26 tax credit ohio solar installation

Solar Tax Credit Extension is Included in the Covid-19 Relief Bill

We are thrilled to announce the Extension of the 26% Solar Investment Tax Credit!  

The United States federal spending and tax extension package was passed by congress alongside the $900 Billion Covid Relief package last week and signed into law by the President on Sunday night. This package will bring huge relief to Americans who are struggling in the face of the pandemic. It also includes several critical extensions to the solar investment tax credit (ITC).  

What This Mean for Solar Shoppers and Customers 

The ITC dropped from 30% to 26% in January of 2020. The solar industry has been bracing for another step down in the (quickly approaching) new year. Just a few days away from the end of the year – solar shoppers who have not yet gone solar, or have not had their project installed–  have more time! 

With the Extension outlined in the stimulus bill, solar buyers will receive 26% back from their system’s full turnkey cost if installed before the end of 2022. So, solar projects constructed in 2020, 2021, or 2022 are now eligible for the full 26% ITC.  

Solar projects constructed in 2023 will be eligible for a 22% tax credits. After 2023, there will be no tax credit for residential solar installations. Commercial-scale solar projects will be eligible for a 10% tax credit from 2024 onwards.  

Tax Credit Law – Locations  

  • Original code for residential solar properties can be found in Title 26 Section 25D of the U.S. Tax Code
  • Original code for commercial solar projects can be found under Title 26, section 48 
  • Extension language for residential solar can be found in the relief bill on page 4915 
  • Extension language for commercial solar can be found in the relief bill on page 4908  

Clean Energy Growth 

We are excited by the inclusion of so many renewable energies in the bill. The inclusion of solar energy and so many clean energy alternatives in this bill will certainly spur tremendous growth and clean energy investment for years to come.  

The solar tax credit has been the most significant stimulus for residential and commercial solar that the industry has seen. According to the Solar Energy Industries Association, since its implementation in 2006, the residential and commercial solar tax credit has helped the U.S. solar industry grow by more than 10,000 percent, with an average annual growth of 50% over the last decade alone.  

We expect to see solar industry professions keep their stance at the top of lists predicting job growth in the years to come. This Extension will undoubtedly help us deploy more solar energy more quickly across homes and businesses across the state of Ohio and beyond. Third Sun Solar and our partners across the country are excited to continue to deploy solar energy and supply a means of gainful employment to our communities in these times of economic hardship.  

 

To find out more about the Solar Investment Tax Credit, the Extension, and what it all means for your solar project, get in touch!  

 

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Santa Goes Solar: Case Study

All Santa & Mrs. Clause wanted for Christmas this year was to GO SOLAR. This holiday season Mr. & Mrs. Claus installed a 27.6 kW solar array at their personal home on the North Pole. They paired their solar purchase with the addition of four Tesla Powerwall’s to keep the Christmas lights lit and hot cocoa steaming hot when Northern Lights flash. These electric outbursts of solar particles often are the cause of grid failure at the North Pole.

Why Did Santa Go Solar?

This year Santa wanted to give a gift that could heal the world. And like a true Christmas Miracle, Ol’ Saint Nicholas discovered the wonders of Solar. He believed if he did his part in accelerating the shift to clean energy with a home solar installation, he really COULD begin to heal the world.

Like many folks, Kris Kringle has switched out all his holiday lights for LED’s. He knows that running lights year-round is an added household expense. “I’m not the Financial Manager at home,” Santa says with a Ho Ho Ho, “That’s my wife, Mrs. Claus.”

After undergoing a huge expansion of his personal holiday light display five years ago, which included the addition of an eleven-story fully lit Christmas Tree, the electricity bills began climbing. Mrs. Claus says: “I’ve been making a list of electric expenses and checking it twice. It was time that we started looking for an alternative to the way we’ve been doing things for the past hundred or so years. Of course, I will never get in the way of adding lights, candy cane machines, and additional tools in Santa’s home office. But when I saw the electricity rates begin to climb, I told Santa that we may need to look for alternatives.”

For Santa, his motivations for going solar were primarily environmental.

In the spirit of Christmas, Santa says that he’s most excited to comply with the Paris Climate Agreement. Santa recognizes his visibility and, as a public figure, is determined to comply with guidelines surrounding the reduction of greenhouse gas emissions and the advancement of sustainable energy.

“I used to abide by the old adage: “Naughty kids get coal, Nice kids get solar panels!” but over the years, I’ve come to realize the bigger picture – all kids get Solar Panels.

“This year we’re experiencing some changes. We are having to walk further and further to find a decent ice-skating rink. It is harder and harder to recruit reindeer to fly the sleigh. And on the big night when Santa Clause comes to town, in some places of the world the air quality is so poor Rudolph’s nose can’t shine so bright.”

