Author: Wholesale Solar

Wholesale Solar of Mt. Shasta, CA, is an employee-owned company specializing in the design and distribution of custom solar systems and components. Since launching in 2002, Wholesale Solar has helped thousands of DIY homeowners achieve lower power bills and energy independence. Learn more at WholesaleSolar.com.
Install of the Month – March 2018

Install of the Month – March 2018

“I prefer to do it myself.” with Garland C.

Our Install of the Month for March is Arizona customer Garland C’s well-researched and fully planned out grid-tied solar system. Garland installed his system himself, with help from one friend, during the construction of his new home.

Garland was after a sound return on investment and an eco-conscious home. He wanted DIY convenience and the ability to monitor his system, so he chose Enphase microinverters. Getting American-made panels was also important to Garland and he opted for high-end, high-efficiency Suniva panels.

Garland came into this with a lot of information. He had been studying different types of inverters like Solaredge, but eventually decided on Enphase microinverters.  – Solar Tech Wil Burlin

Garland reports that the most difficult part of his project was actually getting the panels up on his roof. Normally this task isn’t so tough, but with a 8/12 pitch roof, safety while installing on such a steep roof became a number one priority. Knowing he’d still be paying far less than hiring an installer, he sprang for some roof racks to make it easier to walk on his roof, and he also made sure to always wear a safety harness.

In the end, Garland had a beautiful self-installed system on his brand new home. The moment his new home was hooked up to the grid, he saw that meter start moving backward!

Interview with Garland

What was your primary reason for adding solar to your home?

To save money.

Did you have any previous DIY experience?

Generally speaking, I do everything I can myself. I have basic knowledge of house wiring and roof construction. This was my first solar system.

What was the most difficult part of the installation?

Everything was pretty simple. Physically, the most challenging part was placing the panels on my 8/12 pitch roof.

How many helpers did you have?

One.

Did you hire a contractor?

No.

Were there any unforeseen additional parts or tools you needed?

Purchased some roof racks to make it easier to walk on my roof.

As soon as they hooked my house up to the grid, my meter started moving backward, which was pretty cool! – Garland C.

How long was the full installation process?

With my house being a new construction project, I did the solar system installation in phases. Because of this approach, I don’t have a good idea of the total length of time needed to do the installation.

How did it feel to get your solar project finished?

It was several months after I completed the installation that my power company hooked my house to the grid. As soon as they did, my meter started moving backward, which was pretty cool!

Who else did you consider before choosing Wholesale Solar?

I looked at two other contractors to install my system. But I never really considered paying someone else to do it. I prefer to do things myself.

What’s your ballpark estimate of your total solar install costs?

$22,000.00

How much did you save on your taxes?

$6,600

Garland’s System:

Garland's Solar Breakdown:

  • Cost of Contractor: None
  • Cost of Electrician: None
  • Design Output of kWh per year: 12,220 kWh
  • Federal Tax Incentive: Qualifies for $6,600 U.S. Federal Tax Credit
  • Utility rates per kWh: Fluctuates based on local utility as Garland lives in a TOU area.
  • Feed-in Tariff/Net Metering Issues: None reported
How to Claim Your Solar Credit Infographic

How to Claim Your Solar Credit Infographic

How to Claim Your Solar Tax Credit

The 30% Federal Solar Tax Credit is still in effect. But what should you do in order to claim it? We put together this quick guide to walk you through the process and get you that tax credit in no time.

solar-tax-credit-infographic-image


This guide will get you well on your way to filing for your credit, but we are solar experts and not tax professionals so we always recommend talking to a tax professional.

Know someone who’d benefit from this handy infographic? Share with them by clicking on our social icons!

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Install of the Month – February 2018

Install of the Month – February 2018

Carbon Negative with Chuck W.

We LOVE this install from New Mexico customer Chuck W! It’s not only a beautiful install, but Chuck was also able to maximize his roof space perfectly allowing him to reach carbon negative. We’re also excited that this is our first ever Install of the Month featuring SolarEdge’s HD Wave inverter. Its compact size fits just right on Chuck’s small structure.

