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Turnkey, DIY or Independent Contractor: What’s the best way to install your solar system?

Turnkey, DIY or Independent Contractor: What’s the best way to install your solar system?

Editor’s note: Many years ago, we at Solar Power Rocks wrote an article called “Don’t DIY: Why Installing Solar Panels Yourself Can Cost You More.” It's a humorous (but mostly accurate) take on the idea that getting up on your roof with a bunch of wires and 45-lb. solar panels wasn’t something the average homeowner can take on by themselves. Fast-forward to 2018, and there are much better solutions on the market for people who have a little time and mechanical aptitude. There’s also the option of designing your own...
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Is solar right for grandma? How and when older Americans should go solar.

Is solar right for grandma? How and when older Americans should go solar.

Installing solar panels on your home can be a brilliant idea for several reasons. It can save you money on electricity bills, paying for itself in as little as 4 or 5 years in some places, and providing energy for up to 30 years after. A solar installation adds value to your home, reduces greenhouse gas emissions associated with burning fossil fuels, and looks pretty darn good, too. With all those benefits, solar is great for a lot of people, and solar is great in a lot of places. But...
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A new kind of solar lease could bring solar to more states.

A new kind of solar lease could bring solar to more states.

Photo: Jon Callas There are two different ways to get solar panels on your roof: ownership, which means you buy (or take a loan) for a solar system, get it up on your roof, and reap the benefits for the next few decades or so; and third-party ownership, under which a solar installer agrees to put panels on your home and you agree to pay them either a flat monthly fee (leasing) or for the electricity the panels make (a power purchase agreement, or PPA). Third-party ownership has mostly followed...
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California will require solar on new homes in 2020. Your state should, too.

California will require solar on new homes in 2020. Your state should, too.

On May 9th, 2018, in a move that may prove to be a catalyst of a new kind of home solar revolution in the state, the California Energy Commission (CEC) voted unanimously to approve a measure requiring homes built after the start of 2020 to have solar panels. The move adds to California's already robust energy efficiency standards to provide for homes that can be designed from the start to offset all their grid usage with solar. There are a lot of details to be combed through, but the rules...
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Should you get a home solar battery in 2018?

Should you get a home solar battery in 2018?

It's 2018. Can we run off-grid mansions staffed by AI robot servants using only solar and batteries yet? Not quite, but you're not alone if you got a little excited by the thought. Recent research indicates that 74% of people shopping for home solar power are also interested in home energy storage. And while fewer than 20% of people who buy solar end up with a battery to go along with it, there are signs that might be changing soon. Home battery storage is cheaper than ever, and new incentives...
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How healthy is the solar industry in your state?

How healthy is the solar industry in your state?

Photo credit: Reegan Moen Each year, the Solar Power Rocks team scours through the lawbooks of the nation to find the most up-to-date laws and regulations related to solar power in all 50 states. We analyze the data, award letter grades for 12 factors that go into making solar good for homeowners, and collect the findings in our annual Solar Power Rankings Report. If you're a homeowner looking to see if solar can save you money in your state—now and in the future—we think the work we do is second-to-none....
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What happens to solar panels when they no longer work?

What happens to solar panels when they no longer work?

Solar panels are made to last. Barring damage from natural disasters or accidents, modern solar panels have an expected lifetime of 25-30 years, and some of the first commercially-available panels have crossed that milestone and are still operating almost as well as they did when new. Nearly all solar panels in the world were installed after 2009, and come with a guarantee that they'll produce at least 80% of their rated power output after 25 years. Most panels on the market will do better than that, producing about 85% of...
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Tesla solar roofs are real, but are they spectacular?

Tesla solar roofs are real, but are they spectacular?

Photo credit: @toblerhaus Tesla's solar roof tiles were introduced in October of 2016, creating a frenzy of analysis and discussion in the solar industry and on solar-focused websites like this one. Perhaps more importantly, though, images of the sleek solar roofs captured the imagination and interest of homeowners all across the country, who've been focused on one question ever since: When will these thing become available to buy? Now, a year and a half later, the first installations of the revolutionary solar shingles are starting to go up on houses...
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How your utility company can make it harder to go solar

How your utility company can make it harder to go solar

In states with clear net metering policies, utility companies have to credit home solar owners for every kilowatt-hour (kWh) their systems produce. But in places without net metering, utilities can set their own rules that determine how much those owners will be reimbursed for solar electricity sent to the grid, as well as the monthly fees they charge. Without net metering, different utility companies can charge different rates, you could end up paying a lot more for basic electrical service after installing solar panels, which means some of the savings...
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How to claim the Federal 30% tax credit for installing solar

How to claim the Federal 30% tax credit for installing solar

UPDATED FOR 2018! It's that time of year again—tax time! But this year is different, because this was the year you installed solar panels on your home (or qualifying property), and now you're ready to get that big fat tax credit to take 30% right off the top of that expense. And we're here to help guide you through the process! And hey—if you're reading this and haven't yet installed solar, you only have a couple more years to get this sweet tax credit. 30% off the cost of a...
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Last modified: July 12, 2018

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