Many Lakewood residents endured the rain on their way to Buckeye Beer Engine to enjoy LakewoodAlive’s latest home maintenance workshop on Thursday evening, May 30.

Led by David Zelasko of Third Sun Solar, “Knowing Your Home: Solar 101” gave Lakewood residents the opportunity to learn about solar energy and the potential use for it in their homes. Attendees were able to explore different options for solar panels and potential ways to save money on them. 

Now in its sixth year, LakewoodAlive’s Knowing Your Home workshop series draws hundreds of attendees annually to learn home maintenance best practices.  Our workshop series is generously supported by: Citizens Bank, City of Lakewood, Cleveland Lumber Company and First Federal Lakewood.

If you happened to miss this particular workshop, we’ve got you covered.  Here are our four key takeaways.

1. Solar power DOES work in Ohio
Northeast Ohio may be known for its varied weather patterns but it is still positioned well to capitalize on solar power.  While Ohio’s solar power generates approximately 20 percent less than Florida does, our capability is about 20 percent more than Germany’s.  This is significant because Germany is one of the world’s leading countries for solar power installations.  Although solar production may be slightly less efficient in Ohio compared to other parts of our country, it still has many advantages.

2. Reasons to go solar
As a homeowner, it is a big decision to choose to go solar.  Going solar has multiple positives, including having a lower carbon footprint, saving on your electric bill and owning your own power.  Additionally, having solar panels on your home can increase your property value and the energy produced by solar panels doesn’t have to be used right away.  A benefit of living in Northeast Ohio is solar panels tend to last longer since they don’t endure exposure to intense sun or saltwater.  Deciding to go solar as a homeowner can be extremely worthwhile.

3. Learning about solar
When it comes to putting solar panels on your roof. it is best if you have a south-facing roof.  Even if you do not, west/east-facing roofs also work.  If you are looking to buy a home that will work well with solar panels, Zillow has a sun number that explains how much sun exposure a house receives.  The most common solar panel setup is a fixed-track, which sets the solar panels at a certain pitch (angle) – the most recommended pitch is around 30-40 degrees.  Another factor to consider is the type of solar panel system you want.  The two main types are on-grid and off-grid.   On-grid shares harnessed energy with the electrical grid, whereas off-grid involves self-powering panels that store energy in a batter form.  There are advantages and disadvantages associated with both types, so it’s important to do your homework before making an investment in solar power.

4. Reducing the cost burden of solar
Solar panels can be a large investment for homeowners, and the expense of solar panels and installations can cost a homeowner over $15,000.  However, financing options can be found to help manage the cost, such as federal investment tax credits, and Cuyahoga County’s housing enhancement loan program.  Another cost-saving alternative mentioned is called a solar co-op.  Homeowners are brought into a group, or a co-op, to take advantage of the group’s bulk-purchasing power to get discounted pricing and quality installation.  Through this strategy, part of the cost burden for solar power can be offset.