His personal solar technician Wil B. reported that working with Chuck was a joy:

Chuck already knew he wanted high end panels and the Solaredge inverter. I just had to broker the deal to find him the best Solarworld options. We went with a combination of black panels on one building and silver on the other, mostly for aesthetics. He knew he wanted the new HD Wave inverter so he ended up having to wait a few months for it to be released.  – Solar Tech Wil Burlin

Chuck received his shipment from the freight delivery service, recruited a few friends, family, and solar veterans, and got his racking and panels up himself, no installer required.

His story is pretty inspiring and he tells it better than we could, so we highly recommend reading our interview with Chuck below!

Interview with Chuck

What was your primary reason for adding solar to your home?

I feel it’s important that I support combating climate change as much as I can. The low cost of a DIY PV system made it possible for me to “max out” in terms of the system size allowed under our rules for simple approval. This system will produce a substantial surplus, even after converting all of my propane usage to electricity. I expect to be “carbon negative”, including travel, from here on out.

Did you have any previous DIY experience?

I’ve been doing it myself for as long as I can remember. – Chuck W.

What was the most difficult part of the installation?

The hardest part was dealing with the electric code. Our local authority requires taking a test for DIY solar, my installation had a couple of minor irregularities related to putting the PV juice back into my existing AC system, and in general, it was quite a lot of study to make sure it was completely by the book. Even though I’ve had a career as a design engineer, the electric code is a whole different world!

How many helpers did you have?

My friend Art from NY, a former solar installer, offered some good, practical advice (especially on dealing with inspectors) and helped put the rails up on the first structure. My friend Gene helped raise the first set of panels, and my partner Miya helped install the rails and raise the panels on the second structure.

Did you hire a contractor?

No, I didn’t hire anyone.

I feel it’s important that I support combating climate change as much as I can. The low cost of a DIY PV system made it possible for me to “max out” in terms of the system size allowed under our rules for simple approval. – Chuck W.

Were there any unforeseen additional parts or tools you needed?

The kit from Wholesale Solar was complete and accurate for everything up through the inverter. Getting everything from there to the AC connection was full of missteps in getting the myriad little pieces and fittings. I made quite a few extra trips to Lowe’s and Home Depot.

How long was the full installation process?

Overall, it’s been going on for about 4 months, with lots of off time in the middle. Doing it again, if I focused, I could probably do it in a week.

How did it feel to get your solar project finished?

FANTASTIC!

Who else did you consider before choosing Wholesale Solar?

I looked at various other companies on the web, liked what I saw with Wholesale Solar (especially the employee ownership part), exchanged a few emails with Wil Burlin, liked how that worked, decided to buy from WS.

What was your total solar install costs? (Ball Park)

For the 10 kW system (essentially two 5 kW SolarEdge systems on separate structures), about $19,500.

How much did you save on your taxes

Here in NM, there’s only the Federal 30% credit remaining, which should be worth a bit under $6,000.

Chuck has a 10kW Grid-Tied System including:

Chuck's Solar Breakdown:

  • Cost of Contractor: None
  • Cost of Electrician: None
  • Total Hours to install: 40 hours
  • Design Output of kWh per year: 17,668 kWh
  • Federal Tax Incentive: Qualifies for ~$6,000 U.S. Federal Tax Credit
  • Utility rates per kWh: 14.5 cents/kWh
  • Average Monthly Utility cost before solar: ~$200
  • Feed-in Tariff/Net Metering Issues: Local AHJ Requires Test for DIY
Install of the Month – December 2017 Round Two

Install of the Month – December 2017 Round Two

Worth the Wait With Jason S.

Our second DIY hero this month is Jason S., who installed a Grid-Tied system on his Indiana home to save money on his power bill. Jason is the kind of guy who knows research, planning, and striking while the iron is hot will often pay off in a big way.

After his initial phone call to solar tech Jeremy A., Jason took two years before he decided to pull the trigger. He called Jeremy to answer his questions, and he gained the confidence to install himself.

Over two years working together, Jason was able to learn more about the specific system he wanted and was able to watch the market to purchase at the perfect time.
– Solar Tech Jeremy A.

