Solar Power Around the World

As one of the Tristate’s leading solar panel installers, we’re experts in how solar functions in the region. We’re passionate about solar power in the Tristate, but we also love keeping up with how solar power is making a big impact all around the world. Here are a few of our favorite solar innovations:

The Largest Solar Farm in the World: This is a title that is often short-lived, as more and more massive solar farms are built each year. Currently, the honor of world’s largest solar farm belongs to Longyangxia Dam Solar Park in China. This solar farm covers 10 square miles of land and helps push China forth as leader in renewable energy. This solar panel behemoth might be massive, but the world is scattered with giant solar plants, so it might not be too long before another steals the spotlight.

Building Facades: Solar panels lining the exterior of your building might sound strange, but one school in Copenhagen has created a stylized system that meets half their energy needs. The glass facades used also allow for a more flexible solution to some of Europe’s renewable energy needs and the new technology will allow old houses and buildings to become more energy-neutral. Preserving historic buildings and cutting energy costs? Yes, please.

Solar Power Inventions: The world of solar isn’t just limited to buildings; there are plenty of amazing products that are powered by solar. We’re loving this wireless solar keyboard, this solar power bank for charging your phone, and these solar power bricks for adding some light to your backyard at night. The industry is constantly churning out new innovations for the world of solar, and we just love seeing people get creative.

It’s fun to check out what’s going on around the world with solar, and it’s even more exciting to explore how solar power can work for you. The world is turning to solar to reduce energy costs; contact our team to find out how solar power can do the same for you!

Dear Wanda: How Does Solar Work in the Midwest?

DearWanda

Dear Wanda,
Solar panels sound great, but seriously…are people in Ohio really on board? Will all my neighbors think I’m a little crazy if I start installing panels?
Thanks,
Skeptical Midwesterner

Dear Skeptical Midwesterner,

I get where you’re coming from; the Midwest isn’t exactly known for consistent sunshine and warmth! If you’re curious about investing in panels that save you thousands of dollars, trust me, you’re not crazy. You’re financially savvy! And as your Wealth Warrior, I commend your efforts.

But it can be hard to picture solar panels on your roof when no one you know has made that choice. Fear not! The Midwest is packed full of solar enthusiasts, and is home to some of the best renewable energy resources in the world.

Still concerned about how the Midwest weather affects our potential for solar? With an average of 4.2 to 4.7 peak hours of sun per day, we’re rivaling Florida (which gets 5). Yep, the Buckeye State gets almost as much sun as the Sunshine State. Is your mind blown yet?

As someone who considers herself a trend setter (I was wearing sun-printed skirts before anyone else), I encourage you to take the facts and blaze a solar trail that your neighbors, family and friends can follow, especially once they find out how much money you’re saving!

Shine on, my fellow Midwesterner!
Wanda, Your Wealth Warrior

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Solar Power in Cincy

When most people think about solar, their minds probably don’t think Ohio. The Midwest is notorious for its temperamental weather, and Ohio is no exception. Think 40 degrees one day and 75 the next. Many people often assume that since we live in an area where winter is harsh, we can’t reap the rewards of solar panels.WandaSidebarTemplate

Luckily for you (and your wallet), Cincinnati and the Tristate area still get an average of between 4.2 and 4.7 peak hours of sun per day on an annual basis. Just to put that in perspective, Florida gets an average of 5 peak hours and California ranges from 5 to 5.7 hours per day. We give the Sunshine State a run for its money and its potential for solar power.

Plenty of folks in the area are already saving money with solar. The University of Cincinnati used our team of solar experts to install the first panels on their campus. Cryogenic Equipment and Services, headquartered in Cincinnati, worked with us to install a system of 474 panels on their facility. And of course, hundreds of residents have also chosen to save thousands of dollars and install residential panels through Icon Solar.

We’re inspired by the steps our community has taken to welcome solar power to the region. Convinced that the good ol’ Tristate can power your panels? Call us today for a free onsite quote!

