Solar Momentum: Jaber Wahel, Shaker Heights Ohio

Jaber Wahel, who lives in Shaker Heights Ohio, began thinking about going solar in 2012.  2 years later, in 2014, he had Third Sun Solar install a 5.4 kilowatt solar array on the roof of his home. A flat roof on the south facing rear of his home is where the 20-panel array is positioned. Solar would offset 46% of his households annual electricity use. 

His motivation for going solar?  It was environmental mostly, but as with many things, the investment needed to make economic sense too. Most of the savings a homeowner sees when they go solar comes from the savings in electricity bills over that time, but a big portion for Jaber also came from the 30% Federal Tax Credit that he claimed in 2014. 

The Journey  

Jaber often travels to California for work. Over time, he saw more and more homes in the Golden State with solar, which indicated to him that a movement was buildingThis is what first sparked his interest in the solar movement.  

His first step when shopping for solar, like many homeowners just beginning their solar journey, was to learn.  

  • Solar in Cleveland? Jaber was first interested in how the climate effects solar production. Sure, solar was booming in California, but does solar make sense in Ohio? Working with Third Sun, he found out that solar, even in an area like Cleveland Ohio, despite getting far less sun time than places like California, still gets enough to make solar PV installation practical.  
  • Roof Slope: Unlike most of our residential customers, Jaber’s panels sit on a flat roof surface on the southern side of his home. He has the most uninterrupted, southern facing roof space on this roof  surface. In Ohio, anywhere between a 4/12 and a 7/12 roof pitch is just fine for solar. These angles maximize the sunlight captured in both the summertime and in the winter. Third Sun uses ballasted racking which angle the panels at a 10-degree tilt to get the desired pitch on a flat roof. Though panel efficiency does change a little depending on the tilt of your roof, the difference is minimal.  
  • Net Metering: Something else Jaber was surprised to learn was that he didn’t need solar batteries to go solar. He learned that if your home is connected to the grid, a solar system work seamlessly with your current electricity supplier to ensure that you have powerWhen it’s nighttime or snowy, the energy you use comes from the grid. When the sun is shining and you’re using power, that energy is coming from your panels. When the sun is shining and you aren’t using power, that extra energy is exported to the grid to power your neighbors homes and you’re credited for the energy you’ve produced. This is done through net metering (link).  

The Plunge  

When Jaber started looking into solar in 2012, he was getting quotes in the $50-60,000 range for his residence. Since then the prices dropped significantly, and paired with federal incentives, solar made financial sense.  

Reaping the Benefits  

The most surprising part of Jaber’s process was how fast the installation took – in his case it was just 1 day! For Third Sun, the typical residential solar installations last between 1-4 days. The electric company came out within the next couple of days to switch out his meter for one that understands how to work with the solar system. After that he turned on his system and started producing his own electricity!  

His favorite part about his solar array is that the system is totally hands off. He says: “You just set it and forget it – it’s plug and play–  you don’t think about it ever.” What has been the best part of having a solar powered home so far? According to Jaber, the best part is that it works!  He really is able to harness the sun to produce his own electricity.  

Solar in Shaker Heights 

When he walks around, Jaber says that he’s noticed maybe 10-15 houses in his community that have solar, though he doesn’t personally know anyone who also has an arrayThe City’s current Mayor has electric car and solar on his house. He does know a lot of community members who have thought about it  

Jaber believes that there is a lot of momentum in the solar movement: it’s a movement that is gaining speed. When asked what he thinks is stopping people from going solar he says: people think it’s complicated – for me it was such an easy thing.” He says that the hardest thing was filling the loan application, which Third Sun was there to help him with.  

He thinks the same is true of electric cars. While people are hesitant now, there is still a movement building. Once people overcome the anxiety, see that it’s a technology that works, they’ll be more willing to adopt it.  

According to Jaber, if you get out of Ohio and see how much it’s going up in other places– it makes the choice to go solar easy.  

