5 Key Questions Every Solar Proposal Should Answer

Purchasing a solar energy system is a major investment which requires a great deal of research and due diligence to make the best choices in system design, system components, maximize solar energy needs and most important: a solar installer that you can trust as a partner for the lifetime of your system.  Geoscape Solar believes that our best customer is an educated consumer. We expect that our future customers will get multiple bids before deciding who to partner with for their solar journey. With that in mind, here are 5 key questions that every thorough solar energy proposal should answer:

1) Does the system design meet the maximum amount of your energy needs?

The design should be based on the space you have available to install solar panels, your historical kW energy usage, and the quality of panels that are installed. It is not always possible to cover 100% of your usage. Be wary of the solar installer that over-promises what your system will generate.

2) Has a solar advisor come to property to do a comprehensive solar analysis prior to submitting a proposal?

Most credible solar companies will offer a complimentary consultation and solar analysis of your property. Without an on-site visit, it is difficult to determine how a solar energy system can perform to maximum efficiency.

An initial view of your property via satellite can rule a property as viable or not viable for solar energy, it doesn’t take the place of an on-site visit prior to submitting a solar system design.

 3) Are your solar production estimates guaranteed by the solar installer?

This is a pertinent question to pose to every solar energy installer who presents you with a proposal. The biggest exposure a property owner faces is your system not performing as well as the design was proposed to do. Geoscape Solar ensures Solar Sone Right which promises that we will stand behind our performance guarantees.

4) Are both the products and their standard warranties being used in your solar energy system a part of the proposal?

The specifics and efficiency of the equipment your installer will be using should be clearly defined to you. You should receive spec sheets, rating reports, and manufacturer warranties for each major aspect of your solar energy system. Where are these parts manufactured? The solar industry standard for a quality solar panel warranty is 25 years. Make sure that you trust that the solar installer you chose is likely to be around in 25 years and will advocate for you should you need to enforce the manufacturer warranties.

5) Are both the pricing and the terms clearly defined?

Going back to our original statement, converting to solar energy is a major investment in your property.  Make sure that all items on the proposal are clearly defined. If you choose to finance your system, once your financing is secure, your solar advisor should walk you through the financed price and your monthly payments.


Make sure the product specifications, services, warranties, and prices are transparent and clearly defined.

Make sure your solar advisor visits your home to do a solar assessment before selling you a system.

Evaluate your current and future energy needs, talk with your solar advisor to make sure the system is not over or under sized.

Make sure your solar installer is established in the NJ area solar industry and understands local policies and procedures.

Evaluate: How long has your solar partner been in business? Will the company be around for the lifetime of your solar energy system?



Demand for Sustainable Features Shown to Increase Property Values

Recently, the National Association of Realtors , America’s largest trade association, representing more than 1.3 million members involved in all aspects of the residential and commercial real estate industries, released the Realtors and Sustainability 2019 Report which found that consumers continue to look for eco-friendly features in a property and are willing to pay a premium to get them.

Other findings showed that in terms of demand, Solar Energy leads this trend. 83% of markets have properties available with a solar energy system. Combined with a perceived increase in the property value, these properties are moving quicker and selling for a higher price.

The study further showed that from March 1, 2018 – February 28, 2019, the median-valued residential property sold for 4.1% more than one without solar. With solar available in 94% of the real-estate markets in the Northeast, the New Jersey area real-estate market saw more gains than the national average with properties with solar systems installed selling for an average of 5.4%.  59% of property buyer factors some level of sustainability into their purchasing choice.

The Realtors and Sustainability 2019 Report was based on a sample of 112,305 practicing real estate agents completing online surveys. However, the National Association of Realtors recognizes that solar power is boosting property values and responding by creating more accurate methods to fine tune how to determine the market value of solar of properties equipped with solar power systems.

Zillow, an online real-estate data company, cites that the reason that properties with solar energy systems sell for a premium is because of the future energy savings they provide. While buyers pay more money upfront, the math calculations generally lead to the conclusion that they will save more money in the long term.

This is especially prevalent with businesses that have a large utility overhead and luxury homes with amenities such as heated floors, wine cellars, or electrically powered work-out equipment.

Zillow also reports that the median home prices in New Jersey have gone up 3.5% over the past year and will continue to rise. Looking at the 5.4% premium that solar brings to a New Jersey property, going solar makes sense to both save money on utilities and reap the benefits of current tax incentives. And should you decide to sell…you can be confident that you have added long term value to your property – this is the type of investment in your property where you don’t have to worry that your choices will go out of style.

