2019 was a big year for the U.S. solar industry: the country surpassed 2 million solar installations early in the year, California celebrated 1 million rooftops with solar this December, and in between the cost of solar reached historic lows. It was a year in which interest in solar–and energy storage–soared nationwide, but especially in wildfire-torn California.
As the year comes to a close, here are our most popular articles of 2019, as chosen by you, our readers. One interesting trend to note is that none of these articles are entry-level; rather, the fact that these were our most popular articles of the year points to an ever-more-educated solar-shopper and solar-owner.
Given the number of homes nationwide with solar on their roofs, it’s only natural that solar-homeowners are now beginning to think about what happens after the panels are installed. Thankfully, solar panels are almost always “set it and forget it”, and they require little (if any) maintenance over their lifetime. With that in mind, we pulled together a list of potential post-installation costs you may encounter down the road.
Along a similar vein, this popular article answers the question of what to do in the unlikely event that your solar equipment fails, focusing on inverters in particular. Solar equipment rarely fails. When it’s an inverter that seems to be malfunctioning, the most likely story is that it lost connectivity to your internet or Wi-Fi signal and, although the solar energy system is still producing electricity, it’s just no longer reporting it online or in your app. As you’re installing solar panels, feel free to ask who to call in the event that your system appears to be malfunctioning – it’s important to know the warranties for your system and its individual parts, and to know who is responsible for helping you in which scenarios.
Solar and storage aren’t the only technologies that are taking off – the number of electric vehicles (EVs) on the road in the US has increased ten-fold over the last six years, with more than 1.3 million on the road as of September of 2019. Switching from a gas-powered to an electric-powered car is a great way to take back control of your driving and commuting costs. And what better way to lock in what you’ll pay for “fuel” per mile driven than to power your auto with solar panels? This article looks at how many solar panels you need to power different EVs in different parts of the country.
With the wildfires in California, a common question we received both from readers and during calls with our Energy Advisor team is: will my solar panel system keep working even if the grid is down? For nearly all solar installations, the answer is no. However, if you install a solar battery with your solar panel system, your home will remain powered even if the rest of the electricity grid is down. The size of your solar battery will impact how much of your home you’ll still be able to power, but so long as the sun is shining, you won’t be left in the dark.
With that in mind, readers of EnergySage wanted to know: is it actually possible to go off-grid with solar and storage? Short answer: technically yes, but it’s prohibitively expensive. This article, which was originally published on Mother Earth News, is the first of a two-part series that walks through the math to dig into how much solar, how many batteries, and how much will it cost to actually go entirely off-grid with solar and storage. This is recommended reading if you’re considering leaving your utility behind.
More to come in 2020
Thanks for reading in 2019 and we look forward to much more new content in the coming year! To keep up-to-date with new articles as they’re published, subscribe to our Solar News Feed on the right-hand side of this page. And, as always, let us know if you have any questions that we can help answer at EnergySage – we’re more than happy to help.