A Tesla Powerwall Installation

Third Sun Solar is a Tesla Powerwall Certified Installer.

We have met Tesla’s strict standards of quality and customer service. Tesla certifies installers to ensure quality installations of product across the United States and across the world.

Homeowners become interested in lithium-ion battery backup for a variety of reasons:

  • Protection to homes that experience frequent power outages: from blazing hot summers that increase grid demand, to extreme storms – outages are becoming increasingly common.
  • Self-sufficiency: power your home with the solar power you generate, during the day and at night
  • Increased use of your solar resource: powering your home with 100% renewable energy – day and night.

What is Powerwall? 

Tesla is well known for making quality batteries. Tesla Powerwall and Backup Gateway interdependence make it the safest energy battery system on the market. The Backup Gateway controls the flow of electricity from the grid, solar or other energy sources to loads in your home and to the Powerwall. Powerwall is an inverter, a battery and a temperature control unit, all in one. It is designed to be resistant to internal fire exposure, mechanical stresses and electrical abuse. It is a safe touch system as no live terminals accessible to you or your family. Unlike other battery systems, the terminals are isolated and there is zero voltage when the system is turned off. Powerwall is the only double enclosure battery system for a home. The Back Gateway and Powerwall work together to safely provide your home with energy storage that you configure to your preference.

 

1
2
3
4
5
6
7
8
1

2 Powerwalls mounted with stack kit

2

Generation panel

3

Backup Gateway

4

Main panel

5

PV load center

6

PV inverter

7

SMA Sunny Boy inverter

8

SMA Sunny Boy inverter

 

If you are interested in whole house backup, we can talk you through the pros and cons in your scenario. It’s possible to even back up your whole house. Our team will size your system based on what is going to fit your needs.

Enjoy the Benefits of Powerwall:

  • Decide when and how to use the charge from your Powerwall to power your loads using the Tesla app
  • Monitor your energy use and configure your storage settings through the Tesla app
  • Select the modes of operation you desire and the amount of battery you wish to reserve in the case of an outage

Benefits of Choosing Third Sun  Solar as your Tesla Powerwall Certified Installer: 

Remember that the Certified Installer you choose should offer a full range of services and have and a good track record for customer service and support.

With Third Sun you get:

  • Electricians that have been employees for a long time – As a certified benefit corporation we review and hire based on our core values and employees receive a suite of benefits and paid time off. We’re proud to say that our staff has been with us for a while.
  • Same goes for our office crew who will thoughtfully design your battery system, get and pay the permit with your local utility, procure equipment from the Tesla headquarters and make sure it gets to your home safely and is installed safely and legally.

We’re the oldest installer in the market and we’ve learned how to choose our equipment wisely.

After 20 years in business we’ve seen a lot of products and companies come on the market – not all of them are in it for the long-haul. We are, and it’s important to us that we choose companies and products that are too. We’re experts at choosing quality products for our customers. And we think Tesla Powerwall is certainly one of them.

Fill out the form below to start a conversation with us and learn if Powerwall is right for you! 

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 $3,000 – $9,000 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. 

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.  

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!  

 

 

 

  • Will Solar Work For My Home?

 

Solar Panels Or Solar Shingles? 

Solar shingles are a sleek and exciting new technology. We’re not surprised they’ve peaked the interest of homeowners who are looking for an aesthetically appealing solar solution. Solar shingles are a type of solar energy solution known as building-integrated photovoltaics (PV). They look like normal asphalt shingles and are designed to protect your home, in the way that your roof does now. One solar shingle doesn’t produce a lot of power, but when you string a whole rooftop together, they produce a similar energy output to what you would expect from a roof mounted solar array.  They are installed on roof sheathing then are wired together for tie-in to your home’s electrical system.  

The History  

The 1970s saw the first stages of building-integrated PV: photovoltaic products that were fully integrated with building materials. These applications were largely for remote buildings with no access to the traditional electric grid. In the 1990s PV products designed to blend in with a building’s architecture entered the market. Over time the technology, application and integration of building-integrated PV into the building trade has grown and changed. Solar shingles became available to the public in 2005. As of 2009, building-integrated PV represented 1% of all solar installations worldwide.  

Read more about the history and future of building-integrated PV here. 

Things to consider before choosing solar shingles over a roof mounted solar array: 

  1. Payback – because the full cost of a solar roof is greater than traditional solar panels and installation, the payback time is longer.  
  2. Efficiency – traditional solar panels have a higher energy density than solar shingles.  
  3. Practicality- the lifetime of solar shingles is less than traditional solar panels.  
  4. Maintenance- While solar systems are a low maintenance technology, the more variables you add to a system, the greater the risk is for something to go wrong. Each solar shingle has its own microinverter, so a whole house system would have many more microinverters than a solar array, which requires one microinverter per panel.  For example, a 28-module solar array is equivalent in energy output to a solar shingle array with 136 shingles. Each system requires one microinverter per unit.   
  5. Timing- The availability of product and number of installers who can or will install solar shingles is limited. With the Investment Tax Credit for solar dropping down to zero in 2022, we don’t foresee large quantities of product or solar shingle installers putting up systems before this incentive drops.  

