Living in the City with Icon Solar

City Living 2017You might have seen Icon Solar’s co-owner Zach Wieber in CityBeat’s City Living, talking about solar power. Stephen Novotni writes in “Solar power offers an efficient alternative to the grid” about the benefits and misconceptions of solar power, interviewing experts on solar. One was Zach, and the other was architect and interior designer Krista Atkins Nutter.

“What we’re doing is just reallocating money that you are already spending. It’s not a cost,” Zach assures in the article. “What you’re doing is taking money that you’re already spending with [your utility company] and spending it somewhere else. How much is what you’re doing now going to cost you? You’re paying your electric bill because you’ve never had a choice.”

Solar power is giving power to the people!

Tesla Energizes Two Ohio Homes

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Tesla, Inc. began development of their Powerwall in 2012, and started production of their first generation version in 2015. Since then, they have developed the Powerwall 2, with increased capacity, and an option for a built-in inverter. The batteries are made of lithium ion, and are designed to “provide energy storage for solar self-consumption, load shifting and backup power” – Tesla. The first generation was rated at 6.4 kWh, with a 3.3 kW peak and continuous power output, while the Powerwall 2 is rated at 13.5 kWh with a peak power of 7kW, and a continuous power output of 5kW. The cost of the Powerwall 2 is listed at $6,200 on Tesla’s web site (includes battery and supporting hardware). The web site also estimates installation costs ranging from $800 to $2,000 (plus tax and permit fees). Tesla also produces the Powerpack, a battery for commercial applications; the Powerpack 2 has a capacity of 200 kWh.

GEO recently learned of two Ohio households who have deployed Tesla Powerwalls along with their solar arrays from Icon Solar, the installer. Eager to hear of their experience, GEO contacted the Rifes and Brookses to learn more.

The Brooks family resides in Southwest Ohio in Dayton Power & Light’s service territory. In August of 2016, they installed 24 Quartech Canadian Solar panels rated at 270 Watts each for a total array capacity of 6.48 kW on their home. To accompany their solar array they installed a first generation Tesla Powerwall. The unit is wall mounted in their garage and the system is grid connected. The Brookses’ primary goal in installing a Powerwall was to have the ability to have power even during a utility blackout. They were drawn to the Powerwall specifically for the back-up storage because the lithium ion battery in the Powerwall appeared a cleaner and more efficient option than lead batteries. The family found the installation costs of the Powerwall on par with estimates.

So far, the unit has performed up to the family’s expectations, but has only been used for one utility blackout. The battery also constantly charges and discharges from 50% capacity. So, every time it gets fully charged it will discharge power for consumption until 50% capacity before recharging. Since August, the Brookses’ array has produced 3.46 MWh, with 2.08 MWh consumed. They experienced two months with no electric bill, and have never paid more than $45 a month since installing solar.

Tesla Powerwall battery (right) with inverter, solar meter and main electrical box in basement of Rife solar home.
Tesla Powerwall battery (right) with inverter, solar meter and main electrical box in basement of Rife solar home.

The Rifes installed a 32 panel solar array rated at 8.64 kW on their home in rural Central Ohio in October of 2016, and a wall mounted first generation Powerwall in their basement. While investigating the thought of going solar, the Rifes knew they wanted a back-up power source given their rural location, a sump pump in their basement, and the threats posed from lengthy grid outages. While they knew nothing initially about the Powerwall, they were soon comparing the advantages of battery back-up power to that of a gas generator. When comparing the 30% tax credit applicable to the Powerwall and solar array system, the Powerwall proved more economic.

Since October of last year, the Rifes have used their Powerwall as a back-up power source twice when the grid went down. While most of their local area was out of power, including neighbors, the nearest gas station, and other local businesses, the Rife’s were able to heat and light their home and enjoy a little entertainment from the television! Their system is also set up to pull power from the Powerwall in the event that the solar array is not meeting all of their demand. In this case, up to 50% of the capacity can be discharged instead of pulling power from the grid. The remaining 50% is reserved for grid outages.

The Rifes estimate that their solar array will pay for itself in eight years (not including the cost of the Powerwall). Savings were immediately realized during November 2016, when the household received an electric bill of only $20, while the previous month’s bill was around $120 (before the solar was installed). Their system is also tied to a smart phone app, where they can monitor their usage, the array’s production, and battery levels.

-Emily Sautter-Goerig, Program Manager

Icon Solar and Cryogenic Equipment & Services Partner on Solar Panel Installation

CINCINNATI (November 24, 2015) – Icon Solar recently partnered with Cryogenic Equipment & Services’ (CES) North American headquarters on a significant solar panel installation project. The project began in September 2015 and took about six weeks to secure the electrical and building permits. The complete panel installation took about 10 days. The total system features 474 solar panels that will produce over 155,000 Kwh of energy annually, and covers the entire south side of the facility’s roof.