Once he was confident DIY was right for him, and that quick ROI was attainable, it was just a waiting game: Jason watched the solar market closely and picked the time when he projected he’d save the most before giving Jeremy the go-ahead on Jason’s project.

But you know what they say about mice and men… Once Jason received his system parts and was ready to get to work installing it, mother nature decided his wait wasn’t over just yet. He was hit with a big rainstorm, making the space where he planned to put his ground-mounted system too muddy for a stable installation. But Jason wasn’t daunted. He just sat back, waited for the ground to dry, and soldiered on, finally completing his system in about a week. Now he only has one more wait… by the mailbox to see the big fat zeroes on his next power bill!

Interview with Jason

What type of solar power system did you install?

Grid-tied, but I had a lot of land to do a ground-mounted system so I could zero out my monthly power bill. 

What was your primary reason for going solar?

I had always wanted to become more energy independent and solar power made the most sense for us. It also made financial sense, especially since I had the means to install the system myself and save more money.

Did you have any previous DIY experience?

I am a locomotive engineer but I had a remodeling/construction business for a few years. I don’t like paying people to do anything, so I always tackle projects on my own and learn as I go. 

I don’t like paying people to do anything, so I always tackle projects on my own and learn as I go.
– Jason S.

What was the most challenging part of the installation?

The wiring and panel installation was a little technical, but easily manageable with patience. The most difficult part we faced was battling the weather and mud to get the pipes and concrete piers set in place for our ground install.

How many helpers did you have?

It was just my wife and me. To her credit, she is quite handy herself and doesn’t mind getting her hands dirty. 

Did you hire a contractor?

Nope! We did everything ourselves from start to finish.

 Were there any unforeseen additional parts or tools you needed?

No additional parts. As for tools, I did have a construction business, so I do have more tools than the average person. I didn’t need to go out and buy anything special.

How long was the full installation process from receiving your equipment to flipping the switch?

It was spread out over the course of 2 weeks due to my work schedule and the weather. If I had more time and good weather I could have completeled in less than a week. I saved myself about $11,000 in costs from my efforts.

How did it feel to get your solar project finished?

It was a great feeling to get the project completed…and an even better feeling once the power company swapped out our meter, put the system online and started generating our own power!

Who else did you consider before going with Wholesale Solar?

Wholesale Solar was the first company I found. I looked elsewhere, and the price and customer service couldn’t be matched! 

What was the total cost of your solar installation project?

Total cost for me was around $18,000. $13,300 or so was the price of the solar system, while the rest covered the cost of equipment rentals and materials such as pipes, wiring, and concrete.

How much did going solar save you on your taxes?

We will be saving around $5,000 when we file taxes for this year thanks to the Federal Tax Credit. We live in Indiana, so we’re lucky to have no sales tax on our purchase or added property tax from the install.

Components in Jason’s System:

Tips:

Write off Sales Tax. You can include your system’s sales tax as part of your expenditures for installing solar. (30% Solar Federal Tax Credit). Learn more.

Pay less in property tax. Most states have a renewable energy property tax exemption. This means the value that a solar system adds to a home does not increase the property taxes you pay! In other words, you only pay property taxes against $200,000, and not the new appraised value of $256,000 with the additional solar system added—unlike a new kitchen where you have to pay more taxes for that additional value, you added to the property.

Jason's Solar Breakdown:

  • Cost of Solar Components From Wholesale Solar: $13,300
  • All Other Expenses: $4,700
  • Cost of Contractor: None
  • Cost of Electrician: None
  • How Much Going DIY Saved Him: $11,000
  • Federal Tax Incentive: Qualifies for $5,400 U.S. Federal Tax Credit
  • Total time to install: ~1 week
  • Design Output of kWh per year: 13,000-14,000 kWh
  • Utility rates per kWh: 11.64¢/kWh
  • Average Monthly Utility cost: was $130
  • Feed-in Tariff/Net Metering Issues: None
Install of the Month – December 2017

Install of the Month – December 2017

A Family-Sized Install with Martin Verdin

This month we’re taking a look at a sprawling ground-mounted install with Martin Verdin. With a little help from solar tech Wil Burlin, he was able to install a massive solar array and grid-tied solar system for his dad.