Determining Eligibility for the Solar Investment Tax Credit

With the 30% Solar Federal Tax Credit (ITC) coming to an end in 2019, a great deal of material is currently being published about it. The ITC is one of many valuable incentives to consider when converting to solar energy and there are many questions about how the tax credit is applied and which line items qualifies for the credit.

The Solar Tax Credit is a tax credit that can be filed one time for the tax year you install your energy system (Tax Form 5695). The credit amount is calculated as a dollar-for-dollar reduction of your federal tax liability. There is NO CAP on the dollar amount that can be claimed for credit for a solar installation.

In 2020, the Solar Investment Tax Credit (ITC) will drop to 26% and gradually decrease through 2022, at which point it will disappear for residential solar projects and permanently drop to 10% for commercial systems.

Property owners are eligible for the Solar ITC as long as they pay Federal Taxes. To qualify they have to have purchased AND have their solar energy system operational during the year that the tax incentive exists. After 2022, no residential PV system will qualify and commercial PV systems will be permanently capped at 10%.

The Solar Tax Credit is only applicable to products that directly correlate with installation and usage of a solar energy system. Specific products include things such as the solar panels, racking/mounting equipment, inverters, wire, conduits, junction boxes, etc. A storage battery system can also be included if it is directly connected to the applicable PV system.

The labor fees to get the system installed is also falls under the tax credit umbrella. This includes the costs to design the system, panel installation, electrical work (as it relates to the solar energy system), inspection fees and permitting fees. Sales and usage tax on any of the PV system’s products and labor are also eligible.

There are many actions a property owner can take to be greener and more energy efficient. However, unless the products and labor of these improvements are part of your solar energy system, they do not qualify for the 30% Investment Tax Credit. Examples of line items that do not qualify  for the tax credit are things such as stand-alone thermostats, sealing windows and doors, insulation, upgrades to existing HVAC system or standalone battery chargers.

The cost of installing a new roof is more ambiguous in terms of whether or not it is eligible for the PV Tax Credit. Typically, it is not eligible if the solar array covers less than 50% of the new roof.

A Geoscape Solar Advisor will be able to help determine the maximum amount of qualifiers that can be claimed for ITC eligibility based on the specific factors of both your project and your property.

To discover more, we also recommend this post: “Solar Federal Tax Credit: What Is and Isn’t Eligible” from our Amicus Solar Partner – Southern Energy Management in Raleigh, NC.

If you’re considering going solar, don’t delay in setting up a complimentary property analysis with Geoscape Solar. Residential Solar Installations typically take 3 – 4 months from the time a property owner signs a contract. Make the most of your solar tax credit dollars by getting your solar energy system up and running before the end of 2019.

How Does Membership in the Amicus Solar Cooperative Benefit Our Clients?


In 2011, a group of solar companies located in multiple regions in the US, came together and created a national organization where independent solar installers could support each other by pooling both their purchasing power and their best practices.  In 2015, Geoscape Solar was asked to join this group of solar companies as the New Jersey market ambassador. As members of the Amicus Solar Cooperative, Geoscape Solar, a medium-sized solar company, is able to negotiate equipment prices with the purchasing power of a $500 Million Dollar Company.

Currently, the Amicus Solar Cooperative has 51 member-owners with office locations in 38 states, the District of Columbia, Puerto Rico and Canada. Collaboratively, we have licenses to operate in all 50 states and continue to grow! Our cooperative is owned and led by its member companies.  Amicus members pass enhanced purchasing power along to customers by offering the best solar pricing on high-quality solar energy system installations.  

The Benefits of Geoscape Solar’s Partnership with Amicus Solar Include:

We purchase better equipment at lower prices, this allows us to provide better pricing 

Your system’s performance, quality and operational efficiency are optimized based on Amicus members sharing best practices and technical knowledge

Access to top-tier partners to work with for solar financing, design, and product warranties

Amicus vets all suppliers and exclusively choses companies with positive track records. This means that the equipment you’re investing in is the best equipment that is currently available

Support local NJ installers instead of larger, national companies without sacrificing cost or quality 

Amicus is interested in maintaining thriving, local solar installation companies and creating a competitive advantage via pooled purchasing power. By empowering local solar companies to compete on the same economic playing field with larger, solar installation chains, both jobs and money stay in the local economy.