The Solar Champion  

Jaber says– If you have a customer who is interested and hesitant give me a call – I would be happy to talk with anyone about it. 

Take Jaber up on his offer by reaching out. Or, we will connect you with someone else in your neck of the woods. We always welcome questions from folks who are just getting started on their solar journey.  Just give us a call! 

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COVID-19 (Coronavirus) and your Solar Journey

Monday, March 23, 2020

Third Sun Solar would like to remind you that, though our staff is currently working from home, we are still engaging with those interested in exploring solar for their home or business.

As a solar installation company working regularly on rooftops and with electricity, safety is a deep-rooted part of our organization.  We are treating the COVID-19 outbreak with the same level of importance, and are following state, local and CDC guidelines to keep both our staff and customers healthy.

Following Ohio Gov. Mike DeWine’s “Stay at Home” order made on Sunday, March 22nd, we have paused our installation activities until allowed to do so safely.

Starting Monday, March 23rd, our Solar Consultants have moved to a remote solar site assessment process. Using sophisticated online tools, they will work with you to create a free, highly customized and reliable solar proposal. The proposal will include sizing, offset and costs, including the current 26% Federal Tax Credit.

Use the time you have now to get the questions you’ve always had answered! With the 26% federal tax credit dropping at the end of the year, we urge those interested in getting the full benefit of a 2020 solar installation to connect with us soon.

At Third Sun Solar, our mission is to Accelerate the Shift to Clean Energy. We accelerate towards a clean energy future at a faster rate each year. However, we know that making this shift won’t happen overnight and we’re committed to seeing our mission through to the end. This year we’re celebrating our 20th year in business. We hope you’ll join us as we look forward to an even brighter future ahead.

The goal during the COVID-19 outbreak is to slow the spread of the disease so that critical medical infrastructure is available to those who need it.  We are all in this together, and appreciate your cooperation as we work to protect those who are most vulnerable and help our healthcare system cope with increased demands.

If you have any additional questions or concerns please let us know so we can do our best to address them.

All Your Going Off-Grid With Solar Questions Answered

Defining Different Types of Grid Interconnection with Solar

Grid-tied solar system

This type of system is for anyone connected to the local power grid. Being grid-tied allows you to sell extra energy you produce back to the grid to offset your energy costs. Grid-tied systems are the most cost-effective solar option. They offer the fastest payback and the best ROI. Grid-tied solar is good for homes who are looking to save money on their electricity costs.

Grid-tied solar system with battery backup

Grid-tied solar systems with battery backup are ideal for anyone with unreliable power, or anyone with critical appliances that need to operate when the grid is down. These systems send excess energy into the grid for credits, pull energy from the grid when the solar system isn’t producing at night, and have backup batteries that store power to use in times of a utility outage. Generally, battery backup systems are not designed to power whole house loads, rather they power specific necessary loads within the home. This type of system is more expensive than a standard grid-tied system, but ensures you have reliable access to electricity.

Off-grid solar system

Off-grid systems are ideal for individuals who live remotely and don’t have access to utility power. Off- grid solar systems use solar panels to charge a bank of batteries which then power your home at night, or when the solar PV system is not meeting the load demand, especially during winter. These have a higher system cost due to the addition of the batteries and a standby generator to the solar system. When batteries become depleted during periods of low solar production, it is necessary to run a generator to provide power to the home. With an off-grid system, energy conservation is important. Using energy efficient appliances, reducing your energy consumption, managing your electric loads and relying on a backup generator are all elements of an off-grid lifestyle.

Grid-tied batteries

Tesla Powerwall can charge from the grid and doesn’t require solar to charge the batteries. This provides emergency backup power in the case of a grid failure.

Why Grid-Tied Solar Systems Are Best for Most Homes

Solar power allows you to generate your own energy, which means you won’t be buying power from the utility. You might assume this means going off-the-grid, but this is not the case.

