ABC Home and Real Goods Solar Systems

lakeaffectJanuary 3, 2006

We recently came across some info on home solar systems for NY and NJ homes from ABC Home and Real Goods (a subsidiary of Gaiam) and thought some of you folks might find it interesting.

Since I could not possibly say it better than their web site does (I am not, after all, a highly paid NYC copywriter), I have copied and pasted from the ABC Home site:

"In support of a more sustainable energy future for our country and planet, and in its commitment to help its customers enhance how their homes reflect their values, ABC Home is pleased to have created ABC Solar, which operates as ABC Real Goods Solar, to bring full service solar system installation to New York and New Jersey. In a few months, we hope to be able to support the solar aspirations of our Connecticut customers.

ABC Real Goods Solar will arrange for the optimal solar system for your home or business to be designed and installed. We will guide you through every aspect of installation - from selecting the right system for your electric needs to arranging for and overseeing the installation and activation of your new solar system. We collect the rebate directly from your state program, so you only need to pay ABC Real Goods Solar for your portion of the cost. Our thorough process ensures your complete satisfaction while helping you reduce your electric bill and promote a cleaner, healthier and more sustainable energy future for generations to come."

The link below is to the web site, which is pretty comprehensive and includes "typical" $$ savings, case studies, techie info, etc.

I would be interested in your opinions on these systems, as we are seriously considering putting one in the home we are going to build in the spring.



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NYSERDA ( paid for through our electric / gas bills ) offers incentives on installed PV systems in NY state. The key here is INSTALLED . . and that also means by a company CERTIFIED by NYSERDA to do so . . then and ONLY then can you qualify for those incentives. When I put my system in; it was $4 per watt of PV panel installed . . . that was over $ 11k . . . the state tax credit is in addition to that . . as is the federal one.

Part of the reason that NYSERDA only offers incentives on INSTALLED systems; is to not only do good energy wise by promoting such stuff; but ALSO to stimulate existing / new businesses that DO the installations. There are several ones that have been around a while; and some newer "start-ups" as well; all serving various and wide parts of NY state. They are well-versed in all the nuances of doing such stuff; and the particular aspects of them here in NY state as well.

Sounds like they are going to be a "middle man" for such systems; using local places to do the work. They basically HAVE to; or the incentives are not applicable. So, the only thing you've done is throw one more "layer" into the chain of command so to say. I can't imagine anything they can do to add any value to such a system; the local people that install it already know best what works here. Why not deal with them directly in the first place ? ? ?

I dealt with a "local" place ( woman owned / run too ) when I had my system put in; and I couldn't be happier . . . with the system, the people that put it in, anything. They also have a much better handle on dealing with the local utility and codes . . they're right here dealing with it every day. The incentives were handled by taking them right off the top . . no paying for it and then waiting to get reimbursed.

There is a bunch of good equipment out there; putting it together well is more than just picking stuff out of a catalog by the numbers / specs. There's experience too . . . and that counts a LOT in these systems . . . and these people also have to guarantee the entire systes for 5 years as part of being able to take advantage of the incentives . . . THEY want a system that will work well and reliably . . they indeed have a stake in it.

If you're seriously considering doing such a system; start now . . . and do it through a "local" place . . . they wil benefit from it, and so will you. They may also have some things to suggest about building that will be FAR easier to incorporate now, than later. I found all of them I talked to willing to come look, ask, etc . . . that's something you only get in person, face-to-face.

I've had my system about 1 1/2 years now; and it's darn nice to know that when a little somehting went wrong; that you could call and talk to the person that put it in . . . and that they have a vested interest in getting it fixed or whatever. I've had only a few, small issues . . and just paid for electricity for the first time since March . . used a screaming $5 worth of it in November.

I'll be happy to point you towards some "local" places that do this type of stuff, or share my system / details / performance if you'd like . . . .


    Bookmark   January 3, 2006 at 7:23PM
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Dear Bob-

Thank you for your detailed and informative reply. I would much rather deal with a local biz (we're on the CNY/North Country border) than a NYC based biz, but neither DH nor I are very smart or very techie, and I guess we were hoping that this was a "one size fits all" solution for us.

However, I know you are correct and even tho I'd rather be picking paint colors and all the fun stuff, this is far more important to us, so I will buckle down and get into the details.

We would be most appreciative if you would share any contacts, cuz as I recall, you are in CNY as well.

Again, thank you for your response. It is sincerely appreciated.


    Bookmark   January 4, 2006 at 10:17AM
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Liz . . .

Think we've "spoken" before . . . and yes, I'm in CNY . . . I'll happily supply whatever you'd like in terms of info, contacts, experience, etc. that I have. Email me through my member page . . and include your real email address . . . don't wanna clog the site with stuff I can pass along that may not be of general interest . . .

I'll pass along to others, too if there is any interest and they do the same . . . .


    Bookmark   January 4, 2006 at 6:48PM
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