Hear more from Geoff and Michelle Greenfield
- “I’m a JOBS & CLIMATE voter ” – Geoff Greenfield with Neighbor to Neighbor: Your Vote. Your Voice.
- “Take Action!” – Michelle Greenfield with Neighbor to Neighbor: Your Vote. Your Voice.
Sue Righi started her solar journey with a tour of the Greenfield’s home in 2013, an annual event put on by Green Energy Ohio. She was impressed by their commitment to make the changes they did and be willing to share that in such an open way with the public. “I was paying attention for years to ways of minimizing one’s carbon footprint years before I got serious enough to get my array.” Sue says
In late 2013, Sue got the ball rolling on a solar installation of her own. She made the move to get a solar array installed on the roof of her home in rural Vinton County.
It was her concern for the planet, all the species on earth, especially her son and his friends.
Sue says: “It works! I’m really not a techie so the finer points were immaterial to me.”
“Not using coal-based electricity. Also, people who come here – workers and friends – ask about them. People who have grown up here and probably do not consider themselves tree-huggers are interested in going solar.”
We notice the demographics of solar shoppers changing, too. Like Sue says, it’s not just the tree-huggers who are interested in solar anymore. Due to the drop in pricing over the years, the economics and payback on residential solar energy systems have improved. This change makes solar appealing to individuals interested in a good financial investment.
Sue’s array was built with string inverters, which means that her production is only as good as the lowest producing panel in the series. So, if one panel is shaded, it brings down the performance of the system. When Third Sun installed Sue’s array, string inverters were the best the market offered.
Now, solar systems are installed with one power optimizer for each panel, which means that panels are optimized individually. When installed today with power optimizers, the production of one panel does not affect the others in the string.
While module level optimizers prevent the old problem of losing the output of an entire string when a module gets shaded, shade is still an important factor in good solar design. While the array should be in full sun during the most powerful 10-4 window, shade after that point by trees or other roof obstructions are not detrimental to the systems performance.
Third Sun Solar has partnered with Women for Recovery of Athens, Ohio, to provide clean energy to the Serenity Grove Women’s Recovery House. The addition of a solar array to the Serenity Grove facility will greatly reduce the nonprofit’s utility costs for the next two decades or more.
CEO and co-founder, Michelle Greenfield says:
“As a company committed to the flourishing of our community, we are proud to support this organization’s critical mission”.
Third Sun began the installation of a ground-mounted solar array on September 8th 2020. The 22 panel, 7.4 kW array will provide an estimated 40% of electricity to the Women’s Recovery House.
As a non-profit struggling to navigate the effects of the pandemic, Women for Recovery can immediately use the monetary savings from their electric bills to help with ongoing operating costs.
In addition, the longer term savings will enable many other options with expanded programming.
“We believe that partnering with Women for Recovery in this way will not just reduce the overhead costs for this mission-driven non-profit, but will bring needed attention to solar and help us to further accelerate the shift to clean energy that is catching on in the Midwest,” said Greenfield.
In speaking about the launch of the Women’s Recovery House, Executive Director Betsy Anderson says
“It’s really been a collaboration with individuals and partner organizations. I don’t know if all communities are this way, but Athens has supported us remarkably.” She went on to note that the solar array will help offset operating costs for the nonprofit, but she says, “the longer term impact is, in addition to our commitment to recovery and helping women rebuild their lives, an ongoing commitment to our community, to our environment and to our planet. To reduce the amount of fossil fuels we use, and demonstrate that to our residents, staff, board and community – that is invaluable.”
In the past, the company has partnered with national nonprofit Habitat for Humanity. This time, Third Sun Solar is excited to partner with a different local non-profit providing meaningful services women in Athens County.
“Part of our responsibility as a certified B Corp is to actively seek ways to promote social and environmental support of our community,” Greenfield said. “Helping provide affordable and sustainable housing while educating people on how easy it is to attain energy independence is a great fit for our mission-driven company, and our team is really looking forward to it.”
Women for Recovery offers residential transitional living in a safe, secure and sober environment to women dedicated to recovery. Founded by women in Athens, Ohio, in 2016 and located just outside the city of Athens, the house can accommodate up to six women in a safe, secure, and sober environment. At Serenity Grove, women can establish healthy community connections, develop a new career, seek reunification with their children, learn personal finance and self-care skills, and be caringly guided in the practice of an individual program of recovery with the eventual goal of transitioning back into independent living free from the use of drugs and alcohol.