If you have access to the grid, you will store excess power you create in the utility grid. You treat the grid like a big battery, charging it when you have excess power and taking energy when you need more. The utility company credits you for the extra power you produce (net-metering) and allows you to pull from the gird when you need it (at night).

An off-grid system doesn’t have any connection to the utility grid, so having some sort of alternative for storing excess energy is necessary. Off-grid homes require battery banks to store excess solar energy for later use. Without batteries or access to the grid, there would be no way to get energy to your home when your solar system isn’t producing.

The top mistake people make when they decide they want to go off-grid: equating breaking ties with the utility company with cost savings.

Grid-tied solar systems and off-grid solar systems are on different ends of the spectrum when it comes to cost. Grid-tied solar is the most cost-effective type of solar system. Solar batteries ensure you have power when the grid goes down.

Maintaining grid interaction with your solar system through net metering is actually the best option for homeowners looking to cut costs.

The second mistake people make when deciding to go off-grid: thinking that off-grid homes are greener and more sustainable than conventional “grid tied” homes.

Maybe this comes from the roots of the off-grid movement… Most early solar pioneers were off-grid. They relied on solar, batteries, and often a generator to power their homes with no connection to the utility grid. Many people did this to live a more sustainable existence, including Third Sun founders, Michelle and Geoff! 

Nowadays, we find that most of our customers don’t live far from power lines. With a grid-tied system, any excess power generated from solar goes back into the grid and helps your neighbors reduce their carbon footprints.

Remember- it’s fossil fuels that we’re trying to avoid, not the grid itself.

While many are eager to cut ties with the utility company for one reason or another, the reality is that most of us are already tied in and the efficiencies of the grid generally outweigh an off-grid solar system.

The good news: you do not have to go off-the-grid to enjoy the benefits of clean, solar energy!

Your home is only a few smart steps away from enjoying the benefits that solar energy has in store. Contact us if you’re ready to start talking about solar for your home or business.

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Solar Schools – Planting Seeds of Solar Education

Back in the early 2000s, he was sometimes referred to the “the Johnny Appleseed of solar”. Planting the seeds of solar awareness and education across the state of Ohio, one kilowatt at a time, Glen Kizer was a leader in getting solar planted around the state in the first decade of this century. Through his Foundation for Environmental Education, Glen is still planting those seeds 20 years later. How did he do it first? Installing dozens of 1 kW grid connected solar power systems on schools around the state.

Sewing Seeds in Schools

It was 2001 when Glen first contacted Geoff Greenfield of Third Sun Solar to become an installation partner. His plan was to install dozens of 1 kW grid connected solar power systems on schools around the state. These systems would be a visible icon, planting the seed of awareness in the minds of students, teachers and administrators. Including a curriculum developed for the classroom that explored the way solar works, how to calculate solar production and using the actual data from that solar array, the program attracted many schools to the cause.

The Foundation for Environmental Education (FEE) found a partner in American Electric Power (AEP) and their Learning from Light Program. AEP had hundreds of previously used solar panels stored in warehouses that it provided to FEE for use in its mission. FEE established connections in the schools, then contracted with Third Sun to complete the installation process. The State of Ohio provided some funding to help train teachers, and FEE also partnered with the Ohio Energy Project. In all, Third Sun installed about 35 of these projects in several states between 2001 and 2006.

Ideas Blossoming

Although a 1kW solar array provided very little in the entire energy picture of the typical school, the system was more about educating than offsetting utility power or lowering emissions. Upon completion of the installation, the schools often had ribbon cutting ceremonies, sun celebrations and sometimes entire assemblies to christen their new solar array. Geoff Greenfield was tapped to speak at these events which often included local officials, lawmakers and school administrators.

The seeds sown by these 1kW educational systems have surely grown and blossomed over the last several years. This partnership was a key launching point for Third Sun Solar. This experience of  installing net metered systems allowed Third Sun to expand its work into many other markets. Third Sun has gone on to install systems 500 to 1000 times larger on schools in our state. Some universities have even gone further than that, coordinating installations of 2 MW or more – 2000 times bigger than these early arrays (see Third Sun’s installation at Denison University).

