Happy Solstice

happy-solticeThe long days of summer are here and solar production is at its peak for Cincinnati. We have plenty of sunshine here in the summer, but many people ask us if we get enough sun during the rest of the year to make solar projects feasible? The answer is, absolutely!  With thousands of solar power systems installed in southwest Ohio, there is no doubt solar works here.  The table below shows the percent of our annual sunshine we receive each month of the year.

Jan Feb Mar Apr May Jun Jul Aug Sep Oct Nov Dec Total
5% 6% 8% 10% 11% 11% 11% 11% 10% 8% 5% 4% 100%

Obviously our best sun conditions occur from March thru October, but even those cloudy months of winter provide some good solar days.

The sun’s angle above the horizon peaks on June 20, the summer solstice, and reaches its minimum angle on December 20, the winter solstice.

How does this play into the best orientation of solar panels?  Ideally when the sun is perpendicular to the surface of solar panels, the panels receive optimum sun and thus produce optimum power.  So to maximize production at the summer solstice, we tilt our solar panels at 26 degrees so the panel is at a right angle to the sun (26 + 74 = 90 degrees).  This would make production optimum for one day of the year, and suboptimum for the rest of the year.

But solar is forgiving and solar power systems which don’t have optimal siting still produce lots of solar power! There is a large “solar sweet spot” such that, even if the tilt and orientation of the panels towards south is not perfect, we take a relatively small performance hit.

What happens in practice is typically one of three things:

  1. We mount the solar panels flush with the roof of the home.
  2. We mount the solar panels on a fixed tilt mounting system on the ground.
  3. We mount the solar panels on a variable tilt mounting system.

In the end, if the modules do not face true south and are not tilted at just the right angle, solar still works and we still produce power.

Let’s discuss the three options above.

Option 1

We mount the solar panels flush with the roof of the home. This configuration provides the best aesthetics and lowest installed cost for most residential systems.  Typical roof angles are 18 – 45 degrees in the Cincinnati area, the most common being 18 – 26.6.  The systems perform well and the neighbors don’t think a space ship has landed on your roof.

Option 2

We mount the solar panels on a fixed tilt mounting system on the ground. This approach is often taken when there is available ground real estate and building roof structure or orientation is not conducive to a solar installation.  Here is a  solar carport constructed for a client in Cincinnati. The home has a large south facing roof, but it is encumbered by a large dormer and two large chimneys.  The carport array tilts at 15 degrees as a trade off to maximize solar production and minimize wind loading on the structure.  The array is producing 100% of the electrical needs of the home. At this  local farm we had plenty of real estate and freedom to line up the array to face true south with a tilt of 30 degrees (optimum for Cincinnati).  In general, ground mounted structures will be more expensive than roof mounted systems due to the cost of building the mounting system.

Option 3

We mount the solar panels on a variable tilt mounting system. This allows the tilt angle of the modules to be adjusted (typically monthly) to follow the sun’s seasonal elevation changes.  This approach adds some cost due to the increased complexity of the structure, but the benefits are many. It is easy to mow and trim around the structure, solar production is maximized, and less real estate is needed for the array. SunRock Solar installed a  seasonally adjustable pole mounted array in Reading, Ohio. This site is interesting as it has some late afternoon shade so the array was oriented to face slightly south east rather than true south.  This actually improved the system performance by approximately 5% over a true south facing array.

To wrap up, there are many factors which contribute to the performance and aesthetics of solar power systems.  Each situation is different. By taking the time to analyze and discuss options with its customers, SunRock Solar can deliver a power system which melds aesthetic and performance expectations, with the reality of site conditions. Solar works well in Cincinnati!

100% Customer Satisfaction

solar-panel-on-roofWe here at SunRock Solar pride ourselves on complete customer satisfaction.  Not only do we demand that satisfaction, but we want all of our customers to be delighted with the work that we do.  We want them to pass our name on to their friends.

Look at some of the comments our satistisfied customers have made:

“We thought you did a fabulous job of keeping us updated and answering all of our questions.”

“Carl was very professional , took the time to help me understand the system.”

“I was a bit intimidated by the size and complexity of the project but SunRock Solar handled it with complete ease.  It was extremely well planned and executed.  I appreciated the integrity and professionalism of Carl, his technicians as well as his office staff-and all at competitve pricing compared to the non-local companies that I researched.”

“Carl Adams and his associates at SunRock are very knowledgeable and meticulous about their products, installation, and services.  They believe in renewable energy and in helping to preserve the good earth.  I highly respect their commitment and stellar work ethic.  SunRock did a superb job installing our solar system.”

And our favorite

“Sunny Days are like Paydays.”

Contact SunRock Solar to learn more about solar energy.  References are available upon request.

SunRock Makes the News

michael-eason-solar-systemMarcia and Michael Eason’s solar system was featured on the front page of the Home and Style Section of the Cincinnati Enquirer on Saturday, September 25th. SunRock Solar installed the system in July of 2009.  The Easons live in West Chester.  Their house was highlighted because it is part of the 2010 Solar Tour Organized by Green Energy Ohio.  The Solar Tour takes place this weekend, October 2nd and 3rd.  If you are interested in participating in the solar tour to see more of SunRock’s installations around southwest Ohio check out the website to organize your own personal tour.

American Solar Energy Society 2010 National Conference

SunRock Solar and Solar 2010 Conference

staff-photoCarl Adams, of SunRock Solar, headed out to Phoenix recently to attend the American Solar Energy Society’s 2010 national conference.

He attended three days of advanced training prior to the conference and then spent the remainder of the time looking at the new solar hardware.  Workshops included

  • Solar Updates to the National Electric Code
  • Conergy Mounting Systems
  • Fronius Inverter Systems
  • Advanced System Design
  • Commissioning and Troubleshooting

The courses were taught by national experts in each of the respective fields and provided many new insights and information.  Carl attended many hands-on training sessions including one where he learned to assemble a Conergy Solar Giant ground mounting system.  The new design accommodates a 10 kW PV array and can be fully assembled in approximately 1 hour.

There were over 240 vendors with displays of solar thermal, photovoltaics, mounting systems, monitoring solutions and all sorts of other solar toys.  It was all they could do to get through the exhibit hall in the two days available.

Presentation Tomorrow


Going Solar-Presentation by Carl Adams

Time:  August 19, 6-7:00

Where:  Marvin’s Organic Gardens, 2055 U.S. State Route 42 South Lebanon,  OH

Learn about photovoltaic (solar electric) and solar hot water applications for residential and commercial buildings, as well as the grants, tax credits, and loan programs currently available to fund these projects.  Carl will also highlight projects installed by SunRock Solar.  Find out how you can incorporate solar energy into your home or building.