Save Money Without Installing an Eyesore

We love solar power, but let’s be honest, solar panels can have a reputation for being bulky rooftop monstrosities. So even though solar panels save folks thousands of dollars, people are quick to disregard them because of how they think the panels will look. Thankfully, not all solar systems are created equal, and the industry is filled with a variety of manufacturers and equipment types. Our team at Icon Solar has a few tricks up our sleeve that will make your solar panels work with the aesthetic of your home.

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Black panels vs blue cell panels. When you picture solar panels, odds are you picture the bulky blue cells with silver frames that stick out like a sore thumb. We install attractive black frames, black back sheets and black cells, which blend better with your roof and give a clean and polished appearance.

Custom installation. No matter your roof size or configuration, we work with you to create a unique solar panel system that fits your house and can saves you thousands. Our team is flexible and dedicated to making your installation process seamless and hassle free.

Additional roof protection. While most people might assume that solar panels would damage a roof, solar panels actually prolong the life of your roof. Panels protect your roof from the ravages of heat, light and weather. Panels can also keep your house cooler in the summer by absorbing the sunlight that would normally hit your roof. To top it all off, our black mounting hardware, including our racking and clamps, preserves the aesthetic of your home.

Need more information about how solar installation can save you thousands and work for your home? Check out our FAQ page or contact our team! And be sure to take a look at our project portfolio to see how our panels have worked for other residents.

How to Navigate a Home Improvement Show

Spring has sprung, which means home improvement shows are in full swing. The prospect of perusing rows of vendors and booths is exciting, but can also be overwhelming. We’re popping up at shows around the Tristate area all year, and have some helpful tips to share on how to make the most out of home improvement shows.WandaSidebarTemplate

Keep savings in sight. Home shows are filled with gorgeous new additions to better your home, but consider the ROI on potential purchases. Granite countertops and a backyard fountain are tempting, but their value depreciates the minute they’re installed. Solar panels are the home improvement option that pay for themselves; they add value to your home while lowering the cost of your electric bills. Upping your home value and saving thousands of dollars? Yes, please.

Get organized. Most booths or tables will have business cards, brochures, flyers and giveaways; keep your thoughts organized by taking a binder and notepad to save what you pick up and write down your thoughts. Home improvement shows can seem overwhelming, but keeping track of what you find will help you remember which vendors you liked and which ones you want to take out of the running.

Check certifications. Ask a potential vendor if they have any certifications, which can help differentiate which businesses are a cut above the rest. Our team is made up of NABCEP-certified installers and are Green Umbrella, Green Energy Ohio and US Green Building Council members, keeping us at the forefront of new solar technology and developments. We’re devoted to making sure our team is qualified to exceed expectations, and certifications are a sure sign that a business cares about their customers and their service.

Ask questions! Home improvements are a big investment, and you want to be sure your potential vendor is knowledgeable and personable. If you have solar specifically on your mind, here are the questions you should consider asking a solar panel company (and how our team would answer them).

We’ve loved meeting new folks at home improvement shows; check out our schedule of upcoming events to meet our team of solar experts and find out more about how solar can improve your home!

Looking to Improve Your Home? Solar Power Can Help.

DearWanda

Dear Wanda,
I’m ready to make some big home improvements, but I’m not sure what’s the best use of my money. A finished basement? A new kitchen? Or are solar panels a wise investment?
Thanks,
Intrigued Homeowner

Dear Intrigued Homeowner,

First off, kudos to you for giving some good research and thought on how to use your hard-earned money. Home improvements are exciting (take it from someone who watches a lot of HGTV), and it’s tempting to spend your money on new, shiny things like a new kitchen or basement. But how much return on investment do you get from home renovations? While those improvements will certainly increase the value of your home, they won’t make you any money. What will? Solar panels, of course!

Solar power is the home improvement investment that will pay for itself (sorry, granite countertops!) and adds tens of thousands of dollars to the value of your home. Unlike other improvements that age and lose value, solar panels work to save you money and add value to your home over time, with an ROI of well over 100 percent. The new hardwood floors might be pretty, but they’ll only get you 50-60 percent ROI and then only when you sell your home, and as your Wealth Warrior, you probably know which of those investments I would recommend.