Where Are The Solar Schools Now?

Like Third Sun, 20 years later Glen is still working hard to install educational solar power systems. His geographic focus has changed to work primarily in the state of Illinois, but his influence in Ohio will not be forgotten. After all this time, we sometimes wonder what is happening with these systems? Some schools have been torn down and rebuilt, so some systems have been lost. Surely, there are still dozens out there that are still producing power. But, with ongoing changes in curriculum and focus for our educational institutions, are they still being used? If you have one of these in your community or local school, let us know what you know about them!

Michelle Greenfield on Governor’s Executive Workforce Board

The Governor’s Executive Workforce Board engages communities, state agencies and stakeholders in Ohio to identify ways to prepare Ohioans with skills needed for in-demand jobs. The mission: focus on preparing Ohioans for in-demand, quality wage jobs that give our state a strategic economic advantage.  

The Governor’s Office of Workforce Transformation selected Third Sun CEO and co-founder, Michelle Greenfield to sit on the board, given her positions in leadership, business education and workforce development. Along with her peers on the Board, Michelle’s role is to advise the Governor, Lt. Governor and the Governor’s Office of Workforce Transformation about emerging workforce needs, solutions and best practices.  

In addition to her role at Third Sun Solar, Michelle currently serves on the Board of Directors of the Clean Energy Credit Union (CECU) which specializes in lending nationwide for solar PV systems, electric vehicles and green home improvements. In the past, Michelle has served on several Boards of directors, including as a member and past president of Green Energy Ohio, the Athens Area Chamber of Commerce, the Appalachian People’s Action Coalitionthe Appalachian Development Federal Credit Union and the CECU. 

How is Ohio Preparing to Carry Out the Mission of the Workforce Board?  

The Workforce Board seeks to prepare Ohioans for employment through a variety of methods:  

  • Career credentials for High School Students  
  • Choose Ohio first scholarship expansion  
  • Supporting Ohio’s workforce  
  • Supporting industry sector partnerships 

Additional information about the Governor’s Executive Workforce Board can be found here.  

Michelle is Representing Renewables & Southeast Ohio.  

According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, solar photovoltaic installer is the fastest growing job in the country. Projections indicate that the position will grow 63% from 2018 to 2028 which is faster than average for all occupations. What’s creating the growth? Falling prices as the market develops and increased use of solar financingAccording to the Solar Foundation, Ohio’s solar workforce grew in 2018 to reach over 7,000 jobs, making the state the seventh highest solar job supporter nationwide. Ohio has an abundant solar resource and big potential for future growth.  

As industries change and employment sectors diversifyOhio needs to think about what’s next. Solar certainly seems to be on the frontier. We, along with many of our partners in Ohio see solar employment as the antidote to a changing energy economy.  

Career Opportunities  

We have a whole lot of amazing staff members who have been with our company for a long time. But, as solar increases in demand, Third Sun will need new staff in all different types of positions of the company. From solar installation technicians to solar system designers to project managers – there is a lot of potential.   

If you’re interested in getting involved or learning more about the skills we’re looking for, take a look at the careers page of our website.  

Time To Act

Michelle is a great strategic planner –it’s what got Third Sun to where it is today. And Michelle’s voice at the table of the Governor’s Executive Workforce Board is needed as our leaders strategize to create the workforce of the future. If Ohio plans to take advantage of the job growth potential that renewable energy has to offer, we must start thinking about how to make that happen – now.  



Overcoming Solar Obstacles: Ray Stewart, Amherst, Ohio

Ray Stewart was the first resident in the City of Amherst to install solar after the city operated municipal utility installed bidirectional meters citywide.

What’s the story?

