Latest articles by The Solar Nerd

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

5 solar panels with the best warranty
Solar panels don’t have any moving parts and they rarely fail. But when they do, it can be a real pain. Relative to the total cost of your system, one solar panel isn’t that expensive. A budget panel might retail for $200, while a premium one might cost twice as much. But if you have a panel failure on your roof, not only do you have to worry about the cost of replacing the part, but the labor cost of having a technician come to your house, diagnose the problem, climb onto your roof, deinstall the bad panel and install a new one.
Photo of home solar panels.
How much do home solar panels cost? (updated for 2021)
A couple decades ago, home solar panels were very expensive and mostly limited to enthusiasts running low power, off-grid setups for their cabins. Today, the prices have dropped to the point where an average homeowner can affordably install enough solar panels on their roof to provide 100% of their electricity needs. So what can you expect to actually pay? The answer is: it depends. It depends on how much electricity you use, which way your roof is pointing (if you’re planning a rooftop installation), how much shade you get, what your local climate is, and more.
Cleaning solar panels.
What is the best way to clean my solar panels?
One of the great things about solar panels is that they just sit there, silently turning photons into electricity and making you money. They can essentially be maintenance-free for 25 years. But one question solar homeowners often have is: if my solar panels are dirty, what’s the best way to clean them? The best way to clean your solar panels is with tools you probably already have: a bucket of plain water, a soft brush or cloth, and the kind of extension pole you would use to squeegee your second floor windows.
Hazard sign
Can solar panels interfere with WiFi, TV, or cell phone reception?
It’s pretty darn annoying when the electronics in your life start glitching. Are you having trouble with one of your devices? Have you tried turning the thing off and then on? That usually fixes it for me. But if that doesn’t work, it’s time to track down the source of the problem. If you’re talking about a device that relies on receiving a remote signal, whether that signal is wired or wireless, electromagnetic interference (EMI) is problem that can sometimes occur.
Top folding solar panels for portable off-grid use
If you’re reading this during coronavirus times, you might be giving the idea of getting out of town and going off the grid more thought than usual. Whether that’s the case or you’re just normally into outdoor activities like camping, boating, or hunting, one thing that most people want is portable power. You might only need to keep some low-power devices charged like some phones or a tablet, or you might have more extensive electricity needs for things like a portable fridge to keep your drinks cold.
Side-by-side comparison of SunPower and LG Solar panels
SunPower and LG Solar panels: 2020 comparison
Homeowners planning to add solar often have a problem of limited roof space. To work around that, solar installers often turn to the highest performance panels so that a solar array can generate more power with fewer panels. Two of the biggest companies in the high performance end of the home solar market are SunPower and LG Solar. You might recognize the name SunPower, but be surprised to learn that LG Solar is a division of LG Electronics, the South Korean electronics behemoth that makes everything from smartphones to TVs to refrigerators.
Sales
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. You can negotiate the price of your home solar installation, too. The general way to go about it is to get quotes from multiple contractors, and then see if the higher priced installers will match or beat the price of your lower cost bids.