SandBox Solar: Solar Energy News

Stay up to date with our latest projects and learn about the benefits of going solar in Colorado. Our solar energy consultants will post pictures and stories of our work in Fort Collins, Greeley, and around the Front Range. We'll also provide insights into the renewable energy industry.

Solar FAQs | Your Solar Questions Answered!

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Sandbox Solar is your local, Northern Colorado solar provider. We know solar is a big investment, and before you determine if solar is right for your home or business, we want to make sure you have all the information up front to help you decide. To do so, Sandbox Solar is here to answer your most frequently asked questions regarding solar.

As your local solar installation experts, Sandbox Solar has compiled a list of questions we frequently hear related to solar and the installation process. Your solar questions answered:

How many solar panels do I need, and how much will it cost? The design and specifications of your solar system will totally depend on your energy use, location, and needs. Contact Sandbox Solar for a free quote to see what your Northern Colorado solar system will entail and what it will cost.

How long will the solar installation process take? From start to finish, Sandbox Solar is here for your throughout the entire process. We work with you to design a system that will meet the needs of consumption and fit the shape and attributes of your roof. From there, our team will install your system and have it up and running in as little as 60 days—significantly faster than national installers. Work with Sandbox Solar, your local Northern Colorado solar provider for fast, efficient, and effective solar systems.

How can I pay for my solar system? There are multiple ways to fund your solar power investment. Options include a home equity loan, known as a energy loan. This method funds the panels and installation up front and adds to your monthly mortgage loan payment. Other options include lease agreements in which you essentially rent the solar panels. Contact Us to learn more about the payment option that will work best for you.

Will I qualify for a tax credit, rebate, or grant if I purchase a solar system?The main incentive for solar is the 30% Federal Tax Credit, meaning 30% of the cost of a solar energy system can be written off your income tax. Please consult your accountant for full details regarding this tax credit - but keep in mind, it will expire soon, so if you’re considering solar, don’t wait!

Rebates are variable depending on your township and your utility. Rebates are typically offered in exchange for Renewable Energy Credits (RECs). These credits allow utility companies to purchase the extra power your system generates that your home or office doesn’t need. It can help defray the cost of solar.

Grants are very limited for residential solar energy. You can browse your state’s incentives here.

Will a solar system increase the value of my home? From a Certified Residential Appraiser at Colorado Appraisal Services, “According to research, we know solar already boosts home value in California where there is a driven market for solar. It is also predicted that as solar demand develops in other markets, it will have a marked impact on home values and selling prices. Solar is similar to any other home improvement project, including kitchen and bath renovations, when it comes to increased valuation. This is divided between potential increase in selling price and consumption value. We also know that solar has been steadily increasing in Colorado. In Colorado, there is strong evidence that there appears to be no negative impact on value. Some market studies have concluded that the market does place value in solar (savings) and that in most instances it decreases marketing time.”

Why should I work with Sandbox Solar? Our company was started with one simple passion: harnessing the everlasting energy of the outdoors. The Sandbox represents our values of play, community, engineering, and the outdoors. Our goal is to create sustainable communities in your area that demonstrate these values every day. Sandbox Solar is a solar panel installation company located in Northern Colorado. We will help you through the design, development, and installation of solar panels at your home or business, utilizing the highest quality design tools and components. Our main goal is to help our community harness the potential of solar.

If you have lingering questions about investing in solar for your home or business, check out our full FAQ list here. Sandbox Solar is here to help you through your solar design and installation process; contact us to get started! We’ll answer any questions you may have and provide you with a free solar installation quote to see if solar makes sense for your building.

How Do Solar Panels Work? Solar Energy 101

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At its core, a solar system harnesses the power of the sun and turns it into electricity for your residential or commercial building. The sun is an incredibly powerful energy generator and could easily power all our electrical needs, without emitting harmful greenhouse gases as do other electricity generators like coal and natural gas. Currently, solar only powers about one fifth of worldwide energy needs, but it’s the fastest growing source of power for good reason.

