Installing Solar In Ohio? 7 Things You Should Know  

Twenty years ago, when people first found out we installed solar in Ohio, they said: “you must have guts!”  

At that time, quite a few things were different. Prices were much higher, the technology wasn’t as advanced, and the number of Ohioans willing to invest was simply less than it is today.  

These days in Ohio, we see solar booming across the state- from municipal solar going up on government buildings in Cuyahoga County to libraries in rural Ohio to food pantries in Central Ohio and residential solar sprinkled in neighborhoods across the state.  

The market is bustling, and we’re so glad to see clean energy becoming commonplace in Ohio.  

Each state has different rules, regulations, incentives, and markets for solar energy. So, if you’re considering solar and doing research online: make sure what you’re reading is Ohio-specific.  

If you’re starting your research and wondering what you need to know when considering solar in Ohio, we’ve covered the essential bases in this article.  

 

1. Net-Metering rules in Ohio 

Your utility company is required to compensate you for the extra energy you produce in Ohio. 

The policy that requires compensation for excess solar generation is called net-metering. Net-metering increases the economic benefit of solar power by crediting you for the extra power your solar energy system produces.  

So, when you crank out 200% of what you use during sunny July, you bank credits that you’ll use to purchase utility power during the months where you don’t produce 100% of what you use.  

The amount of energy you produce and use will vary over the course of the year. Net metering helps you account for this difference by crediting you for the excess electricity your panels produce so you can use it later.  

 

2. Net Excess Generation  

Ohio’s energy market is de-regulated.  

So, the rate you’re credited for the power you return to the grid varies between different utility providers. Electric companies credit you at a net excess generation rate. The State of Ohio’s net metering policy does not require utilities to credit energy you produce at the full retail rate.   

Additionally, using credits for fixed charges on your bill (distribution charges, other fees) varies between electric suppliers.   

An experienced solar installer will help you understand your utility’s net excess generation rate is and how your utility handles fixed charges. 

 

3. Understanding the Advertisements  

We’ve seen a lot of wonky advertising over the years. And it’s getting weirder- maybe you’ve noticed. You’re not alone; we’ve scratched our heads about those ads on Facebook, too.  

Some claim that you’ll get cash back when you go solar. The truth is: there is no “special program” or event a government-issued solar stimulus program. To receive money back when you purchase your system, you’re simply borrowing more money than your solar system costs and getting some of it back.  

Some solar companies misleadingly use the word “free” in their ads. Actually, what they’re referring to is a zero money down, long-term, low-interest loan. Often, they offer what appears to be a very low interest rate, but they secretly add 15 – 25% to the cost of the system to buy down the rate from their loan partner.  

 

4. Solar in the Wintertime  

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 minimal when looking at performance on an annual basis. Losing a day of production in January is a fraction of a day in July. 

Unless covered in snow, solar panels are more efficient in cold conditions. Like most electronics, solar panels function better at colder temperatures than under intense heat.   

Here at Third Sun Solar, our team takes winter’s shorter days, snowfall, and the orientation of sunlight into account when estimating the output of your system.  

 

5. Rural Cooperatives  

If your utility supplier in Ohio is a rural cooperative: pay attention to this.  

Because rural co-ops are member-owned and not required to follow regulations set out by the Public Utilities Commission of Ohio (PUCO), they can set their own net metering rules.  

Rural electric co-ops in Ohio are not required to offer net metering like investor-owned utility companies are. Most of them do, however, not all.   

Because there isn’t one standard for the 24 rural electric co-ops, solar installers need to be familiar with the local rules, rates, and regulations. 

And if you know that your rural co-op has policies that disincentivize solar production – become an advocate! If you’re part of a co-op- use your vote, attend public meetings, and make your voice heard! Here is one example of our customers who had to advocate at the local level to get solar.   

 

6. Ohio State and Local Incentives  

The truth is, there aren’t any local or state incentives for solar in Ohio. That’s the way it’s been for a while now.  

Recent legislation has aimed at making solar even more inaccessible. While this legislation didn’t affect the economics for residential solar, it’s an indication of the priorities of our state government.  

Until 2023, the Federal Tax Credit for solar remains available to homeowners and stands as the most considerable cost savings. We hope – but we aren’t sure if there will be state or federal incentives on the horizon after that.  