Contact: Betsy Anderson, Executive Director, firstname.lastname@example.org
Watch a short clip of the install here:
Timing is everything when you’re thinking of purchasing a solar system for your home. It may sound like a great marketing pitch but, hey, it’s true. If you want to get the most savings on your solar install… now is the time to start exploring your options. The biggest incentive out there today, the Solar Tax Credit, or Investment Tax Credit decreased from 30% to 26% in 2020. It will step down just once more (to 22% in 2021) before dropping to 0% permanently for residential solar installations (a 10% solar tax credit will remain for commercial solar systems).
The solar tax credit is applied to your federal income taxes as a credit, and it reduces (or eliminates) what you owe. It’s not a refund or a deduction. Anyone who purchases a solar installation on their home or business is eligible to claim the tax credit. However, you must have a tax liability to claim the credit. You can claim the credit over more than one year. In doing this you carry any leftover amount forward into the next year.
If you have any questions or need more clarity, our Solar Consultants are ready to chat with you about the solar tax credit. As you likely assumed, we are not tax experts, so we will ask you to reach out to your tax professional for any questions related to your specific tax liability.
To claim the 26% tax credit, you must act quickly as our end of the year queue is filling up! If you purchase a residential solar system in 2020 and it is installed in 2021, you would only be eligible to take that year’s tax credit (22%). So, your system needs to be installed in 2020 to be eligible to claim the full 26%. (Heads up for business owners: the rules are slightly different here for commercial projects).
Unfortunately, there are no statewide or local solar incentives available in Ohio. Loan options vary from solar company to company. Various finance partners have different programs and different rates (and different hidden fees baked into the price). Most solar installers in Ohio offer $0 down loans. Like them, we can offer you zero money down with any of our term loans. This is a great option for those that want to go solar but don’t want to tap into home equity or savings.
Nathan Scott moved to Cincinnati, Ohio back in 2007 for work and has lived there ever since. Recently, Nathan and his family moved to Montgomery, a suburb of Cincinnati and began to settle in. It was in 2016 that Nathan and his family started thinking about going solar.
What motivated this initial investigation was Nathan’s budding family. He and his wife had two young children and were noticing their carbon footprints increasing. They were buying more food, doing more laundry, driving bigger cars. His family was using more energy overall and his primary motivation was to go green and tread a little lighter. With his kids in mind, he thought about where the climate would be 40 years down the road. Going solar was a way that he could contribute to the renewable energy solution.
When asked about the financial aspect of his solar purchase, Nathan said that the economics played a part in his choice to go solar. He likes knowing that there is a known return on investment. The added value in his home is another financial bonus. If his family ever does sell their home, free electric is a compelling selling point.
Nathan says that he learned a lot throughout the whole solar journey. Like a lot of shoppers, Nathan got quotes from a couple of solar installation companies. He found that the 2 companies he worked with had different philosophies when designing a solar system. The first company he had out proposed a huge system, maxing out his roof with panels. They posited that if you’re going to go solar, you might as well go huge. The proposed 34 panel system would have made it more expensive but given the family more solar production. Third Sun proposed Nathan go with a 21-panel design to offset 50 % of his annual consumption. At the time Nathan felt that the smaller system seemed to be just the right size.
Looking at the data, the annual solar projections are 100% spot on, which Nathan is pleased with. His family has completed some energy efficient home upgrades like adding energy efficient lightbulbs and installing a new central air conditioning unit, as well as adding an electric car, the Tesla Model 3. His solar panels are either meeting or exceeding their proposed annual energy offset for his household.
Between our designers knowing exactly where to place the panels and our consultant’s earnest listening to the family’s true solar goals – Nathan got the solar system that he wanted installed on his family’s home in fall of 2017.
His advice to those thinking of going solar? “The cost is similar to a used car, but this will last 25-40 years. It was a no-brainer for us. I would be glad to spend this money on something that will last this long. If you think about other things you might spend this kind of money on – this is one of the only ones that will pay you back.”
Nathan says that in the summertime a lot of people just come up to his house and ask questions about it. We love to hear that – it confirms our suspicion that there are so many homeowners out there who are curious about solar. It just takes one neighborhood leader to spark that interest in others.
Lastly, Nathan notes that there was a lag time between contract signing and installation. So, if you’re thinking about going solar (especially in 2020 to get the full 26% federal tax credit!) start now because it will take a while before the date of your solar installation.
Athens, Ohio, July 23, 2020 – Third Sun Solar, Ohio’s leading full service residential and commercial solar installation company has been once again named on the Solar Power World Magazine’s Top Solar Contractors of 2020 list. Every year Solar Power World magazine releases industry information from hundreds of national solar installation companies. Companies are categorized by state, service (EPC contractors, development, construction/installation, electrical work and/or rooftop specific installations) and market.
