Is Solar a Good Investment?

Solar for your home is a classic long-term investment strategy. It costs money up front, then pays long-term dividends. Those dividends include:

  • daily clean energy for your home
  • monthly savings on your electric bill
  • yearly income from selling your Solar Renewable Energy Credits
  • decades of reliable, home-made clean energy
  • a lifetime of greater equity and value in your home
  • for our country, better energy security and independence
  • for our planet, less CO2 released into the atmosphere

Looking long-term, solar electric is better than most investments—especially now, with low interest rates available from banks and uncertain returns available from other investments. Many now agree: Solar is looking smarter every day.


One in 450

What is it about magic numbers? Seems like every once in a while, a number keeps popping up. Today’s number is 450, and it relates to the state of PV solar today compared to some notable 20th-century growth technologies:

In 1916, the U.S. car ownership rate was 1 in 450 (one out of  every 450 households).

In 1949, the U.S. television ownership rate was also 1 in 450.

Today – the U.S. PV solar ownership rate is, you guessed it, 1 in 450. One out of every 450 U.S. homes now has PV solar on the roof or in the yard.

(By contrast, the PV solar ownership rate in Germany is 1 in 33.)

Solar Installers Talking

Here is a comment about Third Sun Solar made by another solar installation company. Not a competitor–they operate in another part of the country–their observation is based on their knowledge of our company and our Third Sun Solar reputation as one of the region’s best solar installers:

Third Sun Solar offers–

  • Critical knowledge of solar tax and utility incentives
  • An impressive job portfolio
  • Best solar installation methods using their own crews
  • Best solar equipment options, from the most efficient to the most affordable

Naturally, we were delighted to see ourselves described in that way. We’re working hard to build on our reputation, both inside the industry and with our customers.

Powering On at Assurant

Solar at Assurant

Our 1.7MW Solar Installation at Assurant

The Third Sun Solar 1.76 megawatt installation at the Assurant Specialty Property Service Center in Springfield, Ohio has passed its string tests and is ready to officially go online. We will cut the ribbon on Monday, April 22 at 2pm with officials from Assurant, Springfield Mayor Warren Copeland, State Representative Ross McGregor, and Austin Bingham of U.S. House Speaker John Boehner’s office in attendance. This large solar array, comprising rooftop and parking lot shade canopy components, is now the largest solar installation in the Springfield area. In completing this project with the participation of Tangent Energy and Third Sun Solar, Assurant is making a major statement of corporate responsibility and sustainability. We were proud to team with Assurant, Tangent Energy, and all involved in this large corporate solar project.

Solar at Assurant

Our parking lot solar shade canopies at Assurant Specialty Property in Springfield

Wal-Mart Goes All-in on Solar

As another indication of solar energy’s growth toward mainstream adoption, especially in for-profit business sectors, Wal-Mart has announced that they are shifting from small pilot projects to major deployment of solar energy systems on their stores across the U.S. and around the world. The strategic goal is to produce 100 percent of their stores’ power through renewable energy. This from the dominant discount retailer whose every move is aimed at trimming costs to keep prices as low as possible.

solar Wal-Mart

Wal-Mart increases its commitment to clean solar energy

Walmart Ups Ante in Renewable Energy Effort
by Christopher Kolomitz

Seeking a path to 100 percent renewable energy at its stores, officials with Walmart said Monday they will increase the number of renewable energy projects the company completes by six times. The announcement comes as company officials look for ways to save on energy costs and meet the goal of 100 percent renewable energy which was previously announced in 2005.

According to Walmart President and CEO Mike Duke the company will drive the production or procurement of 7 billion kilowatt hours (kWh) of renewable energy globally every year, a 600 percent increase over 2010 levels.

Officials said Walmart’s six-fold increase in renewable energy projects is expected to be equal to eliminating the need for roughly two U.S. fossil fuel power plants. Walmart also announced new plans to reduce the kWh/sq. ft. energy intensity required to power buildings globally by 20 percent compared to 2010 levels. The two new commitments are anticipated to generate more than $1 billion annually in energy savings once fully implemented.

“When I look at the future, energy costs may grow as much as twice as fast as our anticipated store and club growth,” Duke said. “Finding cleaner and more affordable energy is important to our every-day low cost business model and that makes it important to our customers’ pocketbooks.”

In 2012 alone, Walmart added nearly 100 renewable energy projects, bringing the total number of projects in operation worldwide to nearly 300 today. The company already is using more onsite renewable power than any other company in the U.S, according to the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency.

