Category Archives: Solar 101

Articles all about solar, from common questions to overviews of different aspects of a solar energy installation.

trees shading solar panels

Should you cut down trees to go solar?

Reading Time: 4 minutes

When we talk about the environmental benefits of solar power, we often compare the overall carbon offset of a solar panel system to the environmental impact of planting trees. Ironically, maximizing the benefits of solar power may mean cutting down a tree or two prior to installation.  It’s a difficult truth, but unfortunately, solar power and trees don’t really get along. Branches and leaves can block sunlight from hitting your roof, which means your solar panels aren’t generating as much clean electricity as they could otherwise be in a sunny area.

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cleaning solar panels

Solar panel cleaning: what you should know

Reading Time: 3 minutes

Your solar panels need to be exposed to sunlight in order to produce power. However, unless you live somewhere with high amounts of smog, dust, dirt or sand blowing around, solar panel cleaning is generally not necessary. In most cases, occasional rain will be enough to naturally and safely keep your solar panels clean and free of debris that could lower production.

It may be a good idea to freshen up your panels occasionally if you live in an area with heavy particulates in the air. Here are answers to some of the top questions solar panel system owners have about cleaning solar panels and how to do it safely.

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solar o&m plan

Should you get a solar operations and maintenance (O&M) package?

Reading Time: 4 minutes

For many, solar panel systems are mostly a “set it and forget it” investment, requiring very little maintenance over the 25+ years. However, if you’re looking for extra peace of mind, one upgrade to consider is a solar operations and maintenance (O&M) package. Simply put, O&M packages are essentially protection plans for your solar investment. You can think of them as a sort of “homeowner’s insurance” for your solar panels; if a tree falls on a portion of your house, a home insurance plan will likely cover a large portion of the repair costs –  the same is true of solar energy system repairs under O&M plans.

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solar panel testing and certifications

Solar panel testing and certifications

Reading Time: 5 minutes

Like other types of electronics, solar panel modules go through rigorous testing before installation. These tests are critical to determining the quality and performance of panels under particular environmental stresses, as well as confirming they meet mandated safety requirements. In this article, we’ll review the most common testing and certifications for solar panels on the market today.

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rapid shutdown

Rapid shutdown: what you need to know

Reading Time: 3 minutes

If you’ve just installed a solar panel system or are looking at a picture of one, you may notice a box with an on/off switch that says “rapid shutdown.” But what does rapid shutdown mean, and why is it important for a solar panel system? In this article, we’ll give an overview of rapid shutdown requirements, how they vary by state, and list some popular inverter options that are compliant with rapid shutdown requirements.

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solar panels for home

Residential solar panels: what to know about solar panels for your home

Reading Time: 5 minutes

The past decade has engendered the era of solar panels for home use. Homes and businesses across the country are transitioning away from a fossil-fueled electricity grid towards a clean energy economy, necessitated by emissions reduction targets in a time of global climate change. Amidst this period of energy reform, rooftop solar panel systems for houses are taking off at a remarkable rate. It’s time to give residential solar the credit it deserves. Learn everything there is to know about the booming residential solar industry in our list of home solar FAQs.

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solar operations and maintenance

Solar O&M plans and providers

Reading Time: 4 minutes

For most, a solar installation is a “set-and-forget” investment, but not always: problems may come up with your system over time, from damaged panels to faulty wiring and more. You may have heard of “operations and maintenance,” or O&M, plans designed to help catch problems as they come up and fix them quickly so you can keep generating free energy from the sun. In this article, we’ll take a look at what O&M providers actually do, different types of monitoring and panel maintenance plans, and who the major providers in the space are.

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solar energy facts

8 Solar Energy Facts

Reading Time: 5 minutes

The U.S. solar industry has witnessed remarkable growth in the past decade while the cost of solar has declined by nearly 70 percent.  Now that solar has entered the mainstream, everyday homeowners are starting to wonder how much solar could save them and how simple making the switch really could be. If you’re starting to think about installing solar panels, it’s helpful to understand the big picture for solar power. In this article, we’ll break down eight solar energy facts that may surprise you.

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