I get where you’re coming from; home improvement is all about making your home look spiffy, and solar panels can have a reputation for being an eyesore. Luckily for you, Icon Solar specializes in attractive solar panels that are matte, solid black and blend in with your roof.

Need more reasons to invest your money into the power of solar? Talk to the team of experts at Icon Solar. They’ll walk you through the whole process from start to finish and get you on track to add value to your home and save thousands.

Happy home improving!
Wanda, Your Wealth Warrior

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Five Questions to Ask a Solar Power Company at a Home Improvement Show (And Our Answers)

‘Tis the season for home improvement shows at convention centers and meeting spaces around the country! It’s the beginning of the year and everyone is heading out to home improvement shows looking for the best ways to invest in their homes. We may be experts in solar power, but solar panel companies should be your first stop. Whether you are interested in saving thousands on your electric bill or reducing your carbon footprint, solar panels give one of the best returns on your investment of any change you can make to your home. Take our advice, and be sure to ask these five questions, too.

1)Tell me about your experience.
Experience typically correlates with quality of work. The more experience, the better work they do. But, don’t let that be your only question here; see if you can get to know the company and what they stand for. Ask: how many installations have you completed? Are you certified? Do you belong to any industry organizations? How are customer complaints handled?

At Icon Solar, we have hundreds of installations under our belt. Our team of experts includes NABCEP-certified professionals, installers with years of experience and hundreds of installations, and we are Green Umbrella, Green Energy Ohio, and U.S. Green Building Council members, keeping us at the forefront of new solar technology and developments. We are passionately driven to save our customers money (lots of it!) and committed to full-circle customer service for a worry and hassle-free solar journey. (Now, that was a good answer!)

2)What will my home solar system look like?
No home solar system is exactly the same. There are a variety of manufacturers, equipment types and warranties. Your solar array will depend on roof size, energy consumption and any design requests. It’s important to know what type of system you’ll need, if you can customize your design and what the actual product looks like.

At Icon Solar we use black panels with black frames designed to match rooftops; they’re much more attractive than typical blue cell panels you may picture when you think of solar panels. Plus, our team of experts works with each customer to create an array that meets your energy and design needs.

3)What kind of value will solar panels add to my home?
Common reasons for home improvement are to make your home more functional, more luxurious or change its style. Another big reason is to add value. If that’s part of your interest in going solar, you’ll be very pleased! Solar panels do that and then some. For every $1 in electric bill savings (and trust us, you’ll save a lot!), value increases by $20, adding tens of thousands of dollars to the value of your home.

Wanda4)What are the other benefits of this investment?
Going solar is a big investment. Like any major home improvement, you’ll want to know what bang you’re getting for your buck. With solar panels, we’re talking increased home value; sustainable clean energy production; reduced carbon footprint; increased energy independence; government and municipality rebates and credits; tens of thousands in savings and not to mention an electric bill that costs less than a cup of coffee. Whew, that’s a lot!

5)How do I get started?
Because, after all that, how can you not want solar panels? The simple way to get started is to call Icon Solar! We’re dedicated to walking each customer through their solar journey from start to finish.

We’ll be at home improvement shows all year. Check out where we’ll be and come see us!

Have questions or comments for us on this blog? Talk to us here.

Four Benefits of Storing Your Solar Energy

Whether you’re thinking about getting solar panels or already have a home solar system, you want to get the most out of your clean-energy-producing panels. The best way to do that? Install a home battery. Home batteries amp up your solar benefits and savings. Here’s how.

1) Home batteries store your solar energy.
Similar to regular AA batteries, home batteries contain lithium-ion battery cells that hold a specific ratio of materials that can hold, store and power electric current. But, unlike the AA battery powering your TV remote, a home battery can power major appliances, electronic devices and other critical items in your home (just a bit more powerful, right?).

