Three flavors of multifamily solar at Bainbridge Island eco-development

Condos, apartments, townhomes – three flavors of multifamily construction, each with its own challenges for reaping the power, and financial benefits, of solar investment.

Asani development company is tackling all three at once at Grow Community on Bainbridge Island, with the help of Blue Frog/APsystems microinverter technology.

On buildings dubbed the Salal, the Juniper and the Elan, now complete in the project’s expansive second phase, solar arrays will benefit both homebuyers and renters alike.

One roof apiece, with many beneficiaries beneath.

“Our investors said, ‘let’s go for it,'” said Greg Lotakis, Asani president and Grow Community project manager. “Without their desire to be the largest solar community in Washington, and wanting to plant the solar flag in the ground, we wouldn’t be doing this. Without their support, it wouldn’t be possible.”

The Salal condominiums, with 12 units spread over three stories, is effectively a “community solar” project on a rooftop. Solar was included in the purchase price – no buyer option – and incentives from the State of Washington will be apportioned equally among condominium owners. Each will own a one-twelfth interest in the array.

Asani worked with state officials and the local utility provider to craft a program that satisfies the complicated provisions of Washington law.

The opening was a provision allowing common use of single roof for solar in multifamily buildings. Asani banked on prospective buyers seeing shared solar as a good investment as they bought their condo units, one that promised annual paybacks while lowering operational costs of their building through solar harvest.

Solar was designed into the Salal building. A single production meter monitors total system output, while 12 sub-meters track consumption in individual units for utility billing.

Buyers are rolling the cost of solar, about $15,000 per unit, into their mortgages to take advantage of low interest rates at the time of purchase.

“We wanted it very clean and divisible by all the owners,” Lotakis said. “I think it would be pretty difficult for six, 10, 12 people to come together and agree upon how the system would work after the fact. This gave us a chance to just deliver it.”

Lotakis expects the 44kW array to produce about $1,500 in incentives per unit annually – cumulatively much higher than the state’s $5,000 cap on incentives for a single-family residence.

Next door at the 12-unit Juniper apartment building, the 44kW rooftop array is similar but the equation is different. Renters will enjoy the benefits of solar production through net-metering, but not the annual state solar rebate. That will go to the building’s single owner, and will max out at the state’s $5,000 cap. The Juniper building array includes APsystems YC1000 true 3-phase microinverters distributed by Blue Frog Solar.

The two-story Elan townhomes presented the most straightforward challenge. Individual 6-9kW solar packages are offered for each section of the common roof. No modules will cross the “virtual lot lines,” making each system self-contained within the owner’s patch of rooftop. Three systems have been installed so far, including Blue Frog/APsystems YC500A microinverters.

Growing neighborhood solar

From project inception, Asani set out to build the most environmentally friendly development possible.

Relentless sourcing of renewable materials and low-impact fixtures, and close connection to the island’s town center, have positioned Grow Community in the marketplace for healthy lifestyle-conscious buyers.

The project’s first phase is noted for its shared pea-patch gardens and winding footpaths through close-set homes. The second and third phases are oriented around a woodland grove and open greenway.

The project has earned recognition in national magazines and won awards from local and national homebuilder associations. It is only the second planned community in North America to be certified under the rigorous One Planet Living standards.

Grow’s first phase of 23 detached units sold out immediately, and every homeowner chose to add the solar package.

Asani has also showcased Made In Washington components to support the state’s solar industry.

Modules at the Salal are by Itek Energy of Bellingham, WA, while the Juniper and Elan arrays include Blue Frog/APsystems microinverters from Blue Frog Solar of Poulsbo.

Using a mix of in-state and out-of-state components allows Asani to achieve different price points for buyers while optimizing local incentives where possible.

Lotakis cautions that Grow Community’s multifamily solar program relies on particularities in Washington law. Multifamily programs elsewhere would face their own challenges, although he believes Grow offers a useful model for developers nationwide to consider.

With the Salal building only recently certified for occupancy, new residents have no comparative data on their energy savings. But the solar component was attractive, as it has been to buyers throughout the three-neighborhood, 142-home project due to be completed in late 2017.

