Our Solar Professionals – Solar Consultant, Jamey Jones

My History…

I was blessed to have an amazing high school biology teacher, Mr. Barnhill.  Our first class project was an elaborate bug collection assigned over the summer. The project was due the very first day of sophomore year.  The pressure was on during the break to find, gather, pin, label and display each insect meticulously.  Fortunately, most of my discoveries were during a 14 day fishing trip with my father in Wilberforce Canada. These trips provided ample opportunity to scour the woods for all kinds of interesting and colorful insect species.  Once school was in session I was exposed to two boa constrictors, eight feet in length (Bonnie and Clyde). They became my reptile friends.

Mr. Barnhill would walk our class out to a nearby wooded lot behind our school where we studied ecosystems in nature rather than in the classroom; staking off 2’ x 2’ sections of the woodland understory, charting the variations and comparing the similarities of each plot.  I grew up playing outside in the summer until the streetlights came on, and in ravines with my cousin in Bloomington, Indiana searching for geodes, but my high school science class solidified my relationship with the natural world.

My Solar Journey…

I love EARTH. Green, deciduous forest, cave, flora and fauna, waterfall, pond, bug and animal earth.  This is home.  The place all living things share & the gift I feel compelled by a force beyond myself to protect. When Third Sun Solar advertised for an office administrator positions 11 years ago, I jumped at the chance to apply. I knew the founders, Michelle and Geoff Greenfield & admired that they walked their talk living an off-grid life style.

I saw this a an opportunity to create a career that aligned with my personal values.  At the time I knew nothing about solar except that solar was green and cool. But, I liked the way solar panels looked.

Once hired, I began a learning journey that stretched my understanding of renewables beyond measure…

My very first day, I assisted our Compliance and Accounting Manager by maintaining a growing list of interested residential and commercial customers seeking to leverage a grant through the Advanced Energy Fund.  The grant was in its second round, and we were compiling a list of names while waiting for the Notification of Funding Announcement to proceed forward.  Between the grant and 30% federal tax credit incentive, the gross cost of solar was reduced by a nominal 35%.  At that time in 2008, a typical residential solar installation was around $7/watt before both incentives, designing around SunPower 225watt panels.  The grant expired in 2010, and the climate for solar changed as the industry weathered shifts in our State’s administration and focus, which also impacted another incentive, SRECs (Solar Renewable Energy Credits) due to a 2014-2016 Senate Bill freeze.

We persisted through what we call the “solar coaster”, as panel prices continued to lower in lieu of fleeting incentive…

Though daunting, we adapted to the twists and turns. We accommodated the new landscape and political climate and continued to serve our customers.

What started off as an office administration position in 2008 transformed into a position as Residential Solar Consultant in 2010 to present.  I personally have had the great pleasure to serve 221 customer installations, while continuing to assist potential customers daily in their decision to go solar by answering questions on how solar works; modeling preliminary design concepts; discussing equipment offerings; incentives (past and present); financing options and sometimes engaging in conversations on stewardship when the opportunity presents itself.  I can say with all honesty that I wake up every day feeling proud of what I do, knowing that my job is positively contributing to our global climate future.

Whatever your stance is on the topic of climate change, it is safe to say that we are approaching a new era full of unknown shifts in our global landscape.  Nothing is certain, but I hope that we all continue to learn, plan, protect and adapt.

“We do not inherit the earth from our ancestors; we borrow it from our children” – Chief Seattle.

 

 

Maryellen C. from Vermillion, OH

Everything about our experience with Third Sun was positive, from our initial contact through the design, layout, installation, and switching on our system. Every member of the team is positive, supportive, knowledgeable, and professional. The project unfolded just as planned without a hitch. When it was complete, our local electrical inspector was so impressed, he said it was the best work he’d seen by any company. High praise! We are so happy we went with Third Sun and are pleased to recommend them to family and friends.

6 Easy Steps to Solar

 

Third Sun Solar makes it easy to go solar. We have helped over 1,000 customers power their homes and businesses with clean energy & lower their monthly electricity bills. We are here to help you too. From designing to financing, through permitting and construction, our team goes to work for you.  

 

1.Remote Site Assessment

To save time & reduce our carbon footprint, our initial site assessment with you will be remote!  

 

  • Our friendly Solar Consultant will set up a time to chat with you, answer any questions you have, and look at your site via Google Earth.  
  • We’ll ask for a copy of your electric bill. This important piece of the assessment process will help us design a system that is the right fit for your electric usage. 
  • Our assessments are always informative and there is never any pressure.  Solar is a great solution for many, but if it’s not a good fit for you that’s fine.  

 

2. We Design Your System

Your Solar Consultant will use the information from your conversation, Google Earth and your electric bill to design an optimized system that meets your solar energy goals.  

 

3. We Review Your Solar Proposal 

Your Solar Consultant will create a proposal for you that will include system size and details, solar performance estimates, maintenance and warranty information and more.  

 

  • We will walk you through all the details of your solar system proposal.  
  • We will line up your zero-down financing and low interest loan options!  
  • We answer each and every question – this is an important decision and we want you to be well informed.  

