Solar Tour Open House Saturday October 6, 2018

We always get the question, “Does solar actually work in Ohio?” Yes folks it really does and we can show you! Join our solar expert David Zelasko and one of our happy customers for refreshments and learn how solar is saving them money on their electric bill. Please see event details below.

12898 Painesville Warren Rd, Painesville, OH 44077-9217, United States

Saturday October 6, 2018 12pm-4pm

We hope to see you there!

Why We Became a Certified B Corp

Third Sun Solar is proud to be a certified B-Corp, a designation awarded by an outside nonprofit organization to businesses “who meet the highest standards of verified, overall social and environmental performance, public transparency, and legal accountability.”

Many folks ask us why we submitted ourselves for consideration, seeking to learn if it was purely for altruistic reasons, or if there were practical considerations as well. While we have run our business for “People, Planet and Profit” since our start in 2000, it was certainly still a hurdle to becoming formally certified by an outside organization; the process included time and resource-consuming logistical challenges, such as officially changing our LLC operating agreement to state that we must manage our business to serve people and the planet in addition to seeking profit. Since our first certification in 2012, we have since undergone recertifications as well as a random audit.

So why all the effort? There are many reasons, but these primary themes stand out:

Optimization

At Third Sun Solar, we use this word to describe the engineering and design choices we make as we come up with the best solar solutions for each customer situation. In our early days, I personally selected the best combination of inverters, panels and racking for each project, and spent a lot of time running the numbers and comparing the different options to arrive at an “optimal” solution for a customer’s goals. Today that work is carried on by our expert team, but I still apply that approach to running the business. I am analytical and curious by nature—running Third Sun Solar with my team involves hundreds of choices and decisions. With a focus on our mission, “To empower people to save the planet with clean energy”, we have concluded that focusing on a ‘triple bottom line’ (social, environmental, financial) is the optimized way to achieve that mission.

Differentiation

When we launched Third Sun Solar at the end of the 90s there were hardly any dedicated businesses focused on solar solutions. Today, solar customers have many choices, each promising that they are “the best”, “high quality”, etc. While Third Sun Solar’s long industry leadership helps us stand out from this crowd in many ways, we decided that achieving B-Corp certification would go a long way toward further distinguishing us as a leader. Our B-corp status is another way of showing we are fully committed to the highest quality and safety for our clients, our employees and the greater community (AKA our PEOPLE). Those who already do business with us can see firsthand that we’re trustworthy and honest; our B-corp status proves we stand up to rigorous scrutiny regarding our environmental practices (AKA our PLANET). While it is pretty easy to recycle cardboard, we go way further, including a 100% solar net-zero office, carbon-offsets for our driving, and even composting our kitchen scraps. By contrast, some of our supposedly environmentally-driven competitors don’t even recycle!

Competitive

One of the most important reasons we have become a Certified B-Corp isn’t altruistic at all. Like all for-profit businesses, we’re striving for a significant competitive advantage over our competition (other solar companies) as solar achieves its destiny as the preferred energy form in homes and businesses (AKA our PROFIT).

We’re also engaged in a “war for talent”. Third Sun Solar is primarily successful because of our people. Though we gain market advantage in areas ranging from internal software to low-cost purchasing through a co-op, at the end of the day the most important factor in our success and growth are the people on our team. From the first phone call or email communication to all of the human interactions along the way, and finally to the crew bolting equipment together and programming the electronics, our people are at the root of our success. Based on that understanding, we believe that recruiting, retaining and motivating the very best team members is our “secret sauce”. In this context, our B-Corp certification gives us a significant advantage (invisibility and attractiveness to high-quality candidates as well as employee satisfaction and retention), and it is one that we are glad to have.

Before founding Third Sun Solar as a business, I worked for several nonprofits in the social sector (focused on Appalachian poverty and affordable housing), along with my time in a government agency (the US Peace Corps). Those were formative experiences, and I have a lot of respect for many great people and programs working to solve big problems and make the world better through these sectors. I also have seen (and sadly continue to see) the destructive nature and short-sightedness of many conventional businesses, especially the largest of corporations where the conventional practice (and the legal requirements) focus only on immediate profit and only profit. The B-Corp movement is an effort to change this. Third Sun Solar and many other mission-driven businesses are harnessing entrepreneurial energy and drive to solve social and global problems that have vexed the nonprofit and governmental sectors for decades.