“We were happy to be able to help CES lower their electrical rates and estimate that this install will offset approximately 70 percent of CES’s electrical usage on an annual basis,” said Zach Wieber, Icon Solar owner. “Assuming electrical rates in Ohio continue to increase at a rate of 4.2 percent per year, CES is looking at a total savings of more than $629,000 over the next 25 years.”

“We initially chose Icon Solar because of their high scores on Angie’s list, and they did not disappoint,” said Johnny Nuttin, president of CES. “They were very professional, kept us in the loop throughout the whole process and secured the proper safety measures, equipment and provisions necessary for the installation. We’ve worked with a lot of contractors over the years and Icon Solar definitely stands out as one of the best. They knew what they were doing and that made us feel very comfortable and confident throughout the entire process.”

About Icon Solar

Icon Solar is a trusted source for solar panel installation whose certified, in-depth technical experts focus exclusively on solar panel installation. In addition to full-circle service and turnkey solar solutions for commercial and residential customers, Icon Solar also provides clients with customized education on the financial and environmental benefits of solar energy. Icon Solar is headquartered in Milford, Ohio.

About CES

CES is an industry leader in freezing and cooling technology; the company’s equipment meets the high standards that customers in the food and pharmaceutical industries demand. From design and production facilities in Kortrijk (Belgium) and Cincinnati (USA), CES has installed more than 1,500 freezing and cooling systems worldwide. For more information visit

University of Cincinnati “Goes Green” with Icon Solar

Sun Station: Solar Energy Powers New Research Facility at UC Field Station

The Court Archaeological Research Facility is the first UC building to rely on solar energy for its power.

Date: 7/16/2013 12:00:00 AM
By: Allison Stigler
Phone: (513) 556-8577

Tucked into Shaker farmland and surrounded by forests, the University of Cincinnati’s recently-opened Court Archaeological Research Facility (CARF) at the Cincinnati Center for Field Studies provides students hands-on field experience steps away from prehistoric artifacts. In doing so, the building also uses the latest technology to minimize its impact on the environment.

This technology now includes an array of 20 solar panels, making it the first UC buildings that can rely entirely on renewable energy to operate and, at times, provide electricity for other residences within the community.

When I was out there yesterday, the meter was spinning backward, which means we were putting energy back in the grid

“When I was out there yesterday, the meter was spinning backward, which means we were putting energy back in the grid,” said David Lentz, UC professor of biological sciences and executive director of UC Center for Field Studies.
The new system was designed and installed by Icon Solar and includes state of the art, American-made monocrystalline solar panels with micro inverters. The output of the solar system can be monitored via the Internet or by using an app on a smart phone. Icon Solar is located in Milford, Ohio, and has installed 200 similar solar panel arrays.
“Using the solar panels allows us to walk the talk on sustainability,” said Lentz. “During the spring and fall, we’re carbon neutral. We can use this to teach students about green buildings at work.”
Other green features of the building also support McMicken College of Arts and Sciences’ mission to be a leader in environmental issues. Architecture firm Emersion Design included heating and cooling systems that allow energy recovery and rain barrels to capture rainwater for recycling in the CARF design. All the cabinetry inside the building is recycled and refinished lab furniture, another green feature. The building also has continuous insulation, which is uncommon for wood framed structures.
UC archaeology students and members of the public can use the CARF to conduct hands-on research and store important archaeological artifacts. John and Georgia Court of the Court Family Foundation made this facility possible through donations to the McMicken College of Arts and Sciences.
“Thanks to their generous contributions, which amount to more than $1 million, many future generations of students, visiting scholars, and the public will learn about the rich archaeological resources of the Cincinnati area,” said UC Anthropology Professor Ken Tankersley. “We truly believe that education is the key to preserving these precious and non-renewable cultural resources.”
This type of education can range from kindergarten to graduate students visiting the CARF to learn about ancient burial mounds in the Ohio Valley, who made them and what they mean to us today. Students can participate in hands-on activities at the facility to enhance their understanding of the culture that lived here thousands of years ago.
Discoveries made at the archaeological field school have attracted international attention as well as attention from other major academic institutions, according to Tankersley.
“The Court family funds and a grant from the National Science Foundation helped us not only establish this facility, but build some of the sustainable features to make it truly green,” said David Lentz.

The next step for the CARF is to establish a dormitory near the Field Station site. Lentz envisions converting a nearby Shaker farm building for this use via a partnership with the Great Parks of Hamilton County. This will entice national and international visitors and scholars to stay at the site to conduct research in this historically important region.

