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So you have brand new solar panels on your roof and you’re generating your own electricity. Your power bills are basically eliminated at this point, and you’re feeling pretty good about your impact on the environment. But, one stormy night, the wind knocks over a huge tree and the power goes out on your entire block. Now you’re stuck without power because you’re relying on the grid to power your home.
What can you do to avoid this? Invest in solar battery backup! Combining solar panels and backup battery storage allows you to have independence from the power grid and store any unused power generated by your solar system for later use. Battery backup power offers the same functions as conventional generators without the need for refueling. Plus, it’s a lot more eco-friendly.
How Long Will Solar Battery Backup Help During a Power Outage?
Solar battery backup can add a level of resilience to your home to keep the lights on, the internet running, and the fridge cold at night during power outages. Your solar battery will be charged and store excess energy during the day to allow you to use and discharge the power at night. As long as you have enough battery storage capacity, you can power your home like this through long power outages.
Sandbox Solar has the expertise to install the right battery storage option for your home. We offer three different types of battery and can help you decide on the proper one, depending on how much power you need.
Here are the battery options that we offer:
- LG Chem Solar Battery: This battery features industry-leading 5kW continuous power. LG Chem offers improved energy efficiency and is sized for day-to-day use for your home. This is the best bang for the buck home battery on the market, and we highly recommend it.
- Enphase Encharge: The Enphase Encharge battery is smart, reliable, simple, and safe. It has a total usable energy capacity of 3.36 kWh. The best part is that you can add more batteries to it and expand your system very easily.
- Generac PWRcell: This battery storage system is one of the most powerful on the market. It can provide up to 9kW of continuous backup power for your home’s essential power needs. A single PWRcell battery can provide enough power to back up large appliances like air conditioners and well pumps. We love this solution for mountain cabins and frequent outages.
Curious about solar battery backup for your home and gaining independence from the grid? Contact us today! We’ll help you design a system that works best for your home and needs, so you can be prepared for any situation.
Usually, the first question a homeowner has when deciding to invest in solar is “When will I see a return?” With the increased popularity of solar, there is a great deal of data out there to show the return on investment (ROI) of installing in a solar system. Colorado solar panels are investments with strong rates of return. Homeowners can generate electricity through their solar panels and avoid ever-increasing utility rates by eliminating their electricity bills. Having solar panels on your home also increases the value of your property.
When can I see an ROI on my Colorado solar panels?
In the U.S., the typical ROI period is about 8 years. For example, if the cost of installing solar on your home is $16,000 and your system is going to save you $2,000 per year on energy bills, your break-even point will be 8 years. The break-even point can be different for every homeowner because of several factors.
When you are deciding on a company to install your solar panels, you should compare the payback period for multiple quotes. That way, you can identify when your solar investment will begin earning you money.
Here are a few circumstances that determine how long it will take to see a return on your solar investment:
- The Upfront Cost – The cost of solar panels depends on the size and type of panels. Sandbox Solar provides free estimates for all of our clients. We will help you determine the cost of your system based on the type of panels you need and the size of your home. The good news is that the cost of solar continues to decrease with its popularity. Sandbox Solar also provides customized systems and financing options, which can help reduce your overall cost.
- Monthly Electrical Use and Generation – The size of the solar system you need will depend on the monthly amount of electricity you consume. Once you know how much you consume, you can figure out how much of that you can offset each month with solar. The higher your electricity bills are, the shorter your estimated ROI period will be, because you can reduce or eliminate this bill as soon as your panels are up and running. It’s also important to keep in mind that the size of your roof and where you live can determine how much electricity your solar panels will produce. Sandbox Solar will help you determine the right solar system for your roof size, location, and energy consumption.
- Financial Incentives – At Sandbox Solar, we will find the rebates you may qualify for and the best financing options for your situation. Colorado solar panels can be more affordable if you utilize tax breaks and rebates to dramatically reduce the cost. For instance, the federal solar investment tax credit (ITC) allows you to deduct 26% of the cost of your system from your taxes. And Colorado has some of the best solar rebates and incentives in the country. We have been installing solar panels in Colorado for years, so we can help you understand the rebates and incentives you qualify for.
If you want to learn more about solar and get a free quote for your project, contact us today! Investing in Colorado solar panels can be your first step toward achieving your energy goals. It’s a great investment opportunity to offset energy costs, reduce the environmental impact of your home, and contribute to a sustainable future.
When shopping for a big investment like solar, it’s important to check multiple options and prices. Every Colorado solar installer is different in the services they offer, the equipment they use, and pricing. At Sandbox Solar, we offer the best products and services at a competitive price.
