From LED’s to Solar-Powered Christmas Trees: the Holidays Become More Energy Conscious

The holidays have never been brighter, or greener. With the unseasonably warm weather we’ve been experiencing in the Eastern half of the country, we’ve noticed more people making time to get outside and set up holiday light displays. And as we take in these beautiful displays, we are enjoying the trend towards LED lights and solar-powered Christmas trees.

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LED Lights Keep Money in the Bank

Christmas lights are typically left on for hours at a time, so it’s easy to rack up higher than normal electric bills. Investing in LED string lights that use less than a third of the energy, last 10 times longer, and are safer than a standard incandescent string means that you will end up with more savings in your pocket year after year. The electricity bill will go down. Replacement strands won’t be needed for years. And since LED lights don’t emit heat, they won’t overheat and cause a fire.

Harnessing the Sun to Light up the Night

Christmas Tree: Rockefeller Center

Christmas Tree: Rockefeller Center

Cities around the world have been using LED lights to brighten trees for years and now they are taking things a step farther by powering those lights with energy supplied by the sun. Here’s a rundown of some solar-powered trees we love this Christmas:

Brisbane, Queenland, Australia  

New York City, NY: Rockefeller Plaza 

Lismore, New South Wales, Australia 

These trees are gorgeous. If you are traveling this season and have an opportunity to visit them in person, you won’t be disappointed.

(Due to space constraints, panels are not yet supplying 100% of the power needed, but we find it inspiring none-the-less that cities are using renewable energy to make their holiday displays greener each year. More information can be found here regarding the energy usage of the Rockefeller Center tree.)

Solar Myth Busting: High Maintenance

Rooftop solar

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: Solar is High Maintenance

Fact: Solar panels have no moving parts, on average are warrantied for 25 years, and nature takes care of the bulk of the maintenance work.

With no moving parts, solar panels require little to no regular maintenance. And because we are in the Midwest, we are lucky, because heavy rainfalls generally take care of cleaning the panels for us! If you think you are in an extra dusty part of town, a couple times a year you may want to check your solar panels for a build-up of dirt and debris, since heavily soiled panels will have slightly decreased output than sparkling panels. Panels that appear heavily soiled with dirt, pollen, or bird droppings can be rinsed off safely with a garden hose on cloudy days or early in the morning. No need to scrub your panels or hand clean them, which can result in damage. If your garden hose doesn’t have the power to get all of your panels with you standing on the ground, we recommend having a professional climb onto the roof to take care of them for you. Safety isn’t to be taken lightly.

5 Top Solar Changemakers We’re Thankful For

Heartfelt Thank You

Gratitude, like solar, is a renewable energy that gives us power and is contagious. Here’s a short list of Solar Changemakers we’re thankful for and we encourage you to share your gratitude for solar with others as well.

1) Customers! 
Happy customers are our Solar Champions, early adopters, and our greatest resource in spreading the word about clean solar energy.

2) Third Sunians
This team crusades for solar every day, climbing to new heights installing arrays, speaking at community events, and walking the talk to accelerate the shift to clean energy.

3) Renewable Energy Advocates
Associations like the Ohio Advanced Energy Economy, Solar Energy Industries Association, and Green Energy Ohio advocate for a clean energy economy in Ohio every day to the state and federal congresses. Right now they are battling to continue the Investment Tax Credit (ITC) that expires at the end of 2016, which has reduced the cost of solar arrays by 30%.

4) Amicus Solar Cooperative
Being a member-owner in this coop benefits our customers by lowering the costs of installing solar on their homes and businesses because we pass purchasing discounts thru to them.

5) Ownership Partner
We’re thankful for Dividend Solar partnering with us to make solar more affordable for homeowners. They offer financing with as little as $0 down, so you can own your energy instead of renting it. You experience energy savings from day one and receive the tax benefits all while investing in your home.

Veterans leading the charge to a brighter energy future

Over the last year, the solar industry has continued its double digit growth throughout the US, creating thousands of jobs along the way and outpacing the national average. Many of these jobs have been filled by our military veterans. We are proud of our veterans for their commitment and service to our country, and we are excited to have them securing our energy future by joining the solar workforce.