4 years ago, when the residents of Lorain County Ohio got together to organize a bulk purchasing deal for residential solar installations, Ray Stewart got excited. He was interested in getting solar for his home in Amherst, Ohio and attended the community meetings to get up to speed. A core group of individuals from the group evaluated and vetted different solar installers for the bulk purchasing program and ultimately chose Third Sun Solar.

Through the group buy program, Third Sun Solar Consultant, David Zelasko consulted with Ray. David asked Ray about his motivations for going solar, his goals and his available roof space for the solar array.  As David was going through routine processes, calling around to make sure solar was feasible for Ray and the proper permitting could be acquired, he discovered that the City of Amherst was not set up for solar. At that time the city was not allowing interconnection of solar PV systems into municipal power grid, which also means no net metering.

Some History

Because municipal utilities (and rural co-ops) are not regulated by the Public Utilities Commission of Ohio, they are not required to offer net metering or allow interconnection for solar, though  many of them do. All the municipal utilities have their unique rules, so it’s important to have an installer like Third Sun who has experience with these utilities and takes the time to do their due diligence. The City of Amherst at the time operated a municipal utility that did not offer net metering. Oberlin, Cleveland Public Power and the City of Westerville are examples of municipalities who own the electric utility, do offer net metering, and where Third Sun has installed solar.

Next Steps

Ray lobbied his Mayor and Councilman, who were supportive of residential solar. Solar was something that the city knew they needed to prepare for. The Mayor responded that it would be necessary to update software and develop capacity in order to manage the change.

In 2019 the cities utilities department swapped all meters in their territory with bidirectional meters, meters that interact with residential solar systems and allow for net-metering.

Ray was able to install solar in June of 2019 and has been reaping the benefits of solar power ever since.

Going Solar

Since the instillation, Ray’s electric charges went down and have stayed down. He enjoys looking up at his roof and seeing the solar panels doing their work up there. He occasionally logs into his monitoring app to check on the data. Ray was lucky to have caught the 30% federal tax credit in it’s final year and is excited to get the tax credit when he files this year. (the federal tax credit has stepped down to 26% in 2020 – read more about the federal tax credit for solar here).

Motivation and Legacy

When asked what motivated him to get a solar system for his home, he says his motivation is to lower his carbon footprint.

Ray is a gardener, a composter, a recycler and a hybrid vehicle owner. When solar became possible for him, it was the natural choice. Ray is aligned with Third Sun Solar in his mission; he feels that, in the face of climate change anything we can each do to reduce our dependence on fossil fuels and lower our carbon footprint is important.

As a former science teacher, Ray had his students read Aldo Leapold’s 1949 essay collection A Sand County Almanac. The essays convey the concept of “land ethic” and the ethical relationship that exists between people and the land where they live.

The signature line in his email reads:

“We abuse land because we see it as a commodity belonging to us. When we see land as a community to which we belong, we may begin to use it with love and respect.”

― Aldo Leopold

Community members within the City of Amherst now each have the opportunity to lower their own carbon footprint. A case could be made that through Ray’s efforts, the community in which he lives will be treated with a little more love and respect as the community members can now make the choice to power their homes and lives with clean, healthy, renewable energy.


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Why Is Solar On The Rise? (Hint: Financing)

Have you always dreamed of going solar but haven’t had the capital to make such a big investment?  

Cash purchases are no longer the only option for homeowners who want to go solar. Many of our customers are interested in using financing to pay for their solar system while still reaping an economic payoff in the long run. We are pleased to offer financing to customers to make this happen! Going solar for zero money down is the ideal payment option for many of our customers.  

Read on to see a list of programs in Ohio that reduce the financial burden of purchasing a solar energy system.  

Solar Loans

Third Sun Solar partners with a lender that specializes in financing solar installations.  

Just like a solar energy system is unique in design, so is the financing structure. Loans are customized to fit your specific circumstances. Choose from loans that range in length from 10-20 years. Rates vary , so talk with your solar consultant about interest rates.  

