Working With Your Homeowners Association

The History of Solar + Homeowners Associations

In some neighborhoods, a homeowner looking to install solar must get prior approval from their Homeowners Association (HOA).  When it comes to addressing solar proposals from homeowners, the HOA will typically rely on its restrictive covenants, or “deed restrictions” to guide their decision making.  Covenants describe how a property can be used and what can be built on it.  HOA’s use this tool to maintain uniformity and aesthetics in a neighborhood.To begin the approval process,  submit a proposal to the HOA architectural review person or committee.  Sometimes the entire HOA board will vote to approve or disapprove a proposal.

HOA deed restrictions often do not address solar panels. The documents were written many years ago when residential solar wasn’t as common as it is today.  So, in most cases, one will find that HOA deed restrictions do not include language that prevents solar.  However, this does not mean that HOA boards will approve solar projects.  There may be hesitancy by the HOA board to approve anything that is deemed to alter the “uniformity” of the neighborhood.  Some HOA’s have restrictions on roof color which solar panels may not conform with.  Even without roof color restrictions, HOA’s may see solar panels as altering the uniform look of the neighborhood.

Besides the issue of uniformity, HOA’s can typically block solar panels by invoking a clause in the deed restrictions pertaining to “aesthetics”.  Since this is subjective, HOA boards can simply say that the panels will detract from the aesthetics of the neighborhood.

 

Before submitting your solar proposal to your HOA:

 

1. Become familiar with the HOA restrictive covenants.
    • Is there any language that is specific to solar panels?  If so, are there certain restrictions or guidelines?  If not, is there language regarding maintaining neighborhood uniformity?
    • What is the HOA approval process for home improvements?  Can the HOA reject a proposal solely for aesthetics reasons?
2. Develop a proposal for the homeowner that addresses the possible HOA concerns.
      • If aesthetics and/or uniformity are a concern, consider: all black panels and/or careful placement of panels ( to make sure design layout is optimal from an aesthetics standpoint)
3. If you think immediate neighbors will be supportive, talk to the them so that this support can be included in a proposal letter to HOA. HOA boards may be fearful of backlash from neighbors, so if homeowner has spoken with them and has their support, this will be beneficial.

 

4. Find out what other neighborhoods nearby are doing with regards to solar.
    • Talk to other HOA’s in the area. Contact information for HOA presidents may be available from the city in which the neighborhood is in.  For example, the City of Powell, OH has a list of contact information for all 29 HOA’s in the city.
    • Are HOA’s in the area allowing solar? If not, what restrictions are in place?
    • Are there any solar homes in surrounding neighborhoods?
    • There is a chance that not many HOA’s will have experience dealing with solar. However, this also means that there is a high probability that no HOA’s in the area will be restricting solar.  This fact can be highlighted when the homeowner submits a solar proposal to the HOA.  If other nearby HOA’s are not restricting solar, this may influence the homeowner’s HOA to allow solar to go forward.

After submitting your solar proposal to your HOA:

After submitting proposal to homeowner, have the homeowner provide proposal along with a letter that he/she writes to the appropriate HOA architectural review person/committee, etc.

  • Points to consider including in this letter:
    • Reasons for wanting to go solar (electricity cost savings, making an investment in the home, environmental stewardship).
    • Make note of research showing substantial increase in home resale value for solar homes. This point is crucial, since the aesthetic concerns of HOA’s typically stem from concerns about neighborhood value.
    • Briefly show data regarding environmental benefits (i.e. emissions avoided: equivalent number of trees planted, pounds of coal avoided, miles driven by car avoided, etc.). Check out this EPA Calculator tool to do this.
    • Discuss any findings from talking to other HOA’s. Your proposal will be strengthened if the letter can state that “other nearby HOA’s are allowing solar” or “of the HOA’s I contacted, none have any restrictions on solar” .
    • Solar is becoming more common and widespread, so this is an opportunity for the neighborhood to set a precedent — with a reputable solar firm who will ensure the installation maintains the aesthetics of the neighborhood. In other words, present this as a chance for the HOA to set a high standard for solar in the neighborhood.
    • Consider proposing a set of solar guidelines that the HOA can use if desired. This may make it more palatable for the HOA to approve a solar installation if it knows that certain standards will have to be followed going forward.  The HOA may be ok with the solar proposal of the current homeowner with regard to aesthetics, etc., but is concerned that this will open the door to all types of solar installations that may not be done as well by other homeowners.  Northwest Solar Communities has developed residential solar guidelines that can be used as a template for HOA’s.  Guidelines may need to be modified somewhat – i.e. take out language regarding ground-mounted solar, etc.
    • Stress at the close of the letter the desire to work closely with the HOA.
    • Provide contact information for yourself and your Third Sun Solar Consultant for any questions.
  • Offer to present proposal to the architectural review committee/board.
    • Consider bringing in a panel to show, but know that it will look quite large up close compared to what it would look like on a roof from ground level. This may actually be more of a negative to show the panel up close.
    • In presentation, show photos of high quality residential installations. Your Solar Consultant would be happy to provide you with photos to use.