Oftentimes, you won’t use all the energy your solar panels generate during a 24-hour period. Also, solar panels don’t generate new energy at night. With a home battery that energy can be stored and used around the clock, whenever you need it, day or night.

2) Home batteries increase your energy independence.
By storing the energy your home solar system produces, you become less dependent on the utility grid. Plus, you avoid relying on the utility company and its ever-increasing utility rates. If your solar system overproduces, that energy is stored for later use. So, instead of pulling energy from the utility grid, you’re pulling clean, solar produced energy from your home battery.

The sun offers free and abundant power, so why not take advantage of that and get the most out of your home solar system? (We can’t think of any good reasons not to, either!).

3) Home batteries serve as backup power.
If you have energy stored – independent of the utility grid – power outages don’t mean a thing! Your home battery will protect your home as a backup power generator, just a much cleaner, quieter, no-maintenance, long-lasting one. Plus, with a seamless hook-up to the grid and to your circuit breaker, using power from your home battery requires no action on your part. It just happens.WandaSidebarTemplate

4) Home batteries create a sustainable energy future.
By generating, storing and using your own clean solar energy, we’ve determined you can rely less on the utility grid. But, this also means you’re relying less on fossil fuels which significantly reduces your carbon footprint.

So, when it all comes down to it, combining your home solar system with a home battery will make you a sustainable, clean-energy producing machine, with massive savings, too!

Icon Solar is a certified installer of Tesla Powerwall, a premier home battery that is a step toward your complete home energy solution. Give us a call today to learn more about your energy independence and solar savings!

Have questions or comments for us on this blog? Talk to us here.

Five Words You Need to Know to Save Thousands

You’ve done your research and know when it comes to state-of-the-art solar panel technology, Icon Solar has the latest and greatest. You also know there is a lot involved in how those money-saving panels work (and work for you). These five need-to-know words will send you on your way to massive solar savings.

WandaSidebarTemplate1. Tax Credit
Simply put, a tax credit is a credit on your taxes. The credit amount is taken directly off your payment, rather than as a deduction from your taxable income. It is a credit that only offsets tax you would otherwise have to pay.

Right now, there is a 30 percent solar investment tax credit. That means you can claim your new home solar system on your taxes and receive 30 percent of the cost of your system in addition to any other refund you’re owed. This can be up to $10,000. Yep, you read that right.

2. Grid
When “grid” is mentioned in terms of solar power, we’re talking about the utility grid (don’t worry, we’re not talking about some elaborate mathematical graph!). Your home is hooked up to your community’s utility grid through power lines that give you electricity you use and pay for from the utility company.

The most common home solar system is grid-tied. With this system, your solar panels are still connected to the utility grid. While your solar panels will provide much of the electricity you need, remaining connected to the grid allows you to get electricity from it at night (when your panels aren’t producing power), or if you simply use more power than your panels can produce.

Additionally, grid-tied systems allow you to send surpluses from your own solar panels to the power company. When that happens, you get a credit with the power company. This credit allows you to pull that surplus amount of power your panels generated and you didn’t use from the grid at no cost. Your system will switch seamlessly to pull from the grid when you need it.

There are also grid-tied with battery and off-grid home solar systems.

3. Array
You most often see “array” in terms of a solar array or photovoltaic (fancy word for solar) array. Essentially, an array is your unique home solar system. When multiple solar panels are connected, and installed together, they are called an “array.”

At Icon Solar, we work with you to design, produce and install an array that is custom to your energy and aesthetic needs.

4. Inverter
An inverter is where the magic happens. To understand what an inverter does, first you have to know what DC and AC Power are. DC power, also known as “Direct Current,” is generated from your solar panels as the materials inside them are activated by the sun to create an electric current. AC power, also known as “Alternating Current,” is the electricity that you pull from the grid and use to power your home.

The inverter is the middle-man that transforms DC power into AC power. Each individual solar panel is connected to an inverter and to the other solar panels in your array. Together these inverters form a chain of power that travels into your circuit breaker on your electric panel to power your home.