We are in the midst of an experiment and are excited to be part of a movement that takes the best of capitalism, creativity and market forces in an effort to use business as a positive force for social good.

Employee Spotlight: Brittany Maxson

Meet Brittany Maxson!

Regional Office: Athens, Ohio

Year Joined Third Sun Family: 2016

Brittany Maxson is the voice of Third Sun Solar. As our First Impression Specialist, Brittany speaks to nearly every client on his or her journey to going solar. She has an Associate’s Degree in Wildlife Management and Natural resources management from Hocking College and a Bachelor’s Degree in Sociology and Anthropology from Ohio University. When Brittany is not manning the phones at Third Sun, she can be found out in the wild with her husband Victor, hiking, fishing, hunting, or just walking puppy Gryphon. Brittany is passionate about making a lasting difference in her community, so she’s joined The Plains United Methodist Church as a trustee and volunteers at the Athens County Dog Shelter. Brittany lives our Third Sun values in every way. We couldn’t be happier to have her as part of our family.

Solar Myth Busting: Solar is Too Expensive

Myth: Solar is too expensive.

Fact: Going solar is one of the best investments any homeowner can ever make.

We’ve heard it before: “Switching to Solar is Too Expensive”. Let’s take a look at the real costs of making the switch to solar energy before deciding that solar is too expensive. Let’s consider the facts first:

 

  • Initially, the cost of a solar installation is an investment. An investment that, when designed and installed properly, will put money in your pocket for many years to come. As utility rates increase, the money saved will only continue to rise.

 

  • In recent years, the cost of solar panels has dropped substantiallywe’re talking 60 % over the last 10 years, making solar more practical and economical than ever before. This is the exact opposite of fossil fuel sources (oil, gas & coal), which become more expensive and less abundant with every ton burned.

 

  • Residential electricity rates have seen an increase of 4% nationally over the past 10 years.  In some places like Oregon, locals have seen dramatic increases as much as 40%, there is no denying that rates will continue to be on the rise.

 

  • Solar panels typically come with a 25-year warranty, but systems installed decades ago are still generating energy today, so it’s expected that a new array will last many years beyond the warranty period. That’s 25+ years of saving 50-85% on your electric bill annually! Think of how you could better spend that money.

 

  • Homeowners don’t have to wait 25 years to see the savings; depending on the size of the system, homeowners can take advantage of simple payback of 9-12 years.

 

  • Solar panels operate during peak daytime load periods when fossil fuel powered electricity is at its greatest demand and most expensive. In fact, with an efficiently-designed solar array, the panels will be returning excess power to the grid when it’s most needed, generating credit instead of cost.

 

  • Some people worry about the value of their investment if they choose to install solar panels, but might decide to sell their homes later. Well no surprise here, solar installations actually increase the value of your home on the market, with the added bonus of spending less time on the market.*

 

In our modern society, having electricity has become essential for day-to-day living, and the use of a depleting resource is becoming a real crisis. With our rate of energy consumption in the U.S. increasing, and the cost of fossil fuels predicted to also continue rising, now is a perfect time to make the switch. Don’t let the cost of going green stop you from making the switch. With our current trends, switching to solar energy is a great way to save.

 

 

*appraisalinstitute.org

Columbus Ohio Solar Consultant

Employee Spotlight: Ryan Walling

Meet Ryan Walling!

Regional Office: Columbus, Ohio

Year Joined Third Sun Family: 2015

Ryan Walling has been an amazing player on our team as a Residential Solar Consultant at Third Sun Solar. He graduated from The Ohio State University in 2015 with a bachelor’s degree in Environment, Economy, Development and Sustainability with a focus in business and sustainability. Aside from work, Ryan is also a sports enthusiast (not limiting his love to any sport in particular) and an aspiring author. He’s currently working on writing a book about his perspective of the solar industry in the Midwest and the financial aspect of it. We look forward to seeing what’s to come with Ryan as a part of our family.

residential rooftop solar panels

Groups Going Solar Together via Solarize Programs

What are these talks of solarize programs and solar co-ops all about?