Amicus Solar Cooperative members are mission driven, vision aligned businesses. Geoscape Solar’s mission is to provide energy alternatives that build a more sustainable difference. We inspire, we educate, and we make it easy to make a difference.

Member Focus: Geoscape Solar


Why Property Owners Need to Make a Solar Reservation

Any property owner who has looked into converting to solar energy most likely discovered that the 30% Solar Federal Tax Credit (ITC) ends on January 1, 2020.  This solar tax credit is remains available for solar installation costs for solar energy systems installed in 2019. This deadline might give property owners the false impression that they have until December 31st to decide whether or not to go solar. However, the day you sign your solar contract is not the day your project is eligible for the Solar Federal Tax Credit or NJ SRECs.

Geoscape Solar makes going solar as easily and as quickly as possible. However, no solar company can bypass the time gap between date of signing, getting solar permits from your town, permission from your utility company, ordering materials, scheduling your property for installation, installing your solar panels and getting Permission to Operate (PTO) after installation. If any solar company tells you that they can get around any of these things – don’t believe them! Any reputable NJ solar installer should transparently inform you that depending on your town and the specifics of your solar project, the timeframe from the date of signing your solar contract to the date of solar energy production can be anywhere from 12 – 21 weeks.


Thanks to multiple tax incentives and a government commitment to reversing climate change, New Jersey is now the hottest Clean Energy Economy in the US! This is great news for The Garden State… but it also means that the number NJ Solar Energy Projects is exploding. High demand for solar has also been fueled as the result of 2019 being the last year to receive the full 30% Federal Tax Credit. The ITC will ultimately disappear for residential solar projects and permanently drop to 10% for commercial solar systems.

This unprecedented growth in the Solar Industry means that installation time slots are filling up quickly. The transition to solar could potentially take several months depending factors such as permitting speed, HOA processes, and utility provider backlog.

If you’re even considering converting to solar energy, we encourage property owners to take advantage of Geoscape Solar’s complimentary solar assessment of your commercial or residential property. Bypass getting caught in a scheduling rush which could limit your ability to receive a full 30% tax credit.  




Discover More About NJ Incentives to Go Solar: https://www.geoscapesolar.com/value-of-going-solar-in-new-jersey/

30 Reasons to Go Solar in 2019  https://southern-energy.com/30-reasons-to-go-solar-in-2019/


Why Should Commercial Property Owners Consider Going Solar?

There are many factors a business must consider when contemplating going solar. These range from bottom line savings, ability to finance, and the strategic advantages of marketing the business as a sustainable company.

Braen Quarry in Franklin, NJ. A 3MW project which will pay for itself in 2 years.

Dollars and $ense  – If you are a property owner, the impact on your bottom line will be well worth the cost of installing a solar energy system. The cost of solar panels have decreased, while the their life expectancy has increased. Most reputable solar installers will offer premium products with a minimum of 25 year warranties. This makes going solar a viable long term investment and a strategic financial advantage.

In addition to reduced energy costs, the 30% Federal Investment Tax Credit (ITC) allows property owners a tax credit for 30% of the cost of their solar energy system. It is important to note that the 30% ITC is ending on January 1, 2020, after the ITC drops to 26%.

Another tax benefit comes in the form of accelerated depreciation. Accelerated depreciation allows property owners to deduct 85% of the value of their solar assets from their taxes.

Currently, New Jersey has performance based incentives through Solar Renewable Energy Credits (SREC), a solar incentive that allows property owners to sell certificates to their utility company. A property owner will earn one SREC for every 1000 kilowatt hours (kWhs) produced by their solar panel system.

Electric usage prices are unpredictable. Locking in the benefits of solar energy guarantees predictable monthly utility bills and protects commercial businesses and non-profits from being vulnerable to long term energy inflation.

Morey’s Piers in Wildwood, NJ. The 410kW system has reduced operating costs and contributed towards Morey’s Piers energy goal to become carbon neutral.

Favorable Financing  – One of the most daunting factors in a company’s decision to invest in solar energy is whether or not they have the ability to finance their solar energy system. Veteran solar energy companies should be able to work with businesses and non-profits to create financing solutions that are uniquely tailed to the company’s bottom line and their long term energy needs.

Solar Financing Options Include:

Cash – Company realizes the immediate benefits of solar energy without long term debt. The savings begin with the first utility bill. Current tax benefits increase returns.

Loan – With qualifying loans, company retains full ownership benefits with the financial payback being proportional to the loan’s interest payments.