Individuals who choose to finance their solar energy system do not have to put any money into the solar energy system up front. You can purchase solar for $0 down.  

Sweeten the deal by applying the 26% federal tax credit to the balance of your loan.  

26% Federal Tax Credit  

Ensure that your system is placed in service before the end of 2020 to qualify for the 26% Federal Tax Credit. Otherwise known as the Investment Tax Credit, the Solar Tax Credit allows you to deduct 26% of the cost of your solar system from your federal taxes.  Remember: the average homeowner will save approx. $1,000 more when they buy in 2020. In 2022 the tax credit drops permanently to 0% for homeowners. Those interested in getting the most for their money should start thinking about solar now.  

To be eligible for the 26% Federal Income Tax Credit, you must:

  • Be an individual or for-profit business in the U.S.  
  • Pay federal taxes 
  • Have purchased a new solar system and placed it in service in 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 

ECO link

ECOLink (Energy Conservation for Ohioans) is a provided through a partnership between the Ohio Treasury Department and Huntington and Key Banks. The program provides an interest rate reduction for up to seven years on bank loans when you complete energy efficient upgrades to your home...  Like adding a solar energy system!  


There are a variety of solar financing options that will help you on your way to making your solar dreams a reality. These are just a few examples. Give our office a call today to speak with a knowledgeable Solar Consultants. 


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20 Years in Business: The Founder’s Leap

20 years ago they took a leap of faith. Geoff and Michelle Greenfield decided to launch themselves into the adventure of a lifetime and start a business. The year was 2000, the beginning of the new millennium. While starting a business wasn’t that unusual, the subject matter of this new business was. Renewable energy and solar power had yet to become mainstream or even a consideration in most people’s minds in Ohio and the Midwest, yet the Greenfield’s decided to launch a business installing renewable energy systems, wind and solar.

The Beginning

In the late 1990s, using solar and wind for powering homes, businesses and schools was a very unique proposition. After the invention of photovoltaic (PV) cells in the 1950s, the technology was reserved for space applications and tiny projects. During the 1980s the costs of using PV started to come down as production increased. The 1990’s saw some growth in the use of wind and PV, but it was still relegated to demonstration projects and experimental sites, and a tiny number of remote homes.

The Greenfield‘s were not the type of people to just follow the mainstream. When they purchased their property in rural Athens County in 1995 and it did not have any power connection to the “grid”, they decided to look at alternatives to mainstream power and build a home “off the grid” and powered by the sun. They moved into the home in 1997 with a tiny 600 watt solar array (that is 0.6 kW to use today’s sizing reference) to power everything. It was ironic that they were able to see, from the hilltop where they built their house, the smokestacks and pollution of coal fired power plants to the south along the Ohio River.

By the year 2000, they had two young sons, ages three and one, and were still working on finishing the house that they were living in. Geoff envisioned the plan to leave his permanent employment and go out on his own installing solar for the few people who were seeking it back then. Starting a business, continuing to build their home and also needing to provide for their children made this leap a little bit scarier. The risks were there, but the mission to enable people to take control of their own energy future was compelling. And what better way to teach their children that there is a clean alternative to powering our lives; that we do not have to use the polluting, unsustainable, and – now we know – climate change causing electricity produced by burning fossil fuels.

Third Sun

The name of the business became an embodiment of this small family. The Greenfields knew that starting a business would require constant nurturing and care, just as having children did. It would become their “third son”. The business grew, alongside their actual kids. Now, their sons are ages 21 and 23, and the business is 20 years old. All three have definitely brought thrills, excitement, fulfillment and love. All three also have presented challenges along the way, with ample opportunities for learning and growth for parents (and business founders) Michelle and Geoff.

