Published On: Fri, May 9th, 2014

Sustainable energy is in style

Styles Solar story

A Lewisburg family has expanded their home solar system recently and was generous enough to share a tour of their home and property, as well as the system in they have put in place with me.

Jeremy and Jody Styles have just completed the addition, which is adding 2300 Watts of solar energy to the already existing 2100 Watts. Jeremy says, “The total of 4400 Watts will meet the majority of our electricity needs on our property.” This is a grid-tied system, he added. When we are producing more energy than we need, the surplus is fed back into the grid for the neighbors using it. The tour of the property took me by the electric meter, which was indeed spinning backwards, feeding excess power into the grid. Jody says that their electric bill was averaging around $30 a month before the recent addition.

The current solar addition cost about $1,800 for 10 panels, $1,270 for inverters, $680 for mounting hardware, and probably $600 or so for additional materials including lumber, wiring and sub panel, which the family used an electrician to install. The styles saved some money by installing the system themselves.

The Styles explained how they decided to invest in this residential sustainable energy movement. “We are a young family, and fully expect (and have calculated) to have the Return of Investment (ROI) within five to eight years. Beyond the economic reasons, we also decided that this would be a good tool for educating our children about the importance of renewable energy and being environmentally conscious.”

Some other notable energy projects completed and in use on the styles homestead, include a solar powered water heater, which regularly heats the ground water to about 100 degrees. This really brings down the need for electricity to heat water. There is also a uniquely fabricated active solar air heating system that takes the air from inside the house during the winter, and warms it up to 110 degrees before returning it inside. This system uses one 70 Watt fan and one activation switch, making it reliable and simple.

The Styles advise that these types of projects are very achievable for some; but others may find it better to go through a local solar installer. The costs associated with solar panels and accompanying parts have come down significantly in the past few years.