In the U.S. alone, Walmart hopes to install solar power on at least 1,000 rooftops and facilities by 2020, a significant increase from just over 200 solar projects in operation or under development currently. The company also plans to invest and develop wind and fuel cell projects and will also procure offsite renewable energy from utility-scale projects, such as large wind projects, micro-hydro projects and geothermal.

Your Customers, Investors & Employees

From the March/April 2013 edition of Solar Builder Magazine, article by Associate Editor Kelly Pickerel: “Think about this millennial generation… your next generation of employees and your next generation of customers are people who have been taught, since kindergarten, that the Earth must be saved and it’s their job to do it. They have also been taught that the answer to every need is technology. Those ideas are wired into the emerging millennial generation more than any generation that preceded it.”

age-pyramidJust as another semiconductor-based technology–personal computers–shaped the adult lives of the boomer generation, photovoltaic solar and the quest for clean energy may well define the millennials over the next 30-40 years. If it does, the world could be a cleaner, greener, smarter, and more sustainable place.



The Real Value Difference

People often come to us with questions about specific brands of solar panel. We use select panels from a variety of manufacturers, both US-made and imported. If a customer has a preference for a specific brand, we can usually provide them; but part of our mission is to recommend and install the best products, and we sometimes steer customers away from one brand and towards another, based on our research into panel quality and our experience with different brands. Because our top executives are so linked into the best industry sources of information, we can make these recommendations with confidence. We want our customers to have the best system to meet their energy requirements, available space, and budget.

The fact is, most of the solar panels in the market now are quite good. Solar panel technology, and the processes to manufacture, have stabilized and become more standardized over time. Quoting from the SROECO website, “most solar panels on the market are high-quality and will have a guaranteed output of not less than 90% after 10 years and not less than 80% after 25 years. Any brand panel should have this warranty, whether it’s made in China, Germany, or America.” The outstanding exception is Sunpower, widely regarded as the best of all panels, with the highest efficiency rating of any, and also the highest price tag.

For the consumer, a better differentiator than the panel brand or warranty is the experience and reputation of the installer. Third Sun Solar has completed over 350 successful installations; we have been in business for 14 years; and we have a great reputation among our customers. One of our core company values is, “we’re in it for the long haul.” Our 14 years of experience and excellent reputation is what we build and stand upon; we have grown steadily by doing things the right way.

A solar electric system is a 30-year investment that should provide real value over its entire lifespan. In the end, choose an installer who will build your system well and stand by it over time. That is the smartest solar market differentiator.

Holzer Clinic Installation


More Watts


As we all grow more digital and more electronic (anyone really think that’s going to stop?) we might consider where all that electricity will come from say, 20 years from now. (If it continues to come from burning coal, we’re all in trouble.) By adding productive solar now and migrating more of your energy use to electricity, you can make a significant personal contribution to a cleaner world for ourselves, our kids, and their kids. The power needs of homeowners are projected to increase over time, even with energy efficiency measures; if you think about whether you’re likely to drive an electric vehicle in the next 20 years, likely a plug-in, well, there’s a big bump up in your electricity use right there. And who knows what kinds of electron-juiced gadgets our kids’ kids will have. The point is, our energy needs are likely to increase dramatically over the coming decades. High-performing solar could be the energy bridge that gets us there safely.

Third Sun Solar at Power Show Ohio 2013

If you’re attending this year’s Power Show Ohio at the Ohio Expo Center in Columbus, please stop by and visit us in the Bricker Building, Booth 30. We’ll have information in hand that may be of interest to you.

A barn with solar

Solar array on a barn rooftop

Geoff Greenfield to Deliver Edgerton Lecture at Kenyon College, January 29

Kenyon College in Gambier, Ohio (Knox County) has announced that Geoff Greenfield of Third Sun Solar has been selected to deliver this year’s Edgerton Lecture on Tuesday, January 29 at 7pm. The title of Geoff’s talk will be “Solar Power in Ohio: How It Can Grow.”

The Edgerton Lecture Series at Kenyon focuses on energy and the environment. The Series brings visiting scholars to Kenyon College to address energy issues in a public lecture for a general audience, and to provide opportunities for interaction with students, faculty and community members in classes, department seminars and social events. With a theme of sustainable energy and the environment, lectureship topics focus on the challenges of continued dependence on fossil fuels, the impact of their combustion on the environment, and alternative sustainable energy systems.

In addition to the 7pm lecture, Geoff Greenfield will conduct an open Q&A session during Kenyon’s Common Hour at 11am, at Peirce Lounge. The evening lecture will be held in the Community Foundation Theater in Gund Gallery, followed by a reception at The Village Inn.

Kenyon College

Kenyon College in Gambier, Ohio