Icon Solar Is Proud To Give Back

Maupin gets surprise payback for longtime care of troops

UNION TWP.— If Keith Maupin didn’t know how much the community appreciates what he’s done for U.S. troops, he found out Wednesday morning.

Dozens of people descended on his Clermont County home and surprised him with plans to begin – immediately – a major makeover of his house and garage using donated material and labor.

The procession of volunteers, friends and donors was led down Mount Carmel-Tobasco Road by police on motorcycles and Patriot Guard Riders. The latter often are invited to memorial services for fallen military members, but “this is a fun one for us,” said Patriot Guard assistant state captain Mike Hamilton of West Chester Township.

Maupin, he said, “has been steadfast about taking care of the troops and seeing that they’re supported. He’s never faltered. And he’s always there for us whenever we need anything. We felt it was time for payback.”

Indeed, people said they got involved because they know how much Maupin has given. And they know how much he has lost.

His son, Keith “Matt” Maupin, graduated from Glen Este High School in 2001, a few months before the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks. He enrolled at the University of Cincinnati. To help pay for his education, in 2002 he enlisted in the U.S. Army Reserve.

He was deployed to Iraq in February 2004. On April 9, the 20-year-old private first class was captured when his convoy was ambushed by insurgents.

The Yellow Ribbon Support Center, run by Keith Maupin, was founded that year. It sent care packages to soldiers in Iraq; each package included photos of Matt, with a note asking for help finding him.

When it became apparent that many more troops were lacking basic necessities, the Support Center’s efforts broadened. Packages were sent to the unit of any soldier whose family requested it.

Meanwhile, after being declared missing in action, Matt Maupin was promoted three times, reaching the rank of staff sergeant.

In March 2008, his remains were recovered and returned home.

Since then, the Support Center has continued to send packages to troops. That tally now exceeds 22,000. What’s more, the Let Us Never Forget Scholarship Fund, part of the support center, was created in 2006 to provide college scholarships in the name of fallen military members from the area. The fund has since awarded more than $400,000 to high school seniors.
The nonprofit center, based in a strip mall in Eastgate the past nine years, was recently told its rent would more than triple. Unable to find an affordable space, Maupin decided to move the center, which now includes a museum, into a large garage behind his house.
He was there Wednesday, talking with a contractor about drywall, as dozens of people gathered outside.

Shannon Moore, who owns Moore Plumbing in Fayetteville, was among them. While repairing a sink in Maupin’s home recently, he saw how much more needed to be done.

“His refrigerator wasn’t working,” Moore said. “His air conditioner wasn’t working.” And it was apparent the house hadn’t been updated for many years.

“I don’t think he would do it for himself,” Moore said. “He’s too worried about everybody else. He puts all his money right back into the Yellow Ribbon Foundation.”

Moore’s idea, initially, was to surprise Maupin by renovating the kitchen and bathroom. But “it snowballed into something huge.”

Michael Barrett had a lot to do with that. He’s owner of MAB HVAC Services in Covington. He learned from Keith Maupin’s fiancé, Erica Huff, that because of the broken air conditioning, Maupin had been sleeping in his van on hot nights.

Barrett fixed the air conditioner, then started making calls.

In all, about 20 contractors, suppliers and other businesses agreed to help. Major commitments came from Sears, Home Depot, Furniture Fair, Handyman Connection, Icon Solar, Bryant Habegger, Trane and Brooks Flooring.

It might take anywhere from a few weeks to a couple of months to complete all the work.

Maupin, surprised and grateful, acknowledged that his house needs work. But he seemed especially pleased that just steps from his home the Yellow Ribbon Support Center will be able to continue its two-fold mission: supporting members of the military who are in harm’s way, and remembering those, like Matt Maupin, who made the ultimate sacrifice.

Local Accountant Sees Value in Solar

Orcutt Financial partners with Icon Solar Power to go green

By Kellie Geist-May

MIAMI TWP. Although it’s not something you can see driving by, Orcutt & Company has made some serious upgrades. The Miami Township accounting company partnered with Icon Solar Power, also of Miami Township, to install 91 solar panels on the roof.

We were working with Icon about a year and a half ago as they were trying to understand the tax ramifications of buying solar equipment. As I started looking into it, I started to realize the benefits,” said Greg Orcutt, owner of Orcutt Financial. “We now have 91 panels on the roof and the projection is that it will provide about 60 percent of our electric on average.

“Of course we’ll do better on sunny days than on cloudy days,” he said.
Orcutt Financial, 936 Ohio 28, was able to take advantage of grants and tax credits to help fund the upgrade.

“We are just looking forward to saving money on our electric for the next 25 years,” Orcutt said.

Icon Solar Power, 50 West Technecenter Drive, started providing green energy solutions through solar power about two years ago. He said technology has come a long way since solar first hit the market.

