’re thinking about covering your house or garage with solar panels, or even building a solar pergola, you’ll want to know something about solar panel sizes. I’ll get to that, but first let’s clarify what we mean by size. It could mean a number of things: The physical dimensions of the panel, or The power output of the panel in watts and volts This article will focus on the first question, but also mention how dimensions and cell count affects power output.
Solar awning on a Los Angeles home. Credit: Lumos Solar
7 creative ideas for solar canopies and carports
A lot of the time, homeowners feel the need to hide their solar panels by mounting them on a rooftop away from the street. But with a little creativity, solar panels can be used as an attractive architectural design element. One of the underappreciated characteristics of solar panels is that they can be used to provide shade. With some smart design, you can make use of this by integrating solar panels into shading structures for your homes, such as pergolas, canopies, and carports.
Will installing solar panels void my roof warranty?
Your roof keeps the rain off your head. It’s one of the most important components of your house, and an expensive thing to replace. When you get a new roof, you want to make sure that your investment is protected. But installing solar panels on a pitched roof involves drilling dozens of holes right into the roof. Sounds scary, doesn’t it? First of all, it’s recommended that you don’t install solar panels on a roof that has 10 or fewer years of life left in it.
Illustration of somebody calculating their taxes.
Does adding solar panels increase your property taxes?
If you’re a homeowner who’s ever done a major home renovation, you’ll know that certain upgrades will mean an increase in property taxes. When you do a home renovation, in most municipalities this will involve getting permits for things like electrical, plumbing, or construction work. When property tax assessment time rolls around, the assessor’s office will typically review any permits for the property. If it looks like significant renovation work was done, your taxes could go up.