Jaber Wahel, who lives in Shaker Heights Ohio, began thinking about going solar in 2012. 2 years later, in 2014, he had Third Sun Solar install a 5.4 kilowatt solar array on the roof of his home. A flat roof on the south facing rear of his home is where the 20-panel array is positioned. Solar would offset 46% of his households annual electricity use.
His motivation for going solar? It was environmental mostly, but as with many things, the investment needed to make economic sense too. Most of the savings a homeowner sees when they go solar comes from the savings in electricity bills over that time, but a big portion for Jaber also came from the 30% Federal Tax Credit that he claimed in 2014.
Jaber often travels to California for work. Over time, he saw more and more homes in the Golden State with solar, which indicated to him that a movement was building. This is what first sparked his interest in the solar movement.
His first step when shopping for solar, like many homeowners just beginning their solar journey, was to learn.
- Solar in Cleveland? Jaber was first interested in how the climate effects solar production. Sure, solar was booming in California, but does solar make sense in Ohio? Working with Third Sun, he found out that solar, even in an area like Cleveland Ohio, despite getting far less sun time than places like California, still gets enough to make solar PV installation practical.
- Roof Slope: Unlike most of our residential customers, Jaber’s panels sit on a flat roof surface on the southern side of his home. He has the most uninterrupted, southern facing roof space on this roof surface. In Ohio, anywhere between a 4/12 and a 7/12 roof pitch is just fine for solar. These angles maximize the sunlight captured in both the summertime and in the winter. Third Sun uses ballasted racking which angle the panels at a 10-degree tilt to get the desired pitch on a flat roof. Though panel efficiency does change a little depending on the tilt of your roof, the difference is minimal.
- Net Metering: Something else Jaber was surprised to learn was that he didn’t need solar batteries to go solar. He learned that if your home is connected to the grid, a solar system work seamlessly with your current electricity supplier to ensure that you have power. When it’s nighttime or snowy, the energy you use comes from the grid. When the sun is shining and you’re using power, that energy is coming from your panels. When the sun is shining and you aren’t using power, that extra energy is exported to the grid to power your neighbors homes and you’re credited for the energy you’ve produced. This is done through net metering (link).
When Jaber started looking into solar in 2012, he was getting quotes in the $50-60,000 range for his residence. Since then the prices dropped significantly, and paired with federal incentives, solar made financial sense.
Reaping the Benefits
The most surprising part of Jaber’s process was how fast the installation took – in his case it was just 1 day! For Third Sun, the typical residential solar installations last between 1-4 days. The electric company came out within the next couple of days to switch out his meter for one that understands how to work with the solar system. After that he turned on his system and started producing his own electricity!
His favorite part about his solar array is that the system is totally hands off. He says: “You just set it and forget it – it’s plug and play– you don’t think about it ever.” What has been the best part of having a solar powered home so far? According to Jaber, the best part is that it works! He really is able to harness the sun to produce his own electricity.
Solar in Shaker Heights
When he walks around, Jaber says that he’s noticed maybe 10-15 houses in his community that have solar, though he doesn’t personally know anyone who also has an array. The City’s current Mayor has electric car and solar on his house. He does know a lot of community members who have thought about it.
Jaber believes that there is a lot of momentum in the solar movement: it’s a movement that is gaining speed. When asked what he thinks is stopping people from going solar he says: “people think it’s complicated – for me it was such an easy thing.” He says that the hardest thing was filling the loan application, which Third Sun was there to help him with.
He thinks the same is true of electric cars. While people are hesitant now, there is still a movement building. Once people overcome the anxiety, see that it’s a technology that works, they’ll be more willing to adopt it.
According to Jaber, if you get out of Ohio and see how much it’s going up in other places– it makes the choice to go solar easy.
The Solar Champion
Jaber says– “If you have a customer who is interested and hesitant give me a call – I would be happy to talk with anyone about it.”
Take Jaber up on his offer by reaching out. Or, we will connect you with someone else in your neck of the woods. We always welcome questions from folks who are just getting started on their solar journey. Just give us a call!