Talking to Your Solar Installer About Solar Panels and Shade

Assessing contractor quotes is an important step in the journey to increase the value of your home with solar panels. Evaluating multiple solar panel quotes helps homeowners scope their budget and encourages contractors to be competitive with their pricing, which is especially significant in today’s solar energy market. It’s important to understand your project’s unique parameters when sifting through these estimates. One such unique marker is your house’s solar irradiance. Simply put, this defines the exposure to sunlight you can expect where you live. This exposure, along with several external factors, will have important ramifications on the type of solar panels, mounts, and equipment required for your home improvement.

Having a solid understanding of these basics will help you understand your solar installer’s quote and enable you to have an informed foundation from which to discuss the project. Be sure to communicate honestly with your contractor about your needs and concerns when it comes to the shade at your house.

Do Solar Panels Work In Shade?

Short answer: Yes, of course. Shade doesn’t stop the solar panels for your home from doing their job.

Excessive shade can, however, reduce the amount of energy a solar panel system is able to generate. While solar panels are designed to operate in all weather conditions (including the winter, which is actually a great time to install them), external factors like trees or buildings might impact their efficiency. Since rooftops are popular placements for solar panels, their size, shape, slope, and age will factor into their fitness to support solar energy. For example, solar panels typically “perform best on south-facing roofs with a slope between 15 and 40 degrees,” according to the Department of Energy. Ask your experienced contractor to assess the current and potential shade your house will experience and plan accordingly—there are many ways to deal with shade.

The solar farm in Woolwich, ME, missed its 2018 solar energy projection partly because of the shade cast by four maple trees. (Nathan Strout / The Times Record)

Take the Woolwich solar farm in Maine, for example. It barely missed its projected energy generation for 2018, but city officials remained optimistic. Why? They were able to identify the main culprit: four maple trees. And that obstacle has an easy fix: “The town is looking into cutting those trees down to ensure that all of the panels get the maximum amount of sunlight,” the local Times Record reported.

When it comes to choosing who will install your solar paneling, it’s important you find a local and trustworthy contractor who will meet with you in-person and on-location. Request your solar panel installer to appraise your property and identify areas of concern.

Additionally, a local contractor will know the climate and weather conditions your location experiences.

How Many Solar Panels Do I Need?

While a roof is a popular option for solar panel installation, there are other options.

Before determining what kind of and how many solar panels you want, it’s good to understand the type and amount of solar energy present at your location. Various public resources are at your disposal to do just that. The National Renewable Energy Laboratory, for example, created a map showing the concentration of sunlight radiation across southwestern states like California, Nevada, Arizona, New Mexico, Utah, and Colorado. How red is your region?

Concentration Solar Resource for Southwestern US. National Renewable Energy Laboratory.

Another more specific example comes from a UC-Berkely National Laboratory team. The group examined when during the day they could expect to find solar panels in shade. They tested Californian cities Sacramento, San Jose, Los Angeles, and San Diego, and determined those time ranges to be:

  • In the morning from 6 to 10 a.m.
  • In the afternoon from 2 to 6 p.m.

On an annual basis, the researchers determined, panels were only affected with a 20-percent decrease at peak shade. Want to know more about your own location and its irradiance properties? Use the Department of Energy’s calculator tool, which asks you for your address and spits out the solar energy you can expect.

A local contractor will be able to explain what you should expect in terms of energy and how you can expect it to increase the value of your home, not to mention what kind of panels you will benefit the most from, and where they should get installed. At Modernize, we frequently speak to homeowners about their home improvement projects. In our recent interviews, 90 percent of homeowners requested a checklist to help them find and vet contractors. Modernize now offers homeowners a free, digital Contractor Checklist as a simple, step-by-step guide to assist with your solar panel project.

What Are My Solar Tracking and Mounting Needs?

While trees, power lines, neighboring structures, and far-away mountains can all cast shadows on your house, don’t forget the sun’s movement also governs the movement of this shade throughout the day.

For best solar paneling positioning, various technologies track the sun’s movement and react to it. According to the Office of Energy Efficiency & Renewable Energy, “rack mounting is currently the most common method because it is robust, versatile, and easy to construct and install.”

Solar tracking systems are add-ons to solar mounts that are designed to help turn the panels to face directly at the sun throughout the day. With 90 percent of the sun’s energy in the direct beam of light that it produces, this direct beam can only be captured completely by a panel facing right at the sun. The farther the panel is tipped away from the sun, the less efficient it is. This results in even carefully installed static—that is, fixed position—solar panels operating with nearly 50 percent to 75 percent efficiency losses at some point during the day. Solar trackers can help salvage those hours when the sun just isn’t shining directly on the panels like it needs to be.