It is important to start sending the message now to kids, Naughty or Nice – they’re going to need to be a part of the solution!

Solar Incentives

When asked about incentives, Santa said that the United States tax credits did not apply in the North Pole. But he is glad that the US Federal Tax Credit for solar will be available until the end of 2021. Speaking from experience Santa says: “Even without incentives, it is still worth going solar!”

The Solar Installation…

Santa can recognize a specialty when he sees one. The solar installers weren’t the first humans to visit Santa and the elves over the years, but they have been some of the few.

He said he thought about asking the elves to design, permit & install the system, but between their lack of expertise in anything outside of small toy electronics and the backlog of holiday toy-making – it was worth inviting humans up to the north pole to install the solar energy system professionally.

Santa chose REC solar panels for their high-efficiency, durability and 25-year product warranty. He was also quite pleased with the black-on-black design, which he knows his out-of-town guests will find quite attractive.

Always looking to the future…

“We’re excited to have an electric powered sleigh of the fleet this year. And to be delivering solar panels to homes across the world. It’s an honor to do my part in creating a brighter future.”

“And don’t think that up on the rooftop I don’t notice who is else is doing their part, Santa is always watching!” he said with a wink.

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Third Sun Solar Athens Ohio Headquarters

20 Years of Back and 20 Years Forward, Solar in Ohio

20th Anniversary Celebrations Coming to a Close

2020 is just about over, which means that Third Sun Solar’s 20th Anniversary year is coming to a close. We have published blog posts, videos, photos and social media items all year long to illustrate our long and interesting history in the young and inspiring clean energy industry.

When Geoff and Michelle started Third Sun Solar in the year 2000, they had a dream to follow their passion for “right livelihood” – to start a business that aligned with their desire to prove that clean electricity production is possible, that environmental preservation and reducing pollution is imperative, and that there is an alternative to the status quo of buying electricity from large billion-dollar corporations.

From their first employee in 2002, to their current team of 35 and growing, the Greenfields have stood by those founding passions and inspired others to join them in the mission to Accelerate the Shift to Clean Energy. Third Sun Solar was one of the first in Ohio to build solar before net metering existed and when costs were over $10 a watt in the early 2000s. They have watched as costs have fallen over the years: $9 a watt in 2007, $7.5 a watt in 2010, below $4 by 2016, and now 2020 hovering around $3 a watt. With each drop in costs, solar has become more and more accessible to more of the population.

Business as a Force for Good

Third Sun Solar put its notion of “business as a force for good” as a public priority in 2012 when it became certified as a B Corporation – an expression of its commitment to not only being a profitable company, but also putting the planet and people on equal footing with monetary measures of success. The following year, 2013, the company hit the Inc. 5000 fastest-growing companies list for the 5th time in a row, proving that a company can do well by doing good.

In 2020, Solar Power World’s Top Solar Contractors listing ranked Third Sun Solar is the #1 solar installer in Ohio and #50 in the nation for lifetime kilowatts installed. With over $75 million in sales and more than 1200 projects installed, Third Sun is truly living out the founders’ dreams of proving that producing clean electricity from the sun is not only a possibility, but that it is a growing reality.

The momentum of 20 years of expertise and action is the foundation on which Third Sun stands poised and ready for the next 20 years.

Third Sun Solar’s long tenure in solar has given them a front seat on the “solar coaster”. They know what it means to ride the ups and downs of this emerging industry, subject to the changes in political will or lack thereof; issues of global supply and tariffs; and both lack of consumer knowledge and an emerging boom in solar awareness.

The next 20 years of solar and clean energy looks bright. 

The next 20 years of solar and clean energy looks bright. The industry has scaled to the point that costs are competitive with fossil fuel energy sources. It is no longer an environmental or an economic decision to go solar. It now makes sense on both counts. Soon, solar panels on homes, schools, businesses, and on rural farms will be as commonplace as air conditioning units or refrigerators are in our buildings. The market for solar power, while it has gone up and down over the last 20 years has been on a steady and consistent climb, with no indication of slowing the ascent.

As the solar coaster continues its upward ride, so will Third Sun Solar. In the unfolding of the next 20 years, expect to see the Third Sun team in more places around the region, making it even easier for people to take producing their own clean power into their own hands. There are exciting times ahead, for the company, the region, and the planet. The next 10 years have been called the “Solar Decade” and Third Sun Solar is ready to continue to be a force in the bright future of clean energy!

 

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The Biden Election and Clean Energy: What to Expect

By: Geoff Greenfield, Third Sun President, and co-founder

As the dust settles around the election many are asking: “What does the election mean for clean energy in general?” and “How will a Biden Presidency impact my own plans for going solar?”