There has been a lot of press in the Midwest surrounding communities creating group solarize and solar co-op opportunities. But what does this mean for you?

What are solarize and solar co-op programs?

Both programs are locally-organized group-buying opportunities provided by a city, neighborhood, or organization where multiple homes and businesses go solar together as a group. In addition to getting a bulk discount, the group members benefit by learning about solar together and sharing the task of evaluating and selecting a solar installer. These programs have established periods of time for joining, so they are limited time offers.

Why are these programs forming?

Solarize and solar co-op programs can quickly deploy a large amount of solar, and make the process easier and more efficient for all parties. Organizations often offer this type of opportunity as an employee benefit. An important benefit of a group going solar all at one time is that everyone can learn together and share knowledge in addition to the discount.

What are the benefits of these programs?

If you live in an area that has a solarize or solar co-op program already being offered, then:

  • You are in a position to not only take advantage of the 30% Federal Tax Credit, but you will also have the opportunity to purchase a solar array for your home or business at the group-negotiated discount rate. These rates vary by program, and some solarize opportunities present additional grants for eligible homeowners.
  • Joining a solarize or solar co-op allows you to rely on the expertise of your group in choosing a reliable solar installer. Working together with accountants, lawyers, engineers and construction experts in your community helps members feel more confident about choosing solar and a reliable installater.
  • Lastly, taking advantage of these opportunities while they are occurring dramatically increases the environmental benefits for the entire community in which you live or work.

There isn’t a solarize or solar co-op happening where I live or work. Should I wait to go solar?

The time to buy solar is now, even if you live in a community without one of these group-buying opportunities because:

  • Costs for solar have dropped significantly over the last decade, making solar an affordable energy solution.
  • There is currently a 30% Federal Tax Credit being offered.
  • Our clients dramatically lower their annual electric bills by 50-90%, keeping money in their pockets.
  • You might consider organizing your own “group purchase”. Even having a few homes go solar together can lead to savings and efficiency (see below).
  • Easily start your free evaluation by completing this form.

How can I start a solarize or solar co-op program for my community?

Third Sun Solar has experience working with neighbor groups, businesses and churches to offer group-buying opportunities to their neighbors, employees and congregations. We can help walk you thru the process, and offer an incentive package where discounts are spelled out depending on how much solar gets installed. Working with a group saves us money and time, so it’s an easy decision for us to turn this saved money into a discount.

Third Sun Solar has also been selected as a preferred installer for multiple community co-op and solarize programs (for example: GCEA & OH SUN programs). We would be happy to answer your questions about gathering a group together to go solar. For more information, call us: 877-696-7652.

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…

residential solar panels on home

How Much Does Solar Cost to Install on My House?

One of the first questions we are often asked is how much does solar cost if installed (or photovoltaic “PV” panels) on a house, which is quickly followed by a question about the number of panels it would take to power a typical house. Since these questions are inter-related, we’ll tackle them together. There are plenty of websites around that try to help answer these questions, but they’re complicated and use a lot of industry jargon. We strive to make solar easy for you and that starts with cutting through the noise and laying it all out on the table. So let’s break it down.

Loudonville, Ohio 10.64kW rooftop solar installation

Loudonville, Ohio 10.64kW rooftop solar installation

So, how much does solar cost?

The first step in calculating an answer is to look at how much electricity is being consumed. We see electric bills that range from $50/month into the hundreds of dollars, but for this example we’ll use an average bill of $100/month, which equates to 770 kWh per month at $0.13/kWh. Because everyone consumes electricity differently and electric rates vary across the Midwest, we look at every home as a custom project. (Our Solar Consultants review actual usage from utility bills as part of a solar evaluation to determine energy consumption.)

Now that we know the household electricity consumption, we can calculate the size of the system needed to meet its needs. During this step, we would take a look at the roof (or available space for a ground-mount) for the direction it faces, condition, complexity and shadiness. For this example we will assume there are no large trees that shade the roof during peak sunlight hours, and that the roof is almost facing south. In most parts of the Midwest such a roof would need about 24 panels to offset about 90% of the home’s electrical load.