Otherwise known as the solar investment tax credit, federal investment tax credit, or ITC for short, this tax credit gives the solar system owner the ability to deduct 26% of the system cost from taxes owed. 

For a long time, the tax credit allowed you to recoup 30% of solar system costs. 

The step-down schedule began in 2020 when the tax credit dropped from 30% to 26%. The stepdown was paused for two years when the federal government signed the 2020 Covid relief bill. So, homeowners have until the end of 2022 to claim the 26% tax credit benefit. In 2023 the tax credit will drop to 22%, then down to 0% for homeowners in 2024 (a 10% tax credit will remain in place for commercial solar projects). 

7. Solar Energy Storage 

There are a few different reasons choose to install battery backup with their solar energy systems.  

Number one: We’ve seen utility rates escalate at about 3% per year for the past ten years. We know rates will increase as the grid faces necessary upgrades, and many utilities consider a time-of-use rate structure, where electricity will cost more during peak demand hours.  

Solar energy storage allows you to consume more of the solar energy you generate, maximizing your solar investment, increasing independence, and lowering your carbon footprint.  

Number two: power during an outage. In some places in Ohio, blackouts are common. We see an uptick in interest in solar battery backup anytime a significant weather event disrupts the grid and causes blackout. Solar batteries assure you have power in the event of a grid outage.   

Installing a Solar Farm in Ohio

Over the past decade, solar in Ohio has boomed across the state. Increasingly, projects producing multiple megawatts (MW) of power are the norm. Before 2018, most solar projects in Ohio were residential, agricultural, or commercial and powered homes and facilities onsite. Today – solar farms and utility-scale solar is on the rise.  

What are Solar Farms?  

A solar farm is a large installation of solar PV panels that absorb energy from the sun, convert it into electricity, and send that electricity to the power grid for distribution and consumption by customers like you. 

Rural areas with sizeable amounts of available land are ideal for installing many solar panels that produce multiple megawatts of electricity. This electricity usually powers the local community or contributes to the larger national grid.  

Usually, utility companies or local governments finance these solar installation projects due to the sheer volume and high initial investment needed for a project of this scale.  

According to the Ohio State University Extension’s Farmland Owners Guide to Solar Leasing:

 “Two primary differences between commercial and residential solar projects and utility-scale solar projects are that utility-scale solar projects are typically greater than 5 MW, and the electricity generated is interconnected to the electric distribution or transmission grid. Under a utility-scale solar model, either an electrical utility owns the project or an independent project owner enters into a power purchase agreement to sell electricity to wholesale utility buyers.”  

Interested in Learning More About Utility-Scale Solar for your Property?  

We are excited by your commitment to accelerating the shift to clean energy in our state.  

The development of solar farms is not in our wheelhouse here at Third Sun Solar. However, we have some resources to share with you to get you started.  

We believe this is the best place to start if you’re interested in developing a solar farm in Ohio: Ohio State University Extension, Utility-Scale Solar Development, Solar Leasing Resources.  

Our specialty

At Third Sun, we specialize in full turnkey, grid-interactive solar system design, quoting, permitting, procurement, and installation for residential and commercial projects.  If you’re interested in a solar installation to power your home or business, complete the form below!

An Up to Date Guide to The Solar Investment Tax Credit

One of the greatest benefits of a solar energy investment is the tax benefits.

Homeowners who go solar not only eliminate their electric bill, but they also can get 26% of the system cost back through the Solar Investment Tax Credit.

The solar tax credit will have a big impact on the payback of your solar system. And it won’t be around forever (no matter how much we hope it will be).

We’ve compiled an up-to-date guide detailing the tax credit: how it works when it will expire and who qualifies.

What Is the Solar Tax Credit?

Otherwise known as the solar investment tax credit, federal investment tax credit, or ITC for short, this tax credit gives the solar system owner the ability to deduct 26% of the system cost from taxes owed.

For a long time, the tax credit allowed you to recoup 30% of solar system costs.

The step-down schedule began in 2020 when the tax credit dropped from 30% to 26%. The stepdown was put on pause for two years when the federal government signed the 2020 Covid relief bill. So, homeowners have until the end of 2022 to claim the 26% tax credit benefit. In 2023 the tax credit will drop to 22% then down to 0% for homeowners in 2024 (a 10% tax credit will remain in place for commercial solar projects).