“Solar was a factor,” one new resident said, “along with a development that encourages a sense of community.”

Between the federal tax credit and annual rebates from the state, Lotakis said, owners buying into the Salal condominiums could have their share of the common array paid off within five years.

“And because they’ve rolled the cost of solar into their mortgage, they don’t really see it,” he said. “Those production checks will be like a dividend.”

APsystems featured in Solar Builder’s new Rooftop Report
Solar Builder Magazine’s new “Rooftop Report” is out, featuring APsystems advanced microinverter technology.

Screen Shot 2016-08-08 at 9.13.46 AMAPsystems Director of Engineering Christopher Barrett contributes “Get Connected: Data Monitoring in a Wireless (and sometimes wired) World,” an in-depth look at the challenges of gateway data collection in the home solar environment.

Also look for the article “Time Hacks for Installing MLPE,” features labor-saving tips and tricks for solar installers, and a report on the rapid-shutdown features built into the Blue Frog/APsystems microinverter platform.

The report’s photo spread features the team from A&R Solar on the roof at Grow Community on Bainbridge Island, Washington’s largest planned solar community. On the day of the shoot, the A&R Solar crew was completing a multi-family building installation with APsystems YC1000 true 3-phase microinverters.

Thanks to A&R Solar for working with Blue Frog on the great photo shoot!

Find the “Rooftop Report” online here , and look for hard copies bundled with the next issue of Solar Builder Magazine, and distributed at the upcoming Solar Power International conference in September.

New installer video training series
Blue Frog/APystems microinverters are unparalleled for speed and ease of installation.

The new online video training series from APsystems guides installers step by step through the fast, hassle-free installation and setup of the flagship YC500A microinverter.

The 12-part series covers fundamentals, tips and best practices for professional installation and system registration.

Topics include
* Installation preparation and safety
* Microinverter rooftop layout
* Cabling, connections and grounding
* Energy Communication Unit gateway basics
* ArrayApp mobile installer tool
and more.
The video series is designed for registered, professional solar installers, and complements our online training webinars, technical manuals and other support resources.

Each video is hosted by Christopher Barrett, Director of Engineering and Technical Services for APsystems USA.

The series runs about 24 minutes, with installments viewable individually or in a single video.
You can view these and other videos on the APsystems YouTube channel or here on their website.

Brimma Solar joins Blue Frog ‘500 Club’
Screen Shot 2016-08-08 at 10.06.22 AMBrimma Solar recently completed its 500th solar installation using Blue Frog/APsystems microinverters – a landmark achievement for the five-year-old installer.

The Seattle-based outfit has served solar customers all across Washington state and up and down the I-5 corridor.

John Harley, vice president for production for National Solar/Brimma, is a big fan of Blue Frog/APsystems microinverter technology, as he notes in this recent testimonial. The video was shot on location at an installation in Poulsbo, WA, near the Blue Frog assembly and distribution facility.

“Brimma Solar is very excited to have reached its 500th Blue Frog installation milestone,” Harley said. “Our clients love your products, and so do we. Thank you, Blue Frog!”

Congratulations to Brimma Solar for a great achievement! We look forward to partnering with you through the next 500 installations.

Blue Frog’s HOT ‘Summer of $16K’ rebate is here!

Summer is here, and with it our hot rebate season for Blue Frog installers.

Blue Frog is partnering with APsystems to offer the “Summer of $16K” promotion: June 1 through Sept. 30, earn up to $40 back per microinverter – up to $16,000 in total cash, no-wait rebates.

Purchase and install at least 20 of Blue Frog/APsystems microinverters (all models are eligible, including our blue-label Made In Washington micros and APsystems black-label units) and then register your installation(s). Your installations will show up in your online APsystems account and you’re on your way to 16K!

Summerof16k ad-300x250

Rewards are based on tiers and as you install, your total grows and your rebate grows with it.

Start out with a $20 rebate per microinverter, and once you reach 50 units installed, you’re getting $30 for each additional microinverter you install.

Will you do more than 15 residential installations this summer? If so, you might hit our top tier! After 250 micros installed, you’re getting $40 back per unit – that’s $560 in your pocket on an average residential installation. And if that wasn’t enough, you can also get an additional $500 for trying out our YC1000 three phase microinverter (min. 15kw).

