Solar at Home

Solar at Home

The trials, tribulations and rewards of going solar

  • Save the Earth, Save Money—There’s No Need to Choose

    Save the Earth, Save Money—There’s No Need to Choose

    By George Musser | September 13, 2013 |

    Earlier this year, I blogged about a new website set up to ease the chore of shopping for solar panels, EnergySage , and since then the company's own blog has described two financial benefits of solar which I hadn't thought about before. First, solar panels can help you save for retirement ; in fact, it's hard to imagine an investment that anyone who's not a Russian oligarch could make for such a high return and such a low risk. […]

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  • It Used to be a Super Pain to Shop for Solar Installers, but No Longer

    By George Musser | March 28, 2013 |

    Whenever a dinner party has an awkward pause and could use a horror story to liven it up, I tell my story of shopping for solar panels. My wife and I started in 2008 and spent months finding an installer. Some never returned phone calls. Estimates ranged over a factor of two. […]

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  • Should You Add Backup Batteries to Your Grid-Tied Solar Array?

    By George Musser | March 18, 2013 |

    My neighbors took a newfound interest in my solar array after Hurricane Sandy. Most of our town in New Jersey lost power for two weeks, and everyone who knew about my panels was asking: Did they keep my lights on? Alas, no. When the grid goes down, our array goes down. […]

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  • Caveat Emptor, Solar Homeowners

    By George Musser | November 20, 2012 |

    Comly Wilson at CleanEdison, which runs training and certification programs for green-tech installers, has put together a list of five things homeowners should know before buying solar . Definitely worth reading, but don't let them scare you off. Our solar panels are going strong after three years and we've already paid off half of our out-of-pocket expenses. […]

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  • Clouds Over the Solar Industry in Britain [Guest Post]

    By George Musser | April 3, 2012 |

    A couple of years ago, I reported on the experiences of a solar homeowner in England, and I was curious how the situation in Britain has evolved since then. Alex Hole, owner of Strenson Solar, a British firm which provides solar panels in Sussex , recently approached me and I invited him to write the following guest post. […]

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  • My Electric Bill Was WHAT?!? Analyze Your Power Use with These Three Websites

    By George Musser | September 29, 2011 |

    In one of the best quips I've ever heard at a scientific conference, cosmologist Max Tegmark complained about a lecturer's vagueness and pleaded for some quantitative predictions: "numbers—you know, the kind with decimals in them." Like Tegmark, I love data. […]

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  • Can You Really Get Solar Panels Installed for Free?

    By George Musser | August 22, 2011 |

    It sounds too good to be true: you can go solar without paying a cent. I first mentioned this proposition, known formally as a power-purchase agreement, two years ago : a company such as SunRun or SolarCity installs panels on your roof at its expense and, in exchange, collects the government subsidies. […]

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  • How Optical Illusions Can Build a Better Bulb

    By George Musser | August 18, 2011 |

    At the SciFoo conference last weekend, brain scientist and illusionmeister Steve Macknik elevated a basic principle of energy conservation—turn off the lights when you don't need them—to a whole new level. He showed how you can turn off the lights in a way that no one will even notice. […]

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  • Could Hackers Break into Your Electric Meter?

    By George Musser | August 11, 2011 |

    When I was getting my solar panels installed, I couldn't wait to see my electric meter literally spin backwards. Alas, as part of the process, the utility swapped out the old analog meter. That spinning metal disk had been a reminder of the raw mechanical power—giant turbines, mighty waterfalls, searing furnaces—that stood at the other end of the dainty wires running into my house. […]

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  • 20 Solar Apps for Your iPhone

    By George Musser | August 1, 2011 |

    The iPhone seems like the perfect accessory for a solar power enthusiast. Right now, you have to navigate a maze of websites such as PV Watts to calculate how much energy you can expect to produce and how many years a solar array will take to pay itself off. […]

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