Considering Solar in Cleveland Ohio

Jaber Wahel began considering solar in Cleveland, Ohio, in 2012. 2 years later, in 2014, he had Third Sun Solar install a 20-panel array on a flat, south-facing roof of his house. The array was designed to offset 46% of Jaber’s electricity in one year.  


His motivation for going solar? It was primarily environmental, but the investment also needed to make economic sense. Most of the savings a homeowner sees when they go solar come from the savings in electricity bills over that time, but a significant portion for Jaber also came from the 30% Federal Tax Credit that he claimed in 2014.  

The Journey  

Jaber often goes to California for work. Over time, he saw more and more homes in the Golden State with solar. This indicated to him that a movement was building. Seeing the significant solar infrastructure in CA first sparked his interest in the solar movement.  

 Considering Solar in Cleveland Ohio 

Jaber’s first step when shopping for solar, like many homeowners just beginning their solar journey, was to learn.   

Solar in Cleveland Ohio?

Jaber was first interested in how the climate affects solar production. Sure, solar was booming in California, but does solar make sense in Ohio? Working with Third Sun, he found out that solar, even in an area like Cleveland, Ohio, despite getting far less sun time than places like California, still gets enough to make solar PV installation practical.  

Roof Slope

Jaber was curious how the angle of his roof would affect the system’s efficiency. Unlike most of our residential customers, his panels sit on a flat roof surface on the southern side of his home. This roof space was where he had the most uninterrupted, southern-facing roof space.

In Ohio, anywhere between a 4/12 and a 7/12 roof pitch is just fine for solar. These angles maximize the sunlight captured in both the summertime and winter. To get this desired pitch on a flat roof, Third Sun uses ballasted racking, which tip the panels at a 10-degree tilt. Though panel efficiency does change a little depending on the angle of your roof, the difference is minimal.  

Net Metering

Jaber was surprised to learn that he didn’t need solar batteries to go solar. He learned that if your home is connected to the grid, a solar system works seamlessly with your current electricity supplier to ensure that you have power. When it’s nighttime or snowy, the energy you use comes from the grid. Energy comes from your panels when the sun is shining. And, when the sun is shining, and you aren’t using energy, that extra energy is exported to the grid to power your neighbor’s homes, and you get credit for the energy you’ve produced. Net metering is the policy through which customers receive credits for the excess energy they produce.  

The Plunge  

When Jaber started considering solar in Cleveland, Ohio in 2012, he got quotes in the $50-60,000 range. Since then, the prices dropped significantly, and paired with federal incentives, solar made financial sense.  

Reaping the Benefits  

The most surprising part of Jaber’s process was how fast the installation took – in his case, it was just one day! For Third Sun, the typical residential solar installations last between 1-4 days. The electric company came out within the next couple of days to switch out his meter for one that understands how to work with the solar system. After that, he turned on his system and started producing his own electricity!  

His favorite part about his solar array is that the system is 100% hands-off. He says: “You just set it and forget it – it’s plug and play- you don’t think about it ever.” What has been the best part of having a solar powered home so far?

According to Jaber, the best part is that it works! He really is able to harness the sun to produce his own electricity.  

Solar in Shaker Heights Ohio

When he walks around, Jaber says that he’s noticed maybe 10-15 houses in his community that have solar, though he doesn’t personally know anyone who also has an array. The City’s current Mayor has an electric car and solar on his house. He does know a lot of community members who have thought about it.   

Jaber believes that there is a lot of inertia in the solar movement: it’s a movement gaining speed.

When asked what he thinks is stopping people from going solar, he says: “People think it’s complicated – for me, it was such an easy thing.” He says that the most challenging thing was filling out the loan application, which Third Sun was there to help him.  

He thinks the same is true of electric cars. While people are hesitant now, there is still a movement building. Once people overcome the anxiety see that it’s a technology that works, they’ll be more willing to adopt it.   

According to Jaber, if you get out of Ohio and see how much it’s going up in other places- it makes choosing solar power easy.  