While solar roof panels typically track the sunlight and swivel to keep the panels oriented properly, they could be expensive and difficult to install. In contrast, pole-mounted or ground-mounted units can offer similar benefits at a lower installation price. A ground mount is a durable frame that mounts right to the ground on your property. This frame is designed to hold a specific number of solar panels, which depends on the frame. A pole mount is a durable rack or frame built to hold a set of solar cells that are mounted up on top of a single pole. One well-installed pole is capable of holding a surprisingly large number of solar panels—at times, up to as many as sixteen. In other words, your roof is not your only option.

“Naturally, tracking involves more up-front costs and sophisticated systems are more expensive and require more maintenance,” the Department of Energy reports. “As systems have improved, the cost-benefit analysis increasingly favors tracking for ground-mounted systems.”

As before, the best way to determine which of the mounts you want for your property, and which are best poised to increase its value, you should consult a trustworthy contractor. Be sure to get an in-person assessment from your contractor, allowing the installer to suggest options and explain potential benefits and, sometimes, challenges. Either way, a local expert will help you get the most of your home improvement project, no matter the season.

The post Talking to Your Solar Installer About Solar Panels and Shade appeared first on Modernize.



Lisa Rinna Throws Shade at ‘RHOBH’ Costar Lisa Vanderpump

As Lisa Rinna once said, her lips were made for talking and that’s just what they’ll do. The Real Housewives of Beverly Hills star threw shade at Lisa Vanderpump amid reported drama between the cast.

“Listen. What we do, is not that hard. We film for 4 months. We laugh, fight, we make up, whatever. We make a tv show. We are so blessed and so lucky to have a Job. For those who watch, Thank you!” the 55-year-old actress tweeted on Wednesday, December 5. “I felt like that needed to be said. We aren’t curing cancer here. It’s a f—king tv show. Ya know?! … And I think we all make a darn good tv show.”

Rinna then started taking questions from fans, including one about Vanderpump’s whereabouts.

“She’s on Vanderpump Rules,” the former Melrose Place star replied, referring to her costar’s spinoff, after a user tweeted “Where’s LVP? Can’t get enough of her!”

Social media users were quick to respond to Rinna’s tweet, calling her “iconic” and a “legend” for the “well deserved shade.”

Us Weekly broke the news in October that Vanderpump, 58, was on the outs and refusing to film season 9 with her castmates, including Rinna, Kyle Richards, Dorit Kemsley and Teddi Mellencamp. While reports surfaced last month that the restaurant owner was exiting the series, Vanderpump denied she was done with the show.

“I am in the season, obviously. There are some parts I missed and you’ll see why and I think maybe we’ll have a better understanding when you watch the show,” the SUR owner told Us in November. “There’s a plethora of stories that say I’m quitting, that say I’m trying to get Jax [Taylor] off [Vanderpump Rules]. If I had quit I would have said it.”

Rinna, meanwhile, called the upcoming ninth season of the show “sketchy” after a fan asked her to describe it in one word.

In another tweet, she added that “the current season is going to be excellent and I predict the highest rated.”

When asked if fans will be “surprised” by season 9, Rinna quipped, “I am, so I’m sure you will be too.”

The Real Housewives of Beverly Hills is expected to return to Bravo in 2019.

Us Weekly


Microsoft throws shade at the iPad, calls it a fake computer

Microsoft Surface Go

The tech world is always a tad more interesting when companies like Microsoft and Apple are willing to throw a little shade at each other. Take, for example, a new Microsoft ad for the Surface Go, which takes a few nice jabs at the iPad. The commercial begins with a girl looking at Surface Go and imploring her grandmother not to buy an iPad. The reason? It’s not a real computer.

“Grandma don’t go out and buy an iPad,” the girl sings. “It was fine when I was six but now I’m 10. My dreams are big so I need a real computer to do all of the amazing things I know I can.”

Continue reading…

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Microsoft throws shade at the iPad, calls it a fake computer originally appeared on on Tue, 4 Dec 2018 at 23:07:38 EDT. Please see our terms for use of feeds.



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Stop Throwing Shade on Gray Hair

Photo Illustration by Sarah Rogers/The Daily Beast

Three months ago, I went gray at 23 years old. Tired of the extra attention that comes with being blond—and over being asked if I “had more fun” at every party for the rest of time—I wanted a new color that communicated seriousness. So one night, I leaned over my bathroom sink and drenched my strands with pastel gray dye.

My friends declared the look “rad” and “super cute” on Instagram. But in real life, while commuting or waiting in grocery store checkout lines, I earned outright glares from women of a certain vintage.  

On the third day of my blue rinse period, a confused stranger blurted, “Did you do that on purpose?” Having spent time, energy, and money hiding her gray, she couldn’t fathom why I didn’t appreciate my natural hue.

Read more at The Daily Beast.

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