Martin had bought a system from us in the past. He was already so knowledgeable because of his previous install, that it was a breeze to work with him.  – Solar Tech Wil Burlin

This SGA installation required a lot of work grading the land, digging holes, pouring cement, mounting panels and so much more, but the end result is worth all that effort, and the power it provides is hard to argue with!

Interview with Martin

How long was the full installation process from receiving your equipment to flipping the switch?

I work full-time,  so we worked on weekends and a couple hours before or after work. I’d say from the day we broke ground to final county inspection it took about 2 months to complete the entire install. 

How many people did it take?

It took 3 people in total: myself, my wife and my son. Digging 26 holes for the ground-mount poles went a lot quicker with three people doing it! 

Did you have any previous construction experience?

I have some construction experience, but I’m no expert. My wife and I built our house together 20 years ago, and I currently work as an electronic technician, so we had a bit of experience between us that came in handy on this project.

What was the most difficult part of the installation?

Digging holes for the ground-mount poles was the most physically demanding part of the install. Figuring out how to align the poles was also a bit more difficult than I expected. Thanks to IronRidge’s how-to videos, I learned about using pipe horses which made installing the pipes and mechanical tubing much easier.

Were there any unforeseen additional parts or tools you needed?

Getting the proper extensions for our auger was a bit more difficult than we thought it’d be. Specialty tools like that can be a bit hard to find parts for.

How/Why did you choose to self-install?

I got estimates from a couple of the big solar companies,  and after checking with Wholesale Solar, I concluded that  I could DIY install for less than half the price. Plus after the federal tax credit, I’d be saving even more! It was a real ” no brainer” decision: the system would pay for itself after 5 years or so, and then it’s all ROI.

Martin’s father wanted to go solar and be more eco-conscious while reducing his power bill. His house uses quite a bit of power and we helped them into a very large grid-tied solar system. – Solar Tech Wil Burlin

What was your primary reason for going solar?

I have always wanted to go solar, but the cost in the past wasn’t worth the effort – by the time I paid off the system, it would be time to replace it, plus electric rates kept going up every year. After getting a quote from wholesale Solar,  it was an easy choice. Going green and decreasing my electric rates to 1/4, was the main reason.

Components in Martin’s System:

We went with SMA Inverters so they could have backup power during a grid outage, and we chose the panels because they were American-made with the best price. He went with Suniva over SolarWorld to save a few bucks and get a faster return on investment. – Solar Tech Wil Burlin

Martin's Solar Breakdown:

  • Cost of Contractor: None
  • Cost of Electrician: None
  • Total Hours to install: 105 hours
  • Design Output of kWh per year: 36,000 - 37,000 kWh
  • Federal Tax Incentive: Qualifies for $13,500 U.S. Federal Tax Credit
  • Utility rates per kWh: 15.59 cents/kWh
  • Average Monthly Utility cost before installation: $650
  • Feed-in Tariff/Net Metering Issues: None
  • Solar Payback Period: 4 Years, 1 Month
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Install of the Month – November 2017

Install of the Month – November 2017

“Going Big on Going Green” with Jeff Dickens

They say “go big or go home,” and that’s just what professional installer Jeff Dickens did for this month’s feature. He went big by going green with a full solar system on a commercial business, and the results are truly impressive. Mt. Shasta Animal Hospital is now powered by renewable energy thanks to his install.

I have worked with this customer in the past as he is a local installer.  He is one of the easiest electricians and solar installers that I have ever worked with. 
– Solar tech Jeremy Allen

This massive install was a huge undertaking, but the results can’t be ignored, and the benefit of offsetting the client’s power bill speaks for itself.

Interview with Jeff

What Solar System Type Did You Install?

I chose to install a grid-tied system to suit my client’s power needs.

What Was Your Primary Reason for Adding Solar to Your Home or Business?

My main goal was to provide green energy in a commercial business and to offset grid power consumption. The solar array I installed collects enough energy to power, and should help Mt. Shasta Animal Hospital save money month-to-month on their utilities.

Did you have any previous DIY experience?

Yes, I’m an electrical / solar contractor and have installed numerous systems. My experience in the industry allowed me to make this install go very smoothly.

