Simple Solar makes sense, Kitsap Business Journal says

Blue Frog Solar and our Simple Solar program got some great press this week with an in-depth feature in the Kitsap Peninsula Business Journal.  Read it Here.

The KPBJ ives a comprehensive look at the incentives that make Washington solar such a great deal — and Simple Solar, which makes it easier than ever to make the move to energy self-sufficiency. It’s a great move for both existing homes and new construction.

As the Business Journal notes:

Blue Frog is collaborating on the largest residential solar project in Kitsap County — Bainbridge Island’s Grow Community, a project of real estate development and investment firm Asani. It’s an example of effectively designing and building homes to accommodate rooftop solar panels.
“We knew from the outset that our goal was to create a net-zero community using solar,” says Marja Preston, senior director of development at Asani and owner of a solar home at Grow. “So everything there was designed, including the apartments, so we could get enough solar panels on the roof to provide all the energy needed for the homeowner.”

Thanks to the Kitsap Peninsula Business Journal and editor Tim Kelly for the great coverage! Find out more about Simple Solar here.



What does Washington’s largest planned solar community look like from the air?

Here’s a bird’s-eye view of Grow Community phase 1, the Village, and its remarkable concentration of energy-producing rooftops.

Each residential system includes from 24 to 32 PV modules by itek Energy, with more than 400 Blue Frog Made-in-Washington APS microinverters installed across the community.

Grow Community homes are now producing 85-105 percent of their energy needs, eliminating residents’ power bills and earning financial credits through Washington’s strong solar incentives.

Click here to learn more about this installation.


Simple Solar on the KIRO-FM airwaves

Blue Frog Solar and our new Simple Solar program are radio stars, featured on KIRO-FM’s “Real Estate Today” program recently.

Host Tom Kelly interviewed the Simple Solar team including Tim Bailey, Blue Frog founder and principal; Shannon Ellis-Brock, COO of Puget Sound Cooperative Credit Union; and Reeves Clippard, founder and CEO of A&R Solar of Seattle. Also on hand was Greg Lotakis, project manager for Grow Community, the largest planned solar community in Washington state and powered by Blue Frog/APS microinverter technology.

The hour-long discussion covered today’s dramatic solar incentives and the ease of financing a new solar system for homeowners. On-air callers had great questions for the in-studio team.

Listen to a podcast of the program on the Real Estate Today website.

Thanks to Tom Kelly and KIRO-FM 97.3 for hosting Blue Frog Solar and the Simple Solar team!

If you’ve not yet seen it, check out our new Simple Solar program online and see what Blue Frog Solar can do for you. We’re especially interested in partnering with new homebuilders to build solar in to their projects. Spread the word — Simple Solar is here!



SOLAR SPOTLIGHT: Banner Power Solutions 9.54 kW Ground Mount System – Sedro-Woolley, WA

25The design and installation team at Banner Power Solutions faced several challenges while planning, designing and installing this ground-mount array in beautiful Sedro-Woolley, Skagit County.

Due to lack of desirable roof space and moderate shading issues, the Banner team helped their customer discover the advantages a ground-mount system to maximize array siz  e and sun harvest potential.

NABCEP-certified PV Installers and Banner Power Solutions owners Guy Knoblich and Eric Hull then faced their next challenge: how to install a 50-foot long system on an 8 percent slope, with the desirable location and optimal orientation. To meet the challenge, the array was split in two, and the hillside slightly terraced to accommodate three dozen modules.

At the beginning of the design process, options for inverters were presented to the customer. They chose Blue Frog APS YC500 microinverters because of the easy monitoring system and 25-year warranty.

The completed system includes 36 itek 265-watt modules and 18 APS YC500 inverters, to create a 9.54 kW, ground-mount system. The installation was completed in February 2014.

Banner Power Solutions offers full service PV solar design, lighting retrofits as well as generator sales installation and maintenance.



Banner Power Solutions
Location: Sedro-Woolley, Washington
Installation date: February 2014
Capacity: 9.54 kW
Module type: itek 265-watt modules
Microinverters: Blue Frog/APS YC500
No. of microinverters: 18
Estimated Power bill reduction: 60 percent
Approximate payback time: 6.5-7 years

State Streamlines Washington Solar Permitting

solar-panel-rainbowGoing solar in Washington just got faster, and cheaper. Under an emergency rule recently adopted by the Washington State Building Code Council, an engineer’s report will no longer be required for simple rooftop PV systems.The change shaves an estimated $500 to $2,500 off up-front costs and trims eight weeks off the permitting process in some jurisdictions, according to the state Department of Commerce. Not all jurisdictions have required engineering review of a PV system’s rooftop load, but the new rule eliminates such reviews where they were required, expediting solar permitting across the state.