Credit: The Solar Foundation

Credit: The Solar Foundation

Veterans are now nearly 10% of the solar workforce and with their discipline, motivation and technical expertise that percentage should continue to grow and outperform the percentage of veteran employment nationwide.  Even the Department of Energy recognized the contribution that veterans could make to the solar industry and created the Solar Ready Vets program last year, which connects our nation’s skilled veterans to the solar industry, preparing them for careers as solar installers, sales representatives, and system inspectors.

Over 8% of our Third Sun Solar team is made up of people who have served in the military and we thank them for their service to our country as well as the work they do now to secure America’s energy future.

 

Local Solar Business Leaders and Veterans Call on Sen. Portman to Grow Ohio’s Clean Energy Economy & Support the Clean Power Plan

 

 

Support the Clean Power Plan

Columbus, OH – On Tuesday, September 22, solar business leaders Geoff Greenfield and Mathew O’Brien of Third Sun Solar, solar homeowner Dr. Matthew Taylor and veteran Allen Zak urged Senator Portman to start voting to support the Clean Power Plan because of what it means for the booming clean energy economy and national security.

The Clean Power Plan was finalized on August 3, and puts in place the nation’s first ever limits on carbon pollution from power plants while providing incentives for investments in wind, solar and other sources of clean energy.

“Make no mistake, climate disruption is a national security matter and poses grave threats to the economic stability of all American families,” said veteran Allen Zak. “That’s why it’s time for all of Ohio’s representatives in Congress to tackle the climate crisis and support the Clean Power Plan.”

Power plants are the single largest source of carbon pollution in the United States– responsible for 40 percent of the dangerous pollutant being pumped into our air. Carbon pollution fuels climate change, which the Department of Defense last year declared to be a “strategic threat” with major security implications for the United States.

Despite the fact that a majority of Ohioans support the Clean Power Plan, U.S. Senator Portman has voted against a burgeoning Ohio clean energy economy and clean air in Congress multiple times. That includes by introducing an amendment that would enable states to scrap the protections of the Clean Power Plan.

Congress has a key role to play in providing funding for all Environmental Protection Agency programs, and Senator Portman can show his support for the Clean Power Plan in the future by ensuring that the resources necessary for this program are secured in full.

“Taking action on climate provides Ohioans opportunities to use cleaner energy, grow our economy and protect the health of our families,” said Geoff Greenfield, President of Third Sun Solar. “We urge Senator Portman to start voting in support of the Clean Power Plan.”

Also See:

Department of Defense sees Climate Change as strategic threat: http://www.defense.gov/News-Article-View/Article/612710

Majority of Americans support the Clean Power Plan: http://aufc.3cdn.net/9cce54755ec7d79594_tvm6ib002.pdf

 

 

 

 

Third Sun Solar President to Speak at Ohio Conservation Forum

Third Sun Solar to Speak at Forum Designed to Explore Solar’s Future in Ohio

Third Sun Solar president, Geoff Greenfield, at the Athens Public Library. (Photo courtesy of The Athens News)

Third Sun Solar president, Geoff Greenfield, at the Athens Public Library.
(Photo courtesy of The Athens News)

 

Athens, OH– Third Sun Solar’s president and co-founder, Geoff Greenfield, will be speaking at this year’s final Ohio Conservation Forum, this Friday, December 19th.

The forum will explore Ohio’s current energy situation with a look back at the history and impact of solar in the state, as well as discussing what the future holds for renewable energy in Ohio.  The forum will feature a panel of solar professionals, including Greenfield, as well as a guest from Green Energy Ohio, a non-profit organization dedicated to promoting environmentally and economically sustainable energy policies and practices in Ohio.

The event will take place at 1 p.m on December 19th at 1404 Goodale Boulevard, in Columbus. Those who are interested in attending are asked to RSVP to mattnisenoff@ohioconservation.org.

This symposium is a part of the Ohio Conservation Forums, an event put on by the Ohio League of Conservation Voters. The forums seek to stimulate education and discussion by joining experts with concerned citizens to discuss environmental and sustainability topics pertinent to the future of our state and its people.

As winter darkness approaches, LEDs are a “bright” idea   

 The humble light bulb is evolving

The evolution in light bulbs has accelerated in the last couple of decades. It used to be that our only choice at home was the good ‘ole incandescent bulb. We did have some experience with the buzzing and flickering fluorescent lighting at work or in commercial spaces. Those negative experiences with fluorescents made it harder to transition to compact fluorescents (CFLs) when those started to hit the market in the 1990s. Also the price was much higher than incandescent, which became a bit of a barrier to switching over. Even thought CFLs are 90% more efficient and proven to save electricity and money, the switch was not easy.