What was the most difficult part of the installation?

An install on a roof like this, safety is your biggest concern. You need to be aware of your rope rigging and all safety measures taken. Sloped metal roofs can be extremely dangerous, so we took extra precautions with scaffolding, a man-lift, fall-prevention gear and waited for dry weather conditions to be as safe as possible. There was also a small snag with some of the permitting process, but we took care of it quickly.

Our wiring diagram had to be taken to a local electrical engineer to be stamped which was out of the ordinary, however did not slow down the process and was completed with only minimal additional cost. 

 – Solar tech  Jeremy Allen

How Many Helpers Did You Have?

I had two experienced workers helping with the install, who were also general contractors.

Did You Hire a Contractor?

Being a professional contractor, I always recommend at least consulting with a electrician or solar contractor before a DIY Install. It can save a lot of headaches. In this case, I was the contractor in question, hired by Mt. Shasta Animal Hospital to install their solar system. Wholesale Solar’s DIY systems make my job that much easier for a professional install.

Were There Any Unforeseen Additional Parts or Tools You Needed?

Not really. In the nuts and bolts category, a couple extra is always better than the exact amount.

How Long Was the Full Installation Process?

Start to finish for the complete install was about 7 days. The roof work to install racking and panels was 4 days. It took 3 days to complete all the electrical and setting the inverters.

How Did it Feel to Get Your Solar Project Finished?

The owners of the business are very happy with the install.

Who Else Did You Consider Before Choosing Wholesale Solar?

I only shop at Wholesale Solar.

How Much Did You Save On Your Taxes?

The client will save around $14,000 with the Federal Tax Credit and California’s state incentives combined.

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Should You Buy, Lease, or Loan to Finance Your Solar System? Understanding the Differences Can Save You Big $$$

Should You Buy, Lease, or Loan to Finance Your Solar System? Understanding the Differences Can Save You Big $$$

Buy, Lease, or Loan: Financing Your Solar System Has Never Been Easier

Solar panels are an asset to your home that can increase its value, save you money, and increase your energy independence. For many homeowners, there are two important factors to consider: the cost of entry and the ease of installation. After all, time is money, and if you’re already spending a hefty sum on acquiring your equipment, the added cost and time spent installing it can be problematic. We address the latter by selling only DIY solar kits, for which there is no cost of installation, and the job can be done over a weekend. For the former, we look at the options you have for solar power financing. There are also numerous  incentives, such as the 30% federal tax credit, and state rebates which can drastically lower your cost for going solar in the long run. 

The incentives begin: federal, state, and local

Since 2006, there has been a federal tax credit that underwrites some of the costs of a solar purchase and installation.

The government didn’t have a lot of luck with the original limit of $2,000, so the plan was changed to cover 30% of the total cost of the solar purchase and installation with no upper limit. 

Soon, state governments got involved, offering state-sponsored rebates, subsidies, and grants. Eventually local administrations joined in as well and local utilities agreed to buy excess energy that was fed back into the grid, often at twice the going rate that they were charging for electricity.

solar guide

Free Federal Tax Credit Guide

Learn More »

Why? Because by using a certain percentage of renewable energy, they were granted carbon credits which they could use to offset the pollution they were creating elsewhere.

Both of these programs combined can save you 30-50%, anywhere from $3,000 – $10,000 in the long run, but they’re usually applied after you’ve purchased – which means you still need money up front to actually buy your equipment. Enter your financing options.

solar financing options

Buy, Loan, or Lease?

What if I can’t afford to buy a solar system outright? Can I finance it? Some of our customers have enough in savings to purchase a system in cash, which is what we usually recommend (debt can be dangerous!). However, for those who want to take advantage of the Federal Tax Rebate before it sunsets in 2021, there are other options to help with affordability, such as:

  • Starting with a smaller system, such as our expandable Enphase solar starter kits (starting from just $1000), and adding more panels later. These have the additional upside of being able to squeeze every last watt out of individual panels under different shading conditions.
  • Consider a home equity loan with a local bank or credit union, especially those who participate in the federal PowerSaver loans program (see map of PowerSaver lenders).

