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Affordable Solar Power for Low-Income Families in the USA

Affordable Solar Power for Low-Income Families in the USA

In short: Solar panels aren’t just for the well-off. If you qualify as low-income, there are programs available to help you afford solar panels depending on where you live. We’ve compiled a summary of the most inclusive low-income solar programs around the country, and instructions on how to apply. We at Solar Power Rocks talk a lot about paying for solar panels, and all the ways they save you money in the long run - if you can afford the cost. But solar shouldn’t be exclusively for people who can...
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How to use PVWatts to figure out the ideal size for your solar system

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 system size. Start at the top to learn more about how PVWatts works, or jump ahead to use the tool to size your system. The National Renewable Energy Laboratory's (NREL) PVWatts tool is the gold...
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What are bifacial solar panels, and why are they awesome?

What are bifacial solar panels, and why are they awesome?

In short: In short: Bifacial solar panels are a smart, efficient way to harness even more of the sun’s energy; typically 11-20% more energy is captured than energy from traditional PV panels. Bifacial solar panels are in the spotlight these days because they recently became exempt from President Trump’s Section 201 solar panel tariffs. Bifacial solar panels are a young niche in the solar market poised for mass-scale adoption. Bifacial might sound like something you’d get done at the salon, but we’re not talking about avocado paste. Bifacial solar panels...
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Why You Should Get a Home Energy Audit Before You Go Solar

Why You Should Get a Home Energy Audit Before You Go Solar

In short: Home energy audits save you money, and reduce your impact on the planet by identifying the root causes of high energy consumption in your home, so you know what to do to reduce your demand. Energy audits are especially useful before a solar installation; by replacing, upgrading, or simply tweaking energy-draining features in your home, you can install a smaller system and save even more money over the next 25 years. What is a home energy audit? Sometimes when people hear “audit” they start worrying about flashlight-wielding IRS...
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The Pros and Cons of Solar Energy in 2019

The Pros and Cons of Solar Energy in 2019

In short: Researching the pros and cons of going solar can be overwhelming and confusing. So we’ve condensed the most important information to give you a clear understanding of why going solar is one of the best investments you will ever make - even with the cons - for you and the world around you. Solar power is spreading rapidly, and with lower costs and new technologies, solar may soon become one of the dominant sources of energy on the planet. Because of this rapid expansion, it makes sense to...
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One (not very) weird trick to save $1,000+ on solar panels

One (not very) weird trick to save $1,000+ on solar panels

In short: The federal solar tax credit will decrease for solar panels installed after December 31st. The average homeowner would miss out on $1,000 (on average) if they wait until after the new year to install solar. To see whether you're eligible for the tax credit and how much you might save, read below. The solar investment tax credit (ITC) was dreamed up back in 2005—a time when solar panels were very, very expensive. It was designed to provide 30% of the cost to install solar (up to $2,000 for...
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Solar Story: Going Solar in Rural New Hampshire

Solar Story: Going Solar in Rural New Hampshire

In short: We’re excited to share with you the first installment of SPR’s Solar Stories. It’s a space dedicated to the people behind solar energy’s massive growth in the US, and a break from the policy-oriented work we normally write about. Solar Stories are in Q&A format, with some background information to begin. A few weeks ago, Bryant Winterholer of Goshen, New Hampshire sent us an email to tell us how much he and his wife Karen were loving their solar panels, three years after first getting quotes for solar...
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Kansas is on the front lines of the fight for solar rights

Kansas is on the front lines of the fight for solar rights

In short: In 2018, Kansas had the highest year-over-year growth in solar jobs. That's good. That job growth could be much bigger, but the state's biggest electric company is actively making it hard for individual customers to install solar panels on their homes. That's bad. The Sunflower State is home to a vast agricultural economy, producing nearly 20% of the entire country’s wheat, among other crops. Kansas has nearly 46 million acres of farmland, nearly 250,000 farm jobs, and by most accounts is becoming the dairy capital of America (we’ll...
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What is Levelized Cost of Energy (LCOE), and why should you care?

What is Levelized Cost of Energy (LCOE), and why should you care?

In short: Levelized Cost Of Energy (LCOE) is a way to help people compare the cost of two different ways of paying for energy over long periods of time. The calculation is complicated, but the result is a simple number, expressed as cost per kilowatt-hour. Comparing the LCOE of installing solar to paying for utility company electricity can tell you whether you're getting a good deal. Do you like pizza? Solar energy is kind of like pizza. Wait, stick with us and we’ll explain. Say you pay $30 a week...
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What does the Green New Deal mean for home solar?

What does the Green New Deal mean for home solar?

In short: The Green New Deal is an ambitious, big-picture attempt to bring existing state-level goals and incentives designed to help us all use more renewable energy to the whole nation. But without a guarantee it will get passed, people who want solar for their homes should go solar sooner rather than later to take advantage of incentives set to expire soon. You’ve probably heard a lot of shouting from every end of the political spectrum -- from passionate support and rallies all the way to outright laughter and trolling...
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Last modified: January 29, 2019

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