 

As divisive as our recent politics have become, clean energy and concern about the climate remains popular with Americans on both sides of the aisles.    America is a technology focused society and many, including Wall Street, are very optimistic about the future of clean energy.  While Biden campaigned heavily on climate and his $1.7 Trillion “Biden Plan”, he is probably entering office with a divided congress, so our focus here is on what is likely and achievable in this scenario.

With control of both houses of Congress Biden and the Democrats will be able to enact more aggressive legislation.  In this case, with a VP vote as the tiebreaker in the Senate, the threat of a filibuster is very real.  This threat, combined with Biden’s pledge (and track record) of bipartisanship, we still expect a much more moderate agenda.  Compromise will dilute the full strength “Biden Plan” published during the campaign.  Given the speed of the legislative process, rulemaking, and court appeals, we expect that any version of a “Biden Plan Light” would not impact the solar marketplace until 2023 at the earliest.

Solar as part of COVID-19 Relief

Congress is currently working on a bill focused on the COVID-19 crisis and jumpstarting the economy. While there will be name-calling and horse-trading, most political observers and economists are expecting fast bipartisan compromise .  Part of that horse-trading will involve clean energy policy.  We expect that a lot of the money invested in job creation (with a focus on major infrastructure projects) will include a clean energy focus.   Take a look back to the Obama-Biden recovery act after the 2008 housing crisis to see the history we expect to be repeated: support for weatherization, energy upgrades, efficient transportation, and solar on the rooftops of public buildings.

We expect more of this: solar on the roofs of public buildings, investments in batteries for resiliency at public shelter sites and police and fire stations, as well as a huge investment in EV charging stations at locations ranging from libraries to highway rest stops.  Republican cooperation may be achieved with giveaways to utilities  in the form of deferred grid infrastructure, nuclear, controversial carbon capture schemes, and “clean coal”.

  • 12/28/2020 Update: Read more on the passage of the Covid-19 relief package + tax credit extensions here. 

An Extension of the Solar Investment Tax Credit

One hopeful area of bipartisan compromise may be extending (or expanding) the popular tax credit that supports solar. The solar Investment Tax Credit, or ITC, has gone through several stages of expiration and resurrection after its original passage in 2005 under the Bush administration.  The ITC has long been considered “the lifeblood” solar incentive in the United States.  According to the Solar Energy Industries Association, the residential and commercial solar Investment Tax Credit has helped the U.S. solar industry grow by more than 10,000% since it was implemented.  The solar tax credit was originally intended to expire in 2007 but has seen multiple extensions leading up to our current situation: a stepped down “sunset” from 2020 to 2022.

Under the current timetable, the credit declined to 26% for systems placed in service in 2020 and drops to 22% for 2021 and then in 2022 drops to zero for homeowners and levels out at 10% for commercial entities.  One of the primary hopes of the solar industry at large is to see an extension of the tax credit.  Tax credits are often popular with Republicans, and in fact, in 2019 Senator Mitch McConnell approved a tax bill that included an extension of the solar and EV tax credits only to have them eliminated by Trump.  While I don’t think there are Las Vegas oddsmakers for such things I’m going to go out on a limb and predict that there is a greater than 50% chance that we see an extension (or even restoration to 30%) of this popular job creating tax credit in the coming year.

  • 12/28/2020 Update: Read more on the passage of the Covid-19 relief package + tax credit extensions here. 

Solar Tariffs

Another policy issue that Biden may attempt to use his executive authority is the solar tariff. In 2018 the Trump administration enacted a 30% tariff on most solar cells and modules produced outside of the United States.  While this did result in a few domestic module assembly plants, economists and analysts have concluded that it has created net job losses in the solar sector. The few manufacturing jobs created were overshadowed by  job losses in designing, installing, servicing and supplying in the solar installation sector.

Something to note here is that tariffs are less of a factor for residential solar customers (raising costs 1-2% for a typical residential scale project compared to the 8-10% cost increase on the huge utility-scale solar farms being built across the country). Ultimately the International Trade Commission makes decisions on these tariffs, though the President has significant influence in making a case for or against them.

 

The Big Picture

So… after that overview of what may or may not happen depending on control of Congress and the complexities of political compromise, here are some of the very likely actions we expect to see that are within the President’s executive authority.  Many of these actions are described in more detail in this article.

We already mentioned the immense impact of the Federal Government focusing its $500B annual budget on clean energy.  The Department of Defense has been moving in this direction for years and will likely accelerate investments in solar and micro-grids.  A “climate-focused” cabinet is being named as I write, including John Kerry in a new cabinet level role focused exclusively on climate.  As we (re)enter the Paris Climate Agreement we expect many global and domestic policy moves.