Lease – Company pays a monthly lease payment that is not tied into the amount of energy it generates. The monthly payment is typically locked in for the full term of the lease. At the end of the term, the company could be offered an option to purchase the system or renew the lease.

PPA (Power Purchase Agreement) – Company pays for the solar energy produced but not the hard materials (panels, inverters, racking) that comprise the system. It is essentially the creation of a company’s utility by contract with a third party solar system owner. PPA contracts lock in predictable rates without future surprises and are best suited for non-profits, municipalities, utilities, and co-ops.

The Geoscape Solar Family is proud to be a part of a company that promotes sustainability!

Marketing Your Business as a Sustainable Company Being a sustainable company has a tremendous value to any organization in terms of how it is perceived by both internal employees and the community at large.

Employees take pride in being a part of a company that puts equal value into protecting people and the environment as they do into productivity and profits. Sustainable companies tend to have higher employee retention rates.

From a branding perspective, Green is the new Black. According to Forbes, more than 90% of CEOs  report that sustainability is crucial the success of a brand.  Studies consistently point to the fact that consumers are more willing to spend money on a product that comes from a sustainable brand.  Communities are more likely embrace and promote a company that exhibits environmental, economic, and social sustainability.

Going solar demonstrates to both consumers and employees that the company is sustainable and forward thinking in terms of creative options to increase the bottom line.

Geoscape Solar has been in the solar business for over a decade. Our mission is to provide energy alternatives to build a more sustainable future. We inspire, we educate, and make it easy to make a difference.

Discover More About Commercial Solar 


2019 is the Year of the PIGgy Bank


2019 is The Chinese Zodiac Year of The Pig. Here at Geoscape Solar, we are calling it “The Year of The Piggy Bank.” The year ahead is predicted to be crucial in terms of how we invest, how we save, and how sustainably we choose to live.

After experiencing the volatility of the 2018 stock market, investors are looking for more secure vehicles to put their money into. Analysts predict many solar stocks are poised to soar in 2019. This is due to both international growth and US demand. Growth in energy storage more than tripled in 2018. This allowed solar energy systems to be more efficient, more productive and less costly.  As of January 2019, the cost of solar panels continues to fall.

The end of the 30% Solar Federal Tax Credit  is at the stoke of midnight on January 1, 2020. This means the savings that property owners are able to leverage in 2019 will never be better. The current 30% tax savings enables solar energy systems to pay for themselves at an accelerated rate.

A recent UN Report gave our planet 12 years to fix our Greenhouse Gas Emissions before we will all start to feel a drastic economic bite as a result of climate change. This gives property owners more of an incentive to reduce their monthly utility bills and produce their own green energy to help protect the global economy.

Going solar in 2019 is the right decision for owners who are looking to invest in gaining income from their property, operate sustainably, and put more money in their Piggy Bank. Contact Geoscape Solar to discover more about how to maximize your solar savings.



BREAKING NOW: Frosty Rejecting Eyes Made Out of Coal

NORTH POLE, DECEMBER 2018 – Frosty The Snowman’s is rejecting his two eyes made out of coal. Scientists have determined that this is the final phase of Frosty’s determination to live a green life with no carbon output.

In addition to giving up smoking his corncob pipe, Frosty recently became a Solar Advocate. “Global Warming is causing all the snow in the North Pole to melt,” stated Snowman. This puts the creation of all future Snowmen at risk. We are becoming an endangered species.”

North Pole resident Kris Kringle, who is also CEO of local business “Santa’s Workshop” agrees. “My workshop utilizes a huge amount of electricity” said Kringle. “Once I converted my business to solar energy, my utility bills plummeted and I’m producing clean, green energy. This protects the snow and protects my Snowmen neighbors such as Frosty from melting away.”

Neighboring town of Whooville recently drafted a bill that asks local businesses and homes to follow Kringle’s example and convert to solar energy. They are aiming to have 50% of their power derived from solar panels no later than 2020 (Property owners want to make sure they take advantage of the 30% Federal Tax Credit for solar which ends in 2019). The bill has bi-partisan support with the exception of Representative T. Grinch.

Frosty the Snowman is seeking eye donations derived from sustainable materials such as bamboo, straw, or cork. Property owners can also support Frosty (and save money on their utility bills while generating clean energy) by learning more about the benefits of solar energy.

Does Solar Energy Work in Winter?

One of the first ways we know that Winter is around the corner is when we set our clocks back. This ritual is inevitably the start of shorter days and higher costs to heat your home. The best way to protect yourself from the rising costs of heating your property is by converting to Solar Energy.