“We install solar electric on homes and business – mainly in the Tristate – but we’ve traveled, too. People should know that the solar technology that’s out right now is much more aesthetically pleasing than it use to be. They’re not the blue or purple panels people are used to. They’re smaller and the ones we put on homes are black,” said Zach Wieber Icon operations manager.

Although solar power can be expensive, it’s not out of reach for the average home or business owner. Icon offers zero-percent financing and the return on investment is typically six to seven years, Wieber said.

“Green energy can be a big nut to crack if you have to write a check for it, but with our financing, you can apply your savings to the cost and pay it off quickly,” he said. “It really does become affordable, especially if you consider that you’re fixing the costs on the portion of the bill.”

All of Icon’s equipment is American made, Wieber said.

Orcutt is happy with the investment they’ve made and with Icon’s work.

“Icon did a great job with the installation. It’s only been two weeks, and it’s been sunny, but I’m looking at the graph of what we’ve created and it’s doing really well,” he said.

For more about Icon Solar Power, visit For more about Orcutt & Company, visit

Experts Say “Time Is Now” To Go Solar

Why You Need to Consider Solar Panels – Now

By Aimee Kunau

Higher utility prices are a reality for many hard-working Americans in a sluggish economy. Every month, it seems the bills are increasing, with no relief in sight. This trend is one reason why solar panels and solar array systems are slowly gaining in popularity among people seeking long-term reduction in their utility costs.
Solar Panel Popularity Gaining in Recent Years
Solar panels have been a source of public interest for some time. The potential for cost savings, greater efficiency, and environmental friendliness all contribute to the fact that homeowners are investigating solar as a viable energy alternative. In fact, according to a recent NY Times blog, the U.S. now has 5.7 gigawatts installed solar capacity. The federal Energy Information Administration reports that from 2010 to 2011, “Power generation from renewable sources continued to rise, mostly because of record-breaking supplies of hydroelectricity and increasing generation from wind, solar, and other renewable sources.” The Solar Energy Industries Association (SEIA) informs a doubling in solar panel installations in the second quarter of 2012, with continued growth expected.
Proof of Savings over Time
Solar panels can have both an immediate and long term benefit to home owners, because the power produced by them is free. With the national average cost of electricity increasing at an 8% clip every year, the savings impact solar panels can offer now is quite significant. In addition, grid tied systems producing excess power that is not used can be sold back to your utility company. Solar panels will increase the value of your home, as well, which is a highly desired feature in the depressed U.S. housing market. In fact, many appraisal publications now show that homes with solar panels will typically sell three times faster than homes without solar.

A World of Difference
Not all solar panels are created equal. There are hallmarks of a superior product and residential system installation that savvy consumers should pay close attention to when contemplating a solar array system purchase. Some of these key elements of high-quality solar panels include:

  •  Panels that use black back sheets, cells, and frames that blend in better with your roof
  • USA made components with strict quality standards
  • Micro-inverters that allow for AC rather than DC current for greater efficiency and lower risk
  • Flash plates with extended roof penetration warranties
  • Long life warranties on components up to 25 years
  • Online monitoring capability for use on your PC, tablet or smart phone
    Companies that offer better grade solar array systems will also adhere to industry best-practices, including employee background checks that will instill trust that the individuals coming to your home are fully vetted and skilled.

Most States Get Plenty of Sun
For northern or Midwestern states, the average amount of daylight is more than sufficient to provide solar energy to any home. You do not need to live in a sunny climate to reap the benefits of this clean, renewable energy source. Ohio, for example, averages over 2300 hours per year of sunlight; plentiful enough for liberal use of a solar array system. Countries like Germany, which leads Europe in solar power usage, gets much less sun than the Midwest (only 1500 hours per year) and still outshine its neighbors and the world in harnessing solar energy.

Investing in Solar: More Affordable, Better ROI
In 2011, it was reported that solar panels overall were down 20% in price, representing a significant savings for prospective buyers. A lower margin of investment, coupled with an increase in home values, makes the decision to move forward with a purchase of a quality solar panel system a smart one. In only 4-8 years (on average) the system should pay for itself in terms of return on investment. The incentives offered by local and state governments can also help reduce the initial system investment, but will vary by location. Excess power generated but not used can to be a source of extra income when sold back to utility companies. Currently, a 30% federal tax incentive exists to help absorb the cost of installing solar panels. All of the above are strong reasons to seriously investigate installing a solar array system for your home.
To understand the specifics of how high-quality solar panels can benefit you, find out more by contacting a qualified solar provider that can explain in detail the features, benefits, and costs involved in installing a solar panel system.

Aimee Kunau is a freelance writer from the Cincinnati area. Her writing niches include green energy, start-ups, and entrepreneurs. She can be contacted at