Biden will use the  Securities and Exchange Commission (and possibly the Federal Reserve and the Treasury Department) to influence the private sector and capital markets.  He will mandate the inclusion of climate risk reporting, and this will impact the approach to investment underwriting  for many financial analysts and investors.  This phenomenon is already happening in the global markets, as powerful investors continue to downgrade the once powerful fossil fuel giants, sending their share prices and market caps tumbling. The impact of this is two-fold. As investments are less likely to move into carbon exposed businesses, they are more likely to flow toward clean energy replacements.  As their financial power wanes, so too shrinks their political influence in Washington and state capitals. The lobbyists that used to spoon-feed their legislation to our lawmakers will no longer be on speed-dial as they have less and less to donate to PACs and re-election campaigns.

 

The Biggest Climate Action We Expect

Using his executive powers, the biggest climate action Biden will take will be to begin accounting for the “true cost of carbon” in the pricing  of our energy markets.  This “tragedy of the commons” has been long lamented by environmentalists and economists alike.  While I do expect that these externalities are finally internalized, I do  not expect a carbon fee, cap and trade, or any of the other direct carbon pricing mechanisms favored by economists to be enacted (at least in a first term).  Biden did not include them in his “Biden Plan” and did not talk about them in his campaign.  Instead, I expect he will start with many less politically challenging mechanisms available An example of this  low-hanging fruit  is removing the $20B/year in subsidies that are currently given away to fossil fuel interests.

I predict he will remove various protections that open polluters up to paying damages.  He has pledged to stop issuing new drilling leases on Federal Land.  Perhaps most impactful will be the regulation of Methane (and possibly Carbon) as pollutants, leading to the  uptick of effective (and expensive) mitigation technologies. The net result of ALL of these steps will be an uptick in the price of brown energy to the consumer.  Raising brown power prices to better reflect their true cost is as powerful as lowering the price of clean energy with policy support.  This is a powerful phenomenon, and if amplified over time is another factor in what has been described as “the utility death spiral”. As better solar economics leads to more deployment, the utilities fund their bloated operating costs by raising prices. This in turn leads to more uptake of solar which lowers the cost of solar which leads to better solar economics… and then more of the same (you get the picture).

Finally, we expect Biden’s Department of Justice to aggressively go after polluters, especially those who have impacted the air, water, and soil of communities of color for decades.  This focus on intersectionality, equity, and environmental justice was a key campaign theme and will result in real improvements in air and water quality for millions of citizens. Additionally, this focus will eliminate another aspect of the “free ride to pollute” that artificially subsidizes the cost of fossil fuel energy.  As rates go up, reflecting the true cost of dirty energy, the incentive for consumers to invest in efficiency and shift to cleaner alternatives will be a natural market outcome.

 

The Bottom Line

As I have laid out above, I do not predict that we will see the sweeping vision of the Biden Plan as published during the campaign.  Instead, we will get a series of tactical moves that will still add up to have a big impact.  If you are considering solar for an institution or unit of government, I recommend you wait until  mid-2021 for details of the coming support.  In the meantime, I suggest that you begin to explore your options and position your organization to be competitive by getting projects ready (Third Sun Solar is ready to help).

For those considering solar for their home or business, there is no reason to wait.  As I laid out above, we don’t expect any new policies that would directly impact solar economics for private businesses and homeowners.  Solar has already moved from an environmentally righteous action of tree huggers to being a long term economically smart move.  We are hopeful for a tax credit extension and while we aren’t giving out tax advice, we believe that it is safe to expect that any projects placed in service in 2021 that qualify for the current tax credit would qualify for any new and improved tax policy.  As we laid out, we see the biggest policy impacts on the horizon accelerating the (inevitable) rise in the cost of dirty energy.  Investing in on-site solar has always been a “hedge” against energy cost volatility, and with the coming Biden policies, we see a big jump in the price of brown power.  The sooner we make a shift to clean energy, (each of us as individuals and together as a nation) the sooner we will enjoy the many beneficial outcomes: in our monthly budgets, in the air we breathe, and in the stability of the world we leave for future generations.

 

Solar Business in Ohio

Solar Business in Ohio

Nancy Miller is the CEO and co-owner of Miller Prosthetics & Orthotics in Belpre, Ohio. Her business provides prosthetic and orthotic services in the Mid-Ohio Valley. They strive to return patients back to the activity level they desire from walking and moving to running, fishing, and hunting. Third Sun Solar has been proud to work with a mission-driven business, working as a force for good in the world.  

