Archive for the ‘Residential Projects’ Category

Solar is Patriotic for Retired Army Captain

Friday, July 4th, 2014
Marcus Therrien - US Army Capt Goes Solar

Retired US Army Capt Marcus Therrien, who served as combat medic and Army Nurse, outside his home in Southern Maine

Retired Army Capt. Marcus Therrien served in Iraq as a US Army Nurse and combat medic, but those days seem long behind him now on a warm sunny day at his suburban home in Southern Maine. Marcus now works full-time for his own building company, Wood Cove Builders (“The first time I’ve worked one job in my life,” he jokes) and enjoys spending his free time with family and friends. While he misses his Army brothers and sisters, he feels that having served as an Army Nurse, he has already worked the best job anyone can work.  Now, Marcus feels he’s made the best investment anyone can make: solar.

The Therrien’s home boasts a solar hot water system that on a good sunny day will have his domestic hot water supply at 150 degrees Fahrenheit before lunchtime. His 5.6 kw photovoltaic array generates most of the electricity consumed in his home, and allows him to enjoy guilt-free creature comforts, such as his Jacuzzi, knowing his power does not come from fossil fuel sources.

Preventing Another “War for Oil”

“I saved up the money from my deployment checks and put them into solar,” Therrien says, “It’s my part to do what’s right for our country and the planet, and it’s a lot easier to do than most people think. We’ve all got to do our part so we don’t get into another war for oil.”

Marcus also takes pride in the sense of independence that solar gives him. He heats his home mainly with wood, so with domestic hot water and electric loads taken care of, his home’s utility bills are next to nothing. This gives him a powerful peace of mind as he approaches retirement. “When electricity gets 3x what it is now, I won’t have to work extra or go out of retirement,” Marcus says. “The solar is as good as money in the bank.”

“Really, it’s a dream come true,” Marcus added. “I don’t want to live in a McMansion or anything crazy like that. We all need to smarten up, and conserve what we’ve got. I’ve seen what it takes to protect our oil interests and don’t want to be any part of that anymore. The government – and all of us – should be pushing as hard as possible to get this technology adopted on as large a scale as possible. We know we can do it, I’ve seen Fort Dix which has solar panels all over it. We just need to stop thinking it’s so hard and make it happen.”

Proudly Helping Veterans Go Solar

ReVision Energy is proud to count Marcus and many other veterans in our clientele, and we would like to express our deepest thanks for their service to the United States.  For the month of July, we are offering a special incentive – veterans of all conflicts are eligible for a $300-$500 discount on solar photovoltaic systems (depending on system size), $300 on solar hot water, and $200 on heat pump systems. The discount applies to both financed and cash purchased systems. The veterans discount overrides any other discounts available.  Contact us to learn more.

NH Homeowner: Solar is “The Best Thing I’ve ever Done”

Monday, May 19th, 2014

Solar home in Dover New Hampshire

A proud “Conservative card carrying member of the Sierra Club,” Mark Boren has a passion for protecting the environment that derives from a College Civics class. “The professor told me, ‘If you take one thing away from this class, it’s this – if you care about something, do something about it,’ and for me that was that something was the environment,” Mark says. “But it took a lot of years and buying my own home before I could do something big.”

Something big, in this case, was a triumverate of systems: solar hot water, solar electricity, and air source heat pumps, which combine to evict oil from the Borens’ home and nearly eliminate their electric bill.

“I think a lot of people want to do the right thing, but they always have an excuse – it’s too hard, it’s too expensive, what different will it make?” Mark says. “I guess I was sort of that way – I thought solar, how can I ever afford that? – until I came across one of your lawn signs in front of a neighbor of mine who was going with one of your systems. I called you guys up and I found out that the system was a lot more affordable than I thought it would be and would save me a lot of money.”

Renewable Energy Trio

Mark’s home in suburban Dover, New Hampshire had ample south-facing roofspace to handle two flat plate solar hot water collectors and seventeen photovoltaic (PV) collectors. The solar hot water will provide 80% or more of his family’s domestic hot water from the sun alone, while the PV collectors will provide roughly 5,779 kWhs of electricity annually. The heat pump, a ductless Fujitsu unit, is capable of producing 15,000 BTU per hour and can operate in temperatures as low as -20°F. It can run in one mode for heating, or in the reverse to provide cooling.

