If you’ve ever lived through a Phoenix summer then you know that come June, your energy bill will skyrocket once you turn on your air conditioning unit. The sun may seem like the enemy, but if you explore alternative fuel sources it could be your biggest ally.
Words by Nerds sat down with Ursula Garret of Dependable Solar Products who has been in the solar industry since it began, nearly 8 years ago. Dependable has constructed solar installations for residential and commercial endeavors including projects for SRP, the City of Phoenix’s Pecos Park, and the Ghost Ranch Lodge in Tucson. We spoke about Dependable’s business philosophy and the advantages of converting to solar.
A Green Opportunity
Based in Tempe, Arizona, Dependable Solar Products was founded in 2005 when grid tie inverters came onto the market and solar started being used in Tempe and Phoenix, no longer exclusive to ranches and remote locations. For many years the Federal Government used solar to provide power to State parks but the grid tie inverter changed everything.
“A grid tie inverter is needed to change the voltage that comes out of the solar panels,” said Garret. “The solar panels use DC power, you need an inverter that is capable of changing that to AC and is qualified to put out what the utilities will accept.”
With this new technology the solar industry was born and has been expanding ever since.
“We have seen quite an increase in the use solar power. The economy has affected the usage a bit and there are fewer installers now because they just couldn’t make it!”
However, Dependable Solar Products is still going strong eight years later.
“Our business philosophy is to sell solar out in Tempe and get it into the marketplace. We want to treat people right and do a good job, which leads to happy customers,” says Garret.
A Sunny Investment
Aside from being environmentally friendly, there are several benefits to having a solar installation placed on your roof.
“Solar power reduces your electric bill, which is the interest on the cash that you spend,” said Garret. “If you have the money to invest, this is a good place to invest it. The money you save on the electric bill is a whole lot more than what you can get from another investment.”
There are options for families that wish to remain green but can’t afford full installation as well. Dependable Solar Products offers zero-down leases that customers can enter into.
The Solar Process
If you are considering getting a solar installation, Dependable will evaluate your home through several steps.
First, Dependable will get your name, address and telephone number. They use this information to look on Google Maps and see if your roof can fit a solar panel.
“If you have a lot of trees or if your roof has a lot of hips and gables, that can make it nearly impossible to install a solar system,” says Garret.
If they find that your roof is acceptable and it doesn’t appear the shading will be an issue, then Dependable Solar Products will send out a trained professional to talk about your solar power goals. The next step is to design a solar system, typically a 5 kilowatt installation, and present a proposal to the customer.
Should the customer accept the proposal, Dependable must get approval from the pertinent utility provider, either APS or SRP, and then obtain a building permit from the city and begin construction.
Saving Some Money
The state of Arizona recognizes the need for environmental responsibility and rewards individuals who make an effort to stay green.
“There is one Arizona tax incentive. It’s a tax credit but it can only be used once, if you have done hot water or something else, you can’t get it again,” said Garret.
Additionally, utility companies offer a small rebate for using solar power and give credit if you create more energy than you are using. Garret told us about one customer who uses the energy she conserves in the winter during the hot summer months.
“I have one customer who pays 16 dollars a month. In the summertime she may have to pay a bit extra because she is using so much power with air conditioning but when she produces more in the winter she gets credit for that. It goes into something similar to a bank account as a utility and they give it back to you when you need more.”
What would you say to convince somebody on the fence about getting a solar installation?
“What would I say to convince them? [Laughs] It’s a great investment! It’s a really good investment. It doesn’t make any sense to put money in the bank and earn almost nothing when you can have an electric bill that is much lower and you don’t have to pay taxes on it,” said Ursula Garret.