Third Sun Solar installed has 21,237 kW of solar for more than 1,000 clients over the past 20 years and is ranked #1 in in Ohio and #50 in the nation by the Solar Power World Top Solar Contractors in 2020 for lifetime residential solar total installed kW. The company’s 2019 total installed kW ranks them at #233 on the national list that includes all companies serving all service types.
“It is great that the Third Sun Solar team has ranked again among the top solar contractors in the nation” Said Geoff Greenfield, President and Co-Founder of Third Sun Solar “Ohio has tremendous potential to harness solar energy and our ranking is testament to Ohioans’ growing interest and eagerness to invest in clean energy technology.”
2019 was one of Third Sun Solar’s busiest years. The company installed 2,352.8 kilowatts of solar across the state of Ohio and in neighboring states and includes a growing number of battery storage projects. In the past 20 years Third Sun Solar has installed 21,237 kilowatts of clean energy. These solar projects are a mix of applications serving residential, commercial, non-profit, agricultural, industrial and small businesses clients.
Due to COVID-19, the company’s 2020 kW installation numbers were impacted when Third Sun elected to pause installations for the safety of staff, customers and the public. When installations began again in May, Third Sun had completed a robust COVID-19 internal protocol complete with mask-wearing mandates, handwashing stations among other precautions. Persevering through this historic pandemic, Third Sun has found new ways to connect with customers and innovate by adding energy storage solutions to their list of offerings. The company expects to make up for lost time and finish the year with an even larger number of installed solar than 2019, as they pursue their mission of Accelerating the Shift to Clean Energy.
Third Sun Solar is Ohio’s leading full service solar installation company, providing top quality design and installation since 2000. We serve residential and commercial clients in Cleveland, Cincinnati, Columbus and beyond. We are a fully insured and licensed Electrical Contractor with highly trained NABCEP certified installers committed to delivering safe high performance systems with top notch customer service. Third Sun Solar is a woman owned business founded by Michelle and Geoff Greenfield almost two decades ago that is dedicated to using business as a force for good in the world. Our mission driven business is a certified B-Corp, existing not just for profit, but for people and the planet as well.
Solar Power World is the leading online and print resource for news and information regarding solar installation, development and technology. Since 2011, SPW has helped U.S. solar contractors — including installers, developers and EPCs in all markets — grow their businesses and do their jobs better.
Third Sun Solar
Caitlin Garrity, Marketing Specialist
Bruce and Hylie Voss have been long term environmental advocates. When they moved to Athens three years ago, they had the opportunity to do a solar project on their home. They installed solar in January of 2019 and have been harnessing the sun’s solar energy ever since.
Hylie’s parents, Mary Anne and Don Flournoy have been longtime Third Sun customers, supporters, and advocates. The Flournoys were in the first wave of Third Sun Solar’s customers and had solar installed on their home in 2006. For Bruce and Hylie, it seemed natural to continue that legacy. When it was time to build their home, they wanted to incorporate solar into the construction process from the ground up.
Three years ago, the Voss’s moved to Athens from Texas. The environmental momentum in Athens is different than Texas. Bruce says: “It was great to come into a community that was aggressively promoting science and we felt that we needed to do our part.”
Additionally, The Voss’s were excited by the sleek technology, which has improved in performance and aesthetics since Third Sun’s early installations. The panels on their home are matte black and more subtle and efficient than the original panels that Hylie’s parents had installed back in 2006.
As a new build project, they found benefits in starting conversations with Third Sun in the building phase. They were able to ensure they had enough roof space and a plan for where the lines would go. They worked with Athens based Bart Kasler Construction, who was instrumental in helping them to make sure they were building with the panels in mind.
Even with the pre-planning, the solar panels weren’t put on for 6 months. Why? It was a new house so they wanted to carefully consider what their energy use would look like to determine the size of the system. The data gathered during those 6 months proved to be an accurate sample of their annual energy usage. A little over a year later, the system is producing exactly as predicted. Their Solar Consultant, Jamey Jones, has been with Third Sun for 12 years and has lots of experience sizing solar energy systems for existing homes and new build projects.
Bruce said: “Anyone who comes to our home often asks about the panels – is the system doing what you want them to do?” They are excited to share information and their journey with others.
Solar is still a long-term payback and there aren’t immediate returns on the investment. If you aren’t going to be a long-term resident in one place, solar may not make as much sense for you. However, if you plan to be living for a long time in one place – both the financial and environmental payback make going solar an easy choice.
Like Third Sun, the Voss’s feel that the need to transition to a clean energy economy is vital. Any step our community members can take in that direction is important.