The new generation of high-efficiency heat pumps has lead to a beautiful synergy with solar electric technology, which has declined in cost by more that 50% in the last five years. In many homes, it may not be practical to completely remove an oil boiler, but the heat pump can providing comfort-level heat in most of the home, allowing the oil system’s thermostat to be set to a much lower temperature. Even a single heat pump can save hundreds of gallons of oil, and 2-3 units can comfortably heat many homes. Solar panels combined with heat pumps provide heat for a home for the equivalent price of under $1/gallon for oil.

Solar Changed My Life

For Mark’s part, the system has a lot of fringe benefits besides saving money. “It may sound corny,” he says, “But solar has changed my life. Anytime it’s a sunny day, I have an extra smile on my face. It’s maybe the best thing I’ve ever done.”

Next on his horizon? An electric car. “We pay almost $400 a month on gasoline,” he says, “I’d like to see that bill disappear too.”

An Interview with Steve Rowley, York, Maine

Monday, March 17th, 2014

Alpaca Farm York Maine goes Solar

ReVision solar installer Seth Kiernan takes a look at an unusual group of gawkers as solar goes in for the Blueberry Hill alpaca farm

Steve Rowley owns Blueberry Fields Alpaca Farm with his wife Hope in York, Maine. Steve loves the ocean about as much as he does alpacas, and we caught up with him to talk about how his love of the ocean was linked to his household’s investments in solar energy.

REVISION: Why Did You Go Solar?

STEVE: Growing up my favorite TV shows were Sea Hunt and The Under Seas Adventures of Jacques Cousteau. At the age of 15 I received my SCUBA certificate and quickly learned that the beautiful beaches above water, were littered with trash on the seabed just out of sight (and still are). I have studied marine biology and ocean engineering and quickly learned that the oceans are not as big as we thought. Global changes are now measurable. The solid trash problem I saw as a kid was replaced with the ones you can not see. Now when I look at the beach I see global warming, ocean acidification, rising sea levels and warm water marine organisms moving north as water temperatures increase. We know burning fossil fuels are to blame and so my wife and I are doing what we can to stop using them.

REVISION: How Did You Choose ReVision Energy?

STEVE: My wife and I have been heating with wood pellets since 2000. We’ve reduced our energy as much as reasonable, insulated, replaced old windows and doors, and purchased a hybrid car. The next logical step was to generate our own power. We’re not in a good location for wind, and our house was not right for solar hot water, but we thought that maybe with the decline in prices, solar electricity could work. I went to the Revision Energy website and used their solar PV calculator. When I plugged in our numbers, I was stunned – the price was way too low! I did it again and got the same answer. I checked my units and sure enough everything checked out – solar did indeed cost much less than I thought it would. I had to make the call.

REVISION: What Was the Process Like?

STEVE: I worked with Nate Bowie, he worked up numbers using our old electricity bills, did a site survey and produced a proposal. I can’t say enough about how nice and informative Nate and the entire Revision Energy employees were to me. The installation team – Matt, Seth and Ted – worked on the roof on the coldest day in February without a single complaint. The installation went so well that my neighbor directly across the street didn’t know they were already up.

REVISION: What Do You Like Best Now that It’s Been Installed?

STEVE: If I have one complaint about the system, is that it just quietly sits there – I was expecting a bunch of randomly flashing LEDs that make it look like the space age equipment I know it is! (laughs)

Seriously, though, I am impressed that everything is working just as we calculated. The advances in solar photovoltaics are truly amazing and costs are going down. When people ask me about solar, I say – “Don’t listen to the old myths, do your own research, and I hope you come up with the same conclusion we did.”

Solar Home Tour Gives Glimpse of History-Technology Blend

Wednesday, February 19th, 2014


A 116-year-old house may seem like an odd fit for cutting-edge energy innovations, but a Munjoy Hill couple found a way to blend history and energy efficiency.

In February 2011 the couple purchased the home, which is equipped with solar panels on the roof — the only external indication of anything different about the residence.

Baston, who works with Revision Energy, a renewable energy contracting company in Portland, said the two-unit townhouse brought challenges and opportunities. In February 2011 the couple purchased the home, which is equipped with solar panels on the roof — the only external indication of anything different about the residence. Baston, who works with Revision Energy, a renewable energy contracting company in Portland, said the two-unit townhouse brought challenges and opportunities.

