Plasma cutting steel staircase Tung oil applied on trim woodwwork Floors milled from site grown trees Septic field restoration Reflecting afternoon sun Birth of a barn on Bragg Hill Radiant floors Solar panel installation Capping off the chimney Proud shape emerges on the hilltop Pumping concrete into the three gables Forming 12x12 Gables Delivering concrete from the sky Parallam beam positioning Flying flitch beam ICF window framing Precision concrete placement Lower level ICF fabrication Newly excavated driveway Finishing garage deck concrete Pouring concrete footers Rebar safety caps Surveying the construction site Checking out the excavation equipment Rapid soil stabilization Testing the soils for drainage Taking Solar Pathfinder measurements Milling downed trees onsite View to the Southeast over the Benzel Family Trust Future meadow to be cultivated Taking a stroll on Bragg Hill Road

Solar Panels for our New Home: A No-Brainer

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Building a new home in these uncertain times has its share of anxieties and challenges.  Installing solar panels on our roof isn’t one of them.  When you start from a clean sheet of paper and have the ability to orient your home precisely to take advantage of solar efficiencies, adding solar panels should be easy.  When the state and federal government step in to help (with a little help from my friends), it’s a no-brainer.

From the earliest conceptual designs of our home several years ago, we planned to integrate some sort of solar array on our roof.  The big questions were: efficiency, installation costs, and length of payback.  Our initial research indicated that the general payback for the most efficient solar panels might take a dozen or more years before reaching break-even.  That makes the business case for solar difficult.  Maybe we should just pre-wire the roof and wait for technology (and lower prices) to catch up?  Adding to the dilemma, we live in Pennsylvania, not sunny California.  According to various almanacs, we can expect about 93 sunny days per year.

Why bother?

Timing is everything, so they say.  The synthesis of the US recession, worldwide awareness of global climate change, government subsidies in green initiatives, and mandates for public utilities to buy energy from alternative sources, we were able to secure a robust photo voltaic system that costs a fraction of what we thought and virtually pays for itself in just a few years.

With the help of Tad Radzinski of Sustainable Solutions Corporation and Jude Webster of Solardelphia, we have just secured a significant grant from Pennsylvania’s Sunshine PV Rebate Fund.  This, in conjunction with a generous Federal tax credit reduces our photo voltaic investment by 60%.  Wow.  That’s a no-brainer.

Instead of a 12+ year payback, we will recoup our investment in 6 years!  Not only that, we get to sell our generated power to the local utility at competitive rates.  We’ll actually make money on this.  Not too bad.