In Conclusion…  

When shopping for solar there are certainly questions, you’re asking about the technology you are planning to purchase: should I wait for better technology? Am I choosing the product with the fastest payback? Which solar solutions look good enough to put on my home? 

When it comes to solar shingles, our advice is not to wait around. The traditional solar array is a tried, true and optimized technology with the best power density, efficiency and installation cost.  

Don’t get us wrong –we’re excited to start seeing solar technology integrated into normal building materials. This will mean big things for the future of building and energy production. Utilizing every built surface imaginable to harness the power of the sun is the world we’re aiming for.  

We don’t think the technology is there yet – quite yet.  

Solar During a Power Outage: How It Works

Solar During a Power Outage

When you install a solar energy system, you might expect that the lights will stay on when the power goes out because you’re generating your own power. Unfortunately, this isn’t the case.  

With grid tied solar systems, any excess power you create will be stored in the utility grid. The grid is sort of like a big battery, you send power to it when you have excess and take energy from it when you need more. Because of this connection, when grid power goes out – so does yours. This keeps electricity from leaking onto the grid lines and putting folks working to correct the issue in harm’s way.  

To get power during a grid blackout, you will need a grid tied solar system with battery backup. When the grid is up and working, the system functions like a normal grid tied solar system. Some of the electricity your solar system produces will top off your batteries. In the case of grid failure, the batteries kick in to keep the lights on.  

A solar system with battery backup costs more than your traditional grid tied solar system but having power during a blackout can be invaluable to some. Any home that already has solar panels, is battery backup ready.  

You are a good candidate for a backup battery system if you: 

  • Want to know that you will have seamless energy when the grid is down  
  • Experience frequent power outages 
  • Experience extreme weather conditions 
  • Have critical appliances at your home 

Power Outages Becoming Increasingly Common

Unfortunately, we’re seeing power outages becoming more common place as more and more people are in the path of severe weather patterns. In some places power companies are preemptively shutting down the grid when they anticipate a blackout.  

The good news is that there are solutions to grid failures through battery and solar battery storage.  

Tesla Powerwall: Home Battery Storage  

Powerwall is a home battery system that turns your home’s solar panels into an all-day resource. Daily it increases your self-consumption of solar. In the event of an outage, it offers reliable home backup power. With Powerwall, more of your home’s electricity use will come from solar, which enhances solar functionality, reduces energy costs and provides peace of mind to homeowners.  

Powerwall allows you to store 14 kWh of energy and use that energy to run your home with solar during the night and back up your home in the event of a power outage. 

The technology withing Powerwall is able to detect a grid outage, disconnect from the grid and bring power back to your home in a fraction of a second. That is over 100x faster than typical standby generators, and fast enough to keep your appliances running without interruption. You will not have to reset your clocks or your alarm. Powerwall can provide backup to your entire home. However, depending on the type of appliances at your home, we may recommend an essential load backup instead of whole home backup. Read more about Tesla here. 

Right Sizing Your Backup System:

Whole Home Backup 

If you’re interested in whole home backup, our Solar Designers can analyze your homes electric use patterns and the recommended number of Powerwall’s needed to keep all loads running. In some cases, an upgrade to your electrical panel may be needed and we will advise you if this is the case. You can add more Powerwall’s to keep your house operational longer during an outage. 

Essential Load Backup  

If your electrical situation doesn’t require whole home backup, we can backup select essential loads. Since lights and outlets require less energy, a single Powerwall will typically be enough.  

 

In summary, during a grid blackout, power from your solar system won’t be available for you to use unless you have a backup battery system. If you’re interested to learn more about solar or battery back-up, give us a call today! 1-877-OWN-SOLAR.  

 

 

 

 

How To: Take Advantage of Solar Tax Credits Before They Expire

The federal solar tax credit is stepping down over the next few years. If you’re a home or business owner you should be thinking about moving quickly to take advantage of the savings the tax credit offers.

Homeowners must have permission to operate their system by their utility company, which is the last step in your solar installation, by December 31 to receive that year’s tax credit.

The IRS states the system must be fully operational, or “placed in service.”

 

 

The tax credit drops from 30 percent in 2019 to 26 percent in 2020 and 22 percent in 2021.

Read more about the Federal Solar Tax Credit Phase-down for Residential Solar Energy Systems from the Solar Energy Industries Association here. 

Get started with a free, no obligation solar estimate to find out about the benefits of clean, affordable solar energy!

Here is the tax form for you to bring with you when you meet with your accountant or finance professional. 