There is a misconception that solar panels do not work during the winter. Contrary to this belief, the cold temperature will typically improve solar panel output. As solar panels work with light, not heat, the snow naturally reflects light and can help improve PV performance. While it is true that solar panels covered with snow do not produce energy, most panels are installed at the angle that best captures sunlight, therefore most snow should melt and slide off on its own. Solar panels are smooth so snow doesn’t stick to them like it would to rough roof shingles.

Quality solar panels are designed to bear the weight of accumulated snow. Quality solar panels undergo pressure tests to assess durability and are assigned a rating. Higher pressure ratings indicating that your panels are better at withstanding the weight of heavy snow.

Another plus for going solar in the winter is that most solar panels function more efficiently in cold weather than in hot weather. Your panels will produce more power per hour of sunshine during the shorter days of winter.

In addition to considering Solar Energy to save money on your utility bills, Geoscape Solar recommends 5 simple steps to maximize your energy usage during the cold, winter months ahead:

1. Replace your furnace filter; get it serviced to increase efficiency.
2. Check your attic to make sure it is fully insulated.
3. Install weather stripping on your windows and doors.
4. Use window treatments to let sunlight in during the day and block out the cold at night.
5. Inspect and clean your fireplace before you light the first fire of the season.

Solar energy can reduce or eliminate your utility bills during ALL 4 Seasons of the year in any climate. However, the most important step in your solar journey is not when you go solar, but who you chose to design, install and finance your solar energy system. Going solar is an investment in both your property and your financial future. Geoscape Solar is a proven solar partner that has been trusted by property owners or over a decade.

Geoscape Solar consistently demonstrates the highest possible standards of quality, transparency, and customer service. Geoscape Solar’s financial team keeps abreast of the latest New Jersey Solar Energy Tax Credits, SREC incentives and offers a wide range of financing options for solar projects. Geoscape Solar was named Sun Power’s Top Commercial Regional Producer for 2017 and consistently makes Solar Power World’s List of Top 500 Solar Companies.

What does it take to Succeed in the Solar Industry for 10 Years?

No Solar Company dreads incoming phone calls. Except the ones that begin with: “ I used Solar XYZ and then they went out of business and now I’m stuck with a system that doesn’t work. Can you help?” We empathize with the property owner who is reaching out to us and are starkly reminded of how competitive success in the Solar Industry remains. These calls are a constant reminder of how high the standard is to compete in the solar business and our journey to build the Geoscape Solar brand as one that is synonymous with trust and confidence.

Geoscape Solar was founded a decade ago on the principle of Solar Done Right. Solar Done Right encompasses the three guiding principles that enabled Geoscape Solar to avoid the pitfalls that many conglomerates and start-up solar companies make.

1) Geoscape isn’t looking to sell our clients the cheapest solar installation, we’re looking to sell them the best solar installation.
2) Each property owner’s financial situation demands a customized solar solution from both an engineering and financial perspective.
3) Geoscape Solar installers are Geoscape Solar employees. Geoscape Solar is accountable for what happens from the day a client signs their contract to the day they get Permission To Operate (PTO) their system.

When Geoscape Solar was founded in 2008, the SEIA reported that Solar Energy had grown to “new heights” reporting additional installations of 1.265 PV megawatts. A decade later, the SEIA reported an impressive 10.6 PV gigawatts was installed in 2017. Non-Residential solar remained at a steady peak.
Such a huge jump in solar consumption would lead many to conclude that this opened the doors for many solar companies to open their doors and thrive. Many solar provider’s doors opened, however, most companies did not thrive.

The high bar set for solar providers worked in the favor of skilled solar installers such as Geoscape Solar. The rise of solar conglomerates proved to be a short-term spike because conglomerates were unable to deliver the quality and customer care that local providers such as Geoscape Solar are able to provide. Most of the HVAC and roofing companies that added solar to their letterhead mast wound up failing because their focus on Solar Energy was secondary at best.

These business models failed to focus on the intricate nuances of the Solar Energy Industry in the same personalized manner that Geoscape Solar delivers. As a result, these types of providers fail to deliver quality financing and installations to commercial, non-profit and residential property owners.

After a full decade of quality solar installations, Geoscape Solar has grown into a leading New Jersey Solar Provider for Commercial, Non-Profit and Residential Solar Projects. Geoscape Solar boasts outstanding solar customer testimonials and a spotless record with the Better Business Bureau.