2023 is the last year that homeowners will be able to claim a tax credit for a residential solar installation project.

If you get a solar system installed in 2022 for $25,000, you will recoup $6,500 through the solar tax credit. Getting that system installed in 2023 – you’ll only be able to recoup $5,500.

While a drop from 26% to 22% doesn’t seem like a big jump, it is real money that you could re-invest into a sustainability non-profit, cool home improvement project, or savings account for an electric vehicle!

Do I Qualify for the Solar Tax Credit?

What are the requirements to take the solar tax credit?

  1. You must have a tax liability. You must owe taxes to take advantage of this tax credit.

One of the biggest misconceptions about the solar tax credit is that you get money back when you go solar. The federal government does not give money out in the form of grants or direct payments. The Federal Solar Tax Credit offsets taxes that you owe.

Solar Tax Credit FAQ’s

Can I carry it forward?

The law requires the credit to be used in full the year your system is installed if you have enough tax liability.

If you do not have enough tax liability, you can carry the tax credit forward into the following years. The rules start to change here for commercial and residential entities.

Commercial entities can carry forward the tax credit for up to 20 years to recoup taxes.

For residential solar system owners, the tax liability can be carried forward for up to five years, until the full amount is used up.

Is there a cap?

No, there is no limit or cap on the solar tax credit. No matter how much you spend on your solar installation you’ll be able to claim the tax credit in full for the year the system was installed.

What expenses can I claim with this tax credit?

The full turnkey solar installation can be claimed on the solar tax credit.

As long as they’re powered by solar, solar batteries can be claimed.

Roof repair and replacement is not covered by the solar tax credit.

All You Need To Know About the Solar Tax Credit in 2020

The investment tax credit, otherwise known as the solar tax credit will allow you to deduct 26% of the cost of installing a solar system from your federal taxes. This is about a $4,000 – $8,000 average savings for homeowners who go solar in 2020.  

The solar tax credit will remain at 26% for solar systems completed and placed in service before December 31, 2020. The tax credit will be reduced to 22% in 2021. After 2021 there will be no solar tax credit for residential customers. However, a 10% credit for commercial entities will remain.  

We recommend that those seriously considering solar begin their solar journey early this year. 

The History of the Solar Tax Credit 

The solar tax credit has been the biggest stimulus for residential and commercial solar that the industry has seen. According to the Solar Energy Industries Association, the residential and commercial solar tax credit has helped the U.S. solar industry grow by more than 10,000% percent since it was implemented in 2006, with an average annual growth of 50% over the last decade alone.  

The solar tax credit was originally intended to expire in 2007. Fortunately, it has seen extensions every year leading up to 2022. 

Here is the current timetable:

  • 26% for systems placed in service after 12/31/2019 and before 01/01/2021
  • 22% for systems placed in service after 12/31/2020 and before 01/01/2022

How to Take the Solar Tax Credit  

You claim the tax credit when you file your federal tax return.  

The tax credit is a dollar-for-dollar reduction in the amount of income tax that you would otherwise owe. If you don’t have a tax liability great enough to claim your entire credit in one year, you can roll the remaining credits over into future years so long as the tax credit is still in effect. 

There is no cap on the value of the credit, and it is available to both residential and commercial customers.  

It’s important to understand that the solar tax credit is not a rebate. In the case of rebates, taxpayers receive payment even if no tax is owed. Anyone who doesn’t owe federal income taxes will not be able to benefit from the solar tax credit.  

We advise you to seek professional tax advice before determining if you can claim the tax benefit.  

Here are some useful documents:

Ohio Tax Incentives 

Ohio Tax Incentives remain the same. There are no new programs in Ohio to help support the growth of solar.  

In 2019 Ohio saw a slew of anti-renewable legislation. The passing of House Bill 6 legislation granted subsidies to two failing nuclear power plants and reduced Ohio’s Renewable Portfolio Standards.   Hybrids and electric vehicle owners saw an increase in annual registration fees for their environmentally friendly cars ($100-$200 registration fees). At a national level, the solar tax credit, which had seen regular annual renewals, did not see renewal in 2019. 

