Category Archives: Solar 101

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

solar panel orientation and angle

Solar panel performance: how much does roof orientation and angle matter?

Reading Time: 4 minutes

Many people are under the misconception that they can’t install solar panels on their roof for a variety of reasons, whether because of the material, their location, shade, or the dimensions of their roof. Truthfully, there are many factors that make a roof more or less suitable, but while some roof qualities make them a total no-no for installations, others have a minimal impact on a solar panel system investment. In this article, we’ll review two roof factors that impact the performance of solar panels: orientation and tilt.

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commercial and industrial solar installation

An overview of commercial and industrial (C&I) solar panel installations

Reading Time: 3 minutes

Commercial and industrial (C&I) property owners can benefit from installing solar energy on business or factory roofs, or as ground-mounted systems on a campus. Many corporations have massive manufacturing facilities with expansive, flat roof space – AKA the perfect place to generate clean, inexpensive solar energy.

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utility scale solar

An overview of utility-scale solar panel installations

Reading Time: 3 minutes

The largest scale of solar projects is utility-scale solar. Typically sized anywhere from 1 to 5 megawatts (MW), utility-scale solar installations can be massive projects, often spanning multiple acres of land. Utility-scale solar projects are usually ground-mounted arrays. Sometimes, these arrays include the use of solar trackers to maximize energy production.

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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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