If financing your solar system is the only way you can afford one, however, there are financing options available to help alleviate some of the costs. There’s a lot to consider with financing: you’re probably not buying solar purely for ROI, but getting a return on your investment is certainly one of the more enticing factors. Take into consideration how much you’re going to spend buying the solar system, how much you’re going to get back from federal and state incentives, and how long the system is going to take to pay for itself by offsetting your utility bill costs over the years, and you’ve got a good idea of what to expect. Let’s take a look at the three forms of financing, and their various benefits and drawbacks.

Buy:

  • If you buy it, you own it.
  • There is a fixed, predictable period of time over which it will pay for itself (The “payback period” of 3-6 years, depending on the install), after which it is pure profit (the ROI – Return on Investment).
  • It increases the value of your home.
  • You get to keep all of the subsidies, grants, and tax credits;
  • You get paid for extra power production if your utility allows net metering.
  • In most cases you can claim the interest on your loan to purchase the system as a deduction on your taxes, something you cannot do with the solar lease program;
  • Systems are very reliable; they hardly ever need maintenance aside from a scheduled inverter replacement a decade or two later. Inverters come with a warranty of 10 years (upgradeable to 20 or 25).
  • Upfront cost using your own money, often as a lump sum.

Lease:

  • The “zero-down” claims are not entirely true. You may not be giving them cash money, but by signing that power purchase agreement (PPA) or lease, you are giving them your 30% federal tax credit and any eligible state or local incentives. You’re giving them the thousands upon thousands of dollars that should rightfully be in your pocket or your bank account.
  • When all the adding up is finally done, you’ll discover that you paid the leasing company more than twice as much as it would have cost you to purchase the system yourself and finance it. With the available incentives it should cost less than $2 per watt (all-in) to install your solar system if you DIY it (like many of our customers do; see our Customer Installs of the Month)
  • Leasing is still a commitment, your panels and systems are installed on the home, but can be repossessed and uninstalled if you fall behind on payments.
  • Leasing IS however a great option if you’re more concerned about offsetting your power bill and using renewable energy sources instead.
  • If you lease a solar system, you are not responsible for the maintenance, upkeep, and operation of it – that falls under the responsibility of the lenders, giving you some added peace of mind, especially if your solar system is on a vacation home or summer getaway.

Loan:

  • FHA PowerSaver Loans are available to qualified applicants in many states. These loans help cover the cost of solar installation (among other green energy improvements) and come with a reasonable interest rate.
  • With a loan, you’re paying back both the solar system’s costs and anything you owe on your mortgage, property taxes, etc, making any ROI or utility bill offset negligible until the loan is paid.
  • Loans can often be paid off in 10 to 20 years, which means you may be paying them off for the entire life of the solar system – by the time your loan is paid off, you may need to replace vital components to keep your solar system functioning.
  • A loan is, however, a “quick fix” solution for funding your solar system. Assuming you have the credit to qualify for one, this can be a desirable solution at the cost of a delayed return on your investment.

The Takeaway

Leasing or getting a loan for solar panels is a great idea… for the lender. It is not a consumer-friendly business model. In our recovering economy, loans and solar leases no longer make sense. Those two methods actually represent the most expensive ways for consumers to use solar energy. They were designed for investors to take advantage of a market in recession, not to help homeowners install solar.

Even more insidious is the escalator payment scheme, which allows leasing companies to increase your payment rate by 3% per year for 20 years. By year 20 you’re paying more than 175% of what you paid in year one.

By contrast, buying your panels outright saves you more and more money every year you own it. Even if you have to finance it, with a low enough interest rate there is still a good potential for positive payback.

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Install of the Month – October 2017

Install of the Month – October 2017

"Solar After the Storm" with Cyril Richardson

Have you ever weathered a hurricane?

Come face-to-face with the wind and the rain as it blows at you with twice the speed of a car on the freeway?

It’s one of the most powerful, terrifying experiences on Earth—and Cyril Richardson and his family went through it twice.

First, in early September, 2017, Hurricane Irma devastated the US Virgin Islands that Cyril calls home.

But then, just as they were only starting to wrap their heads around recovery, Cyril, his wife, and their two children had to stare down Hurricane Maria—their second category 5 storm in two weeks.

