We want to take a moment to reflect and celebrate both the businesses and individuals we have been able to work with throughout the year.
When Same Sun opened its doors in Vermont thirteen years ago, we believed our mission was important: to work with folks to produce clean solar energy. In 2011, those kilowatt-hours primarily powered your lights and electrical appliances. Now, because of subzero heat pumps and a long list of EVs on the market, solar is heating your homes and powering your cars. Our dream is coming true: move all you can from fossil fuels to the grid and power the grid with your own solar array! Same Sun celebrated this at the Paramount Theatre this last Spring with “An Electrifying Afternoon.”
Moving these devices to the grid has created a new category of work for Same Sun, namely the upgrading of electrical panels and the installation of EV chargers. Our Master Electrician, through our Service Division, has been quite busy with the upgrades and additions that are making this revolution from fossil fuels to clean electricity possible.
Same Sun solarizes Vermont, New Hampshire and New York. Many New Hampshire residents were hit with sudden and unprecedented utility rate increases, and turned to solar as a way to mitigate the cost. We focused primarily on residential solar projects in this area to help these customers become part of the solution while lowering those electric bills.
In 2023, probably our most famous Vermont client, Whistlepig Whiskey, chose to add a ground array to the unusual and impressive rooftop array Same Sun completed years ago. Together, these two arrays provide all the electricity the distillery employs. 100% clean energy; as if one needed another reason to enjoy this premium rye whiskey!
Easily the most gratifying and historic work we did this year in New York is the Whitehall Castle. This former armory, built in 1899 and listed on the National Register of Historic Places, has been given new life through modern systems such as heat pumps and the solar helps cover the cost of energy improvements. Bringing 21st century technology to a 19th century landmark makes us aware of the continuum that is our past and our future.
In conclusion we acknowledge that whatever Same Sun achieves simply doesn’t exist without our clients. We laid out the facts and designs and you made the decision to go solar with us – a commitment to do the right thing environmentally.
Having run out of rooftops and grounds at our own home years ago when we built our third solar array – thanks for letting us use yours!
Happy Holidays to you all.
PS: The Same Sun office will close at 5pm December 22nd, 2023 and reopen January 2nd, 2024 at 9AM to give our exceptional staff some well-deserved time off.
The Vermont housing market has seen unprecedented activity in the last few years, and rising prices. Anecdotally, we’ve spoken to a number of customers that have sold their homes with solar installed, and ones that have bought them, and we always ask whether the solar factored into the sale. This question has gotten mixed answers; they’ve reported that the buyers are often happy to have the solar but they don’t know how it impacted the sale.
The Jury is In – Solar Increases a Home’s Value
For many years we were stymied by realtors insisting that the solar was at best, not a factor and at worst, a negative. We were even asked to remove arrays so that people could move with the equipment, despite the fact that the installation was custom-designed for the home.
It makes sense that, all other things being equal, that a home with solar would sell for more because of the lower utility cost but that did not seem to be the conventional wisdom. Thankfully, that has changed and the value added by solar is now widely understood. You can easily find info on Zillow, Architectural Digest and any number of other sources that will tell you that solar not only results in lower carrying costs, but in higher desirability and a quicker sale.
How You Can Make Sure Your Solar is Considered?
The Appraisal Institute, the nationwide organization that governs real estate appraisers, is now officially on board and has published a form called The Residential Green and Energy Efficient Addendum. You can fill this out to document efficiency and renewable upgrades and make sure it is considered in your appraisal.
What Energy Features Raise Value?
The following are among questions asked on the Green Addendum. They will help the appraiser to quantify the added value.
Type of equipment/warranties:
Not all solar arrays are equal. At Same Sun, we only use Tier One solar equipment made in the USA like the Silfab Elite modules and Enphase micro-inverters. The better performing the equipment, the more worth it will have for your home!
Type of installation/orientation:
With in person site-evaluations, you can ensure your solar array has been placed in the optimal spot for maximum solar generation. The more energy produced- the greater the savings!
Although leasing may sound like a good idea in theory, when it comes to solar, owning is best. Not only are there great tax incentives for purchasing solar, but also a return of investment that doesn’t always come along with leasing. Leases can typically last 20-25 years, meaning if you choose to sell before the lease expires, you may find buyers hesitant to want to take over said lease. On the contrary, when you own your solar panels, it will actually add value to your home and could potentially draw in buyers as an included feature.