If your solar proposal is not accepted…

If HOA does not approve the solar proposal, homeowner may consider obtaining a supportive opinion letter form an attorney that addresses concerns brought up in the HOA restrictive covenants.

  • This letter can describe how the solar proposal is in line with the HOA restrictive covenants and can speak to specific concerns raised.
  • The point of the letter is not to appear as a threat of possible litigation against the HOA. Rather, it is to provide a supportive legal document to facilitate the HOA approving of solar.
  • Note: this step can be taken prior to initial submission of proposal to HOA, but will add to the total cost to the homeowner and possibly be an unnecessary one.
Homeowner may consider modification of HOA restrictive covenants.
    • Often this entails obtaining approval from 75% of homeowners in neighborhood.
    • One possible approach is to circulate petition in neighborhood for approval of solar guidelines (as mentioned above).
    • The HOA attorney will need to write an amendment to the restrictive covenant.
    • Prior to petitioning the neighborhood, send out email to neighborhood explaining the petition process and attach the proposed amendment, sample guidelines, etc.
    • Likely most successful approach is going door-to-door in order to facilitate in-person conversations.
    • Along with petition, take around copies of proposed amendment documentation, proposed solar guidelines, and rendition of homeowner’s house with panels.
    • If petition is successful, HOA board will need to formally adopt amendment to restrictive covenants, then submit documentation with county recorder.
    • Homeowner will now be able to resubmit solar proposal.

Bi-Directional Metering in Ohio

All residential solar systems that maintain a connection with their utility company require a bi-directional meter. A bi-directional meter measures the flow of electricity in two directions. It measures how much energy you’ve consumed and how much solar energy you’ve fed back into the grid. Read more about net metering here. 

When do I turn my solar system on?

Before you begin the operation of your solar system, wait until your utility installs your bi-directional meter . This is to avoid any generation fees.

Why do I have to wait for the bi-directional meter to be installed?

Some standard meters may include a feature that prevent it from turning backwards and registering reverse power flow. In this case, even though your facility should reduce the amount of electricity the electricity your facility generates in relation to your current consumption would not be measured or subtracted from your overall electrical energy use.

Unfortunately, turning your solar energy system on before the bidirectional meter is installed can lead to extremely large utility bills. In the case that your solar system is on and the bidirectional meter is not yet installed, you could be charged for the energy your solar system produces. This is because your current meter understands all the energy you’ve created as energy used.

Third Sun Solar’s Role

Following installation and inspection of your system, Third Sun Solar will submit a request for bi-directional meter exchange.

Typically, the utility company will install the bidirectional meter anywhere from a week to a month post notification. Unfortunately, your solar company does not have control over when the utility will replace your meter. Additionally, your solar installer and you, the homeowner, are not always notified by the utility that the meter has been swapped! This can leave you waiting and checking your meter regularly, in anticipating of turning on your new solar array!

At Third Sun, we will be persistent in trying to make this happen! If it takes an unusually long time (over a month) we will file a case with the Public Utilities Commission of Ohio (or your state’s Public Utilities Commission) to have them intervene and help accelerate the process.

The Solar Homeowners Role

Be vigilant! Check on your meter! Because the utility company might not notify you or your installer about the meter swap, it’s possible that they install it while you aren’t looking. For the first month, go ahead and check on your meter every once in awhile to see if it has been switched out.  This is what you’re looking for:

Fine Print Information about Net-Metering and Meter Exchanges

Be aware, as a net-metering customer, you are required to report yearly excess generation credits that total $600 or more to the IRS as miscellaneous income and your utility is required to report this information to you and to the IRS.

Please note that you are responsible for operating the facility safely, in accordance with the terms of the Application/Agreement and the manufacturer’s instructions. You also are to perform regular maintenance and inspections in accordance with accepted practices and the manufacturer’s instructions.

Useful Links:

 

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  

Net Metering for Solar in Ohio  

In sunny peak months in Ohio, solar systems often produce more energy than a home can consume. Have you ever wondered what happens to this excess electricity? Or how you, the homeowner, benefit from the extra energy your solar energy system produces? Net Metering is the process that accounts for this difference in production & use. 

