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Getting to Know Your Solar Installers

New Hampshire winter scene with solar PVs and an old stone wall. Photos by Kim Frase.

New Hampshire winter scene with solar PVs and an old stone wall. Photos by Kim Frase.

Frase Electric

Frase Electric is located in South Tamworth, New Hampshire, in the central part of New Hampshire. Frase focuses on commercial and residential electrical work, with licenses in Maine, New Hampshire, Vermont, and Massachusetts. There are two things that stand out, however, as special areas of interest. One is solar photovoltaics. The other is work on high-end housing in New Hampshire’s Lakes Region.

The business has seven electricians, including founder Kim Frase. He graduated from CMVTI in Auburn Maine in 1976, and has lived in NH for 37 yrs. He studied residential and commercial wiring there, and then returned to New Hampshire to work. In 1990, he started his own business. He started working on solar PVs as a major part of his business in 2009, as soon as he could see the economics of operating solar PV working out. Since then, the payback periods have been almost cut in half.

Solar PVs with a New Hampshire mountain view.

Solar PVs with a New Hampshire mountain view.

Frase designs entire electric systems for homes and businesses. They do the electrical work for buildings, including specifying and installing backup systems, generators, and inverters. Most of the work is on homes, where special consideration for the homeowners’ needs provides interesting challenges.

We have seen some of Frase’s work in earlier editions of Green Energy Times. The article, “Woodstock Inn Station and Brewery,” appeared in the December 2013 issue, and featured an 18kW solar array by Frase.

Kim Frase says about half of his sales is PVs and the arrays are getting larger due to the increase in Heat Pumps, and he finds his business often partnering with heat pump installers. He told us, “It is a no-brainer to have a net-zero house if it is in the right location and can have the right orientation. Why would anyone do anything else?”

Frase Electric is at 789 Whittier Highway, So. Tamworth, NH 03883. The number is  603-284-6618, and the web site is fraseelectric.com

KW Management

KW Management has been in business since 1990, providing an extensive array of services to help with efficient resource management. In 2000, the company added both solar and wind installations to its services. The other services that stand out include system design, data and telecom wiring, heavy-duty uninterrupted power systems, power monitoring, and more. One thing that might be of use to any customer is for ground-source heat pumps.

A collection of projects by KW Management

One thing company vice president Jack Leary stressed is that anyone looking for a solar installer should pay close attention to two things. One is reputation, and the other is licensing. Reputation is an important indicator of the reliability of the business you are dealing with, and can be checked by asking such organizations as the Better Business Bureau.

Licenses are important, as permitting and approvals have to be in order for net-metering, and this really requires a licensed installer. They are also important for reasons ranging from real estate value to insurance. As one might expect, Leary is very sure both of the company’s reputation, and the quality and credentials of its workers.

KW Management takes a holistic approach toward any installation they work on, and this includes solar PVs and solar thermal systems as well as wind power and other types of work. This means that the customer can be sure that the installation is best suited to the unique situation of any site they work on. The company is excited about solar, but they are also excited about other technologies that can be integrated into a solution, and they are in a position to suggest the most effective approach to energy for any building.

KW Management does work mostly in New Hampshire and Massachusetts, but can work in Vermont and Maine as well. They work on commercial, industrial, and residential systems.

KW Management – 55 Lake St, Nashua, NH 03060 – (603) 598-0181. The Website is www.kwmanagement.com/

Solartech installation in a Vermont Meadow.

Solartech installation in a Vermont Meadow.

Solartech

Solartech is a family-owned business in Sutton, Vermont, in the heart of the Northeast Kingdom. Rich and Donna Nicol run the company and have a well-defined vision of their company: Solartech has courteous, friendly, and skilled solar professionals installing quality PV systems benefiting the environment, the community, and the homeowner—renewable energy is the wise choice.

Rich says they strive to provide excellent photovoltaic service and the best employment in the Northeast Kingdom. They have seven regular employees and hire local sub-contractors when needed. Local products are used whenever possible from companies such as EcoFasten in Morrisville, VT and AllEarth Renewables in Williston, VT. As well, Solartech installs US-made panels and racking.

Solartech works beyond the borders of northern Vermont, installing residential, municipal, and small commercial arrays around the state. However, their focus is solar electric installation for both grid-tie and off-grid installations.

Solartech Vermont installation. Photos courtesy of Rich Nicol

Solartech Vermont installation. Photos courtesy of Rich Nicol

Solartech has been in the solar PV business for about seven years making it one of the older PV installers in Vermont. They have had a broad range of experiences in that time.

Rich Nicol clearly enjoys small off-grid systems. Asked whether there was any particular installation that really stood out in his mind, he said, “There was one in Norton, Vermont that was not only off-grid, but off-road. The only way we could get panels, mounts, batteries, tools, and workers to the site was in canoes.”

Solartech is located at 754 Station Rd, Sutton, VT, 05867. The phone is 802-467-3500, and the website is www.solartechvt.com. Contact rich@solartechvt.com.

 

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