Author Archives: Spencer Fields

About Spencer Fields

Spencer is the Manager of Market Strategy & Intelligence at EnergySage, where he writes about all things energy. Prior to joining EnergySage, he spent five years at Synapse Energy Economics, providing environmental, economic and policy analysis for public interest groups. Spencer has degrees in Environmental Studies and Hispanic Studies from Brown University, meaning when he's not in the office you can find him outside or traveling somewhere to work on his Spanish.

Ethical Solar Sourcing

Ethical sourcing of solar components

Reading Time: 4 minutes

The solar industry is very much a part of the global economy: its supply chain traverses countries, oceans and continents, sourcing raw materials from certain regions, manufacturing products in others, and, ultimately, sending solar products to home and business owners everywhere. With how interconnected the solar industry is, it’s important to be cognizant of where and how solar equipment is sourced. In lieu of recent credible reports of human rights abuses and forced labor in parts of China that feed into the solar supply chain, it’s worth looking at how to ensure that the solar equipment you purchase is ethically and sustainably sourced. 

Before digging into this, a quick note: allegations of human rights abuses and other unethical practices are an atypical topic area for us. After all, we write about clean energy, not issues of geopolitical intrigue. But we don’t take these reports of human rights violations and forced labor lightly, and we want to make sure you’re aware of this ongoing investigation and have options to ensure your solar equipment is ethically produced.

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Sungage Loan Review

Sungage Financial zero fee loan review

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Solar loans are a very popular way to pay for a new solar or solar plus storage system, since they are a great way to take advantage of the benefits of solar ownership–from tax incentives to increased home value–without requiring you to have the cash on hand to pay for the full system up front. What’s more, many solar-specific loans offer low, fixed interest rates and flexible payment terms, helping you to find the monthly payment that’s right for you. However, a low interest rate (or APR) comes with a caveat: a low APR often means a high cost to borrow money. That cost or fee to borrow money is passed on to your installer, or even built into the overall cost of the project, making a tradeoff between the lowest monthly payment (i.e., low APR) and the lowest project cost (i.e., lowest cost to borrow money). 

Recently, Sungage Financial, one of the most popular solar loan providers on EnergySage, launched a zero fee solar loan to keep your solar project costs as low as possible. Here’s what that means for solar shoppers like you.

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Schneider Energy Center

Schneider Energy Center review

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The modern home is a smart home, with everything from voice activated speakers to thermostats you can control from your home. But to truly be “smart” about your own home, you need to have insight into–and control over–more than just the color of your desk lamp. Enter smart panels: the new technology that’s taking home energy insights and the solar-plus industry to the next level. One such smart panel is Schneider Electric’s Square D Energy Center. We sat down with the team at Schneider to learn more about their brand new product.

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Solar Census 2020

An overview of the 2020 National Solar Jobs Census

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Every year, the Solar Energy Industries Association (SEIA), the Solar Foundation, the Interstate Renewable Energy Council (IREC) and BW Research release the National Solar Jobs Census. Each release is a great opportunity to take a step back and take stock of the solar industry, and this year’s report–which was launched earlier this month–is no different. Taking a look back at 2020, this year’s Solar Jobs Census chronicles the impact of COVID-19 on the solar workforce, tracks efforts to diversify the solar industry, and looks to the future for how many workers the solar industry will employ under different policy scenarios. Spoiler alert: we’re all hiring

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wallbox review

Introducing Wallbox: the European-based smart EV charger company

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In 2019, the Solar Energy Industries Association declared the 2020s would be the ‘Solar+ Decade”. So far, their designation has come true, and then some: 2020 was the best year ever for energy storage deployment in the US, including at the residential level. But it’s not just energy storage that is being paired with solar; according to our recently released Installer Survey, in 2020, 1 in 12 solar installations also included an electric vehicle (EV) charger, while nearly as many people purchased an EV as purchased a solar panel system nationwide. 

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SMA q&a

Q&A with SMA

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Outside of solar panels, solar inverters are the most important part of a solar energy system, responsible for converting electricity generated by your solar panels into usable electricity for your home’s electronics and appliances. When it comes to deciding which equipment is best for your solar panel system, you have many different inverters to choose from, including options for both the type of technology (string vs. microinverter vs. string + power optimizers), and well as the inverter brand. 

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running a house on a battery

How much of my house can I run on a battery–and for how long?

Reading Time: 7 minutes

If you are researching a solar battery there’s one major question that you likely have: how much of your house can you power with a typical solar battery, and how long can you provide power to your home? As with most things, the short answer is an ever unsatisfying: it depends! The longer answer is a complicated one, so we’re here to help. 

We’ve split this article into two separate questions–how much and for how long–since both questions are important as you decide which battery to install, but the answers rely on different factors.

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solaredge energy hub

The SolarEdge Energy Hub: what you need to know

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In 2020, SolarEdge launched their newest and most versatile home inverter: the SolarEdge Energy Hub Inverter. The aptly named Energy Hub combines the functionality of all of SolarEdge’s existing inverters under one hood to provide a future-proof solution that allows you to easily integrate additional SolarEdge home energy products into the same inverter product, from home battery backup to a Level 2 Smart EV Charger to their growing line of additional smart home/smart energy options. And the best part? Energy Hub has been well received throughout the industry, with the inverter winning PV Magazine’s 2020’s Inverter of the Year Award.

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net metering in california with calssa

What’s happening to net metering in California? A Q&A with CALSSA

Reading Time: 5 minutes

California has historically been the best market for solar in the US, and the success of the solar industry as a whole can largely be traced back to the success of solar in California. In fact, out of the more than 2.5 million residential solar installations in the US, more than 1.2 million are in California alone! 

However, the future of solar in California –and of residential solar in particular–hangs in the balance. In a current review of the future of net metering in the state, a series of proposals before the California Public Utilities Commission (CPUC) recommend significantly reducing the value of residential net metering credits. For a sense of the types of proposals submitted, check out this joint proposal from the major utilities in the state, which would reduce residential net metering credits to 23 percent of their value today and impose a monthly fee on solar owners of nearly $80 per month, making new residential solar all but impossible in the state. 

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texas blackouts 2021

Don’t snow on Texas: diving into the 2021 blackouts

Reading Time: 6 minutes

Much has already been written about this week’s power outages in Texas, and the devastating impact they’ve had on the millions of people who are left in the dark and the cold. Unfortunately, a large portion of the original reporting about the cause of the blackouts contained misinformation. So we want to join the growing chorus of articles setting the record straight on what actually happened in Texas, as well as to take a look at how to prepare to keep the lights on during severe weather events in the future. 

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