Utility Costs (that are being replaced):
With every solar proposal, we provide our best estimate on how much you’ll save in electricity bills and overall costs. If you’re looking to purchase a home with low monthly utility bills, a solarized one is a great option!
Energy Efficiency Measures:
If your home has, for example, good insulation or EnergyStar appliances, this can contribute to your overall utility savings thus raising your home’s value even more.
Electric Vehicles are becoming more and more popular amongst consumers. In Vermont, there are over 5,000 EV owners. That being said, when your home has EV charging capabilities, you open up opportunities for greater buyer interest. Adding a level 2 EV charger to your home gives a vehicle owner the power to charge their car right from their own house, and this feature will become more desirable to buyers as the industry continues to grow.
If you are in contract, selling or refinancing a home that already has solar, understanding and making use of the The Residential Green and Energy Efficient Addendum is important. Make sure you, your lender or your appraiser have completed the form so that the array’s value can be quantified and correctly added.
If you’re in the market for a new home, and considering one that already has solar, you should also make use of the Addendum to know what you are buying. If you are considering a home without solar, it might be the time to embrace it and even roll the cost into your purchase money mortgage. With additional energy features comes additional value, and solar is worth looking into before missing out on the benefits. If you have any questions on how solar energy can affect your real estate decisions, Same Sun can help:
Sometimes, Marlene and I are asked if we regret going solar 17 years ago due to the fact that the modules have improved dramatically in both wattage and efficiency. Our original Evergreen Solar modules on our garage roof were made in Massachusetts and are 180 watts and 15% efficient.
Evergreen is long out of business, and if we were to do the roof now, we would use Silfab 410-watt modules at 23% efficiency. So, yes, a new array is better than the old one. But regrets? None. This array started our contribution to clean energy and our small part in battling climate change, and they have paid for themselves in tax benefits and Green Mountain Power credits.
There are some forms of technology where it is wise to wait. Phones, computers, and TVs, for example. They get faster, smarter, and higher in resolution. But solar arrays ARE the power plant that provides all the kWhs for these things. As long as it is powering your home, it is not obsolete. Solar arrays APPRECIATE.
When we installed our first solar array in 2006, a kWh was worth 8 cents; now, it is worth 18 cents. Our arrays are worth whatever the utility is charging. Our three arrays have produced 167 megawatts, that’s 167,000 kWhs and offsetting 83 TONS of carbon thus far. We expect even the oldest to give us another ten years of free clean energy.
At some point, you have to commit to clean energy. We should have all done this 40 years ago, but it is not too late to begin. Will the technology get better? We sure hope so, but your solar array will never become obsolete because it IS your powerplant, just as the grid is not obsolete though it is 110 years old.
On the other hand, the Chevy Bolt in the driveway? We have replaced our EVs three times as that technology gets old, automobiles depreciate, and they lose that new car smell!
Often when choosing a brand, one has to compromise. I like this, but I’m not happy with that. I wish features from two different products were available in one product. Promising technology, but unattractive appearance. It looks good but it is poorly made, etc. etc. etc. Imagine if something came along that checks every box, that you could fully endorse with no compromises. That would certainly be exciting. Well, this is what we have with Silfab.
The Elite offers 410 watts at 21.4 % efficiency through Silfab’s proprietary X-pattern technology, which combines an integrated cell design with a conductive backsheet to create a more efficient and powerful solar panel.
We have never seen a more sleek and elegant appearance than these all-black solar modules. The flare-like patterning with no white backsheet blends with and even enhances our clients’ rooftops and the entire home’s appearance.
Silfab has over forty years of solar design and manufacturing experience, beginning in Toronto, Canada with an expansion into Washington State (two existing facilities, and a third announced for 2024). The company delivers “Buy American” approved PV modules specifically designed for weather conditions in the North American market.
For further peace of mind, Silfab offers two industry-leading warranty coverages: a 25-year craftsmanship warranty and a performance warranty of nearly 83% after 30 years.
American Products, Vermont Jobs
This has been the standard for Same Sun of Vermont since we began in 2011. It hasn’t always been easy. Silfab Elite, being manufactured in Washington State, tells our clients many important things. First, we are supporting good-paying American manufacturing jobs. Some other nations use child labor, prison labor or pay poor wages to their workers. Second, we know that a factory is Washington is living up to high environmental standards, practically non-existent in China and some other countries. American made helps protect us from supply chain issues and like any manufacturing of power providing technology, it keeps America self-sufficient and secure.