As good as solar energy sounds on paper, it’s helpful to understand just how solar systems work and how they create electricity. Keep reading to understand the science and ingenuity behind a solar system:

How Do Solar Panels Work? Solar Energy 101 As you can see in the graphic, when the photons from the sun—or the energy released by sunlight—hits the panel, the system converts it into a direct current (DC) of electricity. From there, an inverter converts the DC power to an alternating current (AC) to match the needs of the grid. The AC then powers your home, including lights, heating and cooling systems, appliances, and so on. Once your home is completely powered, any extra electricity is sold back to the larger grid to offset non-solar-powered homes and buildings.

What are solar panels made of? The solar panels Sandbox Solar recommends our clients use are Photovoltaic (PV) solar panels.These panels are made up of many individual solar cells that act as semiconductors of the electricity produced. These cells are created out of a silicon material and have both a positive and negative layer to create the electric field necessary to turn sunlight (“photo”) into electricity (“voltaic”).

What is a solar inverter? Solar panels are designed to create direct current (DC) electricity, meaning the electrons generated flow in only one direction around the circuit. However, in the U.S. our entire grid is set up on an AC (alternating current) electricity system, meaning the electrons are pushed and pulled, periodically reversing direction, depending on the conditions and needs of the system. We use AC electricity because it’s cheaper over long distances. In order to harness the electricity the solar panels create, there must be an inverter to transform the DC electricity into AC in order for it to be compatible with our system. In addition to providing ground fault protection for the system, the inverter changes the electricity generated by your solar system to make it useful.

How Does a Solar Panel System Work? The entire system is known as a solar panel system. In the whole ecosystem, each individual panel works together to conduct electricity and power the home. When it’s sunny, the sunlight’s photons hit the panels on your roof. The panels then convert that energy into a DC current, sending it to the system’s main inverter. The inverter then converts the electricity from DC to AC, which then flows to your home’s electrical system to power the home. Together, the panels are able to produce enough—and sometimes extra—electricity for the building. The remaining electricity gets sent back to the grid to power other non-solar buildings.

What if there’s no sunlight to power my solar system? While Colorado has an incredible amount of sunny days each year, there are times when it’s cloudy or dark outside and your home still needs power. Never fear! Your home will still be connected to the grid and will be able to draw from traditional power if your panels are not producing electricity for a period of time. The best news about solar technology is it's always improving and evolving. Solar is one of the most cost-effective and sustainable energy generation systems available, and it’s time you seriously considered solar for your home or building. Contact your local solar energy providers, Sandbox Solar, with any questions about solar panels in Northern Colorado. We’re happy to provide solar advice and a free quote to help you see what investment in solar means for your home or business.

Sandbox Solar Welcomes You to Northern Colorado

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What was it that brought you to Northern Colorado? Our viable job market? The fun to be had in the great outdoors? Perhaps our food and beer scene? Maybe a combination of all three? Whatever your reasoning may be, Northern Colorado is a pretty great place to settle down.

Sandbox Solar is happy to call Northern Colorado home, too. We love living and working here; meeting all the new faces reminds us just how special this place is.

Sandbox Solar has been a local, Northern Colorado provider of solar energy for 3 years. We work hard to foster community involvement with solar energy. We provide opportunities for anyone to learn more about solar energy and receive the environmental and financial benefits possible through energy generation. From homeowners, to businesses, to community solar farm subscribers, it is possible for anyone to become involved and work toward energy independence. We are experts in solar energy providing you with independent and clean energy. We are proud to serve the Northern Front Range, and more!

If you’re new around here, let us be one of the first to welcome you. Sandbox Solar is a local Northern Colorado solar provider for residential homes and commercial buildings, and we’re proud to be an integral part of the landscape of Colorado and your partner in solar installation. We believe in our community, and we know you’ll love living here!