Net metering allows you to store energy you produce in the electric grid, in the form of credits. When you produce more energy than you need, excess electricity travels back into the power grid. Energy sent back into the grid goes to power your neighbors’ homes. The State of Ohio requires that the utility company credit you for that energy you produced and send along. These credits appear on your monthly electric bill to help you keep track.  

During sunny summer months, when your solar system is producing more than the energy you are using, you bank up credits. During the winter months, your home uses more energy than your solar system produces, and you use up the credits you’ve earned.  

You will be charged for the energy you take use from the traditional electric grid (when your solar panels aren’t producing). You can pay for that extra energy using the credits you accrue during times your solar system is producing more energy than you are using.  

Why is net metering important?

Net metering increases the economic benefit of solar power by crediting you for the power your solar energy system produces.  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. 

Your utility benefits from net metering because electricity is generated so close to where it is consumed. This diminishes the amount of electricity lost when power is transmitted across miles of wires. Additionally, it helps reduce strain on the grid during peak demand times: like on hot, sunny days.

Will I receive payment for the excess energy I produce?  

You’ll get credits to be used on an annual basis to offset the cost of electricity that you take from the grid during times when your solar system is not producing energy. These credits roll over from month to month. You will not, however, receive a check from your utility for the excess energy you put back into the grid. 

At what rate do utility companies credit me for my usage?

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.  

This rate depends on your electric company. Your experienced Solar Consultant can help you understand what your utility’s net excess generation rate is.

Can my energy bill be $0?

In many cases, yes!   

Some utility companies have a single fixed cost, or customer charge, that all customers are required to pay each month. However, in many cases you can use credits to pay down the fixed monthly costs.  We often see $0 electric bills sent to us by our customers!  

How much energy from my electric company will I purchase annually, when I have a solar system?

We don’t design all solar systems to meet 100% of a homes electric usage over the course of the year. Why? This depends on many factors, but primarily the amount of space a home has for solar panels. Your solar consultant will work with you to design a solar system that makes sense for your homes annual electricity usage.  

 

Third Sun Solar has worked with hundreds of homeowners across the state of Ohio and beyond. We have close working relationships with all of Ohio’s many rural cooperatives and public utilities.

If you have any questions about solar or net metering, please reach out.

 

 

 

Solar Batteries Becoming Increasingly Common   

Here at Third Sun Solar we are finding that our residential customers are increasingly interested in purchasing battery storage with their solar energy system. Battery systems are valuable for many reasons. They provide peace of mind to individuals who experience frequent power outages. Especially in rural areas in Ohio, grid outages are common. Solar batteries help families regain control over their home lives by providing a source of power that doesn’t rely on the energy company.   

Is Your Grid Reliable?   

Some people don’t know that The National Electric Code mandates grid tied solar systems shut off during a power outage. Why? During a power outage, the power utility sends out repair crews to find and fix the points of failure. Power leaking onto the grid lines endangers linemen and women fixing the service issue. Therefore, utility rules mandate that in the event of a power outage, solar arrays must automatically shut down. Solar systems have detectors that sense whether power is coming across the grid. Solar systems automatically shut down when the grid fails. This is a done to protect utility workers.  

Because batteries store excess solar energy, they still function during a power outage.  

What are battery backup systems?   

Battery backup systems are a lot like they sound.  Batteries are used as an emergency power source during power outages.  Solar energy created from you array charges the batteries, then the batteries power your home.  These systems are generally not designed to backup whole house loads, but rather critical loads such as lighting, sump pumps, furnace blowers, refrigeration, etc.  Third Sun Solar installs battery backup solutions to for homeowners who request backup batteries in addition to a solar PV system.  

By design, solar battery systems provide backup power during grid failure. Solar batteries do not typically support nighttime loads.  

Maintenance   

Batteries are much like a car, if you park in the garage and never pay attention to it, it will not work when you need it.  Depending on the type of battery technology you choose, there may be some battery maintenance such as topping off fluid levels and equalizing the batteries (lead-acid batteries).  Other types of batteries, like lithium-ion batteries, require much less maintenance. Batteries need to cycle, this means that the power levels need to reach a low point to get charged to full again. Additionally, battery charge levels need observation both during use and while not in use. 

They level of attention your solar batteries will need depends on your choice of technology. Compared to lead-acid batteries, lithium-ion batteries are virtually trouble free, however the inverters and communications systems will need modified as time goes on and new features become available 

A solar battery customer will have a higher level of engagement with their batteries than your typical solar homeowner. Maybe you have a technical mindset & are interested in being involved with the solar battery system.  If you’re interested in a hands off system, a generator may be a better choice to achieve your backup power goal. 

Why now?   