Once your solar array is installed, it is easy to forget about it until you receive your monthly utility bill, which now should be a much more pleasant experience thanks to the money you are saving with your solar panels. However, we recommend routinely monitoring your array’s production. While most of the time your solar array will work as expected and you won’t experience any problems, occasionally glitches do happen. If you tend to only check your array when you look at your utility bill, an entire month may go by before you notice that your solar array is not producing or is under producing energy. Routinely checking how much power your array is producing and familiarizing yourself with monthly and daily averages throughout the year will enable you to spot potential problems quickly and easily. Responding quickly is the key to getting your solar array back up and running as soon as possible.
When monitoring your solar array’s energy production, you can use either your inverter manufacturer’s solar monitoring system or you can find the information through your electric provider using their online account platforms. The advantage of using the electric provider’s monitoring tools is that the kWh (kilowatt hours) they report are the exact numbers that you will be billed and credited for. Most of our customers have Green Mountain Power as their electric provider. Below we go step by step through the process of checking your solar array production using Green Mountain Power’s website.
Login using your Green Mountain Power login information. This step may not be necessary if you have remained logged in from previous sessions. Likewise, if you haven’t used GMP’s website before, GMP may prompt you to set up an account using your account # from your bill and the phone number used to set up your account.
When the “My Account” page opens, you should see information about your account. If you scroll down the page a little bit you should see a chart that looks something like this:
This graph is showing your energy consumption, energy generation, and energy you returned to the grid for each of the last 12 months, plus the current month.
Consumed (Orange Bars) – The amount of energy your household or business pulled from the grid. This does not necessarily reflect how much energy was required to run your household during the given time period, as it does not count energy that you used from your array.
Generated (Dark Green Bars) – Total amount of energy produced by your solar array.
Returned (Light Green Bars) – The amount of energy produced by your solar array that was not consumed by your household, and therefore, was returned to the grid. This amount is recorded on your account as “excess generation.”
Click on the bar for the current month and it will open a new graph that will look something like this:
This graph show the energy consumption, generation, and energy you returned to the grid for each day of the current month so far. (Please note there is at least a 24-hour delay on this data.)
A few things to keep an eye out for are no production on days you know were sunny and if there is no production for several days in a row.
Keeping track of your production is the first step in ensuring that your solar array is producing clean energy year-round. If you notice a potential issue, call us. Same Sun of Vermont’s Solar ProFormance Services, LLC provides maintenance and repairs on existing solar arrays, servicing Vermont, New York, and New Hampshire. You can contact Solar ProFormance Services at (802) 775-7900. If you are outside of our servicing area, you can call the manufacturer of your inverter for a list of local solar companies that service your area.
In the wake of the current pandemic and the country switching to virtual meetings and contact-less delivery, you may be wondering why we can’t or won’t do virtual solar site evaluations. Like the rest of the world, we have had to adapt in response to our new reality and have made changes to ensure that our customers and our staff remain healthy. We only enter customer homes when necessary, we wear masks when in the vicinity of others, and have instituted new cleaning protocols. One thing we have not changed is the quality of service we offer. While we can, and do, gather a lot of information virtually, there is critical information we gather during a site evaluation. That critical information is what allows us to design the best solar array for your home or business. Here we look at what is involved during an in-person solar site evaluation.
During solar site evaluation we want to determine which areas on your property would make a “good” solar site. A “good” solar site is determined by a few factors. Generally, areas that experience minimal shading and face the equator (for us in Vermont, that is South), have the best solar resource.
To calculate these factors, we rely on a state-of-the-art tool called the SunEye 210. This SunEye 210, made by Solmetric, takes a series of measurements at each potential solar site, and provides us with much of the information we need in determining where we should build a solar array.
To do this, the SunEye takes a fisheye image of the skyline and superimposes a Sun Path Diagram to identify any shade-causing obstructions that would interfere with the amount of energy an array would be able to produce. Not only is the SunEye able to project the angle of the sun as it moves throughout the day, but it also projects the change in the sun’s location in the sky throughout the seasons. The SunEye then instantly calculates how much the shading would impact the efficiency of the solar panels.