The Solar Champion  

Jaber says– “If you have a customer who is interested and hesitant, give me a call – I would be happy to talk with anyone about it.” 

Interested in taking Jaber up on his offer? If so, reach out and we will connect you. 


All Your Going Off-Grid With Solar Questions Answered

Defining Different Types of Grid Interconnection with Solar

Grid-tied solar system

This type of system is for anyone connected to the local power grid. Depending on the policy of your utility provider, being grid-tied allows you to sell extra energy you produce back to the grid to offset your energy costs. Grid-tied systems are the most cost-effective option. They offer the fastest payback and the best ROI. Grid-tied solar is good for homes who are looking to save money on their electricity costs.

Grid-tied solar system with battery backup

Grid tied solar systems with battery backup provide the reliability and convenience of grid tied, with the security of back-up power when circumstances arise. These systems send excess energy into the grid for credits, pulls energy from the grid when the solar system isn’t producing at night, and have backup batteries that store power to use in times of a utility outage. This type of system is more expensive than a standard grid-tied system but ensures you have reliable access to electricity.

Off-grid solar system

Historically, off-grid systems were the only option for individuals who lived remotely and didn’t have access to utility power. Off-grid solar systems use solar panels to charge a bank of batteries which then power your home at night, or when the solar PV system is not meeting the load demand, especially during the winter or on cloudy days. These have a higher system cost due to the addition of the batteries and a standby generator to the solar system. With an off-grid system, energy conservation is important. Energy efficient appliances, reducing your energy consumption, load management, and relying on a backup generator are all part of what you’re signing up for when you decide to go off-grid.

Grid-tied batteries or grid-tied generator

Tesla Powerwall can charge from the grid and doesn’t need solar to charge the batteries. This provides emergency backup power in the case of grid failure. Kholer generators interact seamlessly with the grid to come on during a power outage, too. Grid-tied batteries or generators are great for individuals who have necessary medical appliances operating in their homes.

Why Grid-Tied Solar Systems Are Best for Most Homes

Solar power allows you to generate your own energy, which means you won’t be buying power from the utility. You might assume this means going off-the-grid, but this is not the case.

If you have access to the grid, you will store the excess power you create in the utility grid. You are treating the grid like a big battery, charging it when you have excess power and taking energy when you need more. In most cases, the utility company credits you for the extra power you produce (net-metering) and allows you to pull from the grid when you need it (at night).

An off-grid system doesn’t have any connection to the utility grid, so having some sort of alternative for storing excess energy is necessary. Off-grid homes require battery banks to store excess solar energy for later use. Without batteries or access to the grid, there wouldn’t be a way for you to have energy at night when your solar system isn’t producing.

The top mistake people make when they decide they want to go off-grid: equating breaking ties with the utility company with cost savings.

Grid-tied solar systems and off-grid solar systems are on different ends of the spectrum when it comes to cost. Grid-tied solar is the most cost-effective type of solar system. Batteries ensure you have power when the grid goes down.

Maintaining grid interaction with your solar system through net metering is actually the best option for homeowners looking to cut costs.

The second mistake people make when deciding to go off-grid: thinking that off-grid homes are greener and more sustainable than conventional “grid tied” homes.

This may come from the roots of the off-grid movement… Most early solar pioneers were off-grid. They relied upon solar, batteries, and often a generator to power their homes with no connection to the utility grid. Many people did this to live a more sustainable existence.

We find that most of our customers don’t live far from power lines. With a grid-tied system, any excess power generated from solar goes back into the grid and helps your neighbors reduce their carbon footprints.

Remember- it’s fossil fuels that we’re trying to avoid, not the grid itself.

While many are eager to cut ties with the utility company for one reason or another, the reality is that most of us are already tied in and the efficiencies of the grid generally outweigh an off-the-grid solar system.

Kokosing Sun Solar doesn’t take you off the grid, but we can get you very close.

The good news: you do not have to go off-the-grid to enjoy the benefits of clean, solar energy!

Your home is only a few smart steps away from enjoying the benefits that solar energy has in store. Contact us if you’re ready to start talking about solar for your home or business.

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