One of our favorite things about of Northern Colorado is the sunshine. In fact, Northern Colorado has as many as 300 days of sun. Sunny days in Colorado are hard to beat, and they make the outdoors and craft breweries even more fun. It also makes for a great environment for solar power generation. Solar gets the best results with direct sunlight, and we get plenty of it. But more than that, we love working in a place that prioritizes green energy and sustainable living.

For longtime Colorado residents and newcomers alike, we are here to help you reduce your electricity bill and do your part to reduce carbon emissions through the use of solar. Please don’t hesitate to reach out if you’d like to learn more about solar in Northern Colorado; we’re here to answer your questions and help you learn more about the value of solar!

10 Important Facts About Solar

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Solar has made a big name for itself in recent years; the falling cost of solar panels, coupled with widespread news coverage, has left many homeowners considering an investment in solar. Sandbox Solar is your local, Northern Colorado solar partner, and we’re here to give you all the information you need about solar to help you make an informed choice. It’s a big decision, we know, which is why we’ve compiled these interesting facts about solar you may not have considered:

(1) Colorado is Known for Our Sunshine:

It might be a bit of a marketing gimmick, but if Colorado is known for anything, it’s our sunshine. Depending on where you live in the state, you will be able to enjoy, on average, well over 200 days of sun per year. In Northern Colorado, you can expect upwards of 300 days! All this sunlight is great for one thing in particular: solar! It’s not bad for patio-sitting and outdoor activities either.

(2) Don’t Worry About Cloudy Days:
Even if it is sometimes cloudy and snowy in Colorado, you’ll ‘bank’ the extra energy your panels create on your energy bill; sunny days will offset any cloudy days.

(3) Solar is GREEN:
Solar energy is a free and abundant source of power once you have the panels installed. You can drastically reduce carbon emissions choosing solar, and together we can have a big impact on the planet.

(4) Solar Panels are Low-Maintenance:
Once solar panels have been installed on your home or commercial business, you can rest assured that your panels won’t give you many headaches. The batteries do not require any water and need very little upkeep. On average, solar panels are functional for as many as 25 years, meaning you will benefit from their energy for years to come.

(5) Solar has Room to Grow:
If we were to power the entire Earth on solar panels alone, we would need to build more than 191,000 square miles solar panels. Earth has more than 57 million miles of land, so we should be able to find a place to put them. To date, solar panels account for very little our energy generation, but we’re hoping that changes in the coming years.

(6 )Solar Energy is Not New:

In fact, it’s been around for well over 2,700 years. Glass lenses were once used to make fire, an early form of solar power. The earliest record of harnessing the sun’s power in this way was around 700 B.C.

(7) Solar is Getting Cheaper:
Solar has a reputation for being very costly, but as with any new technology, the cost of solar has dropped significantly and many predict will get even cheaper as time goes on. In fact, it’s now the cheapest to generate power.

(8)Solar Employs Thousands
The solar industry is one of the fastest growing and employs thousands of well-paid employees. As of 2016, more than 360,000 by 2021.

(9)Solar Adds Value:
In addition to helping you save on your energy costs, adding solar to your home can help improve the appraisal value. Buyers in Northern Colorado value homes with solar, and your home should appraise for more with solar than without.

(10) Your Break-Even Point is Coming:
As a Colorado resident, you’ll break even on the cost of your solar panels after, on average, 10-12 years of owning them. That is to say, you will recoup the costs of your solar investment relatively soon and avoid paying electricity bills in the meantime.

If you’re considering solar for your home or business, contact Sandbox Solar! We live and work in Northern Colorado and understand the unique intricacies of solar in Colorado. We’d be happy to give you a free solar estimate help you understand what the addition of solar panels could mean for your building. Don’t hesitate to reach out with any questions!

Homeowners: Best Ways to Pay for a Solar System

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We get it, solar systems are a big investment. Here at Sandbox Solar, we frequently hear, “I want solar, but how do I pay for a solar system?”

While solar is value-add to your home and will pay for the cost of the investment over time, it’s important to understand the different methods to fund your solar investment and determine which will work best for you and your home.

