The solar industry is young and enthusiastic. There are dozens, if not hundreds, of companies and universities actively researching, developing, and testing new solar technology and new products every day. Some are tweaking our existing silicon solar panels to make them more attractive or more efficient. Others are devising entirely new ways to produce electricity with sunlight.
When you think about it, all this innovation makes sense. We often naturally group the solar industry with companies that provide electricity (i.e. utilities) but really solar is a technology, not a service. Instead, we should be boxing solar companies together with other technology companies, like Apple, Samsung, LG, and Panasonic. (Actually, LG and Panasonic make solar panels!)
And, as with any company in the technology industry, solar manufacturers and researchers are always trying to create the next great product that is cheaper, more beautiful, easier to install, or produces more energy.Continue reading
You might have heard talk that solar windows are going to be the next big thing in solar. I mean, how cool would it be to look out your window and know that they’re producing electricity while you do it? While there are one or two companies actually manufacturing solar windows, many questions remain: are they really a viable option? Can you install them on your home? How much do solar windows cost?
If you’re ready to hop on this bandwagon, don’t jump quite yet. Currently, solar windows are still in the nascent stages. Only a handful of companies are actually manufacturing them and, while they are certainly super-cool, they’re still miles away from being commercially viable.Continue reading
Pollution has been around in one shape or another for as long as humans have been walking upright and building fires. Although those early campfires were unlikely to cause any real air pollution or lasting threat to the health of the planet, things have only gotten worse.
If we take a look back through history, people have long recognized air pollution as a serious threat that can shorten the lives of people around the world because they are breathing in harmful chemicals and particulates.
Earlier this year, Panasonic (the same company that manufactures Tesla’s latest low-profile, roof-mounted solar panels) made a pretty exciting announcement. The company developed a new type of PV module specifically meant for the 2017 Toyota Prius Prime. Toyota debuted the new car at the New York Auto Show in March 2017. That’s right – there is now a Prius solar roof option for this popular vehicle.
Brooklyn start-up company LO3 Energy has teamed up with industrial giant Siemens to offer Brooklyn residents a local option on their energy menu. It’s called the Brooklyn Microgrid, and it offers solar energy sent directly from the solar panel of your neighbor’s rooftop installation to your home. You can now sell solar power to your neighbors!
Perovskite solar cells – funny name, serious tech. They’re kind of the ‘it’ thing in solar technology right now. Think N’Sync back in 1998 when they all had those terrible haircuts or 1980s Guns N Roses when they all had… those terrible haircuts.
Not to be too dramatic, but perovskite cells really could bring a huge change to the solar industry, and by extension our entire electricity infrastructure, forever. Despite being quite a new technology, they’re naturally cheap and easy to make, and are already as efficient as our ubiquitous crystalline silicon panels (the ones on our rooftops).
Unlike crystalline silicon panels, however, perovskite solar cells can be attached to both rigid and bendable surfaces, making them more versatile than the hard, heavy panels commonly used today.Continue reading
Most of us picture a fixed rooftop installation when we think of solar panels – but did you know that there are solar panels that don’t sit still as they soak up the sun? Some photovoltaic systems are connected to something called a solar tracker, which powers ground-mounted solar panels to slowly change position so that they continuously face the sun.
Solar trackers can use a number of methods and mechanics to function, but all of them are meant to do one thing: increase energy output by moving solar panels so that they receive as much direct sunlight as possible. Some manufacturers boast that their trackers can increase energy production as much as a 45% over a fixed roof system.Continue reading
Enphase is the preeminent manufacturer of microinverters in the US. Their products are unique, high-quality, and fill a niche in the solar industry. However, the company has been troubled by quarterly net losses and falling stock prices since 2015. What are real customers saying about the products?Continue reading
Sunpower has been around for over 30 years – a veritable dinosaur by solar industry standards. But they’re a dinosaur in a good way, as Sunpower solar panels are some of the best in the industry, thanks to the company’s expertise, know-how, and innovation.
Unfortunately, even with all the accolades Sunpower receives for its solar panels, and despite its high revenues, the actual company continues to suffer from debt, layoffs, and a recent factory closure.
What makes Sunpower’s solar panels so great, and what does the future hold for the company? Let’s delve into all this now.Continue reading
You want your solar panels to deliver the maximum amount of energy possible, right? But did you know how your solar panels are connected within the electrical wiring of your house makes a difference in how well they work? Connecting your solar panel in series vs parallel affects current flow and is dictated by your installation’s setup.
Warning: Science below! While we’re not going to get too deep into the details, the difference between connecting solar panels in series vs in parallel is an intermediate level solar discussion. If you’re looking for something a bit more on the beginner level, check out our articles How Do Solar Panels Work? and Everything You Need to Know About Solar Inverter Types.
OK, now that the disclaimer is out of the way, we’re ready!