Snowfall and Solar Systems

If you’re considering going solar, you might be wondering if cold and snowy midwestern winters should affect your decision. This is one of the most asked questions we get.  Third Sun Solar has 19 years of experience installing systems on all types of buildings across Ohio. To date, our portfolio includes nearly 900 installations in the mid-west. These folks didn’t let our cold winters or snowfall discourage them from going solar, and you shouldn’t either!    

Can my solar panels produce energy if they are covered in snow? No, a solid covering of snow all but shuts off production.  The good news is that overall production loss from the snow is very small when looking at performance on an annual basis. Losing a day of production in January is a fraction of a day in July.  Here at Third Sun Solar, our team takes winter’s shorter days, snowfall and the orientation of sunlight all into account when estimating the output of your system. 

Residential Solar System Covered in Snow

Depending on the tilt of your roof and the slant of your panels, snow will typically slide off on its own. Even in the heart of winter solar panels give off a small amount of heat, which helps to warm and melt the snow. Additionally, snow on the ground can reflect light, amplifying the sunlight absorbed by your solar panels. During sunny winter days, the sun will warm the dark solar panels and the snow will melt and snow will typically slide off the smooth surface. An added bonus? Cleaning the panels won’t be necessary, snow can get this job done easily!  

Are cold temperatures bad for my solar panels? Unless covered in snow, solar panels are actually more efficient in cold conditions.  Like most electronics, solar panels function better at colder temperatures than under intense heat.  Most arrays hit their highest power generation of the year on cold clear winter days at noon.   

Should I try to clear the snow off my solar panels? Snow will usually melt quickly off your panels. There is the occasional blizzard, however, that leaves snow lingering on rooftops for an extended period of time. Overall, yearly production loss from snow cover is very small. At Third Sun, we do not recommend trying to clear the solar panels. Getting onto a roof in inclement weather is dangerous and using any type of tool on the panels themselves can damage the panels. Snow falling off of the panels can be a nuisance, and if the lower edge of a roof mounted array is close to the edge of the roof, we will recommend “Snow Guards” over doorways or areas with pedestrian activity. 

Remember that, living in the Midwest, the worst of the winter months and the short days only last for about three months. Time with reduced solar output is limited. In the sunny summer months, your system can generate more solar energy than you use, which will be reflected in a surplus energy credit. At the end of the year, our customers are happy with their overall annual production.   

Now that you know this, consider…  

2019 is the final year to get the full 30% federal tax credit before it drops. Ohio homeowners are realizing the savings and the return on investment will increase when you go solar before the end of 2019.   

If you would like a quote for your home, business, or non-profit please sign up for a free solar estimate or call 877-OWN-SOLAR today.   

It’s Easy to Claim Your Federal Solar Tax Credit

Understanding your federal tax forms seems like a lost cause to many people. And turning to a tax professional may be your cup of tea. But in a post by EnergySage, they’ve broken down every form needed to claim the federal solar tax credit, most commonly referred to as the ITC (Investment Tax Credit).

Some things mentioned to keep in mind:

  • Solar array owners (not leasers) are eligible to claim the ITC on any property they live in at least part of the year. (Primary or not)
  • The ITC is a refundable tax credit, which means that if your federal tax liability is less than the total solar savings, you can carry over the remainder to the following year because you can’t get more back than you owe in any one year.

You’ll just need one additional form to complete in order to claim your tax credit: IRS Form 5695. Once you’ve completed Form 5695 in the manner they outlined, you’ll take the final result (line 15) and include it in your IRS Form 1040, line 53.

Read original article at EnergySage.com…

From Paris to Your Home

COP21 to Home
This week, 190 leaders from around the world are gathered in Paris for the 2015 Climate Change Conference (COP21). Governments from the largest nations to the smallest, from the most wealthy to the poorest, are putting forth plans to slow global warming. With such distant dignitaries working on the problem, where does that leave you and me?

It may feel like all of us back at home are just in the audience of the climate talks. We are outside looking in, following the scenarios, the plans and the pledges. But we don’t have to just be1 spectators. We can actively participate by making necessary changes in our own back yard.

Several key actions have been identified as needed to limit the most severe effects of global warming. These are actions that nations, states and cities will be making pledges and plans around. They are also actions that each one of us can address individually, in our own homes, and in our own back yards.

  • We can increase the efficiency of buildings. Think about your own home: where can you make efficiency improvements? US News and World Report offers 10 Energy Efficient Home Improvements you can make like sealing air leaks, adding insulation to your attic, and installing a programmable thermostat. The bonus you get with these improvements is that you not only make your home more efficient, you’ll use less electricity and gas, and save you money. Over the long term, you will save more money than it costs to implement these improvements. And you’ll reduce your use of fossil fuels.
  • We can increase electricity generation using clean power like solar and wind. Over the last 15 years installing solar on homes around the Midwest, we’ve experienced the price of solar dropping 80%, which has been making solar cheaper for many homeowners than their existing electric provider. You can save money from day one and do your part to contribute to the slowing of global warming by switching to renewable energy. We are seeing more homeowners than ever taking this bold and smart step to reduce the amount of fossil fuel pollution entering the atmosphere.
  • We can educate. Each one of us can share news and ideas for slowing global warming. When we take action at home to reduce fossil fuel usage, we can let our friends and neighbors know how they can do the same. We are in this together and the only way we will get out of it and make an impact is together.

The adage “Think Globally, Act Locally” still applies to the world’s climate crisis. Leaders on the global stage in Paris are making commitments and taking action to help alleviate this crisis, and each one of us can do the same on our own local stages too.

 

Opt OUT of Black Friday and Opt IN to Green Friday

OptOutside

Around the office, we’re getting a little worn out from all the hype and consumerism of Black Friday. So this year we’ve decided to opt out of Black Friday and Opt IN to Green Friday. You might be wondering what we mean by that. Well, being a solar company, we tend to be green-minded. We spend a lot of time thinking up ways to do good for our communities and environment, and the more we thought about Black Friday, the more it didn’t sit well with us. So we’re reimaging what it could be.

Green Friday for the team at Third Sun is going to be spent reconnecting, recharging, and relaxing this year, and here’s how we plan to do it:

  • Relaxing with our loved ones both near and far
  • Playing flag football
  • Hiking at local parks
  • Mountain Biking
  • Skateboarding
  • Decorating for Christmas
  • Renovating our homes

A couple more ideas for opting into Green Friday would be to volunteer your time with a nonprofit, clear out your closets and donate items to charity, or sleep in and enjoy a cup of coffee while reading the newspaper. Opt IN to Green Friday with us and share your plans to do it in the comments below, Twitter, or Facebook.