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5.28 kW Residence, Delaware, OH

Ohio Solar Incentives

Ohio Solar Incentives 

It’s going to be a busy year for solar and our installation schedule is filling up faster than usual this year! We are already scheduling installations for the spring 2019.  Why the rush? Because 2019 is the final year to get the full 30% federal tax credit before it drops.

What is the 30% Federal Tax Credit?  

Otherwise known as the Investment Tax Credit, the Solar Tax Credit allows you to deduct 30% of the cost of your solar system from your federal taxes.  

Put simply: if you spend $20,000 on your solar system, you pay $6,000 less in taxes when you file. The tax credit is different than a refund in that, you do have to owe taxes to claim the credit. If the credit is larger than your tax liability in the first year, the remaining amount can be applied the next year. Generally, all expenses included in the quote you receive from your Solar Consultant can be included in the deduction. There is no cap on the value of the credit, and it is available to both residential and commercial customers. Every tax situation is different, however. While we at Third Sun Solar are experts on all things solar, we do not provide tax advice and encourage you to consult with your accountant. 

How long will the federal tax credit stay in effect?  

The solar tax credit will remain at 30% for solar systems completed and placed in service before December 31, 2019. The tax credit will be reduced to 26% in 2021 and then to 22% in 2022. After 2022, there will be no solar tax credit for residential customers but a 10% credit for commercial entities will remain 

Other reasons to go solar in 2019:  
  • Third Sun Solar is now offering ZERO DOWN financing! These solar friendly low interest loan options are easy to understand and are available to most customers depending on credit  
  • Electricity prices continue to rise and are never paid off. While solar prices are at an all-time low, energy prices are expected to maintain their annual tick upward, forever… 
  • If you live in a metropolitan area in Ohio: Dayton, Cincinatti, Cleveland, Columbus you may be eligible for the Energy Conservation for Ohioans, or ECOLink program. 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.  
Why wait? 

Homeowners are realizing the return on investment will increase when you go solar before 2020. There has never been a better time to go solar in Ohio. Since the initiation of the Investment Tax Credit, the cost of solar as dropped as solar technology and the efficiency of our installation team has improved. The cost of waiting is not worth the cost of losing out on the 30% tax incentive.  

Why Third Sun Solar?  

Our schedule is filling up quickly. We urge you to make the most of the final months left to receive the full 30% federal tax incentive.  

Learn how easy it is to go solar by submitting a form here, or by calling 877-Own-Solar to speak with one of our qualified solar consultants today.  

      

 

Snowfall and Solar Systems

If you’re considering going solar, you might be wondering if cold and snowy midwestern winters should affect your decision. This is one of the most asked questions we get.  Third Sun Solar has 19 years of experience installing systems on all types of buildings across Ohio. To date, our portfolio includes nearly 900 installations in the mid-west. These folks didn’t let our cold winters or snowfall discourage them from going solar, and you shouldn’t either!    

Can my solar panels produce energy if they are covered in snow? No, a solid covering of snow all but shuts off production.  The good news is that overall production loss from the snow is very small when looking at performance on an annual basis. Losing a day of production in January is a fraction of a day in July.  Here at Third Sun Solar, our team takes winter’s shorter days, snowfall and the orientation of sunlight all into account when estimating the output of your system. 

Residential Solar System Covered in Snow

Depending on the tilt of your roof and the slant of your panels, snow will typically slide off on its own. Even in the heart of winter solar panels give off a small amount of heat, which helps to warm and melt the snow. Additionally, snow on the ground can reflect light, amplifying the sunlight absorbed by your solar panels. During sunny winter days, the sun will warm the dark solar panels and the snow will melt and snow will typically slide off the smooth surface. An added bonus? Cleaning the panels won’t be necessary, snow can get this job done easily!  

Are cold temperatures bad for my solar panels? Unless covered in snow, solar panels are actually more efficient in cold conditions.  Like most electronics, solar panels function better at colder temperatures than under intense heat.  Most arrays hit their highest power generation of the year on cold clear winter days at noon.   