The second unit was “gutted” when they bought it, “so it was a good opportunity to do a lot of insulation and install a whole new heating system.” The couple invested in a solar hot water system for both units, and a small solar electrical system. A new high-efficiency gas boiler runs on natural gas, and they use wood heat in the main unit, where they live. The other unit is a rental.

For full article, click here:

Combo of Solar and Wind Give Greene Homeowner Energy Independence

Tuesday, February 18th, 2014
Greene ME Solar power suniva array

The split-axis solar array for Jim Weston in Greene, ME. Uses all-black American made Suniva solar modules

After an initial horror story with an early wind turbine, Jim Weston of Greene has settled on the perfect renewable combination: a new generation Pika Energy wind turbine and a solar electric array installed by ReVision Energy.

Jim first installed his Raum turbine in the mid-2000s, when “wind was hot” in Maine. Unfortunately, the Raum turbine rarely lived up to advertised production figures and in 2012, the turbine failed completely. By that time both the original installer and Raum Energy were out of business, and Jim was left wondering what to do with a 100 foot tower installed on his wide-open property in Greene – an excellent place to capture wind, if the right technology was employed.

ReVision Energy has heard similar stories from other owners of small scale wind turbines, and so when we met Jim at the Common Ground Fair in 2012 we understood his skepticism that solar would work as advertised. However, in the years since Jim had last looked at solar, costs had dropped by more than 50%, and no longer required batteries, making solar a much more cost-effective investment than it had been in years past.

ReVision Energy sent our seasoned solar design expert Will Kessler to evaluate Jim’s home, which had ample shade-free area on his roof, but a tricky configuration because part of the roof faced southeast and other part southwest. Kessler designed a split-array, with modules on both parts of Jim’s roof. The system utilizes Enphase microinverters so that performance would remain at peak capacity despite the differences in angle and azimuth between the two arrays.

Since the installation, Jim has reported that the solar array has performed “just as promised” and had almost an entire year without electric bills, only exhausting his solar credits during the challenging solar month of December, 2013.

A Local Company Revives Wind

Pika Wind Turbine in Greene, MaineWhile happy with his solar array, Jim wanted to do something with his 100 foot tower and thought that the wind resource blowing across his property might still be the right way. When Jim started looking into wind again, he found that a Westbrook-based startup, Pika Energy, was re-inventing the small wind turbine market with a new generation of turbines that addressed shortcomings of the older technology.

Pika Energy, led by co-founders Ben Polito and Joshua Kaufman, recently moved into a 4,300 sq. ft. manufacturing facility in Westbrook where the 10-person-and-growing company is transitioning from an R&D operation into a scale manufacturer of leading-edge wind technology. In addition to innovations with their T701 Wind Turbine, Pika also has a unique inverter product which allows a home to have a ‘micro grid’ featuring both solar and wind production on the same system. The system is accessible via smartphone and web portal and offers a robust amount of technical data for both the homeowner (for education) and Pika’s engineers (for troubleshooting). While focused on growing its manufacturing operation in Maine, Pika is building a national network of trained dealers to sell and install Pika wind-solar hybrid systems.

Pika’s T701 turbine has several advantages over prior units, including better overheat protection, more robust stopping mechanisms, and a vastly superior alternator which is built by hand in their state-of-the-art facility. The turbines are subjected to strenuous performance tests where they are subject to extreme heat, cold, and wind pressure to ensure that they perform as expected in adverse weather and over time.

Jim commissioned Pika to install one of their turbines at his property, which was excellent fit due to proper siting of the existing tower. Even advanced technology will fail when not installed in the correct place, and wind turbines work best when installed on a tower at least 30′ higher than surrounding objects with open space to the prevailing direction of the wind.

Jim reports that the Pika team worked smoothly in the installation of the turbine, and so far he is impressed with its performance compared to his older turbine. “Though the old one was rated at a higher output, I think the Pika turbine will provide much more actual electricity,” he says, “Plus it’s a lot quieter. It’s less than 30 feet from our home and we can hardly hear it.”

Even more importantly, the combination of solar and wind finally allows Jim to have the renewable energy synergy he’s dreamed of since retirement. “I’m really pleased with where we are now,” he says, “The byproduct of not having oil under our soil is war. The wind and the sun – we have plenty of these and they are in abundant supply. It makes me feel a lot better about my impact on the planet.”

Take Virtual Tour of Pika’s Wind Turbine Manufacturing Plant in Maine

Manufacturing Innovation at Pika Energy from Pika Energy.