“This has been a constant problem because of the way the statute was worded, implying liability for the installer and the city unless they had an engineer review the weight load — which is very light compared to snow loads,” says Tim Bailey of Blue Frog Solar. “This effectively increased costs and delays quite a bit if the local inspectors required engineering reports.”

The emergency rule went into effect July 1, with formal adoption expected in November after a formal public process.

Find out more on an information sheet published by Northwest Solar Communities.

Our friends at the environmental website Grist also had a great writeup about the change.

Our Community-Marja Preston – Dwell Development Blog

Our Community-Marja Preston

Blue Frog Solar, itek energy partner with 
 Habitat for Humanity on new 32-home project

Blue Frog Solar and itek energy have partnered with Habitat for Humanity on a new 32-home affordable housing project by Habitat for Humanity.

The Harris Court development in Port Orchard will fulfill Habitat’s mission of providing safe, decent housing –- and a lower power bill as well. Thanks to Habitat’s partnership with Blue Frog Solar and Itek Energy, the new homes will include a renewable power source on every rooftop.

aps-habitat2 “We’re proud to work with Habitat for Humanity on this fantastic project,” said Tim Bailey of Blue Frog Solar. “It’s exciting to see our neighbors achieve the dream of home ownership, and including a solar component sets an example we hope can be repeated again and again.”

Each residential system in the Harris Court project includes APS YC500 microinverters, 265-watt PV modules by Itek Energy, and Sunmodo racking. Installation is by Sunergy Systems of Seattle.

Power output will be about 2.25 kW per home, said system designer Gonzi Caballero, who is working with Habitat for Humanity through the federal AmeriCorps service program.

Daryl Daugs, director of Habitat for Humanity of Kitsap County, said the idea to include solar in the Harris Court project came out of an eco-design exercise that made sustainable construction and energy efficiency the top priority.

“Our goal is really to make homes affordable for the long term,” Daugs said. “That’s why we’re on the leading edge of green homebuilding for low-income families. We wanted this to be a super-green neighborhood.”

Daugs found ready partners in Blue Frog Solar, local distributor of APS solar microinverters, and itek energy of Bellingham, Wash., the largest PV module manufacturer in Washington state.  All solar components are being provided to Habitat at substantial discounts.

aps-habitat3Kelly Samson, APS America president, said the company is honored to have its microinverter products included in a Habitat for Humanity project.

“These new homeowners are realizing a goal we all share, and we’re very gratified to contribute to their success,” he said.

The Harris Court homes are being constructed through a combination of homeowners’ sweat-equity and local volunteer labor. A range of designs is planned, from three-bedroom, 1,100-square-foot “ramblers” to four- and five-bedroom, two-story homes with 1,600 square feet of living space.

Roof slopes are oriented to the south to optimize solar potential.

Even Harris Court’s yards and common spaces will be sustainable — more than 80 fruit trees are being planted to create an “edible neighborhood.”

The first two homes should be ready for occupancy in November. Eight more homes will be framed and enclosed by fall, with buildout of the entire 32-home project expected within three years.

Daugs said his organization is already planning its next project with a solar component, and he recently led a solar financing and design workshop for other Habitat affiliates statewide. Interest throughout the organization is high, he said.

“The Harris Court neighborhod is the coolest thing we’ve ever done,” Daugs said. “Adding solar is the coolest of the cool.”

Blue Frog Solar is introducing a new installer certification program, set up by APS,  with a series of weekly training webinars.


Beginning May 28, installers seeking APS certification can sign up for online sessions led by Dana Gosney, IT and Technology director for APS America.

Training webinars will be offered weekly, with three programs available. One covers proper installation of our Made-In-Washington Blue Frog/APS microinverters, while the others cover the APS Energy Communications Unit and APS Energy Monitoring and Analysis software.

APS will soon be requiring that installers become certified through this training program before they can purchase APS equipment. Although an exact date has not been set, it is expected to be within the next couple of months.