That brings the summer’s rewards to $16,000 from APsystems!

Visit the promotion website,, for details on payouts and program terms and conditions.

With $16,000 in rewards, there’s no better time to bring Blue Frog/APsystems microinverters to your solar customers.

Place your volume order today, and watch the rebate heat up through the Summer of $16K.

Blue Frog now offering APsystems ‘black label’ microinverters – SAVE BIG!

Installers – if you are like the advantages of a microinverter but don’t need the financial incentives(or extra expense) from the APsystems Made in Washington microinverters, then check out our “black label” inverters. These are virtually identical to our Made in Washington inverters(identified by the blue label) but are much less expensive.

Have the utilities slowed down on incentives in your area? No problem- We have the solution: our non-Made in Washington inverters(with a black label) are significantly less expensive than our Made in Washington units(with the familiar blue label).

Installers – Blue Frog Solar now offers APsystems “black label” (non-MIW) microinverters.

These offer the same great APsystems quality but at a lower price point – less than $250 per unit, depending on volume. Contact us today to find out more. (Note: black label units do not qualify for Washington solar incentives for in-state manufacture.)

And don’t forget: Blue Frog is offering outstanding volume pricing for our registered installers on our regular MIW units through May.

Become a Blue Frog/APsystems registered installer and take advantage of our aggressive tiered pricing – get our YC500 microinverter at an unbeatable discount after rebate. Buy more, and save bigger! Call us at (206) 855-5149 to place your order today for prompt fulfillment.


A deal so good, we had to make it last!

Blue Frog Solar is offering outstanding volume pricing for our registered installers – now through MAY 2016.

That’s right — become a Blue Frog/APsystems registered installer and take advantage of our aggressive tiered pricing – get our YC500 microinverter at an unbeatable discount after rebate. Buy more, and save bigger!

And remember: All certified Made In Washington microinverters sold by Blue Frog Solar carry a 25-year warranty backed by APsystems, the global leader in solar microinverter technology. Install for your customers with confidence.

Volume pricing extended through May – don’t wait another day!

Call us at (206) 855-5149 to place your order today for prompt fulfillment.


Turn up the volume and save big!

Blue Frog Solar is offering outstanding volume pricing for our registered installers through April 2016.

Become a Blue Frog/APsystems registered installer and take advantage of our aggressive tiered pricing – get our YC500 microinverter at an unbeatable discount after rebate. Buy more, and save bigger!

And remember: All certified Made In Washington microinverters sold by Blue Frog Solar carry a 25-year warranty backed by APsystems, the global leader in solar microinverter technology. Install for your customers with confidence!

See or call us at (206) 855-5149 to place your order today for prompt fulfillment.


Green Power on a Green Roof

Blue Frog microinverters and iTek modules are key features of a forward-thinking green roof in Seattle’s Meridian neighborhood.

The 3.36kW array by installer Multifacet Group of Bellevue includes Blue Frog/APsystems YC500-MIW microinverters and iTek 280W modules.

The rooftop terrace and garden on this custom 3,800 sf. home features Etera’s lush Sedum Tile all-seasons mix.

Homebuilder is Green Canopy Homes of Seattle.

Installer: Multifacet Group, Bellevue
Project Engineer: Chris Hogg
Location: Meridian neighborhood, Seattle
Output: 3.36kW
Microinverters: Blue Frog/APsystems YC500
No. of microinverters: 6
Module brand/type: iTek 280W
No. of modules: 12


Nichols joins APsystems as VP Sales, USA

apsystems-andrew-nicolsSolar industry veteran Andrew Nichols has joined APsystems as Senior Vice President of Sales, USA.

Andrew comes to APsystems with over 30 years in high technology and alternative energy sales. He most recently served as Vice President of Worldwide Sales for SolarBridge Technologies through its successful acquisition by SunPower Corporation.

“APsystems is the emergent front-runner in solar microinverter technology, and I’m honored to join their team,” Nichols said. “Their commitment to innovation in module-level electronics is really showing the way forward in this fast-growing segment.”

Read the whole story here.