Should I try to clear the snow off my solar panels? Snow will usually melt quickly off your panels. There is the occasional blizzard, however, that leaves snow lingering on rooftops for an extended period of time. Overall, yearly production loss from snow cover is very small. At Third Sun, we do not recommend trying to clear the solar panels. Getting onto a roof in inclement weather is dangerous and using any type of tool on the panels themselves can damage the panels. Snow falling off of the panels can be a nuisance, and if the lower edge of a roof mounted array is close to the edge of the roof, we will recommend “Snow Guards” over doorways or areas with pedestrian activity. 

Remember that, living in the Midwest, the worst of the winter months and the short days only last for about three months. Time with reduced solar output is limited. In the sunny summer months, your system can generate more solar energy than you use, which will be reflected in a surplus energy credit. At the end of the year, our customers are happy with their overall annual production.   

Now that you know this, consider…  

2019 is the final year to get the full 30% federal tax credit before it drops. Ohio homeowners are realizing the savings and the return on investment will increase when you go solar before the end of 2019.   

If you would like a quote for your home, business, or non-profit please sign up for a free solar estimate or call 877-OWN-SOLAR today.   

Why We Became a Certified B Corp

Third Sun Solar is proud to be a certified B-Corp, a designation awarded by an outside nonprofit organization to businesses “who meet the highest standards of verified, overall social and environmental performance, public transparency, and legal accountability.”

Many folks ask us why we submitted ourselves for consideration, seeking to learn if it was purely for altruistic reasons, or if there were practical considerations as well. While we have run our business for “People, Planet and Profit” since our start in 2000, it was certainly still a hurdle to becoming formally certified by an outside organization; the process included time and resource-consuming logistical challenges, such as officially changing our LLC operating agreement to state that we must manage our business to serve people and the planet in addition to seeking profit. Since our first certification in 2012, we have since undergone recertifications as well as a random audit.

So why all the effort? There are many reasons, but these primary themes stand out:

Optimization

At Third Sun Solar, we use this word to describe the engineering and design choices we make as we come up with the best solar solutions for each customer situation. In our early days, I personally selected the best combination of inverters, panels and racking for each project, and spent a lot of time running the numbers and comparing the different options to arrive at an “optimal” solution for a customer’s goals. Today that work is carried on by our expert team, but I still apply that approach to running the business. I am analytical and curious by nature—running Third Sun Solar with my team involves hundreds of choices and decisions. With a focus on our mission, “To empower people to save the planet with clean energy”, we have concluded that focusing on a ‘triple bottom line’ (social, environmental, financial) is the optimized way to achieve that mission.

Differentiation

When we launched Third Sun Solar at the end of the 90s there were hardly any dedicated businesses focused on solar solutions. Today, solar customers have many choices, each promising that they are “the best”, “high quality”, etc. While Third Sun Solar’s long industry leadership helps us stand out from this crowd in many ways, we decided that achieving B-Corp certification would go a long way toward further distinguishing us as a leader. Our B-corp status is another way of showing we are fully committed to the highest quality and safety for our clients, our employees and the greater community (AKA our PEOPLE). Those who already do business with us can see firsthand that we’re trustworthy and honest; our B-corp status proves we stand up to rigorous scrutiny regarding our environmental practices (AKA our PLANET). While it is pretty easy to recycle cardboard, we go way further, including a 100% solar net-zero office, carbon-offsets for our driving, and even composting our kitchen scraps. By contrast, some of our supposedly environmentally-driven competitors don’t even recycle!

Competitive

One of the most important reasons we have become a Certified B-Corp isn’t altruistic at all. Like all for-profit businesses, we’re striving for a significant competitive advantage over our competition (other solar companies) as solar achieves its destiny as the preferred energy form in homes and businesses (AKA our PROFIT).

We’re also engaged in a “war for talent”. Third Sun Solar is primarily successful because of our people. Though we gain market advantage in areas ranging from internal software to low-cost purchasing through a co-op, at the end of the day the most important factor in our success and growth are the people on our team. From the first phone call or email communication to all of the human interactions along the way, and finally to the crew bolting equipment together and programming the electronics, our people are at the root of our success. Based on that understanding, we believe that recruiting, retaining and motivating the very best team members is our “secret sauce”. In this context, our B-Corp certification gives us a significant advantage (invisibility and attractiveness to high-quality candidates as well as employee satisfaction and retention), and it is one that we are glad to have.

