Covid-19: Our Turn to be Great?

I am in my second week of “working from home self-quarantine”, and I found an old photo of my grandfather as a young Air Force pilot, taken just before the US formally entered into WWII. He went on to fly fighters throughout Europe and the Pacific and was one of those that returned home alive.  At the time the photo was taken, the war was underway in Europe with bombs raining down on London, while the US was nervously watching a rising danger that still seemed far away to many.


Looking out my window at the quiet woods surrounding my house I feel safe and am grateful for my health.  I am grateful as well that this fast spreading virus hasn’t yet claimed any lives in my family or network.  This will change, and the death and suffering carried by this emerging threat will be upon us faster than many understand or currently admit.  This is not the case among my friends in healthcare who see what is coming and are grim. They are preparing for “the surge”, where our hospitals will be overwhelmed. As they get ready they also know that many of them will fall sick as they struggle to save as many lives as they can while comforting the dying.  While it seems that too many Americans are still trying to carry on as normal, those on the healthcare frontlines are steeling themselves for the realities of triage where they will decide who to treat and who to let die. They see the rising danger, and it is no longer a far away threat to them.


The tragic reality of this pandemic is that it is still “far away” for many Americans.  While the call to stay at home and flatten the curve is slowly gaining traction, it seems that too many of us are continuing with business as usual.  As I look at my grandfather’s young, innocent face in this photo, I can only imagine his thoughts as he prepared for a war that was still distant and far away to many of his peers. Their fragile innocence was quickly shattered as more and more families said goodbye to departing young soldiers knowing that many would not return.  These families and their neighbors quickly adjusted to a new reality of rationing, sewing bandages and planting victory gardens. Whether flying repeated bombing runs over a distant battlefield or working on a domestic aircraft assembly line, this war experience shaped and defined these men and women, and changed our culture.  Tom Brokaw told the stories of the “The Greatest Generation”, and their actions, mindset and sacrifice provide a stark contrast to our current culture focused on individualism, comfort and consumption.


As we hear about the grim reality of Italy’s overwhelmed healthcare system, many of us are starting to realize the gravity of our situation.  This growing awareness is awakening our instincts to contribute, and many are beginning to help in many ways: sewing masks and fabricating face shields, delivering food to the homebound and vulnerable, converting craft-distilleries from vodka production to hand sanitizer.  Thousands of small businesses are going into hibernation as they prioritize community health over their own economic self-interest.  The inspiring courage of our nurses, orderlies, med-techs, first responders and doctors feels contagious as they scramble to face a growing danger with a shortage of the masks, gloves and gowns that they need to protect them from this invisible enemy.


My grandfather and his generation were shaped by WWII.  His role in air combat was just one part of a massive collective effort that defined him and the nation while more than 400,000 Americans died in the war.  That horrible chapter in our history brought massive suffering and pain, yet it also birthed a culture where selfless contribution to community became stronger than selfish individualism. If today’s epidemiological models are right, the US may loose more lives to this viral enemy than my grandfather’s generation lost during the war. Will our generation rise to the occasion as his did?  Will our efforts mirror the collective sacrifice of “The Greatest Generation” and reshape our culture?


As I continue to see so many not yet taking this pandemic seriously, I am not sure we will. My grandfather’s generation was also shaped by the great depression, and our world today is vastly different than his, so strongly influenced by a media driven popular culture infatuated with pleasure, distraction and consumption.  While millions have continued to suffer from calamity and war around the globe, many of us have largely insulated ourselves from this pain, focusing instead on the pleasures and distractions that are beginning to appear trivial.  Though our economy has promoted a culture of self-indulgence, I don’t believe that this is who we truly are or how we are meant to be as humans.  At our core, our species is meant to be interdependent, working together for group survival.  Perhaps these traits are reemerging and our deepest survival instincts are awakening as a response to this new existential threat growing on the horizon.


Looking at this photo in my hand I feel grateful to have spent a lot of time with my grandfather during my youth; his influence on me was pretty significant.  His strength of will, determination, and confidence to lean into challenges are traits I have aspired to as I raised a family, built a business and lived my relatively comfortable life.  As this virus begins to challenge that comfort and we react and change, how will our culture shift?  Decades from now how will our grandchildren view our generation?


Though my observations often make me feel cynical, deep in my heart I am an optimist.  I am far from confident in this outcome, but I do have hope that this virus might awaken the best parts deep within all of us.  I have hope that as we respond to this threat we join together in collective action and relearn to genuinely care for each other.  This existential challenge on our horizon could be our chance to become a second “Greatest Generation”, with a new norm that values the good of the whole over our individual pursuit of comfort and false security.


We did not choose this challenge, yet it is upon us and we will all have a part to play.  I am inspired by Teddy Roosevelt’s call to action: “Do what you can, with what you have, where you are”.  I do not know how our grandchildren will come to view us years from now but I am hopeful that they will see us as heroes similar to the way I view my grandfather.  We are all a part of this story, and in the coming months our choices will determine its outcome.  This is our turn.