 

4. We visit your home 

Once you have made your decision to go solar, we schedule a “technical site visit” to confirm measurements of the initial remote assessment.    

 

5. We manage your project

From permitting, coordinating with your utility company and ordering your equipment to sending out a team of installers and certified electricians, Third Sun Solar handles the instillation process seamlessly.   

 

  • Our experienced solar instillation teams take pride in the way a solar system is installed. They focus on safety, quality and performance. 
  • Our team provides “white glove” customer service. They keep disruptions at a minimum and treat every homeowner like a new member of the Third Sun Solar family. 

 

6. Flip the switch & enjoy the sun’s energy! 

After the last panel is installed, we will walk with you through the ins and out of the system and help you celebrate. Our team will stay in touch. We will answer any ongoing questions and help you spread solar with our Solar Champion program. 

 

When you choose Third Sun Solar as your solar partner, you are hiring a company with a conscientious, detailed and refined process to bring your energy dreams to life. With our smart solar financing solutions, you can make your dream happen with $0 down.  

When you’re ready, get in touch and we will get you started on your solar journey. 

 

 

John from The Plains, Ohio

[Third Sun] was recommended to me by a neighbor to check into solar panels. It was a painless meeting with the third sun people and instillation was done in 3 days. My first bill was just 1/2 a month of solar energy and my AEP bill was a -$12.00. They owed me money! This will be my first summer with the panels and I can’t wait to see what they produce. Great people at third sun. Answered all my questions even questions from my electrician.

How to Choose the Right Solar Installer for your Home 

Aesthetic and Quality Risks:  Choosing a Solar Installer for your Home 

Remember the old adage “you get what you pay for”?  This is especially important when making an investment in solar, a project that should add value to your home. If installed improperly, however, a solar array will have the opposite effect!  At Third Sun Solar, our 19 years of experience across Ohio has taught us how to do it right. Your choice of a solar company is the most important decision you will have as you go solar: choose wisely.

Read below for a description of the solar installation process & the issues we have seen from less experienced installers. You should choose a quality solar installer to ensure your home receives solar energy for years to come!

The Process 

You likely consider your home one of your most valuable assets. Because of this, choosing the right installation partner is critically important. Listed below are the two important phases of the solar panel installation process, which you should focus on.

  1. Solar Racking Installation– A typical roof installation involves drilling and properly waterproofing 40-60 holes through the roof. The holes are for the attachment of the array and the design, materials and techniques must withstand extreme weather, summer and winter for decades.
  2. Electrical Wiring– From each panel, down through the house to the inverter, and then to the interconnection to your homes electrical system, there is a lot of electrical work that goes into a solar installation. Solar installations must be done by a licensed electrical contractor in the State of Ohio. This licence ensures the contractor is trained and experienced to perform solar installation safely and with methods that will hold over time.

The Risks

We are sad to say that we see installation practices from other solar installation companies that are at best unsightly, often prone to early failure and at worst unsafe.

The solar company you select determines who the actual technicians are that are in your home doing the work.  While many companies employ subcontractors, temporary labor or poorly compensated untrained employees, Third Sun Solar is proud to only use our fully trained, well compensated loyal and dedicated direct employees on our residential projects.  We offer full benefits, paid holidays and vacation, and ongoing training to our employees. To us it’s a no brainer, it’s just who we are. It’s important for us to employ people invested in our company, who take pride in the work they do & are skilled at it. It makes for a happy workplace and happy customers.

Not all solar installation companies hire and retain a qualified, skilled and dedicated installation team. Many have no safety program and work without OSHA approved methods, placing you at risk of a terrible tragedy on your property. Many use untrained and under-compensated installers that are rushing through important steps, cutting corners to get to the next job.  Some installers work their crews far into overtime, carrying panels up ladders and working on a hot roof for 7 days at 10 hours per day.

It’s important to ask yourself: what type of installer would you want working on your home, ensuring your solar investment is done in a way that ensures high performance, safety and durability for years to come?

 

Solar Racking Installation 

This meticulous job must be done by trained, caring professionals if it is to look right, hold up over time, and not cause damage to your home. Panels can fall off the roof or leakage can occur if this work is done incorrectly. A leaky roof can cause many different issues such as structural damage, mold and rotting.

If done correctly by trained professionals this important step will be secure and not leak. At Third Sun we secure the array with a special system that protects your home with three layers of technology. We install stainless steel bolts with rubber gaskets, a durable top quality aluminum flashing that is layered into the shingles above, below and on either side of the penetration, and as a final extra layer of protection we seal up the holes with top quality roof sealant.

Electrical Wiring

As the process moves from panel racking to electrical wiring, the stakes get even higher. Today’s high-performance solar electronics must be installed properly if they are to last decades (and not void the manufacturer warranty).  As with any electrical work on your home, improper design or installation can lead to fire, electrical shock and homeowner liability.  As we mentioned earlier – this work must be done by a fully trained, licensed electrician.  Unfortunately, many solar installation companies are breaking Ohio law and cutting corners, operating without a license.  Third Sun Solar is licensed by the State of Ohio. Check here to make sure that the solar installation company you choose is a licensed electrical contractor.

