Ask Renee: Switching your home to solar power 

...Or your barn

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Hey Renee,

My girlfriend and I recently bought a home and we're trying to make it as energy efficient as possible. 

We're building a barn in the back yard, just something simple to put some gym equipment in. We plan on having some energy-efficient lights and a small space heater in there and we were wondering if it would be possible to run the building — at least partially — on rooftop solar panels and what steps we would take to get those setup on the structure.


Any info you have on setting up a solar powered operation at home would be a huge help! Also, would this give us tax breaks along the way?

Thanks,
Cavan

Watts up, Cavan?!

You can definitely power your gym barn with solar. I asked my contact at Rectify Solar* for some advice.

The first, most important question is: does the barn already have power running to it? If yes, then your system could tie-in to the grid and maybe even offset some of the electricity you use in your new house. If you’re up for the challenge, you could use one of Rectify’s DIY kits! They suggest going with a micro inverter set-up for a DIYer.

If there isn’t already power to the barn, you might consider working with a solar installer, like Rectify, or look in to an off-grid solar panel kit. You’ll find them at some of the big box stores and online.

Keep in mind, if you’re off-grid, you’ll want to anticipate all of the electricity you plan to use when you calculate the size of your system (which we’ll do on Thursday). If you’re tied in to the grid, if you ever use more power than what your system produces, you’ll be able to pull from the electric company.

There is still a 30% federal tax credit that applies for all materials and installation.

Piece out,
Renee

*I manage a program for Hoosier Environmental Council called HEC Green Business (of which NUVO is also a part) and am very proud to promote these businesses who are good stewards of the environment and support the mission of HEC.

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Renee Sweany

Renee Sweany

Bio:
Renee has spent the past several years surrounding herself with like-minded people who share her passion for caring for the planet. She began writing “Ask Renee” after four years of offering green tips through her e-newsletter Green Piece Indy. E-mail her your green living queries at rsweany@sbcglobal.net.

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