Incentives boost the market for solar and make renewable energy more accessible to all people in Ohio.  But, Ohioans have been without any robust solar incentives for many years now, and the industry has still seen large, natural growth. We see that even in these market conditions consumer demand, return on investment and consumer confidence in solar has created growth in the market. 

The solar tax credit combined with the dropping prices has created a strong market in Ohio. Solar makes financial sense for homeowners. 

Existing Ohio and non-government programs and assistance for solar include:

  • ECOlink – This public/ private partnership ECOLink provides up to a 3% interest rate reduction for up to seven years on bank loans when you complete energy efficient upgrades to your home (like installing solar!)  
  •  $0 Down Loans – Third Sun Solar partners with a national credit union to offer zero money down,  low interest loan options. The loans are easy to understand and streamlined through our process

We strongly urge you to choose solar in 2020 to make the most out of the solar investment tax credit and start recouping savings right away!

Third Sun Solar Homes & Brewery on the National Solar Tour

On October 5 & 6, 2019, hundreds of home and business owners who have gone solar across the United States hosted solar open houses on the National Solar Tour, to share the power of solar energy with their communities. Homeowners welcome members of the community into their homes to see their solar system up close and hear testimonial experience and reasoning for going solar.

For a complete list of participating homes across the states and across Ohio, visit the National Solar Tour Map page here. 

Who is participating?

  • The 2019 National Solar Tour brought together solar energy supporters from all across the country and all walks of life.
  • There were more than 800 sites and 70 local solar tours participating across 46 states.

What did attendees learn?

  • Solar open houses are a chance to visit homes and businesses that use solar energy, green building design, energy efficiency, electric vehicles, and other innovative or proven technologies.
  • Tour attendees will be able to see local renewable energy in action. They can ask home and business owners about their systems.
  • The Tour is an opportunity for solar supporters to network with each other for a fun and educational experience.
  • Solar tour visitors will learn about:
    • Reducing electricity costs;
    • Supporting energy independence;
    • Protecting against power outages; and
    • Reducing carbon emissions.

Why Attend?

  • Connect with others who are interested in solar;
  • See a solar system in action;
  • Find answers to your questions;
  • Share stories of your solar journey; and
  • Celebrate the power of solar energy!

Sunbury, Ohio

Event information: https://www.nationalsolartour.org/open-houses/1468/

This 28 panel ground mounted array is a 7.5 kW solar system. It offsets the homes energy consumption by 68% and will save the homeowners $62,543 over the lifetime of the system.

Powell, Ohio

Event information: https://www.nationalsolartour.org/open-houses/1314/

Solar homeowner & host, Michael Schaal is a renewable energy advocate and independent solar consultant.  While relatively new to commercial solar, Michael has been passionate about renewable energy for many years.  His initial interest led him to pursue solar energy for his own home after successfully overturning local homeowner association restrictions on solar.  In addition to promoting solar in his neighborhood (3 homes and counting!), Michael is also active regionally with Solar United Neighbors and has presented at their annual conference on overcoming HOA obstacles. 

Athens, Ohio

Event information: https://www.nationalsolartour.org/open-houses/1089/

Did you know that Ohio favorite Jackie O’s is a solar powered brewery?

“Our eventual goal is 100 percent sustainability,”  said Founder Art Osterike,  “A good economy and healthy planet aren’t mutually exclusive and we look forward to working with Third Sun Solar to show that to beer lovers and decision makers across Ohio, the Midwest and the entire country.”

Akron, Ohio

Event information: https://www.nationalsolartour.org/open-houses/535/

43 black on black solar panels make up this 13.5 kW array. The array is offsetting 92% of the home’s energy usage over the course of the year. Over the lifetime of the system, we estimate that these Akron homeowners will save $116,594 in energy costs. Check out the energy & sustainability upgrades the homeowners have made to their home in addition to solar!

New Resource Solutions Listed as a “Best for the World: Environment” Honoree

New Resource Solutions recognized as a “Best For The World” B Corp for sustainability and environmental excellence

 

Third Sun Solar Co-Founder, Geoff Greenfield is a Co-Founder and Board Member of New Resource Solutions– a platform developed to efficiently connect clean energy projects with clean energy investors.