Before founding Third Sun Solar as a business, I worked for several nonprofits in the social sector (focused on Appalachian poverty and affordable housing), along with my time in a government agency (the US Peace Corps). Those were formative experiences, and I have a lot of respect for many great people and programs working to solve big problems and make the world better through these sectors. I also have seen (and sadly continue to see) the destructive nature and short-sightedness of many conventional businesses, especially the largest of corporations where the conventional practice (and the legal requirements) focus only on immediate profit and only profit. The B-Corp movement is an effort to change this. Third Sun Solar and many other mission-driven businesses are harnessing entrepreneurial energy and drive to solve social and global problems that have vexed the nonprofit and governmental sectors for decades.

We are in the midst of an experiment and are excited to be part of a movement that takes the best of capitalism, creativity and market forces in an effort to use business as a positive force for social good.

Damage to solar panels

Most of the potential issues facing modules are covered by manufacturer’s warranties. Apart from those issues, we have replaced panels for the following reasons, not covered by warranties:

  • Tree branch fell on array
  • UPS truck backed into array
  • Bullets fell from sky and pierced panels

This is what insurance is for.

However, the bulk of potential solar panel damage can be mitigated by choosing an experienced solar installer and using top-quality equipment.

We know of other installers who have replaced modules for these reasons:

  • Baseball cracked modules mounted in the outfield of a ballpark
  • System caught fire due to combination of poor design and poor installation
  • Wind blew apart a poorly designed or poorly installed solar array

Find the Best Solar Panels

We are passionate about solar and believe that sourcing only the highest-quality products is best for the health and long-term viability of our company, our customers, and the solar industry. Whenever someone spends their hard-earned money with us, we make sure they get the very best solar power system that money can buy. We take our role as technology expert/advisor very seriously for every project, from the largest to the smallest. We’re in this industry for the long haul, and are determined to be here when less-careful solar installers fall away.

In evaluating solar panels and related equipment, we employ three main filters:

  1. Quality of the solar technology platform
  2. Specific solar performance indicators coupled with industry reputation
  3. Financial stability of the solar manufacturer

Some products perform, while others fall short. This is true in solar as well as all other technologies. We choose only the top performers to build our reputation upon. Our network of national peer companies amplifies our internal ability to vet and process the best available solar products. We are well-connected by virtue of our 14 years of industry leadership as well as our president’s positions on the NABCEP and SolarTECH boards of directors. We have interviewed executives and key science and operations officers at all of the solar manufacturers that we recommend and we monitor the real world performance of their equipment at multiple test sites around the world.

We do not recommend a product lightly. As a case in point, we are proud to have warned against using Solyndra, due to its unproven technology as well as the instability of its parent company. We had many customers asking for Solyndra panels when they were the “hot new thing.” We’re proud to have held those customers off by advising them, “that technology is not yet proven in the real world—we’re not using them. If and when they prove to be everything they claim, we’ll consider using them.” They never did, and despite government backing, Solyndra went under—and gave the entire industry a black eye.

In addition to quality, performance and long-term warranty assurance that apply to every job, for those customers who are concerned about where the products are manufactured, we can apply geographic filters as well. Whenever appropriate, we are pleased to provide equipment made in America, or made even more locally, such as in the Midwest.

On this note, 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 the global manufacturing basis for virtually all products. The Toyota Corolla is a Japanese car—made in California. BMW builds some of its “German” cars here in the U.S. Suniva designs and manufactures its solar cells here in the U.S., then ships them to Taiwan for final assembly of the solar panels. In many cases, for many products, the “Made in USA” label should have an *asterisk—because final assembly is completed overseas.

Today, there are nearly 80 solar panel manufacturers offering approximately 600 different models of solar modules. There are also hundreds of inverter models and myriad solar racking manufacturers. Every solar system includes each of these three main components. The main components are generally not “mix-and-match” and they are not plug-in interchangeable. While each of the respective technologies has matured and we have highly-reliable options for panels, inverters and racking, there are as yet no industry standards for evaluating the performance of the completed system as a whole. We are pushing hard for those standards to be established—for the good of consumers AND for the good of the reputable firms in the solar industry.

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.