If you are approached to buy solar, use a comparison-shopping method before you buy, so you can be aware of all of the options available.
Here are a few things you should look for in Colorado solar installers:
- Do they offer a free quote – A free quote is a great way to get an estimate on what the cost of your project will look like. Try to get multiple quotes before you commit to one installation company. At Sandbox Solar, we offer free quotes and will also evaluate your energy rates for free! Just fill out this contact form to get started.
- Compare financing options – There are several financing options available when investing in solar, including home equity loans and Power Purchase Agreements (PPA). Some Colorado solar installers might offer their own loans, or you can get one from your bank. When you invest in solar, you want to work with a company that knows exactly what they are doing on both the install and financial side. At Sandbox Solar, we’re experts on the regional tax credits and incentives you can apply for once you have your new solar system. Ask your realtor on the saleability of a house with a lease on your roof!
- Equipment choices – There are many different brands and models of solar panels available. Each panel will have different specifications related to design, size, efficiency, durability, and warranty. The Colorado solar installer you choose should provide you with personalized quotes that will show the best value for your home. When it comes to equipment and cost, the cheapest deal isn’t always the best deal. Local providers can offer you a more customized solar system, which can reduce your overall cost and give you a better system for your needs. Sandbox Solar utilizes the highest-quality design tools and components to give you the best installation possible. We have been providing solar for years and can create a system and installation type that works best for the region’s climate.
- Colorado Solar Installer Reviews – Check the reviews! They can be a good indicator of how the company works with its customers. In general, local solar companies get higher ratings than larger solar companies, because they are members of the community and care about doing the best job possible. You can read our Google reviews here.
When trying to decide on a Colorado solar installer, it’s important to pay attention to all of these things. Always compare multiple options to ensure that you are getting the best option and value for your project. When you work with Sandbox Solar, we will help you choose the best equipment and financing options for your project. If you have questions, don’t hesitate to contact the Sandbox Solar team today for a free quote!
Despite this year’s challenges, Sandbox Solar in Fort Collins has continued to bring solar to the local community. We’ve been busy adding new services, finishing up projects around Northern Colorado, and partnering with the community to provide solar to more people. Check out what we’ve been up to:
New Service: EV Chargers
We have a new addition to our services at Sandbox Solar: We are now installing EV chargers! Driving an electric vehicle has many benefits, and having an EV charger at home makes it easier to switch to a greener transportation option. Learn more about the benefits of electric vehicles here.
Community Project: The Growing Project
We’re incredibly proud to have partnered with The Growing Project to install a 600W, two-panel solar array for their garden located in The FoCo Commons area at the FoCo Cafe.
This system powers a USB outlet for phone chargers and the like for anyone in need. The panel is also designed to further education about the ways in which solar energy and agriculture can coexist.
The Growing Project’s mission is to promote an environmentally and socially just local food system through direct agricultural experiences, education, economic opportunities, and advocacy. They do this through community gardens and youth education. One of their gardens in the FoCo Commons produces crops used by food establishments in the area, gives the community a place to learn more about local food production, and is a sanctuary for all to enjoy.
Learn more about our project here.
Project Updates: CSU ARDEC Project with Sandbox Solar in Fort Collins
This is Sandbox Solar’s third year studying agrivoltaics at Colorado State University’s ARDEC South. We have gotten amazing results and discovered that agriculture and solar can indeed coexist! Our goal is to create a business model where we will be able to grow food and renewable energy for Fort Collins and across Colorado. Learn more about the latest project updates here.
We also had the pleasure of being a part of the CSU Specialty Crops Program’s virtual field day. Learn more about the solar panels and arrays we have installed for the project by watching the virtual field day video here.
Project Update: L’Avenir Zero Net Living
Sandbox Solar in Fort Collins had the opportunity to work on an amazing project to provide net-zero living in downtown Fort Collins. The building is fully powered by the sun’s energy and geothermal wells. Learn more.
In the News: BizWest Mercury 100
We are grateful to have been chosen to be in the Mercury 100 by BizWest as one of Northern Colorado’s fastest growing companies!
In the News: NOCO Style’s Top 30 Under 30 and Top Solar Installer
Our co-founder Ian Skor was chosen as one of NOCO Style’s Top 30 Under 30! All nominees have made an impact in business or community in Northern Colorado. Ian was chosen for the impact that Sandbox Solar has created in the community through renewable energy! You can read more here.
Sandbox Solar was also nominated as NOCO Style’s top Solar Installer of 2020!
Sandbox Solar in Fort Collins is always looking for ways to provide opportunities for anyone to get involved with solar energy. Keep up with us by signing up for our monthly newsletter! Have a project that you would like our help on? Contact us today with any questions or for a free quote.
