Cincinnati solar panel expert extols virtues of green home
Who we talked to
Carl Adams, owner
11311 Foremark Drive Cincinnati
Carl Adams spent 25 years as a systems engineer before a new calling dawned on him in 2006. He calls the business he started in 2007, designing and installing solar-powered electrical systems, a much better fit. "I wanted to do something more involved environmentally that satisfied my engineering curiosity," Adams says. What's the benefit of having solar panels? "The No. 1 benefit is generating clean, renewable and sustainable power. The No. 2 benefit is that it's a hedge against energy cost inflation."
How does the installation process work?
"First, we assess the site to figure out how we can make the system work. We can mount the panels on flat roofs or steep roofs. For most homes with pitched roofs, we flush mount the systems for aesthetic reasons. We can also do ground-mounted systems. The big thing on siting a new system is whether you have a south-facing roof or ground space. "Then we put together a preliminary design. If the customers say yes, we do the paperwork for the net metering application and the state rebate. Ohio has a generous net metering law: it's unlimited in the amount of power you can receive credit for. We order the equipment, get it installed and then have it inspected."
How much do the systems cost?
"Last year, our average system size was about 4 kilowatts. With that, you're looking at $28,000 to $32,000 before rebates. The state rebates are $3 per watt for residential customers in Ohio. So, for the average 4-kilowatt system, you could get $12,000 off the total cost. Then there's also a federal tax credit for 30 percent of the system's cost. Where else are you going to find someone to help you pay your utility bills?"
For more information about Ohio's renewable energy incentives, visit www.odod.state.oh.us/cdd/oee/elfgrant.htm
With a net metering agreement, a home's solar panels are tied into the utility's electrical grid.
Any surplus electricity the system produces is supplied to the grid and the homeowner receives credit toward their electric bill.
Does having a solar panel system improve a home's resale value?
"Studies show that every dollar you save by using a renewable energy system increases your home's value by $20. So, if I'm saving $1,000 a year in energy because I produce it on my rooftop, my house is worth $20,000 more."
How long does the equipment last?
"They're manufacturer-warranted for 25 years. Performance will decline with time — the panels don't provide as much power at year 25 as they do at year one. But the warranty says that for the first 10 years, the output won't drop below 90 percent its rated capacity, and for the next 15 years, the output won't drop below 80-percent capacity. The inverters that convert the panels' direct current to the alternating current used in homes are warranted for 10 years."