Top Solar Questions of 2019, Answered

Everyday we answer questions from homeowners interested in exploring solar. Whether you’re at the begging of your journey or well into research, here are some questions you might have, answered!

What are the current state and federal incentives for solar?

The primary incentive for solar at this time is the solar Investment Tax Credit. The solar Investment Tax Credit (ITC) is one of the most important federal policies to support the growth of solar energy in the United States. Since the ITC was enacted in 2006, the U.S. solar industry has grown by more than 10,000% – creating hundreds of thousands of jobs and investing billions of dollars in the U.S. economy in the process. In 2019 30% of the cost of your solar installation can be taken against taxes you owe. This credit steps down to 26% in 2020 and 22% in 2021.   

If you have additional questions about this we can send you some information, and the tax form, but we recommend you talk with your tax professional about taking this credit.  

Through our finance partner, we offer $0 down loan options for purchasing your solar system.  

If you’re interested in learning about more about incentives for solar, read more here.  

I want to produce more energy than I consume in a year and have the electric company pay me! Can I do that?

Unfortunately, no. Many people don’t know that utilities in Ohio do not allow residential customers to generate more electricity than they consume in a year. In fact, some of Ohio’s utility suppliers will take away your ability to net-meter if you produce more solar than you consume in a given year. We size our customers solar systems at less than 100% of the total energy they will consume in a year for this reason.  

What type of roof shape and orientation is best for solar?

South, southeast and southwest facing roof slopes work well for solar. Minimal roof obstructions and shading on the roof is also important.  

On a flat roof, solar panels can be easily mounted on ballasted racks that tilt them toward the sun.  30-or a 15-degree pitched roofs work well.  Complex roof lines can also work well, depending upon the size and orientation of the different roof facets. 

If your roof isn’t oriented in the right direction or if you have lots of shading on your roof, we can always talk about a ground mounted solar system.  

We do not install on north facing roofs, and we don’t recommend that anyone looking to buy solar installs a system or part of a system on their north facing roof.  

Read more about home orientation and shade here. 

Do I need to replace my roof before I go solar?

We install on roofs with 15 years of life left in them or more. You should not install solar on a roof that you anticipate will need replaced within the next 15 years.   

Can you help me talk to my homeowners association?

Take a look here for guidance on working with your home owners association.   

If your HOA would like to see a mock-up drawing for your solar array, we recommend you go through our solar estimate process. Your solar consultant will give you a mock-up drawing of your home with panels during this process.   

Start the solar estimate process by filling out a form here. 

I am building a new house - how can I plan for solar?

Great! Take a look here for some tips and tricks as you start designing. 

If you have blueprints for the home you are building & an idea of the appliances you plan to purchase, give us a call. We”ll give you an idea of the size and cost of a system to meet your goals, budget and maximize your available space.  

I want to go off-grid - how do I get there?

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 they will be going off-thegrid, but this is not the case.   

You don’t consume all the energy your solar panels create at the time it’s created. And you use energy when you solar panels aren’t generating energy. Therefore, you will need a way to store your solar energy for use when you need it. If you have access to the grid, you will store excess power you create in the utility grid. You are treating the grid like a big battery, charging it when you have excess power and taking energy when you need more.  The utility company will credit you for the extra power you produce (net-metering) and allow you to pull from the gird when you need it (at night).  

A true offgrid 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. Batteries are expensive, but if you don’t have the option of storing power in the grid, either batteries or a generator are necessary.  

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.  

Each of us has our own goals. Protection from utility price hikes and the independence of home-made power from the sun is what drives most of us to go solar. For those with the desire and budget to fully disconnect and go off-grid, we have the expertise to install a robust, lasting system.

Will my solar system still provide my home with electricity when the power goes out?

In Ohio, unless you have a backup battery, your will not have access to your solar power during a grid failure.

Grid-tied solar energy systems are required to stop producing power when there is a grid failure. This is to keep the line workers safe from live electricity while they’re out and about working to fix the problemIf you have a battery backup system, you will be able to pull energy from the backup battery to power specific loads in your home until the power is restored.  

This type of system is more expensive than a standard grid-tied system but ensures you have reliable access to electricity

Homeowners who would find the most benefit in a grid-tied solar system with battery backup: 

  • Experience frequent power outages 
  • Extreme weather conditions 
  • You have critical appliances at your home 

How does net-metering work?

It sounds complicated, but it’s really a pretty simple concept: with a grid grid-tied solar system you export extra power you don’t use at the time it’s generated back to the utility. This extra power gives you credits for consuming grid power whenever you need it (at night and during the winter)  

Read more about net-metering here.

What type of solar panels do you sell?

We sell different types of solar panels – your solar consultant will work with you to understand your energy offset goalsbudget and available space for solar to help you choose the best equipment to meet your goals. 

We have panels made in the USA and panels made outside of the states. We have premium, higher watt modules for maximizing space, as well as value modules. 

Why would an installer need to see my electric bill?

When you’re thinking of purchasing solar you might find that companies ask you to provide a copy of a recent utility bill. In this day and age, we understand your concern with giving out personal household information like bills. Trust us, we would never use your information without your consent. 

Here’s what we’re looking for on your electric bill:  

The annual usage graph tells us how many Kilowatt hours of electricity you have used every month for the past year.  We want to design a solar array that will produce enough electricity to substantially offset the amount you’re currently using from the grid.  Remember: we can’t have it produce more than 100% of your annual electric consumption. 

The rate you pay for electricity– your fixed charges and the rate you pay right now for electricity will help us understand the payback for your solar array. Energy in Ohio is deregulated, therefore everyone pays slightly different rates across the state. 

What if my electric consumption grows? Can I add more panels later?

Absolutely!  Let us know ahead of time and we will design a system that is ready for additional panels to be added at a later time. We have many customers who have come back for expansion projects when their energy use increased.  

Does your company use subcontractors?

Here at Third Sun, our installation crew is part of our team. Just like the rest of the team, they receive benefits & paid holidays, attend company-wide meetings & adhere to our core values — folks stick with us longer as a result. We have many experienced installers that stick with us for many years because they enjoy their work.

What is your warranty?

Our workmanship warranty is 17 years. This warranty insures against any issues that might arise regarding our craftsmanship.   

Warranties for solar panels are often 25+ years and inverters 12+  years  

Your Solar Consultant will walk you through the warranty for the solar equipment you choose for your array.   

Third Sun Solar is a REC Solar Professional and Solar Edge Preferred Partner, which grants our customers extended warranties if they choose these brands for their solar array 

What makes your company different from other solar companies?

  • We are the oldest installer in Ohio, founded in 2000.   
  • We are a Certified B Corporation – valuing people and the planet in all our decisions.   
  • We are a female led company, our CEO Michelle Greenfield is in a role unique in the solar field.    
  • Read more about our credentials here.

Ready for a Solar Evaluation? Get in Touch Today.