The Solar Journey

As a member of the Belpre Area Chamber of CommerceNancy first became interested in solar after hearing a presentation made by Luke Sulfridge with the Southeast Ohio Public Energy Council. His presentation explained the free solar assessment process 

Nancy says “Our business, Miller Prosthetics & Orthotics, is eager to stay on the leading edge of technologyWe were the first in our area to request the free solar assessment which also included a quote on the serviceAfter the assessment, I inquired about the REAP (Rural Energy for America Program) grant process with Randel MonehemiusMr. Monehemius is the Business Program Specialist for the Ohio State office, Rural Development of the United States Department of AgricultureHe provided a list of solar companies, and I chose Third Sun Solar for a second quote.”  

What was the businesses motivation for going solar? 

 Nancy says: We are interested in being good stewards of our environmentClean energy is very important, and we are always exploring new technology and looking for efficient business solutions in all areas.”  

The solar journey for the business was straightforwardThey learned that, with the REAP grant and the Federal Tax Credit for solar, the investment in solar panels would be possible. Through the quoting process, they also learned that their location provided ample sun exposure.  

An obstacle they faced when going solar? Nancy says: There were several companies out thereEach quote takes timeAfter researching online, I selected a few companies that were close to our location and had solid experience.”  

When searching for a local solar installer, Nancy paid close attention to these key elements:  

  • Location of the solar company 
  • Strong references 
  • Experience of the contractor 
  • Price of the panels and installation 

 

These are great points for homeowners and businesses alike to keep in mind when choosing a solar installer. The physical structure of our businesses and our homes are often our most valuable assets. Choosing a solar installer to modify and upgrade these valuable assets is an important task. That is why we always encourage solar shoppers we work with to ask for references, look at experience, and make sure their solar partner will be there for them throughout the length of this long-term investment.  

What has the business liked most about the solar energy system – so far?  

Nancy says:  “We had a very good experience from getting the information needed to apply for the REAP grant to designJarrod Starr was very knowledgeable about the process and materialsWe also found confidence after our site visit by Adam BrownHe explained the cost and benefits about locating the panels on the roof vs our initial thought of locating on the hillside behind the buildingHe also helped guide us in picking out panels that would look good with our building. 

We were lucky with great weather for the week of installationJake and his crew did a nice job and were able to install without any disruption to our day to day business 

The power company, AEP, installed the bi-directional meter within a few days of the permit and we were able to turn on the panels the next day – which we were pleased to have 100% sunshine.”  

With the investment in Solar, Miller Prosthetics Orthotics is acting on their intention to be environmentally sustainable.

While offsetting 100% of their energy with renewable power, this energy is enough to annually offset:  

  • Greenhouse gas emissions from 3 passenger vehicles driven for 1 year 
  • CO2 Emissions from charging 1,839,656 smartphones  

Talk about big energy savings!  

Since our installation, we have had several comments from our patients, employees and community members on how they like our new solar panelsThe Solar Edge app is a great way to get immediate feedback on how much power the panels are producing. – Nancy Miller, CEO, and co-owner of Miller Prosthetics & Orthotics.  

If you are interested in learning more about solar, the REAP Grant, solar incentives, and more – reach out for a free, no-obligation solar assessment.  

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Solar Panel ROI & Payback

Does solar really save money // Is solar really worth it?

These are some of the first questions we hear from folks who are just starting out on their solar journey. When talking about a technical product with a “payback” like solar power – it’s easy to get confused.

We’ve seen solar companies promise the world to gain business.  As Ohio’s oldest installer, we are committed to integrity. With the recent growth and popularity of solar, driven by improved technology and more public awareness, we have seen a growing number of national companies and small installers moving into Ohio. While we recognize that healthy competition is welcomed and is ultimately beneficial to consumers, we are also concerned about some of the deceptive and misleading claims.

We’ve broken down some of what we’ve seen below to help you:

  • $0 Down Solar – 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. 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.
  • Free Solar – Some 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.
  • Ohio Statewide or Local “Program” – There is not a special statewide program or special grant or subsidy. Again, this misleading advertising is purposefully deceptive.

We are happy to answer any questions you have: questions about things you’ve read or seen. Or help you evaluate the difference between solar quotes.  Now that we’ve addressed some of the misleading claims about solar payback, here is what we know is true…

 

What is solar payback?

Solar systems are investments. Unlike many of the purchases we make – there is a return on the investment that you make when you purchase solar panels.

Think of it this way: right now you’re renting the electricity you use every month. You pay a monthly bill to your electric supplier. And, that is how it will be… forever. Solar energy systems give homeowners another option for how they purchase electricity. Owning a solar system is like owning your power. The money you pay each month goes towards the payment of the system that is generating the energy for your home. You will eventually break even on that purchase. And, from that moment forward the solar energy system you own will generate clean, free, and abundant solar energy for your home.