Recently we added one of our customers electric bills featuring a $0.00 balance due on our Facebook page. This isn’t unusual for our customers, certainly during the spring, summer, and fall months. We got quite a lot of confusion regarding cost from our fans. They had some questions about Facebook ads they had been seeing. So, we wanted to take some time to address some of the concerns that we’ve heard.
A $0 down solar loan is a real thing, but it doesn’t mean that the solar system is free.
A zero down loan allows homeowners to finance the full cost of the solar system without making a down payment. While there isn’t an initial out of pocket cost, obviously there will be monthly payments on the loan. Just like a car loan, if you choose a $0 down loan, your monthly payments will be higher than if you put some money down upfront. As with any loan, the amount of interest paid goes up based on the amount you borrow and the length of the loan. All of our clients are different, and some are ready to pay for their solar upfront and some choose to finance all or part of the system.
We can help you choose the option that best works for you: cash purchase, conventional financing, or a special solar loan. Conventional financing (typically a home equity line of credit or refinancing your mortgage+ solar together) is the absolute best source of financing. This option often has the lowest rates and the added bonus of tax-deductible interest (consult your tax advisor to make sure this works for your personal circumstances). We also work with specialized solar loan providers such as the Clean Energy Credit Union and Mosaic. These lenders use just the solar equipment as collateral and do not secure the loan with your home equity. They are typically faster and easier to work with.
If you’re interested in learning more about loan offerings, just let us know! Learn more from Solar Consultant David Zelasko. In this video, he explains the different types of solar loans, what makes solar loans different, and various partners we work with.
You may have seen some advertisements on Facebook advertising “free solar” or “No Cost Solar”. Sound too good to be true? Yeah, it is.
Some other solar companies misleadingly use the word “free” but what they’re actually referring to is a long-term low-interest loan. Often they offer what appears to be a very low-interest rate, but they secretly add 15 – 25% to the cost of the system to buy down the rate from their loan partner. It’s important not to assume that a lower rate is a better deal, as the full turnkey cost of the system is likely to be higher plus the lifetime cost of interest payments. We believe that these advertising tactics are misleading and bad for solar buyers. We promise to work with our clients and provide accurate information so they can choose to harness the clean energy of the sun based on what works for them.
Many of these same solar companies and advertisements imply that $0 down solar is a statewide program or some special grant or subsidy. Again, this misleading advertising is purposefully deceptive and not the way we choose to do business. Loan options vary from solar company to solar company. The various finance partners have different programs and different rates (and different hidden fees baked into the price). Most solar installers in Ohio offer $0 down loans. Like them, we can offer you zero money down with any of our term loans – often a great option for those that want to go solar but don’t want to tap into home equity or savings.
Choose a solar partner with integrity who you can trust. For a checklist of tips we recommend when choosing your solar installation partner, check out this How To Choose a Solar Installer webinar recording.
How fitting that approaching the Summer Solstice, 20 years ago this week, founders Geoff and Michelle Greenfield took the ultimate plunge. Third Sun Solar, a budding dream of the Greenfields, was incorporated as an LLC in June of 2000. Inspired by long sunny summer days, the need for electricity at their rural off-grid home and neighbors who were interested in going solar themselves- Third Sun Solar was born. It is for that reason that we celebrate this month!
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 every 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”.
In addition to clean energy metrics, Third Sun fulfills another dream set out by the founders back in 2000: to use business as a force for good. As a Certified Benefit Corporation, Third Sun Solar is held accountable to people and the planet. Whether purchasing carbon offsets for our vehicle fleets or supporting the non-profits who are doing important work in our communities, we believe that to see the clean energy future of our dreams, businesses must do good in the world. Learn more about our B Corps status here.
To celebrate we are instating a 20-year workmanship warranty at no cost for customers, the longest workmanship warranty for solar in Ohio. Why 20 years? As Ohio’s longest standing solar installer, we’ve proven to the community that we’re in it for the long haul. We’ve seen a lot of progress in the past 20 years & we will be here until we see the clean energy future that we dream about.
Check out our upcoming webinar: How to Choose a Solar Installer to learn additional elements to look out for when choosing an installer in addition to warranties and company longevity!
Since January, CEO Michelle Greenfield has been reflecting on cornerstone projects from the past 20 years. She’s woven together blogs, photos, newspaper clippings, and stories. These pieces of history reflect the changes in the solar market that paved the way for solar as we know it today. These items are listed below – check them out!
Our goal in sharing this history is to celebrate how far we have come and recognize how the current solar opportunity is built on a foundation laid in the past.
Follow us on Facebook as we continue our 20-year look back for the rest of the year!