Upcoming training seminars include:

May 28
8-9 a.m. YC500A Microinverter Installation
9-10 a.m. – Energy Communication Unit (ECU) Training

June 4      
8-9 a.m. – YC500A Microinverter Installation
9-10 a.m. – Energy Communication Unit (ECU) Training

June 11
8-9 a.m. – Energy Communication Unit (ECU) Training
9-10 a.m. – Energy Monitoring and Analysis (EMA) Training – Registration

June 18
8-9 am. – Energy Communication Unit (ECU) Training
9-10 a.m. — Energy Monitoring and Analysis (EMA) Training – Registration

June 25     
8-9 a.m. Energy Monitoring and Analysis (EMA) Training – Registration
9-10 a.m. Energy Monitoring and Analysis (EMA) Training – System Management

Each webinar will take approximately one hour. There is no limit to the number of participants in a session, but preregistration is required.

Certified installers will receive a “road kit” of Blue Frog microinverters and connectors at an extremely discounted rate for quick use in the field.

Become a Blue Frog certified installer! Register for our training webinars by contacting support [at] bluefrogsolar [dot] com.


When designing a PV system for this stylish contemporary home in La Conner, Skagit County, the team from Whidbey Sun & Wind chose Blue Frog microinverters and itek PV panels.

A total of 18 Itek 260-watt modules and nine APS YC500 inverters were used in the 4.68 kW, tilt-rack system. The installation was completed in March.

“We chose itek and APS/Blue Frog equipment to take full advantage of the Made-In-Washington financial benefits,” says Mark Anderson, project manager and NABCEP Certified PV Installation Professional. “The APS inverters allowed us to avoid both string sizing and slight shading issues.”

Anderson’s team went through several designs before opting not to do a ballasted system, choosing instead to do a fully attached installation. A local company re-roofed the original torch-down roof with a TPO membrane and took care of flashing around the system attachment posts. Racking is by Snap-N-Rack.

“We expect this PV system to offset nearly all of the customers’ electrical needs,” Anderson says.

Founded in 2000, Whidbey Sun & Wind offers a full slate of renewable energy products and services including solar electric, solar water heating, wind power and micro-hydro.

Thanks to Whidbey Sun & Wind for being a Blue Frog solar partner and choosing Blue Frog/APS microinverters for this impressive installation!



May 15, 2014

SEATTLE — Demand for solar homes in the Washington market is at an all-time high. Builders offering a solar option on new construction find that their homes sell twice as fast as those without a renewable energy option.

But not everyone understands how simple it is to finance a residential solar system – or just how fast the return on investment is with today’s incentives. Blue Frog Solar is changing that, with its new Simple Solar campaign for builders, developers and homebuyers.

simple-headerimageBlue Frog has partnered with A&R Solar, one of Washington’s top installers, and Puget Sound Cooperative Credit Union to create a complete solar financing, materials and installation package. The Simple Solar program will offer the best pricing and simplest process for installing Made in Washington solar arrays on homes.

“Solar’s time is here in Washington,” said Tim Bailey, director of the Simple Solar campaign for Blue Frog Solar. “It’s been difficult in the past for a builder to include solar as a standard part of a new home package because the financing and incentives haven’t lined up. We’ve figured out a way to let buyers take advantage of current incentives and still have solar be part of the developer’s program.”

Dwell Development of Seattle is the first to offer the Simple Solar package to customers, and a promotional event for Dwell homebuyers will be held May 15 in Columbia City. The event is by invitation.

bfsimplesolarThe Simple Solar package takes advantage of the  excellent incentives available for consumer investment in residential solar systems. The average Washington homeowner who goes solar today will enjoy $760 in energy savings annually, while state and federal incentives (including sales tax exemptions and energy buyback from utilities) have lowered the payback period to as little as five or six years. With a 30 percent federal tax credit and product incentives through 2020, a homeowner could get a $25,000 residential solar system for a net investment of just over $1,300.

Along with their “1-2-3” steps to Simple Solar -– apply for zero-down financing through PSCCU, sign a contract with A&R, and set a date for solar install –- Blue Frog is also showing builders and developers how to make their homes solar-ready at the point of design and construction. Measures range from orienting homes to maximize sun exposure and leaving unobstructed roof space, to pre-wiring needed conduit and leaving breaker box space for solar equipment.

“When we say ‘Simple Solar,’ we mean it,” Bailey said. “Blue Frog is the first distributor in the state to offer a solar package like this, and to help builders and homebuyers go solar from the start.”

While the program is focusing on new construction at launch, all Washington homeowners can take advantage of the Simple Solar package. The Blue Frog Solar website will guide anyone through the process in just a few minutes.

For information on the Simple Solar program, see, email simple [at] bluefrogsolar [dot] com, or call (206) 855-5149.

For information on Dwell Development’s participation in the Simple Solar program, see or call 206.683.7595.