They made it through both safely, but, like thousands of other Virgin Island residents, they found themselves without power—and with no real hope of having it restored for months.

Luckily, before the hurricanes were even a concern, Cyril had started looking into solar systems. What had started as a plan to simply offset his utility bill quickly became a lifeline.

After considering his options, he chose Wholesale Solar as his supplier, working with Solar Technician Jeremy Allan, who helped design and deliver a custom system within 8 days.

Cyril and his family installed an off-grid system—the obvious choice, given the power system in the USVIs. To cope with both the rough weather and the requirements of his home, Jeremy helped Cyril settle on the dependability of The Ranch 8.85 KW system; this set-up both suits his needs now and can be programmed to work as grid-assisted once power is restored next year.

Cyril Richardson: In his own words

What kind of system did you install?

I bought an off-grid system, which just made more sense for the situation here. The power won’t be restored here for almost nine months, so it makes perfect sense to provide my own power and become self-sufficient.

What kind of battery bank did you get and why?

A 16-AGM (Absorbed Gas Mat) battery bank because it requires little-to-no maintenance. That makes it useful for going off-grid.

Did you have any previous DIY experience?

I own a company that builds and maintains reverse-osmosis water treatment, so I’ve done hands-on work in the past.

Was there anything difficult about the installation?

Pulling the wire through the conduit was a bit more difficult than I expected it to be, but I managed. There was some heavy lifting involved, so I had a couple of guys assist me with carrying the panels onto the roof. I definitely appreciated having extra help.

The batteries for the system were delayed unexpectedly, due to shortages. We were able to work with the manufacturer to ensure the quickest delivery of the freshest set of batteries, however. In the meantime I helped Cyril use batteries that he already had on-site to get his system up and running.
–  Solar Tech Jeremy Allen.

Did everything go smoothly?

I had everything I needed already, and was able to do it without hiring a contractor. It took about 14 hours after everything was said and done. The installation process went smoothly, and there weren’t any major delays.

How did it feel to get your solar project finished?

Very excited! It felt great to finish a project this big and to have power restored to my home. It’s a great relief to have the lights on and everything functioning again.

Did you consider anyone else before choosing Wholesale Solar?

I looked at a few other companies here in the Virgin Islands, but none of them offered the same independence or DIY ease-of-installation that Wholesale Solar did.

What was your total solar install cost?

After everything was said and done my total install cost was around $30,000.

Cyril's Solar Breakdown:

  • Cost of Contractor: None
  • Cost of Electrician: None
  • Total Hours to install: 14 hours
  • Design Output of kWh per year: 15,000-16,000 kWh
  • Federal Tax Incentive: Qualifies for $10,000 U.S. Federal Tax Credit
  • Utility rates per kWh: 13.12 cents/kWh
  • Average Monthly Utility cost: was $175
  • Feed-in Tariff/Net Metering Issues: None (once Grid is Up)

Questions about Cyril's install? Ask us in the comments below.

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Brooklyn Microgrid: The Future of Solar For the Sharing Economy

Brooklyn Microgrid: The Future of Solar For the Sharing Economy

The Sharing Economy Could Be the Future of the Energy Industry

Brooklyn, New York is paving the way for a new system, and it’s called the microgrid. Combining state-of-the-art software with solar power, the Brooklyn Microgrid is a small-scale proof-of-concept that could prove to be the future of the energy industry.

Brooklyn is a densely-packed urban environment, with little room for new buildings and a good distance from the nearest power plant. What it does have a surplus on, however, is roof space. The Microgrid takes full advantage of this, with solar panels on most of the rooftops allowing the 50 or so initial participants to gather energy from the sun. The microgrid’s system offsets the local power grid, and users take advantage of net metering and green energy credits.

Those are just the standard benefits that come from solar power, however. 

microgrid conceptual power flow
In the future, sustainable community microgrids like this could provide power for entire cities, with solar and wind farms distributing power to homes, businesses, and other utilities hooked into their own self-sustaining grid.

Stabilizing City Infrastructure

So why is the Brooklyn Microgrid such a revolutionary idea? It reinforces city infrastructure and can provide emergency power in the event of an outage.