Your “solar payback period” is the time it takes to make back your initial investment in solar.

 

How do you calculate payback for solar panels?

Below we have listed the elements that you need to consider when determining the ROI or payback.

  • Total Cost of Solar Installation
  • Local + Federal Tax incentives that you will be able to take
  • Average monthly electric use
  • Estimated solar system generation
  • Electricity cost escalation over time

Do the math: add up the cost of your solar system and subtract your incentives to give you a true cost. Then add up your avoided electricity costs for 1 year. Divide the true cost by the avoided electricity costs. This will give you a ballpark idea of the number of years it will take for you to achieve payback. This number does not consider annual energy rate escalation, fixed rates on your utility bill, and other charges, however. So, it is important to take this equation with a grain of salt.

Keep in mind: any solar quote you receive will likely include a summary of your Return on Investment.

An payback on your investment, a smaller carbon footprint, and decades of clean solar electricity make solar a smart option for many homeowners.

The advice we hear our current customers give their referrals: just get a quote! There is no cost, there is no pressure, and you will get a lot of useful, detail-rich, and site-specific information.

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Home in Ohio with 8 kw Solar Panels

How Solar Energy Helps the Environment

The road to treading a little lighter is full of opportunities. From green habits like recycling, gardening, and carrying a reusable water bottle, all the way up to bigger projects like installing a solar system at your home. Utilizing solar energy is a big win for the environment. Going solar is a big step in the right direction if you intend to minimize your environmental footprint.

This post intends to help you understand the magnitude of carbon savings a solar system has on an individual or family every year.

Solar Case Study

Per capita carbon emissions

Source: Vox, What’s causing climate change, in 10 charts

The average American household produces 19.3 to 91.5 tons of CO2-equivalent annually. As those numbers have risen over time, familites increasingly consider their options for reducing their carbon footprint at home. Solar power has begin to stand out as a meaningful way to achieve that household reduction.

Take environmental impact information from a recent residential solar installation. Pictured above is an 8.3 kW solar installation in Duncan Falls, Ohio. This solar system was designed to offset the home’s annual energy consumption by 100%. The environmental impact of this solar system? Over 30 years the system will have saved the Carbon Dioxide emitted from burning 227 tons of coal. This is equivalent to driving the perimeter of the United States 48 times. Or, preserving 268 acres of forest. This solar system demonstrates how residential solar is good for the environment.

What other savings does this system include? Over the lifetime of their system, will save the homeowners over $16,000 in utility savings.

Fortunately, solar systems appeal to both our idealistic and pragmatic motivators. Sustainability is often defined as where beneficial environmental impacts meet with cost savings. Cost savings is a cornerstone many of us consider when making adjustments that benefit the environment.

Solar and the Environment Myth Busting

There are lots of solar myths out there. Are solar panels bad for the environment? Does it take more resources to produce a panel than that panel will produce in its lifetime? The simple answer is no.

The materials used in obtaining and manufacturing solar cells and modules is a hot topic. And anyone who is considering going solar for environmental reasons will look critically at the materials used in their energy choices. As with anything these days – do your research. Choose an information resource that you trust and ask questions, read, and understand the latest news and technology. Much has been “green-washed” or made to look sustainable when it’s not- over the decades. So, it’s good to look at sustainability claims with a critical eye.

  • Embodied Energy – How many years will a solar module need to be generating energy to offset the energy that went into mining the raw materials, transporting, manufacturing, etc.? About 2 years on average. Panels usually have a 30-year design life, 25-year warranty, some last longer. Solar Panels will net out more energy than was used in production.
  • Supply Chain – rare earth minerals exist in many of the electronics we use every day. Solar panels are not exempt from this. However, comparing solar panels against the standard energy utility, in the big picture we believe that fossil fuel resources have a dirtier supply chain than solar. Do your research, compare, dig deep and we think you’ll agree.

The Environment + Your Home

There is a whole lot you can do – from daily habits to big changes to your home – to be greener. Simple things include biking to work instead of driving, buying locally grown food, and remembering to turn your lights off and thermostat down when you leave for work in the morning. Bigger changes might include replacing your windows, adding insulation, or adding solar panels to your home. Wherever you are– we’re glad you’re taking the time to think about changes you can make to support the shift to clean energy. Reach out f you’re interested in learning more about the environmental and cost savings potential at your home with solar.

 

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Sunset behind home with new solar array

Solar Tax Credit Sunset

Solar in Ohio

2020 has been quite the unexpected year. And, believe it or not, the end of 2020 is quickly approaching. As we enter the last quarter of the year, we want to remind you that 2020 is the last year to claim the 26% federal tax credit. While the change from the 26% to the 22% in 2021 federal tax credit sure seems like a big drop, the federal tax credit for solar will sunset and drop down to ZERO in 2022. And that’s a really… big… drop.