Ways Homeowners Can Pay for Solar

As a homeowner, there are several ways to fund a solar system. Some of the options available to homeowners include:

  • Home Equity Loan: You can secure an additional line of credit based on the value of your home to pay for the solar panels upfront. You will then pay for the loan month by month as part of your mortgage payment.
  • Power Purchase Agreement - This agreement, also known as a PPA is similar to a lease agreement, but instead the power company or city owns the panels, and the homeowner pays for the electricity generated.

Sandbox Solar’s Recommendation
While all of these options are viable for homeowners to get solar on your home, we strongly recommend you fund your solar system through a Home Equity Line Of Credit. This ‘solar loan’ inherently has a significant benefit in giving you direct ownership of your solar asset. While you may pay for the cost of the panels upfront, your solar loan payment will be less than your utility bill, in most cases. But more importantly, owning the panels adds more value to your home than simply leasing a system.

We’ve developed a strong relationship with the local Elevations Credit Union and trust them with our clients’ home solar loans. They will help you determine if a home equity loan is the right move for your solar investment and how it will stack up with your existing mortgage payment and current utility bill.

Don’t forget, there are also many great rebates and tax credits for solar installation on your home or building. Your solar investment may be eligible for a 30% Federal Tax Credit, meaning you can write off 30% of the cost of the install in your income tax bill. The city and your utility may also offer rebates in exchange for Renewable Energy Credits (RECs). These credits allow utility companies to use the extra power generated by your solar panels that your home or building does not need.

Ready to learn more adding solar to your home? Contact Sandbox Solar for more information about residential solar loans and installs. We’ll provide you with a free estimate and help you design a solar system that makes sense for your home and needs. Let’s get started!

Six Benefits of Installing Solar on Your Home or Business

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We get it, solar is a big investment and a scary decision to make. We talk to homeowners and businesses everyday as they mull over whether or not solar makes sense for their building. The benefits of solar adoption vary widely by motivation, location, and needs, but the top reasons to install solar panels include:

(1) Going Green

The obvious and perhaps, most important, reason to consider adding solar to your home or business is to help you live more sustainably. By using solar, you will lessen your dependence on fossil fuels to power your home and reduce your carbon footprint in the process. By moving to solar, you will eliminate as many as four tons of carbon emissions each year. Utilizing solar can go a long way to reduce our effect on the environment.

(2) Reduce Electricity Bills
By having solar panels installed on your home or building, you will likely drastically reduce your monthly electricity bills. In fact, you may even be paid back a small amount each month for your extra energy contributions to the grid. No electricity bills is a huge benefit of adopting solar! Furthermore, by adopting solar, you won’t be subject to the rising cost of electricity; you will lock in your monthly electric rate for the life of the system.

(3) Collect Tax Credits and Rebates
The City of Fort Collins huge rebates for adding solar to your residential or commercial building. The State of Colorado additional incentives and the federal government has other additional rebates you may qualify for by adding solar panels to your home. Solar rebates may be reduced at the end of the year, if you’re considering adding solar to your home - now is the time!

(4) Improve the Value of Your Home
Solar panels can positively affect the value of your home or property, especially in Northern Colorado where green energy is highly-welcomed. As more appraisers and home buyers appreciate the value of solar installations, the added benefit of having solar will only go up.

(5) Energy Independence
We are big believers in promoting local energy independence, or the idea that we do not have to rely on outside energy sources to power our city and industries. The West was built on a sense of self-reliance—your home should exemplify this same spirit!

(6) Support Your Local Economy
By working with Sandbox Solar to purchase and install your home’s solar panels, you’ll be adding to our local economy. Sandbox was started by two local entrepreneurs and we exclusively use local contractors. Together, we’re putting money right back into the local economy, rather than sending it off to huge electricity corporations. And in the solar industry especially, bigger isn’t always better. Partnering with regional solar installers likely going to get you the most bang for your buck.

