Everyone loves solar, don’t they? Well, not always.

In our prehistory Solar 101 item, we’ve covered everything from construction, finance, incentives, and net metering to reviewing a contractor. Subsequent articles will focus more on hardware and revenue streams.

Here we’re going to look at some of the many “episodes” that could turn your dream – or practical skill – about installing solar panels upside down. The examples here are just the tip of the iceberg. If you’ve had any strange happenings in your own solar businesses, please comment at the end of this article and let’s all clear up!


The strangest thing to deal with is neighbors.

For many of us this is not a revelation. The saying “good fences make good neighbors” is known to have originated from several cultures independently. And as Ben Franklin said, “Love your neighbor, but don’t tear down your hedge.”

Your homeowners association is one of the first “weird” places to go to check out the solar system rules on your property. Your HOA is usually in place to protect the value of your property from neighbors who have different tastes than your own. Solar energy is viewed as a completely different taste by many people.

The most common HOA rule prohibits homeowners from installing solar panels facing a street. This rule applies in many HOAs in many states in the country.

Check that your HOA has any solar or aesthetic rules that could limit where you can install solar. If the HOA has rules against street side solar panels, ask your contractor if you can install on another roof surface. Note, however, that different roof surface angles generate different amounts of solar power, may affect your payback period.

The next defense against an HOA is building a “beautiful” solar power system. Of course, beauty is in the eye of the beholder. In my eyes, the above Solaria system is about as good as a standard solar system.

Image: created by dji camera

Another type of “beauty” is a solar clapboard system from Tesla, Luma Solar (left) or others who manufacture this new type of product.

Unfortunately, some of your neighbors just won’t get it. For example, the people in North Carolina voted against a major solar energy project because they believed solar panels would do it ‘soak up all the sunlight. ‘

Generally, when installing a residential solar energy project on the ground, you need to get a building permit, as well as the approval of neighbors at a city meeting. The best way to avoid a town meeting is to build solar power on your roof instead of the ground.


Plugging your system into an electrical outlet can sometimes be more of a challenge than you might expect.

The picture on the right shows a solar power project in Three River, California. The house is on a hill a few hundred meters high. It would have cost more than $ 250,000 to connect this home to the grid, according to the local utility company.

Instead, the homeowner decided to build an off-grid solar power system. The system includes solar panels that track the sun, batteries and solar powered water pumps, and the inverters and controls necessary to properly manage intermittent power generation.

Although this scenario is a bit extreme, there are many places that are already plugged in and do not allow solar hookups. A utility company recently informed this author that a customer’s home was too far from major electrical grid hardware. The voltage on the line was not strong enough to handle the potential export of the solar system to the power grid, the utility said.

Unfortunately, this is often an issue that cannot be determined until after you’ve spent money preparing and submitting one or more applications to the utility company. Such an outcome could be a major setback, so you should take the time to review Learn more about the connection Problems before continuing.

In some places – especially Hawaii, but also hot solar markets like San Diego and Massachusetts – there is too much solar power. If you are the last one on your block to get solar power, you may not be allowed to feed electricity into the electricity grid.


The energy industry is one of the largest and most economically influential industries on earth. And while each of us is trying to plug just a tiny solar power system into the largest machines in the world, many people see this as an attack on their bottom line. And they don’t like that.

If you want a solar panel on the ground, your local zone committee can get involved.

Image: Pixabay

For example, the federal government that regulates the power grid – the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission – recently stated that it was likely Alabama is breaking the law by charging a capacity fee to those installing solar power projects.

Currently, anyone installing solar power in residential buildings in Alabama pays this fee, which has been in place since 2013.

Fortunately, Kansas lowered a similar fee for solar power about a year ago. The fee had been proposed by utility companies, approved by state regulators, and even upheld by a lower court – despite a 1980 Kansas law that specifically prohibited such fees. All it took to pass the proposed law was a reading of the “clear text” by the state Supreme Court judge.

One extreme example that may not directly affect retail customers – but we should all be aware – is in Wyoming. The state is leading the way with a rainy day fund of $ 1.2 million that it can use States are suing their pro-renewable energy laws have wounded their extraction business.

About these quahogs

Nature is another dynamic to consider. For example, the amount of dust, pollen, and other materials that fall on your solar panels varies greatly, and can even change every few miles.

Is the house near an industrial area? Watch out for dust. Near beautiful fields? Pollen. Near a pig farm? Sticky manure dust. Close to the beach? Beware of falling quahogs.

Falling quahogs?

On the left we see a Sunpower 315 W solar panel from a system installed in 2013 along a fishing port. The local seagulls collect the clams known as the quahog (the official Rhode Island shellfish and pronounced knockout pig) from waterways and drop them on hard surfaces to crack open the shells and eat whatever is inside.

Obviously, broken solar panels don’t generate a lot of electricity. And we’re pretty sure that damage caused by Quahog isn’t covered by hail guarantees.

What dangers did you encounter in your solar project? Share your story using the comments section below.

Our Solar 101 Series is on the home stretch. Next, we’ll look at solar panels and inverters, the two key components of hardware.

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