Lithium Ion Batteries & New Advancements in Solar Storage

This week we celebrate advancements in the field of lithium-ion battery storage, with The Nobel Prize in Chemistry 2019 awarded to John B. Goodenough, M. Stanley Whittingham, Akira Yoshino “for the development of lithium-ion batteries.” These batteries are the central technology in contemporary solar storage. While Lithium-Ion batteries are used in devices of all types, they have enabled huge developments in fossil-free energy storage. They have also enabled the development of long range electric cars.

Join Solar Designer, Jack Hadley as he discusses solar batteries, why solar batteries are useful and what makes Tesla Powerwall different.

What type of home needs solar batteries?

While solar batteries add to the cost of your solar project and lessen the ROI, some households find they are worth the investment. You should consider batteries for your solar system if…

  • Your home is remote and isn’t tied into the utility grid;
  • You experience frequent power outages;
  • You have critical appliances; or
  • You experience extreme weather conditions

Learn more or to sign up to chat with a solar & Powerwall expert…

 

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. 

Check out his 7.5 kW black on black solar array, learn about Home Owners Associations & get all of your solar questions answered.

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!

 

Our Journey to Become a Certified Benefit Cooperation

Third Sun Solar is proud to be part of a larger movement which is striving to redefine success in business so all companies compete to not only be the best in the world, but best for the world.

A B Corp since 2012, we’re leading a global movement to redefine success in business. We’re part of over 1,700 other companies worldwide committed to using business as a force for good. Check them all out at www.bcorporation.net.

Certified B Corporations are for profit companies, anywhere in the world, that meet the highest standards of social and environmental performance, transparency and legal accountability. This notion is gaining traction, as CEO’s nationwide see the importance of using business as a force for good. 

 

Chief executives from the Business Roundtable, including the leaders of Apple and JPMorgan Chase, argued that companies must also invest in employees and deliver value to customers.” – The New York Times 

 

Taking people and planet seriously is at the heart of our company’s mission. That’s why we have done things like:

  • Installed solar on our own offices to produce almost 70% of our company’s electricity through clean power;
  • Conduct  waste audits to see how we could cut down on our waste products even further;
  • Encouraged and assisted other businesses to take action to become B Corporations;
  • Sell a clean energy product every day with the mission to accelerate the shift to clean energy.

We couldn’t do all this without the support of our customers, our employees and our community. These are people like you who believe in our mission—people who prove that doing good is also good for business. Thank you helping us to succeed where it truly matters.

Our B-Corps Journey…

We became a Certified BCorps in March 2012. We were re certified in 2014 and 2016 and are currently in the process of re-certification.

Why did we do it?

We became a Certified Benefit Cooperation because we want to be an example of how business can be a force for good.  Our founders, while committed to spreading solar through business, also wanted to show that all businesses are not all profit and hungry at all costs.  At one time this was a novel idea & there were a few stand out businesses that were doing their business and also striving to do no harm. Now we’re seeing the notion hit the mainstream – and we’re glad!
At the time we were certified, we also had just begun discussions with some of our peer solar companies in other parts of the country about banding together in some way- the birth of Amicus solar cooperative– and several of those companies that we really respected were B Corps.

How do you become a B Corp?

The process is a multi-step one, starting with an Impact Assessment.  Questions are categorized to assess all facets of business:
  • Governance
  • Workers
  • Community
  • Environment
  • Customers

We provide information & documentation for:

  • How much waste and recycling we produce
  • The percentage of clean power we use at our headquarters
  • Our products benefit environmentally
  • Salary & benefits structures for our employees
  • Transparency structures in management
  • Contribution to the larger community through donations or activities
  • Sustainable practices in how we deploy our product and run our offices
  • … and much more.

 80 is the cut off points for a business to become certified.  50.9 is the average score of just any mainstream business. Our current score is 88.5.

Changes needed…

To become certified we needed to make some changes…
  • We had a zero waste assessment from Rural Action & put those practices into play
  • Almost 100% of our electricity from solar, and our product eliminates greenhouse gases, so we already were doing a lot on the environmental front
  • Every year we purchase carbon offsets for our vehicle fleet
  • We began to hire and review employees based on their commitment to the BCorps values (which largely overlap with our values)
  • We became more transparent on our financials and metrics with the entire company
  • Wages were raised for employees
  • The last legal thing that we had to do was to insert into our corporate Operating Agreement that we would always consider the people and the planet as much in our decisions as we consider profit

We still have a lot of potential progress and changes that we can make…

One thing that the assessment always shows us is the areas where we can do better. Going into 2020, one of those areas we plan on examining is our supply chain to ensure that their practices include fair labor practices, environmental sustainability. It would be great if a % of our vendors could be B Corps themselves.

When we were first certified, we were one of only 3 companies in Ohio. Now there are 14.

 

A Case Study in Compassionate Transition from Coal to Solar

How is Athens County leading the way in Ohio? In solar workforce development! Employing former coal miners as solar installers has been an added benefit to situating our solar business in Appalachian Ohio. Read more here.