While you may think it easy to identify shading in an area, it can sometimes be quite tricky. For example, our Solar Consultant, Scott Stahler, described a time during a site evaluation when a house did not seem to have any shade in the vicinity to cause obstructions. Upon using the SunEye, he realized that the potential solar site had significant shading from nearby mountains during parts of the day and year! While a mountain is not an obstruction that could be removed, if shade is coming from nearby trees, the SunEye can help determine whether tree removal is worthwhile by simulating what the solar resource would be when they are gone.
If it turns out that your first-choice location for a future solar site is less than ideal, we can identify other potential sites. Often, people have ideal solar locations that they have not thought of. For example, perhaps there is an accessory building such as a barn, garage or guest house that can be used.
Or, you may have ideal land for a ground mount and not even realize it. We can help identify and evaluate multiple potential solar array locations.
We will also take roof and/or ground measurements to calculate the number of solar modules that can physically be installed. In this way, we can compare the size of the array and its anticipated generation with our evaluation of your current and future electricity consumption. For example, plans to install heat pumps or purchase an electric or hybrid vehicle will impact your usage. Look for a future blog post that will explain the methodology we use to design the array to fit your needs.
After we take all the measurements and gather the information we need, we will take some time to draw up a proposal for your future solar array. We custom design each system to meet your energy needs and ensure you will be happy with your array for years to come. If you have questions, or would like a solar evaluation done on your property, Contact Us today!
Are you interested in solar, but don’t know where to start? Here are some of the ways we make going solar easy for you!
We make it personal!
It all starts with a phone call: Simply call, or Contact Us through our website and we will call you. A friendly advisor will ask you some questions, fill you in a bit about the process and how solar net metering works, and if it makes sense, schedule an in-person site visit.
We will design a custom solar array to fit your needs: One of our solar experts will meet you at your home or business, and gather the necessary information, including roof /ground measurements, sun and shade readings, and current and future energy needs. Following the site visit, we will design your custom array and present you with a proposal in no more than two days. The price is always turnkey, so you will know exactly what your system will cost, and how it will offset your electric bill.
You will have access to everyone in our office: This includes the owners, Philip and Marlene Allen, in the event you have concerns that are not being addressed. Throughout the process, we are committed to you and are always available to answer technical, financial or other questions. Once your new solar system is installed, an executive from Same Sun will deliver all of your important documents and go over them with you, so you have everything you need in one place.
We do it all!
Filing all the documentation associated with solar can be a hassle: We file all the necessary paperwork, so you don’t have to. We handle everything from Net Metering Registrations and Building Permits to registering your products for Warranty Certificates.
We will be your advocate with your electricity provider: We have years of experience working with Green Mountain Power and other utilities in navigating billing issues, advice for group allocation of solar credit, and scheduling any work that needs to be done, i.e. transformer upgrades.
We will minimize disruption to your life: Once you commit to a solar installation, we will schedule a Technical Site Visit with a Project Manager, who will not only verify the design and interconnection details, but work with you on aesthetics of the array and conduit, as well as best placement for both installed equipment and temporary lay-down/staging of components while we work. After we’re done, our goal is to leave your property as we found it, i.e. thorough clean-up, re-seeding of lawn if necessary.
We’ll never leave you hanging!
We are committed to using quality products that stand the test of time: We are constantly researching best practices and components that perform great and carry the best warranties.
We have a dedicated Service Division: In the case that anything ever does happen with your system, Solar ProFormance Services will be there to help. This division of Same Sun is focused on solar panel repairs and replacements and is committed to keeping solar arrays in tip-top shape. More information on Solar Performance Services can be found here https://samesunvt.com/introducing-sps/
Going solar is one of the few major purchases you will make that pays for itself. After the initial investment, you will recoup the cost of the array and enjoy years of savings, money in your pocket – instead of the utility’s. And if you buy in 2020, you may be eligible for the 26% Federal Tax Credit.
COVID-19 UPDATE: Rest assured, we have modified all of our procedures – site visits, technical visits and installation practices – to ensure that they are safe. We will minimize, or eliminate, the need to go inside your home wherever possible.
Go Solar in 2019, Pay in 2021! Call now for a FREE site visit to reserve your custom solar installation. Enjoy no-payment, no-interest financing for 18 months; if your system is installed in the fall/winter of 2019, you will not have to pay until 2021. Take advantage of your tax credit and months of electric bill savings, before having to make any payment.
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