Shedding Light on Solar Power

This article originally published Consumer Reports by Josh Garskof

With the price of panels and installation falling and an extension of the federal tax credit, now is a good time to consider solar

Under a bright June sky in 1979, at the height of the nation’s energy crisis, President Jimmy Carter stood on the roof of the White House to dedicate solar panels installed there to heat water for the staff kitchen. That powerful gesture, which gave America a taste of its clean-energy future, was as symbolic as it was historic: At the time, converting a typical American house to solar power was extremely rare and cost roughly half as much as the house itself.

A lot has changed in the intervening 37 years: Solar costs have dropped so much that today it’s possible to generate all or most of a home’s electricity—for decades to come—for about the purchase price of a new economy car. Solar installations have increased dramatically. And President Obama has installed new panels on the White House roof.


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Do I have to cut my trees down to add solar panels?

Not unless you want to.

Mostly, it is about making sure we know how shade will impact performance and design.
We recently had a client who had a nice oak tree that we knew would impact the location of the panels. At Dogwood Solar, we can do a shade analysis which allows us to model system performance: with the tree as is, with the tree trimmed and with the tree removed.

Our client chose to have the tree trimmed and wait to remove it later if they wanted better performance form their solar. They made this choice with complete understanding of how the solar performance would be impacted with the tree remaining.

We’ll never suggest you remove a tree just to add solar. Trees are great and they provide free summertime cooling as well!

What does a Dogwood Solar Shade Analysis look like?



Butch – Solar Water Pool Heater – Nevada, Missouri

 

Butch wanted an inexpensive way to heat his pool thereby extending pool season in Missouri. A solar water pool heater is less expensive to operate than conventional pool heaters. The temperature can be automatically set keeping your pool at a steady, comfortable temperature. Using the existing pool pump and equipment is another way this is cost effective and it does not use any additional energy. There are no additional moving parts added to the pool system. Butch’s garage housed his existing pool equipment so a rooftop mount was optimal and located near his pool.

Jim & Jan – Solar Electric – Mount Sterling

 

Jim and Jan’s gorgeous property had many trees so a roof top mount was not optimal. Dogwood Solar built a custom structure for Jim and Jan’s solar panels which doubled as extra storage. Power was run to the structure and was optimized by the tilt and azimuth.

System Details:
Array Capactity: 6.6 kWdc
Modules: Suniva 275W [Made in USA] Inverters: Enphase M215
Array: 24 Modules, 6.6 kWdc 180* azimuth, 26* tilt

 

Wendy-VELUX Sun Tunnel-Columbia, MO

Wendy was referred to Dogwood Solar by her contractor. Her vaulted bathroom in her condo had a shared wall so adding a window was not a feasible way to bring in natural light. Dogwood Solar installed a 14″ TLR Velux Sun Tunnel. This low profile sun tunnel is barely visible on the exterior. This is a great option for neighborhoods who have restrictions against dome skylights. This gorgeous bathroom is now bright and cheerful thanks to the abundant natural light.

David & Patsy -Velux Sun Tunnel- Columbia, MO

David and Patsy live in a nice condo around a high end golf course. Their condo’s shared wall left their master bath without an interior window. There was no natural light reaching this space. David and Patsy saw their neighbor’s condo’s sun tunnel being installed and knew they had to have one too. Within their neighborhood, Dogwood Solar installed 13 sun tunnels! David and Patsy decided to add two additional sun tunnels to their dining room. The natural light from the sliding door and front door wasn’t able to reach that space adequately. After the installation of two sun tunnels, David and Patsy have a beautifully lit dining room ready for entertaining guests.

 

Boone Electric Community Solar Farm – Columbia, MO

 

After listening to feedback from their members, Boone Electric is moving forward with construction of a 100 kWac Community Solar farm at their headquarters in Columbia, MO. The energy produced will be feed directly into the grid and Boone Electric members will have the option to support renewable energy by purchasing the output from the solar array. This is a great option for those who might like to install solar at their home or business but are unable to due to roof space or shading from trees.

Dogwood Solar is honored to be selected as the contractor for design and construction of this project. Working with one of our local utilities to add more solar in Columbia, MO is a privilege.

Interested in purchasing output from this system?

Please contact Boone Electric

Interested in adding solar to your home or business?

Please contact Dogwood Solar

Project: Boone Electric Community Solar Farm
System Size: 100 kW ac, 128 kWdc
Ground mounted solar array located in Columbia, MO

Utility/Operator:
Boone Electric Cooperative
Tax Equity Partner: Shelter Insurance
EPC Contractor: Dogwood Solar

Joyce – VELUX Sun Tunnel – Columbia, MO

Joyce first contacted Dogwood Solar to service one of her solar electric inverters. After we completed the repair, Joyce mentioned a need for more natural light. Joyce had a beautiful large window, which provided great light, but she felt she had to keep the curtains closed to ensure her privacy. This loss of natural light frustrated her. Plus, the room was shadowy in places, even with the curtains open. Dogwood Solar suggested adding a 14″ Velux Sun Tunnel. This larger sun tunnel was the perfect size to add the right amount of light to naturally brighten up Joyce’s room. Now the room is bright in all four corners with abundant natural light. Joyce can close those curtains, enjoy her privacy, yet reap the benefits of natural light.

Robyn – VELUX Sun Tunnel – Columbia MO

 

Robyn first learned of Dogwood Solar from our website following a web search. Robyn loved the before and after photos of our featured projects involving Velux Sun Tunnels. Robyn had recently replaced a glass-filled door with a solid wood door to accommodate her dog. Losing that natural light resulted in a mudroom that was incredibly dark and unusable. This common complaint is easily remedied with the installation of a sun tunnel. Dogwood Solar installed one 14″ TLR flat glass Velux Sun Tunnel and wow, what a difference! The space was once dark and unusable, unless you flipped on a light switch. Now Robyn has a functional space that is naturally bright and attractive. We know Robyn enjoys her newly redesigned space so we were happy to include this job as a featured project on our website.

Dan & Maggy – Solar Electric – Columbia MO

After determining how many panels could fit and the amount of the resultant significant reduction in electric bill, we looked at layout options. The panels would be installed on the front of the home so Dogwood Solar’s extreme attention to detail and eye for aesthetics was a good fit. We worked with Dan & Maggy to show layout options and they selected the layout they preferred. Once the design was complete and contracts were signed, Dogwood Solar completed the paperwork for net-metering and the rebate from the City of Columbia.

System details:
Array Capacity: 7.56 kWdc
Modules: Solar World 280 BOB [Made in USA] Inverters: Enphase M250
Date Monitoring: Enphase Enlighten
Array: 27 modules, 138* azimuth, 45* tilt

 

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