5. Home Battery
A home battery is your home solar system’s right hand man. A home battery stores energy your home solar system overproduces so you can use it around the clock. It can also serve as a backup power source in power outages. By storing your solar energy, you’ll see even more electric bill savings and you can power critical appliances and devices in your home even when the grid is down. Home batteries mean less reliance on the grid, less fossil fuels and a lower carbon footprint.

Icon Solar is a certified installer of Tesla Powerwall, a complete home energy solution. Interested? Give us a call and learn more.

Now that you know how solar harnesses the free, abundant power of the sun (isn’t it awesome?!), you may be wondering how you get started on your home solar system. Lucky for you, Icon Solar has a total turnkey solution, which is a fancy way to say we’ll walk you through every step of your solar process.

Have questions or comments for us on this blog? Talk to us here.

“And They Said a Phone Wouldn’t Work…” The Next Best Technology (That Will Save You Thousands)

Let us tell you a story that may make you think differently about a major money-saving endeavor.

It is fabled that in the late 1800s Alexander Graham Bell offered to sell his patent on the telephone to Western Union for $100,000. As the story goes, the committee assigned to investigate the telephone invention included the following in its report:

“We do not see that this device will be ever capable of sending recognizable speech over a distance of several miles. Messer Hubbard and Bell want to install one of their ‘telephone devices’ in every city. The idea is idiotic on the face of it. Furthermore, why would any person want to use this ungainly and impractical device when he can send a messenger to the telegraph office and have a clear written message sent to any large city in the United States? … Mr. G.G. Hubbard’s fanciful predictions, while they sound rosy, are based on wild-eyed imagination and lack of understanding of the technical and economic facts of the situation, and a posture of ignoring the obvious limitations of his device, which is hardly more than a toy … This device is inherently of no use to us. We do not recommend its purchase.” *

This would be a good time to say, “I told you so!” Regardless of whether the story is true, it paints the picture of how it’s difficult to anticipate how or at what pace a new technology will work or supplement an old one. That is certainly the case with solar power.

In fact, solar power has really been around for quite some time. The first photovoltaic cell was produced at Bell Telephone Laboratories (see how it all ties together here?) in 1954, and the first solar powered telecommunications satellite was launch by (you guessed it!) Bell Telephone Laboratories in 1962.

WandaSidebarTemplateToday, we take things like TVs, phones, internet, GPS and more for granted. You may not know,  but these everyday technologies rely upon solar power to work. Think about if you couldn’t watch TV, use your phone, get on the internet or use your GPS for a day. (That does not sound fun!)

An interruption of solar power to a telecommunications satellite would probably make us realize how much we rely upon solar power. Even the little things, like the winter finale of Grey’s Anatomy or directions to the new pizza place, are ones on which we all rely on solar power to enjoy. But, solar power is so reliable that many of us don’t even notice that we use solar power in some way every day.

If solar power is so established and so reliable, why don’t more people use it to power their homes? Well, that is a good question! At some point the folks at Western Union wondered how they could be so wrong about the telephone. The telegraph was such a major part of Western Union’s business (which at the time was doing very well) that Western Union could hardly envision the day when the telegraph wouldn’t exist and most people would own a phone that they carry with them everywhere they go.

Similarly, it is difficult for many homeowners to consider getting their electricity from anything but the utility company. Just for a second, envision how it would feel to receive a utility bill with an amount due that’s less than a cup of coffee. Like that feeling? So do all of Icon Solar’s customers.

It’s time for you to decide whether you are going to stick with the telegraph or invest in the telephone (metaphorically speaking of course!). Investing in a home solar system is good for the environment and will save you money. Lots of money. Invest in your own wallet and embrace a future full of sunshine and savings!

Have questions or comments for us on this blog? Talk to us here.

 

*Yarrow, J (2014, Jan 2), This Apocryphal Story About The Telephone Should Be An Inspiration To Every Young Company, http://www.businessinsider.com/why-people-thought-telephones-would-fail-2014-1