Reflecting back to the time when Third Sun was an infant, it is evident how the business grew in a “bootstrapped” way. Picture the start-up office in the attic of the house, with piles of papers and makeshift desks. A lot of work and dedication was needed to get the business off the ground and onto stable footing. The path from the attic to their current location in Athens, encompassing more than 3,500 square feet of office and warehouse, passed through a variety of office spaces from 2003 to 2012 at the Ohio University Innovation Center. It was there that the Greenfields really began to understand that small business “helpers” were abundant in Athens, encouraging and providing tools and advice to entrepreneurs like them.

A Nurturing Environment for Entrepreneurs

During their 9 years as tenant clients at the Innovation Center, Third Sun Solar was able to go from the 2 founders to more than 21 employees, completing some of the largest solar power projects that the state of Ohio had ever seen. Business counselors and support from Ohio University’s Small Business Development Center, the Voinovich School and TechGROWTH all assisted the Greenfields in learning how to close contracts, manage employees, understand the financials and strategically grow the business. Third Sun also began to cultivate its network of outside advisers such as lawyers, accountants, business professionals and other business owners. Geoff and Michelle now felt comfortable asking for support. By 2012 they were “hatched” out of the incubator space into their own home office on West Union Street in Athens, where they remain headquartered today.

Even with all that support, nothing can replace the gumption, the persistence, and the intelligence of the owners to keep a business going. Entrepreneurs need to react quickly when faced with obstacles and understand how to capitalize on opportunities. Every day it is hard work to keep the ship moving forward and to keep growing, keep the doors open, and keep contributing to the economic health of the community.

Ohio is the 5th Largest User of Electricity in The Country

Third Sun Solar is proud to be the oldest continuously operating full service solar installation company in the state of Ohio.

In the very early years, on a visit to as solar conference in California, Michelle told a California solar installer that Third Sun was a young company based in Ohio. He looked at her and said “it takes guts to do solar in Ohio!” He was right. But the fact is that Ohio is the fifth largest user of electricity in the country. The state has a robust network of utility infrastructure and a large population of residents as well as manufacturing and commercial facilities. If a larger portion of utility customers in Ohio went solar it would leverage a great impact on reducing our carbon omissions in the United States and working towards the carbon emission reduction goals that need to be achieved in order to curb climate change.

The Impact

The Greenfield’s first two sons are grown and have left the house that the family built so long ago in the hills of Athens County. As they pursue their own paths and ideas of what work and careers that they want to pursue, their third “son”, Third Sun Solar, continues to enjoy the attention of its “parents”. With Geoff and Michelle still at the helm as owners and operators, the company has built up a professional team of employees that contributes to the continued growth and success of this “child”.

The impacts across the state of Ohio and even beyond this state have been great. Since 2000, Third Sun has installed over 23 MW of total renewable power, mostly solar, which produces over 26.5 million kilowatt hours of emission free power each year. As a result of Third Sun Solar’s work, 39 million pounds of CO2 emissions are avoided as customers switch from using utility power to their own clean power systems. The company is truly fulfilling its long-time mission to “Accelerate the Shift to Clean Energy”.

Over the next 12 months of 2020 Third Sun will be celebrating their 20th anniversary.

What a major milestone! Stay tuned to Third Sun newsletters, blogs and social media posts during 2020 to experience the rich tapestry of company history that will be presented. It will be fun looking back at favorite projects from the last two decades. There will be an interesting cost comparison of what it used to cost to go solar and what it costs today. Keep an eye out for archival photos, newspaper clippings and stories of the history of the company that might provide a few giggles. Expect to learn more about the forward thinking and sustainability mindset that has underpinned this company from it’s very beginning; our goal in sharing this history is to celebrate how far we have come and recognize how the current solar opportunity is built on the foundation stones laid in the past.



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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 products across the United States and across the world.

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

  • Protection for 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.



2 Powerwalls mounted with stack kit


Generation panel


Backup Gateway


Main panel


PV load center


PV meter


SMA Sunny Boy inverter


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 benefits and paid time off. We’re proud to say that our staff has been with us for a while.
  • The 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 $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!  




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