Sandbox Solar wants to remind you that Fort Collins Time-of-Day pricing switched again. Peak hours are now back to non-summer hours: from 5 to 9 pm on weekdays. It will cost you 70% less to use energy during non-peak hours compared to peak hours. In this blog, we will explain how Fort Collins TOD pricing can affect your electric bill and how you can save with solar:
Image Source: City of Fort Collins Government
Fort Collins Time-of-Day Pricing Peak Hours
In the summer months, peak hours are from 2 to 7 pm, and in the non-summer months, peak hours are 5 to 9 pm. Until April, the Fort Collins Time-of-Day pricing will be back to non-summer peak hours. The electricity you use during peak hours is much more costly, and it encourages you to avoid utilizing major appliances during peak hours.
With TOD, you pay for your electricity based on the time of day, day of the week, and season. Peak hours cost 21.95¢/kWh, whereas off-peak hours will cost you 7.10¢/kWh.
For many homeowners in Fort Collins, TOD pricing can be very expensive. That’s where we come in! You can avoid the extra cost of electricity during peak hours by investing in solar.
Tips to Avoid TOD Pricing
Things you should avoid using during peak hours include dryers, ovens, space heaters, water heaters, dishwashers, and microwaves. These appliances use the most electricity in your home. Find out what it costs to run electronics and common household appliances here.
It helps to plan your energy use for times when you’ll be paying less! If you need some help, check out our free home energy guide to learn how to reduce your monthly energy payments.
Here are a few tips to avoid TOD pricing:
- Save about 50¢ per load by drying your laundry during off-peak hours. If you can, line-dry your clothing whenever possible to save more money.
- Run your dishwasher in the morning, after 9 pm, or on weekends to avoid peak hours.
- Incorporate stove-free dinners into your week when you can! Use slow cookers, a grill, or add in a few cold meals.
- Manage the shades in your home to maximize sun coming in and help your home feel warmer throughout the day.
One of the best ways to save money on utility costs in the City of Fort Collins is by installing a solar system on your home. Solar panels can generate the energy needed to power your home instead of drawing power from the grid. With solar panels, you will feel free to use your appliances regardless of the time of day. Plus, Fort Collins Time-of-Day costs will be increasing again in 2021, so now is the perfect time to invest in solar for your home!
Want to avoid an increase in your electricity costs due to Fort Collins Time-of-Day pricing? Let’s chat! Electricity costs are going to continue to increase over time. We have helped many Fort Collins residents eliminate their electricity bills by generating their own power, and we would love to help you, too! Contact Sandbox Solar today for a free quote or to learn more about solar and Fort Collins Time-of-Day pricing.
Sandbox Solar has been working with Colorado State University’s Agricultural Research, Development, and Education Center (ARDEC) for the last three years on an agricultural research project to combine Colorado solar and crops. Through our research, we have learned what’s possible in Northern Colorado with agrivoltaics and plan to continue expanding in Colorado and beyond. Check out the videos below to learn about the Specialty Crops Program projects at ARDEC.
Specialty Crops Virtual Field Day
Colorado State University’s Specialty Crops Program held a virtual field day to give an update on the projects and demonstrations they have been doing at ARDEC. ARDEC is CSU’s research farm just north of Fort Collins, where they conduct agricultural research and demonstration projects.
See the video below for an introduction to the Specialty Crops Virtual Field Day.
You can watch all of the project video updates here.
Agrivoltaics with Sandbox Solar
This is Sandbox Solar’s third year studying agrivoltaics and Colorado solar at ARDEC. We are encouraged by our research, which has shown that agriculture and solar can coexist. Our goal is to create a business model where we will be able to simultaneously grow food and generate renewable energy for Fort Collins and across Colorado.
Researching and fully understanding Colorado solar and agrivoltaics is extremely important for us to be able to move forward with our climate and clean energy goals. We have found that there is enough suitable land in Colorado for agrivoltaics to cover 650,000 acres. This would allow us to create more clean energy through solar while still utilizing land for farmers.
Learn more about the solar panels and arrays we have installed for the project by watching the video below.
We are working on allowing the perfect combination of shade and light to come through our solar panels to provide the crops with the ideal amount of sunlight throughout the day. The panels need to be able to generate enough electricity and power while providing enough light for crops to grow. We have found that some shade benefits certain crops because Colorado offers more sun than those crops actually need. For example, leafy greens and cool-weather crops do better under the semi-transparent panels, while peppers and tomatoes do better under more transparent panels.