Fast forward to today, and we have seen the adoption of CFLs become more and more widespread. The technology has improved, and manufacturers took feedback about the quality of the light to heart, making improvements in warmth of the light and reductions in flickering and warm up times. The price has come down considerably as consumer demand has picked up and manufacturers have achieved higher production scale. They can now easily be found at pretty much any store that sells light bulbs and the public has verifiable proof that they do save money and time. But the downside of fluorescents is that they contain toxic chemicals that pollute our environment when not disposed of properly, and if they break in the home can expose us to small amounts of toxins.

Now along comes the next technology improvement, LED lighting. This new lighting is more expensive than what we have had, but again much more efficient. And it does not have the downside of toxic elements. Comparatively, LEDs have a brighter light (higher lumens) than CFLs, they have a power factor of .9 meaning most of the power is converted into light (CFLs convert more of that power into heat) and they consume 30% less power than CFLs.

Check out this handy chart to see the savings and benefits of LEDs over CFLs and over incandescent. Then head to your local hardware store and begin the process of replacing your most commonly used lighting with LEDs and then sit back and enjoy the money saving, super efficient and longer lasting light in your own home!

Thanks to National Builder Supply for the graphic.

Serving His Country and the Environment

Extending Our Gratitude

mat

This is US Army Reserve Drill Sergeant, Mat O’Brien.

When he is not serving his country in uniform, he is serving the environment by ensuring solar installations go smoothly and safely as Third Sun Solar’s Material Handling Specialist.

Mat’s presence is sorely missed while he fulfills a month-long assignment as the Drill Sergeant with the 1st platoon Echo Company 3rd Battalion 60th infantry regiment at Fort Jackson, South Carolina, but we are very proud of him for his service to our country and extend our congratulations and gratitude to him and his platoon who will graduate on September 25th.

 

Mat in his other role as Dad. Apparently, a baby that cute can melt even the toughest of Drill Sergeants

 

Thank you for your service, Mat, and thank you to all of the other men and women out there- and their families- who make many sacrifices to serve our country.

Another Ohio Home Goes Solar

Athens’ Air Gets a Little Cleaner

This beautiful 7.92kW system recently went live in Athens, Ohio.

In addition to hedging against future rate increases and lowering the homeowners’ utility bills, these 33 panels will offset approximately 15,944 pounds of greenhouse gas emissions over the next 25 years.

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Now that is what we call a good neighbor.

Contact us today by filling out an inquiry form on our homepage, or call 877-OWN-SOLAR to see what solar can do for your home and your neighbors’ health.

 

Solar Curator Shines on Third Sun Solar

Since its inception in April 2012, SolarCurator.com has provided hundreds of hand-picked selections of global solar industry news and features blended with original commentary. Helmed by chief curator and veteran solar/high-tech editor-blogger Tom Cheyney, the site has become one of the go-to alternative media outlets in the industry, offering timely viewpoints and freshly culled content and ideas from throughout the global solar energy community.

Here is their commentary on the Solar Power World magazine’s “Time to Shine” video, followed by a link to the video:

Planting the solar crop

Solar Power World’s “A Time to Shine” video celebrates PV installers while promoting publication of top solar contractors list

As solar value proposition analogies go, this one’s a doozy. “I was explaining the concept of solar to a farmer, and I used the following analogy,” explains Mike Schmerl of Harvest Energy Solutions. “It’s a crop that he plants once, never waters, never fertilizes, that produces revenues for 30 years.”

The quote comes from the new Solar Power World video, “A Time To Shine,” which has been released in conjunction with the publication’s well-parsed 2014 Top 400 Solar Contractors directory list. Mike (whose company ranks 189 on the list) joins Bailey Wagner of Third Sun Solar (#135) and Joe Morinville of Energy Independent Solutions (#254) to talk on camera about their perspectives on the solar installation world.

Bailey’s youthful exuberance charms and inspires, as she enthuses about the multifaceted challenges of her job and the joy of helping people go solar. Her comments about one of the final topic titles, “In 2030,” made me smile. “I hope that by 2030 that solar is boring,” she opines. It sure isn’t there yet!

Bailey Wagner talking solar

Bailey Wagner talking solar