We are in a new era of solar energy storage. Lithium ion batteries are a wonderful technology and new innovations like the Tesla Powerwall are making their way into the market. Don’t forget- the 30% federal tax credit drops after 2019– and solar battery purchases count in this tax credit. 

For customers who experience frequent grid outages and want to regain control of their energy, batteries are a great solution. Comfort comes from knowing that you’ll have the power you need even when the grid is down. With a battery system, energy is reliably ready for you at any moment.   

Click here to get your FREE solar proposal. 

 

4 Reasons To Go Solar This Spring

The dreary Ohio winter is behind us. That means it’s the perfect time to think about solar for your roof! Take advantage of peak solar production months by choosing to go solar this spring.  

Many homeowners choose to get repairs done on their roofs or replace the whole roof in the springtime. Right after a roof repair or replacement is the best time for solar panel instillation. Why? Because you won’t have to worry about your solar panels outliving your roof.   

And while you’re thinking about springtime home improvement projects, remember: solar is an easy way to improve your utility bill! Take full advantage of the peak production months by reaching out today. 

1. Get a system in time to soak up the sun during peak solar production months  

Even though we’ve got a fantastic install team, if everyone buys solar at once, there can be delays. Spring is your chance to beat the rush!   

Here at Third Sun Solar we’re in the highest demand in the summertime. Why? Once those long days of sunlight are upon us, people remember why solar in Ohio works! Calling now is the best way to get scheduled to maximize peak production months.  

What is a peak production month?  

The longest day of the year is coming: June 21st The Spring equinox! This means that the days will be longer and will remain long into the summertime and fall. Peak production months are months with the most amount of peak sunlight hours. A peak sun hour is defined as an hour of sunlight that offers 1,000 watts of PV power per square meter. These peak hours occur when the sun is highest in the sky. The number of peak sun hours increases during the summer months.  In Ohio, our peak production months are May- October, when days are long and sunny.   

2. Get the paperwork over with  

Solar installations are a little more complicated than installing a new central AC unit. It’s important to allow time for the whole solar process.  From permitting with the utility company to the local municipality, we process a lot of paperwork before your solar system can go live. Because we’re often waiting on responses from energy retailers and utility companies, this process can take a while. It’s important to start planning early.  

3. Enjoy the summer without worrying about choosing a solar installer!  

What do you like to do in the summertime? You probably want to be relaxing, spending time away from work and with your family. Maybe you enjoy barbecuing, hiking or canoeing. You don’t want to be spending hours researching solar installers or on the phone with your utility company. Choosing your solar installer now guarantees that you won’t have to spend relaxing summer days researching!   

4. The FTC end this year  

Ensure that you purchase your solar energy system before the end of 2019 to qualify for the 30% Federal Tax Credit. This Solar Tax Credit allows you to deduct 30% of the cost of your solar system from your federal taxes.  Remember: the average homeowner will save approximately $1,000 more when they buy in 2019. In 2022 the tax credit drops permanently to 0% for homeowners.   

Who is eligible for the 30% Federal Tax Credit?   

  • Individuals and for-profit businesses in the U.S.   
  • Those that pay federal taxes  
  • Those who have purchased a new solar system and placed it in service prior to 2020.   

What costs are eligible?   

  • Solar panels  
  • Racking/Mounting equipment  
  • Inverters  
  • Balance of system (wire, conduit, junction boxes, etc)  
  • Installation labor  
  • Sales and use taxes  

 

A case could be made that anytime of the year is a good time for installing solar. BUT if you’re currently enjoying the rays of the sun, now is the right time! Give us a call today: 740-249-4533

 

 

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!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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 to talk about the system and answer any questions they may have about solar.  

Check out this Facebook event for an upcoming solar open house in Akron, Ohio. 

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! 

Review Third Sun Solar  

We rely on reviews from our happy customers! The first thing solar shoppers do is look at reviews online. Solar energy systems are an investment and choosing a qualified solar installer is important! The last thing we like to hear from customers is that they had a bad experience with another solar company. Third Sun Solar has been a member with the BBB for 18 years. Genuine reviews can help ease concerns of customers who are considering making an investment in a solar system. We ask all our customers to help others take ease in that next step by leaving a review of Third Sun Solar on one of our many review platforms. And if you want to be a REALLY awesome solar champ, please review us on ALL our review sites!  

Google Review

Facebook Review

Better Business Bureau Review

Solar Reviews

 

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!  

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. Super insulate your attic and sealing ducts  
  3. If you’re going solar, consider an electric stove and/or water heater
  4. Select highly insulated windows and doors 
  5. Use large south facing windows to bring heat into your home during the wintertime (and cover with shades to cool in the summertime) 
  6. Install energy efficient lighting 
  7. 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.  
  • 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.