One notable aspect of this project is that it is a fully replicated experiment with three replications, so our results are scientifically sound. We are the only site in Colorado and the U.S. studying vegetable crops under multiple panel types and transparencies. We look forward to seeing the use of agrivoltaics continue to grow in the future.
Sandbox Solar, your local Colorado solar provider, is committed to increasing clean energy production for all of Northern Colorado. Our intention is for solar and agriculture to coexist, allowing us to effectively use our land in Colorado. There is so much opportunity for agricultural solar and solar research, and we’re excited to continue to learn more with this project. Stay tuned for more updates about our project with CSU’s ARDEC, and feel free to contact us with any questions or feedback about this study.
Looking to buy or sell a home with solar? Sandbox Solar, your local solar contractor in Fort Collins, can help you determine the value of the solar power system and how it affects the value of the home. We are frequently asked to help buyers and sellers determine the benefits of a solar system and how it will affect the transaction. We can help you value the system and understand what you’ll be getting into as a homeowner in the long run.
What You Need to Know About the System, According to A Solar Contractor in Fort Collins
The first thing home buyers need to know about a solar system is who installed it. Then you can figure out whether it is owned by the homeowner, or loaned or leased by that company. If the solar system is owned or loaned, then it will be a simple transaction. The best part about the panels being owned is that the price of the panels is usually built into the cost of the home, so you won’t have to worry about any additional costs.
However, if the system was leased, you will have to work with the company that installed it to transfer the lease to you.
The second thing you want to do is find out what the warranty is. It’s important to know what’s included in the warranty and for how many years you are covered.
Other things you should know about the solar system include:
- How much it costs per month if it is leased/loaned
- What the utility savings are
- The power output of the system
- Details about the system design with the original solar installer (ask for a copy)
Is There System Monitoring?
It’s important to find out whether the panels have system monitoring. If there is system monitoring available, you will need to transfer the ownership of the monitoring to yourself. System monitoring is also helpful in making the buying decision because it can show you how well the system is working and whether anything needs to be updated.
Do You Need an Inspection?
Yes! You should absolutely get the solar panels inspected before making a decision. At Sandbox Solar, we offer inspections of solar systems even if we didn’t personally install them. During an inspection, we can check for any damage or unsafe wiring and assess the condition of the roof, etc., then give you a full value report of the system.
If you’re house hunting or planning to sell, we wish you luck! As your local solar contractor in Fort Collins, we can make the process easier by helping you value the solar system on the home. We will help you figure out who installed the panels, look at the system monitoring, and provide an inspection to make sure the system is in tip-top shape. We’re here to guide you in getting the most out of your investment. Send us an email or call us today to set up an inspection!
Sandbox Solar, your Fort Collins solar company, has been working with Colorado State University’s Agricultural Research, Development and Education Center (ARDEC) for the last three years on an agricultural solar research project. Our mission has always been to foster local community involvement with solar energy and find new opportunities for energy generation. The solar research we have been doing in conjunction with CSU has helped us learn more about what is possible in Colorado with agrivoltaics.
What Phase Is the Project in Now?
Sandbox Solar is currently in the third growing season researching crop growth under solar panels. Phase 1 of the Small Business Innovation Research grant was completed in February, and we have applied for Phase 2. The plan is to continue to research and test this land use model to be able to create it on a larger scale and bring it to the market someday.
What Have We Learned?
We have learned that many crops respond very well to partial shade conditions without hindering growth. The partial shade from the panels has led to increased soil moisture and decreased ambient temperature, allowing the crops to avoid heat and drought stress that they may experience in full sun conditions. Our semi-arid climate and intense UV radiation along the Front Range can be a tough place for certain crops to grow.
We are continuing to model and research various panel types and layouts. Within the next two years, we hope to find the ideal ratio of transparency to power generation. Thin-film and semi-transparent solar technologies are expanding and progressing every year, leading to new potential solutions.
How Was Last Year’s Growing Season?
We collected a lot of data last year. We took measurements of temperature, PAR (photosynthetically active radiation), light, and soil moisture throughout the growing season. Then we were able to collect harvest data on peppers, tomatoes, lettuce, and kale. All of these crops performed very well in partial shade conditions.
What Kind of Outside Recognition or Interest in the Project Have You Gotten as a Fort Collins Solar Company?
We were able to present our work at numerous agricultural events across the state of Colorado during the off-season. We have had many farmers and organizations support our research endeavors.
Sandbox Solar was also awarded a Proof-of-Concept and Early Stage Capital and Retention Grant for our work. This grant helps us fund our continuing efforts to expand our project.
Do You Have Plans to Expand the Number of Panels Elsewhere?
