Latest articles by The Solar Nerd

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

Vivint Solar: The complete review and consumer guide
If you’re a homeowner in one of the top states for home solar such as California, New Mexico, or Arizona, there’s a pretty good chance that you’ve had a salesperson from Vivint Solar come knocking on your door. Operating in 21 states and with gross revenues in 2018 of $760 million, Vivint Solar is one of the largest solar installers in the nation. Like its larger competitor SunRun, Vivint Solar sells home solar systems under a type of contract known as a power purchase agreement (PPA).
Photo of a transmission tower.
How do solar panels connect to the grid?
One of the fundamental concepts of home solar is grid interconnection - otherwise known as connecting to the grid. What does this mean? First, let’s define exactly what “grid” means. When talking about home solar, the grid refers to the power grid, also known as the electric grid. It is the collection of machinery and wires that generates electricity and brings it to your home. There are two parts to the grid: generation, which consists of a variety of power plants such as coal plants, gas turbines, nuclear power plants, wind turbines, hydroelectric dams, and solar panels.
Closeup photo of asphalt roof shingles.
Should I replace my roof before installing solar panels?
A big part of the cost of a home solar installation is in the labor. An installation requires a multiple person crew, and a bucket truck to move equipment up to the roof. Costs can vary quite a bit from installer to installer, but according to a government study of the solar industry, installation labor on average is 11% of the total cost of a residential solar system. This means that if the gross cost of your system was $20,000, the cost of labor for the day or two it takes to install the panels will be in the ballpark of $2,200.
Photo of a portable solar phone charger.
Best solar phone chargers, and ones to avoid
If you frequently experience the frustration of a smartphone that’s running out of juice and having nowhere to charge it, you should consider a portable solar battery charger. This article includes links to, and we may earn a small commission when you purchase one of the products listed on this page. Our reviews are independent, and none of the companies have paid to be featured. These portable devices range in sizes no larger to a smartphone case, to larger folding chargers with multiple panels that can supply enough power to charge a tablet or even a laptop.
Photo of a brick house with solar panels.
Questions to ask when buying a house with existing solar panels
If you’re thinking of buying a house that already has solar panels installed, there are some questions you’ll need to run through with the buyer before you sign the contract. But first, if you’ve never thought about solar panels until you came across them in your home search, it’d be a good idea to do a little background reading first. Home solar panels have become wildly popular, with more than 2 millions solar installations now across the United State.
Hanwha QPeak G7
Overview of Hanwha Q CELLS solar panels
Hanwha is a South Korea-based company that purchased the German solar company Q Cells, forming Hanwha Q CELLS in 2015. Since then, Hanwha has grown to be one of the largest solar panel manufacturers in the world. Their product lineup consists of premium solar panels that are popular in the US market. In this article, we’ll take a close look at the company and its offerings. Hanwha company overview Headquarters Seoul, South Korea Manufacturing Dalton, Georgia; China, Malaysia, South Korea Other locations Germany (R&D) Number of employees 8,500 Ticker symbol HQCL New US-based Hanwha factory On September 19, 2019 the company opened its first US-based factory in Dalton, Georgia, where it will manufacture its Q CELLS solar modules.