So – we’ve narrowed in on a system size of 24 panels, or approximately 6.72kW*. So the next step is to determine how much this system would cost. Just as there are many types of roofs, each home has unique factors that impact the system budget; in this case we will use some assumptions and walk through the math for a typical home:

6,720 watts   X   $3.25/watt = $21,840

We’re not done yet… most of our residential clients take advantage of the 30% federal tax credit (ITC), reducing the price to $15,288. Remember that there is quite a range in options – your specific cost could be lower or higher than the example shown here.

How do I get started?

Our Solar Consultants are ready to walk you through the options and help you calculate the economics and payback. With Smart Solar Financing, many of our clients are able to go solar for zero money down and have payments that are less than their old electric bills. Some clients treat solar as an investment with a stable and predictable return – every client is different and we look forward to helping you evaluate your options and harness the clean, free energy of the sun.

To start the free evaluation process with one of our Solar Consultants and get a more precise quote for your specific household, you can call us during regular business hours at: 877-696-7652 or you can complete our online form HERE.

Van Wert, Ohio 4.9kW rooftop solar installation

Van Wert, Ohio 4.9kW rooftop solar installation

 

* You will often hear us talking about system sizes in terms of “watts” or “kilowatts (kW)”- this is a more accurate measurement as various solar panels come in different wattages. In the example discussed here we are using 280-watt panels, so 24 of them would equal a 6,720-watt solar array, or a 6.72 kilowatt (kW) array.

Solar Myth Busting: Too Much Snow for Solar

Solar panels still generate power under snow
Myths get started all the time as we try to understand something complicated. We make up a story as an explanation, and the more times we say it and share it, the more that myth sounds like truth. So, we are going to bust some myths by sharing the simple facts about solar. This doesn’t have to be complicated and these myths are no longer necessary to get solar.

Myth: There’s too much snow for solar in the Midwest

Fact: Solar panels still work in snowy parts of the country and in some situations can work more efficiently that during summer months.

It’s true that when your solar panels are completely snow-covered, they will only be able to generate a portion of their typical energy output because less sunlight is able to pass thru the snow cover.

That being said, this is nothing to be concerned about because:

  • Solar creates more efficient energy at cooler temperatures.
  • The sun will warm up the dark solar panels and the snow will quickly melt and/or slide off the smooth surface, so no need to clear the snow off yourself.
  • Even in the dead of winter, solar panels give off some small amount of heat, which can prevent snow from sticking in the first place.
  • In working with Third Sun Solar experts in the design of the array, the shorter days, weather, and less direct sunlight is taken into account to optimize your system. Net-metering will allow you to continue receiving electricity when your array produces less.
  • As a percentage of overall yearly production the loss from some snow is very small.
  • When snow is on the ground and the panels are clear, the snowy surface basically acts as a mirror and in many cases, you end up with a small boost because of the reflection off the snow.
  • Snow sliding off panels as it melts simultaneously cleans them.

We recommend not 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.

3 Solar Power Predictions for 2016

Welcome 2016

Quite a lot happened in 2015 that will bring improvements to our homes and environment. Now that 2016 is here, we wanted to make some solar power predictions around what we think is in store for the Midwest.

1 – More homeowners will go solar. The renewal of the ITC will allow solar installations in the Midwest to catch up to what has been going on in the coastal states. More and more homeowners will turn to solar this year as they watch their electricity bills increase due to rising costs of fossil fuels and rate hikes approved by PUCO.

2 – Storage is going to be talked about more than installed this year. We don’t think 2016 is the year for energy storage, although it will start creeping more and more into the media. We’ve already seen the excitement building around energy storage prototypes, but in the Midwest, we think it will be a few years away until energy storage provides financial benefits.

3 – Solar installation prices will continue to drop, although only slightly. PV modules have already seen significant price cuts over the last few years, so any future drops in price are more likely to come from installation innovations. These types of efficiency changes are only likely to result in small cost cuts and not on the scale as has been witnessed one the last few years.