There are a few points of confusion that we hear a lot from those curious about solar right now. We truly believe the time to act is now in Ohio if you’re:

  • Considering making an investment in your property by adding solar
  • If you’re planning on expanding your solar array to accommodate increased energy needs in this “new normal” & we’re all at home a little more.

If you fall into either category, keep reading to find answers to those solar questions.

Solar Investment Tax Credit

  1. The step down – The biggest incentive out there today, the Solar 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.
  2. Getting the timing right – If the price you are quoted includes the 26% federal tax credit, that means that the system will need to be physically installed this year for you to take that tax credit.
  3. Adding Batteries and/or Expanding – solar battery storage and expansion solar systems are eligible for the tax credit. The advancements in technology and the availability of batteries in Ohio make adding battery storage enticing to homeowners. Tesla Powerwall batteries are the #1 choice with many of our current customers, though Third Sun offers various battery options.
  4. Auxiliary Costs + Claims – The current tax code allows for the cost of system expansion, but not the cost of routine maintenance. De-installing and re-installing solar for a re-roofing project are ineligible costs for the Federal Tax Credit. Additionally, the –re-roof itself is also ineligible for this tax credit.

Preparing for Solar in 2021

2021 is the final year of the Solar Investment Tax Credit. In Ohio, we are anticipating a very busy 2021. If you know that this year is too soon for solar, start making plans for next year. Do you know if you’re eligible to take the solar tax credit? If not, find out! Talk with your tax professional to see if there is a way for you to structure your taxes to take the 22% solar tax credit. The Solar Investment Tax Credit is the largest solar incentive we’ve seen in Ohio. And we know lots of Ohioans won’t want to leave that on the table.

Simple supply and demand tells us that the solar market will be in a frenzy next year. Between equipment availability and installation capacity – we are planning for a busy year.

If you already have a 2021 solar installation in mind, we recommend reaching out to start your process now. We anticipate a large rush and installation wait times to go up as we move into 2021.

As you make the important decision to go solar, remember to consider the quality, ethics & longevity of your solar partner. Choose an installer you trust.

  • Get A Solar Evaluation

Solar Installation on a Barn in Athens, Ohio

Which Type of Solar Panel is Most Efficient?

How to choose the most efficient type of solar panels?

Our best solar advice to you: spend time choosing an experienced solar installer who will advise you and guide you toward the best solution for your energy needs, unique site characteristics, and budget. Solar Panels are a complex technology and choosing a partner whose recommendation you can trust is vital.

If you’re interested in knowing a little more about what goes into the recommendation that is made for you… keep reading! And if you’re ready to talk to an expert, reach out and we can link you up.

When you start evaluating different types of solar panels you’ll encounter two main categories: monocrystalline and polycrystalline. You’ll also hear terms like “Solar Panel Efficiency” and “American Made Solar” when discussing solar panel choices. We’ve broken down these key solar panel considerations below.

Monocrystalline

We consider monocrystalline solar panels a premium product. They are the most efficient. Additionally,  many customers prefer the sleek, all-black aesthetic.

Monocrystalline panels are made up of solar cells produced with silicon wafers. First, the silicon is formed into bars, and then it is sliced into thin wafers.

At Third Sun Solar we offer varying density monocrystalline modules. We work with you to understand your goals and available space. Though the price tag is higher for the highest density monocrystalline modules, this panel can pack more kilowatts on your roof to give you that much more energy year after year.

Polycrystalline

The efficiency of polycrystalline solar panels is lower than monocrystalline solar panels. The crystal structure within the solar cells makes the efficiency rate of polycrystalline panels lower than monocrystalline panels.

Additionally, the aesthetics are different: the materials in this type of panel make the panel itself blue in color.

For a really deep dive into this technology check out this blogpost by Solar Magazine. 

Solar Panel Efficiency

Solar panel efficiency is a rating that tells you the solar panel’s ability to turn solar energy into electricity. The higher the efficiency rating, the more solar energy the panel can convert to electricity.  The solar panel with a higher efficiency rating will generate more electricity, even when the panels are the same size or are hit with the same amount of sunlight.

Even though polycrystalline solar panels are cheaper to produce and have improved in efficiency over the years– monocrystalline still wins for cost + panel efficiency rating over time.

Made in America Solar

It is important to point out that providing equipment that comes with a “Made In America” label is often more nuanced than it might appear. Per the “U.S. made solar panels” label, we always urge our customers to consider that statement in light of global manufacturing for virtually all products with multiple parts and pieces. In many cases, for many products, including solar panels, the “Made in the USA” label should have an *asterisk—because only the final assembly of the solar panel is done in America.