Third Sun History and Ohio University

Some time back in early 2003, Geoff and Michelle Greenfield agreed to be a case study “site” for a group of Ohio University Business School students.  This meant that the students got a chance to study a real-world small business, with a view into all the challenges and triumphs of a start up.  For Third Sun Solar, it meant getting some outside perspective on what they were doing, how they were doing it and what needed refining in order to succeed.


“Our first meeting with this group of 4 students was in the Attic loft room of our home, where we both had set up our desks and were running the business”, says Michelle. “It was a tight space – you could not fully stand up in half of the room and there were files and paper stacks all over the place. One of the students, who was sitting on the floor, bravely asked us if we ever had trouble or found it distracting to work from this cramped space”.  Looking around them, Geoff and Michelle did acknowledge that this office was not ideal, especially if they were going to grow, add some employees, meet with clients or need a warehouse.

Thinking About Growth

The students then suggested that the Greenfields look into the new Innovation Center that Ohio University was in the process of constructing on West State Street in Athens.  They knew about the Innovation Center, because they were in the process of working with the university to install a solar array on that very building.  After meeting with the director, Linda Clark, and being accepted as a “tech” company that met the incubator standards, the Greenfields made the move into one of the smallest offices that the Innovation Center had available.


“Stepping outside the house and actually starting to pay rent and adding overhead, was scary at first,” said Geoff.  “But the benefits ended up far outweighing the costs.”  Those benefits included the ability to have a dedicated business space, access to amenities like a copier and a separate business mailing address, interaction on a regular basis with other entrepreneurs and access to small business counseling resources that the Innovation Center and the University provided.  The biggest benefit was yet to come: a path to adding employees to the team.

Moving to Ohio University Innovation Center

Moving to the Ohio University Innovation Center (IC), where Third Sun Solar remained housed for 8 years, enabled the company to grow, add employees, add warehouse space and receive the assistance needed to put the company on strong footing.  Over the years at the IC, the company moved to many different offices, larger and larger spaces, and finally multiple offices that comprised the end of one of the wings of the building. When the IC warehouse space became available, Third Sun Solar was able to bring its inventory on site, rather than using vendors and storage units to hold product.


Third Sun Solar became the site for many OU student groups and case studies, from the marketing department to the management school and entrepreneurship classes.  During this period, the Voinovich School of Leadership and Public Affairs at OU was growing and adding services. They began to oversee on the Small Business Development Center and the PTAC (Procurement Technical Assistance Center) and added a new entity called TechGrowth which provides assistance and funding to early stage businesses. Third Sun Solar was able to access business assistance and services from all of these entities and saw great benefits to these partnerships.

Lessons Learned

“One thing that Geoff and I have learned over the years in business is to reach out to and learn from all the advisors that are out there for small businesses”, commented Michelle.  “Our connection to the Innovation Center, Ohio University and the Voinovich Center has helped Third Sun Solar with outside experts to help address challenges, give perspective and be cheerleaders for the business”.  The “entrepreneurial ecosystem” in Athens County is strong and is one of the reasons that Third Sun Solar has remained headquartered in Athens, even as the company has grown, working all over Ohio and the Midwest.


After moving from the Innovation Center into its current space on West Union St. in Athens, Third Sun Solar still enjoys a great relationship with Ohio University and its business outreach services.  The Greenfields extend a big “Thank You” to everyone that has worked with the company over the years to help this homegrown Athens County business to grow and thrive but  remain rooted in the Athens community.





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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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.  



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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Solar Panels Or Solar Shingles? 

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

The History  

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

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

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

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

In Conclusion…  

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

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

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

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

Why We’re Partnering with Women for Recovery

We’re partnering with Women for Recovery this holiday season to use our business as a force for good – a central goal in our business- while supporting their mission to provide stable, safe, reliable housing to those in recovery.  

We chose Women for Recovery to support their honorable work. Third Sun Solar believes that everyone has the right to a healthy environment and a brighter future.  

The need is great

In 2016 a group of local stakeholders convened to address the need for recovery housing for women with substance abuse issues in Athens County. They affirmed that the need is critical. A call to action ensued. Stakeholders working on the project are comprised of local woman with experience in the recovery community and are personally familiar with individuals in recovery.  

The project is budding

Women for Recovery became a 501c3 nonprofit organization in March 2017 and closed in July on their primary location: Serenity Grove. Located just outside the city of Athens and nestled among stately oak, hickory and chestnut trees, the house can accommodate up to eight women in a safe, secure, and sober environment. At Serenity Grove, women dedicated to the eventual goal of transitioning back into independent living will hone the skills necessary to live free of drugs and alcohol. 

Feel Good about your power

We come to solar with a lot of heart. So do our customers, advocates, solar champions and partners. A commitment to better communities, care for our neighbors, and the desire to make the world a better place for generations to come is why we choose solar every day 

We know that, for many people, solar means cost savings and modern solutions. Solar also allows us to power our lives with clean, healthy, renewable energy. We’re happy to pass along this gift to Serenity Grove. Through the efforts of hardworking individuals, their residential facility has been made a space of comfort and recovery – soon to be powered by the sun!   


From green-minded business owners to political activists: an industry shift in the Midwest

Third Sun Solar in the news: Solar Power World spoke with our Geoff Greenfield, who give a snapshot into the state of sustainability in 2019 in Ohio.

Read the full story here.