One of the biggest challenges facing communities is that when the power grid goes down – especially due to hurricanes or other extreme weather, people are cut off. It can take days or even weeks to restore it. There are only three main power grids in the US. If just one of these goes down or is disrupted – like we saw with Hurricane Katrina in 2005 – tens of thousands of homes could be without electricity. 

But with a microgrid, a community is able to sustain itself during an emergency. This reinforces the infrastructure of the city as a whole, functioning independently when other systems fail. By relying on renewable sources, such as solar, this makes the microgrid far more reliable and resistant to failure. 

four reasons microgrids are effective

Secure, Sharable, and Locally-Sourced

Using Blockchain, a secure, encrypted data transfer method used for currencies such as Bitcoin, Microgrid users pay each other for their power, creating a micro-economy. This micro-economy benefits all participants, whether they’re “prosumers” producing solar power with solar systems installed on their roofs or “consumers” who rely on the power produced by their neighbors.

Right now, the Microgrid is just an experiment. Small-scale transactions and energy usage monitoring ensure that everything is running smoothly. LO3 and Siemens Digital Grid Division monitor all information, in hopes that the city of New York will grant the system proper market status and permission to function in a full-scale capacity. If the project is a success and the permits are awarded, however, the microgrid system could be applied to other cities all over the US.

The Brooklyn Microgrid represents a way forward for both the community using it and the sharing economy as a whole. Much like Uber, AirBnB, and TaskRabbit, the Brooklyn Microgrid cuts through the bureaucracy and red tape that a normal power grid requires, and if implemented on a wider scale in the future, could change the way we power our homes for good.

The President to Decide on The Future of Solar Panel Costs

The President to Decide on The Future of Solar Panel Costs

The International Trade Commission (ITC) will hold a vote on the trade case’s proposed remedies in October 2017, and in November, the ITC will take the case to the President, who has until January 12, 2018, to take action.

Greentech Media Spells out exactly what happens in each phase of the 201 trade case through 2018 with this helpful timeline above.

Frequent readers will recall we covered the beginnings of a Trade Dispute Casting a Shadow Over Solar’s Bright Future a few months back. Suniva and SolarWorld, two of the leading solar manufacturers in the US, allege that cheaper solar products imported from abroad, especially China, are having a negative impact on profits and sustainability for American businesses.

The ITC is moving forward with the Section 201 Trade Case, affirming the precedent that these lower prices on overseas products are indeed harming American manufacturers.

Suniva’s recommended remedy has changed several times over the course of the case, based on current market trends and recommendations from various authorities and lawmakers. The main remedies proposed have been to impose a tariff- an import tax on overseas solar products, and a quota – a restriction on the amount of solar panels and modules that can be imported from foreign manufacturers.

Initially, Suniva proposed a tariff of $0.32/watt that would drop to $0.29/watt after 4 years. Following discussions and delegations, this proposed tariff has been reduced to $0.25/watt that would fall to $0.23/watt after 4 years. Although that amount doesn’t seem like much money, those watts add up, and in total solar projects will cost 10-20% more with the tariff in place.

More troubling is the proposed quota – a restriction on the amount of solar equipment imported from foreign manufacturers. The current proposed quota is 220 MW and 5,700 MW worth of cells and modules respectively imported from foreign sources. Restricting the flow of solar cells and modules from non-US manufacturers effectively cripples the available supply, which, if demand continues to increase (as it has been on track to project over the next few years) will drive up prices considerably.

A third option has also been presented, and would ideally be the best solution: a manufacturing tax subsidy. This would essentially incentivize foreign manufacturers to establish factories in the US, manufacturing on US soil, providing jobs, and eliminating the need for import tariffs and fees.

Whatever the outcome, the solar industry is in for a shakeup. DIY suppliers like www.altestore.com, boxedsolar.com, and www.wholesalesolar.com allow you to cut costs on the overhead – even if system prices go up 10-20%. When you’re ready to start planning your solar project, make sure to talk to an experienced solar technician first.  They can help you through the designing process.

TIP: Don’t forget to file for the 30% Tax Credit and pay less on your income tax.