Today we are speaking with Kriss Bergethon, the owner of Solar Sphere, who has generously offered to answer some of our questions about solar panel kits and about using solar energy at home.
Kriss and his wife Sue live off the grid in the beautiful mountains of Colorado, and they have been helping people to find solar energy solutions for their homes since 1998.
Thank you Kriss for your willingness to share your knowledge with us!
How did you first get interested in solar energy? I actually worked in the coal mining industry for a couple years after college.
I came away thinking 'There has to be a better way'. Eventually I got into construction and was drawn to green building, and solar was a natural progression from there. When my wife and I found our dream home, and it was off-grid, we felt it was meant to be.
What inspired you to start your store Solar Sphere?
I was taken aback when we moved into our home just how many people wanted to know all about it. And nearly everyone had an application for solar where they would say 'I need a solar system for...' We felt we had the knowledge base to help people with solar kits, and found the equipment to do it as well. It's been a ton of fun.
What are the most common questions that you get from people who contact you about using solar energy in their homes?
'How much solar do I need to power...' The biggest issue with solar is sizing the system to do what you want. And unfortunately there is a good percentage of the inquiries that are just not right for solar. But for folks willing to reduce their consumption and change their consumption habits a bit, solar is a fantastic alternative.
In your experience, what is the biggest challenge that people face when they are first using solar energy?
Changing habits, without a doubt. The solar itself couldn't be easier because after its installed it takes very little maintenance. But reducing consumption is much harder than people think. It's easy to do for a month, but old habits die hard. We recommend people track their monthly usage and set goals for reduction, and make it a family activity where everyone is responsible and involved.
Do you have any tips for our readers that may help them to find the most affordable ways to set up a solar energy system in their homes?
We have several kits and systems that can help people. We have three different approaches: you buy the equipment and install it yourself; you buy the equipment and have someone else install it; you have someone else completely design and install the system. We have great solar energy kits that can help people get a panel up, reduce their bills, and generate solar power for less than $1200.
I notice that a lot of people who might buy solar lights or other household solar devices run into problems with them. They don't work, or they don't last. Do you have any suggestions of what people should look for when they are looking at using a new solar product or solar system in their home?
Unfortunately the market has been inundated with cheap products. The old adage holds true: you get what you pay for. We have solar lights that are more expensive, but they look fantastic, last many years, and have replaceable batteries, which is what wears out on solar lights the fastest.
Solar technologies are changing pretty rapidly. How do you keep up? Where do you go when you need more information?
I like Solarfeeds.com and Solarbuzz.com, HomePower Magazine, plus I have a Twitter feed. My suppliers keep me posted on changes too.
We're living ina pretty challenging economic environment. What impact are you seeing on the solar industry from the recession?
It's tough out there for sure. The incentives have helped the industry, but I think I can speak for the industry when I say we would rather stand on our own two feet. But all signs are pointing up, things are getting better in the economy and solar equipment prices are falling rapidly. This is solar's golden age without a doubt.
What is the main message you'd like to communicate with people who are looking into using solar energy for the first time?
You can start small and add on later. We have families that add a solar panel to their home on every Earth Day. It doesn't have to be expensive, you just need a guiding hand.
Thanks so much Kris for your time! We wish you much continued success with Solar Sphere!
Thank you for your great site and your efforts in clean energy!
Please visit Kriss online at Solar Sphere!
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