Plastic PVC Conduit – Risks

Often, Third Sun Solar is called to repair the work done by our competitors.  We see all sorts of poor work out there, and one of the biggest culprits is the result of cutting corners to reduce costs.  Many companies use plastic conduit (PVC) or flex pipe because their technicians don’t have the skills or tools to bend conduit, and to save money on materials. Unfortunately, this plastic degrades under the sun’s UV rays, turning brittle and cracking in as little as 5 years!  In addition to creating a safety hazard, this shortcut means expensive and bothersome repairs that need made over the lifetime of your solar system.

Over our many years of work in solar, we have learned a lot about what holds up over time and what is likely to fail.  At Third Sun Solar we use metal conduit on all of our solar installations. Metal conduit costs a bit more and requires skills and proper training to bend and install. Though the initial investment in metal conduit might be slightly more expensive up front, it will certainly hold up better over time, saving in the long run.

Conduit Aesthetics

Aside from the safety and performance complications of conduit, your conduit choice also impacts the aesthetics of your array.  The solar array on your home should be gorgeous, not just to ensure your home increases in value. Our goal is to impress your neighbors and friends. We will make them believe that a home solar array would look great on their roof too!

On the majority of our projects we find a way to run the wiring inside your home.  If that is impossible, we will run metal conduit in a hidden location, such as adjacent to a rain downspout.  Many of our clients request that we paint this conduit if it is exterior.  We almost always run conduit inside the attic, but in some cases must run on the roof top.  We are sure you would agree that metal conduit on your roof looks a lot better than plastic PVC!

Can you see the exposed conduit?

Third Sun Solar is an electrical contractor licensed by the State of Ohio. Check here to make sure that the solar installation company you choose is a licensed electrical contractor.  

 

In Conclusion… 

Here at Third Sun, our advice is to do it right the first time. As you make the important selection of what solar installer to trust your home to, ask to see photos of their installations. Better yet? Go look at their work up close.  Go speak with their customers, both recent and those that have had an array for 10 years or more.  Ask: how the array has performed? How was the installation experience ? Were there any “surprise costs” or change orders above and beyond the original price promised?

Ask the installer: will the conduit will be visible or hidden? What type of conduit will they use? Most importantly: look them up here to find out if they are a licensed electrical contractor or are operating illegally.

We would be happy to answer any questions you have about solar! Get in touch with us today!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Tips & Tricks for Solar Champions  

Here at Third Sun we are sincerely grateful for our customers. We’re grateful for your choice to go solar and your enthusiasm to spread the word with your friends and family. Even if you aren’t a customer, you can still be a Solar Champion. Read on to learn how.

How to talk to friends and family about installing solar

You know what convinced you to go solar. And you know you friends and family best. You are uniquely positioned to tell them why they should choose solar power. We recognize it can be a tricky conversation, but an important one to have, so we’ve included some tips & tricks below to help you!  

Become a Solar Champion  

Being a Solar Champion is a great way to spread the word about the environmental and financial benefits of choosing solar energy to power your home. What else? You will earn $500 with each referral that purchases solar through Third Sun. Your friends and family save money too when they choose Third Sun Solar. With your referral they will receive $250 off the price of their solar energy system. If you think a friend or family member is ready to talk to us about solar, enter them into the referral page of our website!  

Let your friend or family member know that we’ll be reaching out 

If you fill out the Solar Champion Referral form, let your referral know that we will be contacting them soon and to be expecting a call. Don’t forget to follow up with them, too. What did they decide to do? What additional information can you provide, or questions can you answer for them? 

A few ways you can ask if you can refer a friend or family member to Third Sun Solar:  

“You’ve expressed interest in my solar energy system in the past, and I’m reaching out to see if I could put you in contact with my installer, Third Sun Solar. They will provide a free quote specific to your home with no obligation to purchase! 

“I know we’ve talked in the past about you installing solar on your roof. If you want to learn more, I highly recommend my solar installer, Third Sun Solar. Would you like to put you in contact with them?  Through their referral program, you will receive $250 off the cost of your system if you choose to make the purchase!”  

“The 30% federal tax credit for solar is ending this year. This program will save you thousands on the upfront cost of your solar system, increasing your net gain in the long-run. If you’re interested in solar, I’ve got to say, 2019 is the year. Can I recommend you to my installer, Third Sun Solar? “ 

Host a solar open house 

Get some of your neighbors together for a solar open house. We’ll come out to talk about the system and answer any questions they may have about solar.  

Share your love of the sun on social media!  

An effective way to spread the word about solar: social media! Share photos for your home and your panels and to let your followers know about your choice to power your home with green energy.  

Tag Third Sun Solar, or use the hashtag: #PowerForLife 

Linking photos back to Third Sun will help potential customers see projects that we’ve done and help you tell your friends and family about your exciting investment! Feel free to tag your Solar Consultant in posts when it makes sense so they can follow up with interested friends and family! 

Call our office today to learn more about the Solar Champion Referral program. 877-OWN-SOLAR. We look forward to working with your friends and family!