SOLAR NEWSWe love to engage with our community, and provide solutions to work towards a sustainable future.
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.
If you’re like most people, you don’t know if you will be living in the same house forever. So is it still a good idea to invest in solar? Absolutely! Sandbox Solar can help you determine the value of the solar system and give you some tips on buying or selling a home with solar in Fort Collins. More homeowners are investing in solar than ever, which means more people will end up buying or selling a home with solar at some point.
According to the Solar Energy Industries Association, the costs for installing solar panels have dropped more than 70% over the last decade, and the market continues to diversify. The 26% federal solar tax credit has also made solar more affordable for many individuals. So, many individuals are investing in solar and reaping the benefits. Selling a home with solar is a great opportunity to attract more buyers with the benefits of solar energy.
The Value of Selling a Home With Solar in Fort Collins
Many people in Northern Colorado find living a greener lifestyle important, so they look for homes with features such as an existing solar system. Homes with solar tend to sell faster and for higher prices. The following are reasons why homes with solar sell well:
- Homes with solar are worth more – On average, buyers were willing to pay an additional $15,000 for homes with solar systems, even when controlling for factors such as location, home type, and solar system type. If your home has solar installed, know that it’s a selling factor, and will help increase the value and sale price of your home.
- Lower electric bills – Solar panels can reduce monthly energy bills by 70%-100%. Do the math on your electric bill and how much money you have saved. Put the potential savings into real numbers for buyers.
- They’re low maintenance – Solar panels aren’t the same as having a pool or a large garden. They’re extremely low maintenance and need to be cleaned only about once every two to three months.
- Solar is valuable to people who are living green – Work with a realtor who understands the added value of a home with solar. It’s important to have a realtor that will help you show the value of your solar system to the appraiser and any future buyers. Need some help finding a realtor? Sandbox Solar can help! Contact us and we will get you connected to a real estate professional who understands solar.
Buying a Solar Home With the Help of Your Local Solar Company
- Understand what you’re getting into – Before considering buying a home, you should know the system and how it works. Be sure to ask about the costs per month, what the savings are for your utilities, whether net metering is possible, and so on. Knowing these answers will help you decide whether or not the price of the home is worth it and know what you’re getting into for the long run as a homeowner.
- Is the solar system leased or owned – Find out if the solar panels are leased or owned! If they are leased, you will have to get the lease transferred over. If they are owned, this is the better deal, because once you purchase the home, you also own the solar panels. The price of the solar panels is usually built into the cost of the home, so you won’t have to pay anything for them later.
- Get an inspection – It might be worth it to get an opinion from a solar expert to make sure the solar system and roof are in good condition. A solar expert can also help you determine what the system is worth.
- Make sure you can still get a mortgage loan – The added cost of a solar system can sometimes affect your ability to qualify for a mortgage loan. Be sure to check with your lender to make sure that a home with solar fits into your budget.
- Find out what the warranty is – It’s important to know who installed the solar panels to know about the warranty on the system. Solar systems typically last 25 years, but it’s better to be safe than sorry with a longer warranty.
Adding solar to your home is a great investment. If you’re buying or selling a home with solar in Fort Collins this summer, your local solar company can help! Sandbox Solar can give you tips and help guide you to make sure you’re getting the most out of your solar investment. Contact us today if you have any questions about buying or selling a home with solar.
Summer is in full swing here in Colorado! It can be hard to keep your home cool without racking up a large electric bill by using your air conditioning all day – especially if you live within the city limits of Fort Collins with Time of Day pricing. Sandbox Solar, your solar installer in Colorado, is here to provide you with the best solar system for your needs and help you beat the heat this summer without breaking the bank.
Install Solar Panels to Avoid Higher Electricity Cost
You may have noticed that your home gets particularly hot by the end of the day if you don’t turn on your AC. Most use usually occurs during the Time-of-Day pricing in Fort Collins between 2 and 7 pm. Air conditioners use a lot of energy, which leads to a steep increase in monthly utility bills during the summer months. There are many things you can do to help save money on air conditioning, like installing a ceiling fan, utilizing smart-home technology, or closing your blinds during the day, but these solutions give you only a small amount of savings.
If you have solar panels, you can offset the cost of your electricity with the energy your panels produce. Your renewable energy can be used to power everything in your home, including your air conditioner. That means guilt-free air conditioning without the huge price tag.
Why Solar Saves You Money
Solar is not affected by the Time-of-Day pricing, and you can use the energy it produces whenever you want. When you use energy from your solar panels, you’re drawing power from the grid to keep your home cool, which doesn’t cost you anything. Your investment in solar will help reduce your footprint and your electricity bill.
The longer days and abundance of sunshine during the summer allow your solar panels to collect more energy from the sun. Installing a solar system not only curbs power costs, but also can help run your entire household. You might even be able to eliminate your monthly electricity bills! If your solar system generates any extra energy, it will be returned to the grid. The best part is that you can receive credits for any extra energy produced! Learn more about the credit rating system here.
Sandbox Solar is your highly rated solar installer in Colorado. We want to help you keep your home cool this summer and eliminate your electricity bills through sustainable solar. If you’re ready to learn more about how a solar system can help you avoid Time-of-Day pricing and reduce your energy bill, contact us. We’re available to answer any questions you may have and give you a free quote!
Are you building a new home and looking to make it environmentally friendly? Sandbox Solar can help! We offer solar for new construction in Fort Collins to help you build a solar system that seamlessly integrates with your new home or business. We are experts in solar energy providing you with independent and clean energy in Fort Collins!
Arguably, the best time to invest in solar is when you are considering solar for new construction in Fort Collins. You can build your home or business with your solar system in mind. Here are a few things that you should pay attention to when designing a home that is perfect for solar:
- The orientation and angle of your roof – It is crucial to have a large south-facing roof if you are mounting your solar panels on it. Your roof pitch should be 30 to 35 degrees for maximum rooftop solar energy production. When your panels are at this ideal angle, you will have great electricity output all year long.
- The size of your roof – You also need sufficient space for your solar system to produce the right amount of electricity. Sufficient space is essential if you want your solar system to produce all the electricity your house will consume throughout the year. A small south-facing roof will limit your space for panels, decreasing the possible size of the array.
- Plan the placement of vents, chimneys, and place dormers – Your solar panels need to be completely unshaded when the sun is at its highest point so it can generate the most electricity. Vents, chimneys, and dormers can create shadows that fall on your solar panels and decrease your energy output.
- Avoid trees and other obstructions – Trees and buildings can also shade your solar panels. Locate your home somewhere clear of obstructions so your panels can produce maximum energy. However, if shade is unavoidable, you can choose solar equipment that is specifically designed for shaded conditions.
- Take electrical into consideration – This is one of the most important steps in making sure your home and solar system go together seamlessly. You will need room for a conduit from your main electrical panel to the roof for your solar panels. It’s also important to make sure that your setup can handle a solar panel array. Some components of your solar system will need to be installed near your electrical panel, as well, so plan space for them
- New construction commercial buildings – All of the above points apply to commercial buildings as well. If you are looking to decrease your operating costs, become a leader in green energy, and have a seamless solar panel design, then investing in solar during the construction phase of a commercial building is your best bet.
Sandbox Solar is here to help when it comes to solar for new construction in Fort Collins. We can design, develop, and build the perfect solar system for your needs. Let us help you build a carbon-neutral home of your dreams or make your business a leader in green energy. Contact us today to learn more about solar and new construction for your home or business, and for a free quote!
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