Athens, Ohio; September 4, 2019 – New Resource Solutions (“NRS”), a Certified B Corp, has been named a Best For The World honoree in recognition of their environmental performance and sustainable business practices. Ranking in the top 10% of all B Corps for their environmental and social responsibility, New Resource Solutions earned this honor through the Company’s tireless efforts to unlock affordable solar power for schools, municipalities, nonprofits and businesses unable to “go solar” through more traditional cash transactions.

“New Resource Solutions is democratizing solar across the United States,” says Marc Palmer, Managing Director for NRS.  “Our business model promotes local development and jobs, bringing non-extractive investment capital into local economies. Local companies are essential to the proliferation of commercial-scale solar.   We are grateful to be a Best For the World honoree and couldn’t have done this without our enthusiastic installer and investor partners.”

 

Best For The World recognition is administered by B Lab, the global nonprofit that certifies and supports Certified B Corporations, which are for-profit companies dedicated to using business as a force for good. Today there are 3,000 Certified B Corporations across 64 countries and 150 industries, unified by one common goal: to redefine success in business.

 

B Corps meet the highest standards of verified social and environmental performance, public transparency, and legal accountability to balance profit and purpose. B Corp Certification doesn’t just evaluate a product or service, it assesses the overall positive impact of the company that stands behind it—like New Resource Solutions. Using the B Impact Assessment, B Lab evaluates how a company’s operations and business model impact its workers, community, environment, and customers. To achieve the B Corp Certification, a company must achieve a score of at least 80 points on the assessment.

 

“We’re incredibly proud of this year’s Best For The World honorees,” says Anthea Kelsick, Chief Marketing Officer of B Lab. “These inspiring companies represent the kinds of business models and impact-driven business strategies that are building a new economy—one that is inclusive, regenerative, and delivers value to all stakeholders, not just shareholders. To that end, B Corps like New Resource Solutions are redefining capitalism and showing that it actually can work for everyone.”

 

1,000 B Corps from 44 countries were named to the 2019 Best For The World lists, including Patagonia, Beautycounter, Dr. Bronner’s, TOMS, Seventh Generation, and Greyston Bakery. The 2019 Best For The World honorees are determined based on the verified B Impact Assessments of Certified B Corporations. The full lists are available on https://bcorporation.net/.

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About New Resource Solutions:

New Resource Solutions (“NRS”) is disrupting the commercial solar market across the US.   It solves the pain points of third-party ownership, or “PPAs”, for anchor community entities like schools, municipalities, nonprofits, and private companies by efficiently connecting trusted local solar installers with solar project investors.  While most companies are only looking to do larger deals, NRS makes the medium and small ones financially attractive for all parties involved.

 

Contact: Marc Palmer; Managing Director

mpalmer@newresourcesolutions.com; 937-541-1121

About B Lab:

B Lab is a nonprofit that serves a global movement of people using business as a force for good. B Lab’s initiatives include B Corp Certification, administration of the B Impact Management programs and software, and advocacy for governance structures like the benefit corporation. B Lab’s vision is of an inclusive and sustainable economy that creates a shared prosperity for all. To date, there are 3,000 Certified B Corps in over 150 industries and 64 countries, and over 50,000 companies use the B Impact Assessment. For more information, visit https://bcorporation.net/

 

B Lab Contact: Hannah Munger; Manager, PR & Communications; hmunger@bcorporation.net; +1 212-608-4150

 

 

The Summer Solstice & Why We Celebrate  

The Summer Solstice marks the first day of summer. This is the longest day of the year in the northern hemisphere.  

Ever wondered why the days are longer in the summer and shorter in the winter? Or why we have seasons at all? We experience seasons because of the tilt of the earth as it circles the sun. The tilt also accounts for the change in sun hours throughout the year. As the earth tilts slightly towards the sun, our days get longer. Our peak tilt towards the sun in 2019 is June 21st! 

How much energy does the sun produce?  

At any moment, 173,000 terawatts (trillions of watts) of solar energy strikes the Earth. That’s more than 10,000 times the world’s total energy use. This summer solstice we’ll experience 15 hours of exposure to powerful & bountiful sun energy.

Why do we celebrate?  

The Summer Solstice means that we are in peak summer production months for solar. This means that solar panels in the northern hemisphere have even more energy to soak up through the day. 