We now have an auxiliary test site at CSU’s Foothills Campus, where we are testing native species and leafy green crop growth. We are testing these plants under an existing grid-tied array. If we are successful in more grant applications, then we will install more research test sites. We are always looking for early adopters and collaborators!
Sandbox Solar, your Fort Collins solar company, is committed to fostering local community involvement with solar energy and continuing to provide the opportunity for more solar and agricultural solar research. With these projects, we can work toward providing more economic benefits to farmers, support renewable energy, and enable optimal land use in Colorado. Contact us with any questions or feedback about our project with CSU’s ARDEC and expanding agrivoltaics in Colorado and beyond.
As a top-rated locally owned solar company in Northern Colorado, Sandbox Solar is committed to giving back and making a difference in our community. One of our top values has always been to foster local energy and food independence. We recently teamed up with The Growing Project to do more of this right here in Fort Collins. We’re also very passionate about the emerging field of agrivoltaics – where solar and crops can coexist.
The Growing Project’s mission is to promote an environmentally and socially just local food system through direct agricultural experiences, education, economic opportunities, and advocacy. One of the ways in which they do this is through youth education and community gardens. One of their gardens is located near the FoCo Cafe in an area called The FoCo Commons. This garden produces crops used by the cafe, gives the community a place to learn more about local food production, and is a sanctuary for all to enjoy.
Sandbox Solar recently donated a 600W, two-panel solar array for the garden. This system powers a USB outlet for phone chargers and the like for anyone in need. The panel is also designed to further education about the ways in which solar energy and agriculture can coexist, as well as help our community understand the potential of agrivoltaics.
The system that the Sandbox Solar team installed here is an agrivoltaic system similar to the system used in the research study we did in conjunction with Colorado State University. This particular kind of solar system is designed to allow sunlight to still filter through the panels, allowing the plants underneath to still grow, while still creating energy from the sunlight. Through the study, we’ve learned that vegetables such as lettuce and kale grow best under these panels, which is what The Growing Project has planted here.
Sandbox Solar is proud to be a top locally owned solar company, and we’re honored to support local institutions such as The Growing Project to increase sustainability and local food production in our community. We’re thrilled to be on the frontlines of the development of agrivoltaics projects like this one and we can’t wait to see how this plot grows with the added shade of the system.
Sandbox Solar is a locally owned solar company in Northern Colorado. We’ve installed thousands of solar panels across the region at homes and businesses alike. We’d love to help you reach your energy independence goals, too. Contact us for more information.
If you have an electric vehicle (EV), we now offer professional EV charger installation in Fort Collins. Driving an electric vehicle has many benefits, and having an EV charger at home makes it all the easier to switch to a greener transportation option.
Benefits of Electric Vehicles
Electric vehicles have many benefits over owning a conventional gas or diesel car. Some of them include:
- They’re cheaper to run – Owners of an EV have much lower running costs compared to your conventional vehicle. The electricity it takes to charge an EV costs much less than buying fuel for the same style of vehicle.
- They’re cheaper to maintain – There are a lot fewer moving parts in an EV to maintain. EVs don’t require much servicing because they don’t have radiators, starter motors, fuel injection systems, and many other parts that are expensive to fix.
- EVs are better for the environment – EVs produce less pollution because they don’t emit exhaust fumes. If you want to reduce your greenhouse gas emissions even further, you can recharge your EV from your solar PV system. We can help you install both so you can use your PV system during the day instead of pulling from the grid.
Why Should You Have Your EV Charger Professionally Installed
We highly recommend getting it professionally installed, especially if you have a solar system that you want to pull from. A professional can help you evaluate your home’s wiring, electrical outlets, and other hardware that is needed to support the charging of an EV efficiently and, more importantly, safely.
When you work with a professional, they will help you understand how EV chargers work. There are different types of chargers that support different charging levels and speeds. It’s important to figure out which one is right for your home, EV, and energy system.
Another benefit of working with a professional is they have all of the necessary tools to ensure that your new EV station works properly once it’s installed. It takes out any guesswork on your end.
Why Work with Us
At Sandbox Solar, we are with you every step of the way throughout your project. Whether you just need an EV charger installation in Fort Collins or a full solar system and EV charger, we will help you through the design, development, and installation of it all. If you want solar, Sandbox Solar can provide a smartly designed solar system that meets your unique needs. We can work hard to help you reduce your energy bills and offset your carbon footprint.
If you are looking to go green, we’re happy to help! We can provide EV charger installation in Fort Collins for your new electric vehicle. We would love to discuss your project needs and provide a free quote! Give us a call at (970) 673-7733 for more information or contact us here.
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