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Articles About Solar Basics

Articles in this category explore some of the most essential topics about solar power. If you’ve ever wanted to know how much energy a single solar panel produces or which direction solar panels should face, you’ll find it here!

A roof with 20 solar panels on it

How many solar panels do you need? Calculate your system size.

One of the most important questions to ask when you’re considering solar panels for your home is “how many solar panels do I need?” It’s important because you want to make sure your solar panels can provide enough electricity to offset your power bill and pay back their cost. Here’s the answer for the average […]

Last modified: May 5, 2020

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flat roof solar install

Everything you need to know about going solar with a flat roof

Even if you have a flat roof, you can still go solar. Having a flat roof is actually an advantage, because your system pitch and orientation can be fully customized to generate as much electricity as possible. Because there are extra components needed to orient your panels and tilt them toward the sun from a […]

Last modified: March 15, 2020

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clay tile roof solar

How solar is installed on clay tile roofs

Clay tile roofs dominate the landscape across the American southwest. They look great, are part of Spanish culture, and can last a century. However, they can be a pain in the butt for solar installers to work with. Until recently, installing solar on clay tiled roofs has been a more expensive and risky endeavor than […]

Last modified: March 15, 2020

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solar installers on metal roof

How solar is installed on metal roofs

Because there are so many types of roofs, there are many different requirements to mount solar panels on them. Within metal roofing materials alone, there are a variety of profiles, gauges, metal types and considerations to take into account to properly install solar panels. This is why it’s very important to be working with a […]

Last modified: March 12, 2020

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black and blue solar panels

Black vs. Blue solar panels: which is better for your home?

If you’re considering upgrading your home with rooftop solar energy, you may have wondered why some solar power arrays are a sleek uniform shade of black, and others are a shimmery crystalized smash-up of navy blue. In this article, we’ll review each type of solar panel system and help you choose which is best for […]

Last modified: March 9, 2020

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Peak sun hours can be calculated by looking at all energy produced by the sun on its path through the sky

Peak sun hours: solar panel output per day, month and year

In short: How much electricity a solar panel makes depends on how much sun it gets, which can vary greatly day-by-day. When measuring solar output, what’s most important is the total amount of solar energy available on an average day, expressed as kilowatt-hours per square meter, and also called peak sun hours. Image source: Geloven […]

Last modified: November 6, 2019

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Types of solar panels: monocrystalline vs. polycrystalline vs. thin film

Types of solar panels – What they’re made of & how they work

In short: Most solar panels are made from silicon solar cells encased in glass and surrounded by an aluminum frame. But the details matter! Modules can be made with either polycrystalline or monocrystalline silicon, and many so-called “thin film” panels are made without silicon at all! Read on to learn the differences between the types […]

Last modified: October 2, 2019

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PVWatts header image with a description of what the tool does and a picture of solar panels

How to use PVWatts to figure out the ideal size for your solar system

In short: PVWatts is a highly useful tool that can show you a close estimate of annual electricity production from a solar array of a given size. But by using a reverse-engineering trick and dividing your annual energy usage by the amount of solar energy 1 kilowatt of panels can make, you get your ideal […]

Last modified: February 4, 2020

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What’s an Internal Rate of Return (IRR) and what does it have to do with solar?

As if the decision to get solar wasn’t complicated enough – with constantly evolving state and federal policies, as well as widespread misinformation – we’re about to introduce a new factor: the internal rate of return. It may sound daunting at first, but understanding the financial return of investing in solar, regardless of location or […]

Last modified: July 24, 2018

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