Why celebrate in 2019?  

In 2019 we‘re celebrating because there is more solar PV capacity worldwide than ever! This summer solstice the world has more solar infrastructure to soak up sunlight for use as energy than ever before!  

According to the Solar Energy Industries Association (SEIA), as of 2019, the United States has 2 million solar installations- on homes, business, industrial buildings, and utility-scale solar installations. The energy generated by these solar systems combined would produce enough to power more than 12 million American homes. That is now greater than 70 gigawatts.  

This reflects major growth in the solar sector in the U.S., which just 3 years ago reached 1 million solar installations. Additionally, the cumulative operating solar PV capacity is about 75 times more than what was installed at the end of 2008 (SEIA).  

What has caused this growth 

The growth in the solar industry in recent years is a result of cumulative efforts by policymakers, solar customers, advocates, and business. The progress shows us the potential solar has to be a clean energy solution. Fueled by the incentive to create a better future for the planet, create jobs, reduce reliance on energy sources with harmful emissions and lower electric bills, we plan to see future growth in the solar market. 

What next? 

The Solar Energy Industries Association estimates that by 2024 2.5% of all US homes will have a home solar energy system installed. And we believe it. We are seeing solar become more and more mainstream. Between the federal Investment Tax Credit dropping to 26% at the end of 2019 (before it’s eventual drop to 0% in 2022) and the commercial tax credit eventually dropping to 10% for commercial projects, there are certainly incentives to go solar now. 

To request a free solar evaluation, click here or give us a call during office hours: 877-GO-SOLAR  

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. 

 

 

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!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Building a Solar Ready Home

If you’re building a new home, you have the opportunity to build it with energy efficiency in mind. Energy smart choices will save you time and money in the long run. 

Tips for building an energy efficient home:  

  1. Work with a contractor who has built low-energy homes in the past 
  2. Use Energy-Star rated appliances, windows, and insulation.
  3. Super insulate your attic and sealing ducts  
  4. If you’re going solar, consider an electric stove and/or water heater
  5. Select highly insulated windows and doors 
  6. Use large south facing windows to bring heat into your home during the wintertime (and cover with shades to cool in the summertime) 
  7. Install energy efficient lighting 
  8. Power your home with the sun!  

Planning for Solar: 

  • Identify local requirements: Some homeowners associations, historic preservation districts and communities have special solar zoning requirements. Get up to speed by researching local zoning rules and regulations.  

Designing for Solar 

  • Position your home with solar in mind: If you want to power your home with solar, the most important thing to consider is positioning. A south facing roof is ideal for solar panels to capture the most sun. On average, east and west rooftops capture a little less of the suns energy. 
  • Roof angle: A roof pitched between 30 and 45 degrees is ideal for solar in Ohio.  
  • Roof truss: spacing of 4 feet or less.
  • Roof Material: We can mount panels most cost-effectively, with no roof penetrations, on Standing Seam Metal.
  • Conduit run: of 250 feet or less for solar electric lines.
  • Built-in metal conduit: from the attic to a location near the electrical service panel— typically 1-inch conduit.
  • Large service disconnect: as a point of connection for solar.
  • Minimize roof obstructions: Keep solar panels in mind when designing where to put vents and other roof attachments, like dormers and chimneys.  
  • Load Bearing of the roof: Make sure that your roof will be able to bear the additional weight of a solar energy system.  
  • Consider landscaping: For solar to work well, sunlight needs direct access to your roof. Think about the placement of your home in relation to trees and other landscaping that could cast shadows on your solar arrays.  

Work with your solar installer from the beginning. 

Once you’ve decided to include solar in the plan for your new home, give us a call. We’ve worked with many people who are building a new home and interested in installing solar. We know all the tricks. We’ll even create a plan with your contractor.  Third Sun Solar offers zero down to homeowners, which means you don’t have to bear the brunt of high upfront costs. You start saving money from day one.  

Our Portfolio  

We have worked on many energy efficient homes in Ohio. Last year we installed solar panels on a home in Cincinatti, Ohio, that achieved LEED Platinum certification. This residence is equipped with solar panels and geothermal. Learn more about LEED accreditation here. Third Sun Solar is a proud member of the US Green Building Council, the accreditation body for LEED certification.