Solar Panel for Home Considerations

If you’re the techy-engineer type, you can use the solar panel checklist below as a checklist to choose the best solar panel for you. However, this is the list that we use when evaluating solar panel companies to recommend to our customers. We take our role as a technology expert/advisor very seriously for every project, from the largest to the smallest. We’re in this industry for the long haul & are determined to be here when less-careful solar installers fall away. Choosing a solar partner with a solid reputation in the industry means that you are choosing an installer whose recommendations you can trust. We do all of the research so you don’t have to.

If you’re looking for an even closer look at these solar panel considerations, check out Third Sun President and co-founder Geoff Greenfield in this Webinar Recording as he takes folks along for a deep dive.

Solar Panel Checklist

  1. Are the panels tier 1, 2, or 3 modules?
  2. Technology (cell type)
  3. Energy output per square foot
  4. Manufacturer history, stability, and reputation
  5. Module warranty terms and details
  6. Brand of back-sheet
  7. Brand of connectors
  8. Weight (glass frame and thickness)

 

 

 

Solar PV Installation Technician

Are you ready to work for a team that is accelerating the shift to clean energy by creating solar systems, services, and solutions based on core values for the past 20 years?

 

About the Business

At Third Sun Solar, we are here to serve by creating business as a force for good and making the planet a better place.  Our teams are serving our customers, each other, the community, and stakeholders, which ultimately shows in the genuine pride our team takes in delivering the very best solar solutions.

We are reliable.  Our team is filled with dependable, honest, and reliable people.  We keep our promises and strive to do it right the first time.

Our team is driven.  We are passionate about solar, and that shows in every project that the Third Sun Solar team completes.  The team does what it takes to ensure the finest system and the best customer experience, and we take pride in our dedication to doing things right.

Third Sun Solar values growth.  We have been in business for twenty years and we have a bright future ahead.  Our hunger for knowledge and continuous improvement keeps us at the top of our ever-evolving industry.  Our staff is on the pulse of cutting-edge solar advancements.  We strive for greatness and are not satisfied with the status quo.

Not only do we operate our team with a clear mission and values, we are a certified B Corporation.  That means we operate with a triple bottom line commitment to people (our employees and their families, our clients and residents of the communities where we do business), the planet (we appreciate the wonders of nature and believe that a habitable planet is worth fighting for), and profit (generating capital to keep increasing our impact and revenue to share among our team and partners).

We are a talented team of electricians, crew, project managers, engineers, finance, supply chain, permitting, and veteran community members, who are all excited about crafting beautiful solar systems to enable our communities to power their lives with clean energy.

Third Sun Solar is committed to providing our staff with competitive wages, health care benefits, travel expenses, paid holidays, vacation, and a caring, flexible, vision, and value-oriented work environment.

Are you interested in joining an established team? We are hiring Solar PV Installation Technicians for our Athens and Cleveland, Ohio offices

Job Description & Responsibilities

The Solar PV Installation Technician is a member of our Operations Team. They are primarily responsible for the installation and service of components of a Solar PV system in a commercial or residential setting. Travel is required within Ohio and surrounding states.

Primary Responsibilities

  • Works with other team members of the installation team to build solar electric systems for residential and commercial customers by installing solar panels and their components on roofs and ground-mounted racking systems
  • Required to manage your time to ensure that you have safely and correctly complete your work
  • Communicate with all members of the team and ensure that you are exhibiting all company values
  • Maintain a clean vehicle, and a clean and safe working environment
  • Must always be 100% safety requirements during your work

Job Qualifications

  • High School Diploma required
  • At least six to twelve months of experience working with construction, renewable energy, and/or commercial or residential photovoltaics preferred
  • Basic computer proficiency, including the use of applications on a cell phone
  • Must be willing and have the ability for 2 to 4 nights of weekly overnight travel
  • Must have the ability to qualify for a drug and alcohol-free work-place policy
  • Must be punctual and be able to work in a fast-paced environment
  • Ability to climb ladders, lift up to +50lbs repetitively, work on sloped roofs in all weather conditions
  • Hold or have the ability to obtain your OSHA 30 card

Work Location

  • Athens, Ohio

Benefits

  • Health insurance
  • Dental insurance
  • Vision insurance
  • Life insurance
  • Paid time off
  • Flexible schedule
  • IRA Retirement Account

To Apply

If you’re interested in learning more about working with us, please send us an email letting us know what you are great at and why we would be better with you on our team:  Careers@ThirdSunSolar.com

Third Sun Solar is an equal opportunity employer and does not discriminate against otherwise qualified applicants on the basis of race, color, creed, religion, ancestry, age, sex, marital status, national origin, disability or handicap, or veteran status.