The Sandbox Solar team is here to partner with you as you consider solar. We have installed solar systems on a significant number of businesses and homes right here in Northern Colorado and we pride ourselves on making solar energy accessible to all to receive the environmental and financial benefits possible through energy generation. From homeowners, businesses, or community solar farm subscribers, we will help you design and implement a solar system that makes sense for you. Please contact us today to learn more about the benefits of adding a solar system to your home home or business. We’re here to answer your questions and help you determine if solar makes sense.

Latest News!

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Event: Green Drinks at CSU Powerhouse!

Sandbox Solar is hosting Green Drinks this month at the CSU Powerhouse. (430 N. College Ave. Fort Collins). Feburary 22nd 530-8p. Free Food and Beer (21+). Donations will go toward The Growing Project. This is a casual event and all are welcome. We will have images of the projects we've completed. The Powerhouse is a CSU owned building that is home to various research centers, policy firms, and startups. More information can be found here.

Event Page.

In The News: Loveland Reporter Herald
Full News Article.

Sandbox Solar is proud to install 2 x LED lights, 1 Wind Turbine, 2 Solar Panels, and a Weather Station for Walt Clark Middle School in Loveland, CO. The project was funded by a grant the students won and they chose this project to represent their desire to continue pursuing STEM Education (Science Technology Engineering Math).

Questions About Solar?
Sandbox Solar is starting a Solar Speaker Series. We will travel around Northern Colorado educating, answering questions, sharing experiences about solar energy. Stay updated on Facebook and email for upcoming events in your area. We also now have a 2 Hour CE Credit Course for Realtors! Our first event will be next Thursday in Greeley at Farr Regional Library from 3:30-5:00pm.

Event Page.

We have uploaded our FAQ to our webpage to educate prospective customers about solar energy.

This Month's Featured Question:

What happens to the solar energy at night?

All energy produced during the day is credited to your through Net Metering. Net Metering allows your meter to roll backwards. Any excess energy is credited back to you, giving you a positive cash flow.

Industry News: Micro-Grids
Last month, we saw representatives from Spirae at Northern Colorado Renewable Energy Society. A monthly gathering at Odell's that presents new technology and produces conversation with the public. A Microgrid platform controls the electric grid through software algorithms. This allows for more reliable and efficient operation of renewable energy, storage, and flexible loads. By controlling these things utilities can control high peak demands. Will the future grid include these Micro-Grids + Wind + Storage + Solar ?!?

February 2, 2017

Solar Outlook in NoCo

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With uncertainty of 2017, there are some things to look forward to in Northern Colorado. The Federal Tax Credit was extended and will continue to be 30% through 2017, Solar Energy Prices are predicted to go below $3.0/Watt for large residential systems, new everyday technology such as lawn lamps are becoming cheaper, and in case you missed it - a Great Article by Jacy from the Coloradoan features: Solar power gaining in Fort Collins.

What kind of influence will the new administration have on Solar?
Solar Energy is becoming a Non-Partisan issue. From our personal experience at Sandbox Solar as well as other influential figures in the community. We have noticed that no matter what your political views are, the sun clearly has everyone's interests. Whether that is energy independence, going green, or financial investments, Solar has everyone playing in the sun. Solar has now employed 77% more workers than the U.S. coal mining industry, and that number continues to exponentially rise. China plans on investing $362 billion in renewable energy, and Elon Musk (CEO of Tesla) has joined Trump's Strategic and Policy Forum. All these factors for us indicate that Trump may not go all in on Renewables, but it may be an even playing field for all energy sources. In which case, let the sun keep shining on solar.

What Would You like to See in our Posts?
As a local advocate for renewable energy, we want to know what you would like to see in our Blog/Newsletters. What are you interested in and what would help you understand the rapid growth and change of our energy infrastructure. Please let us know!

January 6, 2017


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Welcome to the Sandbox Solar news feed! We are a solar installation company that works out of Colorado. We've been taking on projects big and small, helping individuals and businesses adapt to the modern energy world. Solar is a green, affordable, and smart choice when it comes to powering your home or business.

September 16, 2016

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