National Solar Tour connects Pennsylvania solar homeowners with their community

By Zach Schalk on September 11, 2018
A solar homeowner in Millvale, Pennsylvania shows off his energy meter and his solar inverter.
The National Solar Tour Tour is the nation’s largest annual grassroots solar event, connecting solar homeowners with their community. Photo Credit: PennFuture

This fall, solar homeowners across the nation will join together as part of the National Solar Tour. Hosted by hosted by the American Solar Energy Society and Solar United Neighbors, the Tour is the nation’s largest annual grassroots solar event. Nearly 50 solar homes have signed up to host a solar open house as part of the National Solar Tour. While most of the open houses will take place on the weekend of October 6 and 7, a cluster of open houses in Philadelphia participating in the Solarize Philly Solar Home Tour will take place on Saturday, September 15.

Solar open houses are a great way to expand interest in solar in your community. While support for solar energy is strong and continues to grow, many people still think that going solar Is out of their reach. Seeing solar power in action can play an important role in growing our solar movement—and there’s still time to RSVP for an open house near you!

While there are solar open houses across the state, one of Pennsylvania’s largest local tours will be held in Pittsburgh. The Pittsburgh Solar Tour is hosted by PennFuture. In addition to dozens of homes and businesses that will be free and open to the public on Saturday, October 6, the Tour includes a $10 three-hour bus tour starting at either the Millvale Community Library, the Frick Environmental Center, or Scalo Solar in Crafton, PA. Alternatively, there will be a guided e-bike tour hosted by Adam Solar Resources leaving from Millvale Riverfront Park at noon. Each guided tour route will include a variety of different solar systems from various installers. There will also be an after-party at Hitchhiker’s Brewery in Sharpsburg from 4-6 p.m. hosted by the Triboro Ecodistrict.

“It’s really interesting to see the various reasons why people go solar—either for environmental reasons, a lower energy bill, or for energy independence,” said Annie Regan, PennFuture’s Clean Energy Pittsburgh Program Manager and an organizer of the Pittsburgh Solar Tour. “We have people on the tour who know everything there is to know about solar policies and the science behind as well as other people who simply know the basics.”

The open house hosts are excited to share their solar system with their community. Some are early adopters who went solar years ago, while others are new solar homeowners. Bob Donnan, who has a recently installed 3.3 kW solar system, is among the latter.

Students from University of Pennsylvania with a solar array
Photo credit: PennFuture

“This was our year to go solar and we’re loving it,” he said. “Our solar system was installed and activated this spring, so we’re getting a good look at energy offsets during the summer months with high air conditioning demands. For example, during August, which required a lot of air conditioning due to hot, humid date, our solar system provided a 67% energy offset. So, don’t listen to anyone who says, ‘solar doesn’t work in Pennsylvania’ because it does, even producing on cloudy days!”

Donnan knows the power of seeing solar in action, as he decided to go solar after participating in last year’s Pittsburgh Solar Tour.

“It goes to show that you don’t have to be a solar expert in order to solarize your home,” said Regan. “It doesn’t have to be this overwhelming, esoteric concept. With different financing options, we want the general public to know that solar is possible!”

Be sure to find open houses on the National Solar Tour in your area by checking our Tour Locations map, RSVP for any that you would like to attend, and sign up to stay informed about the Tour as we get closer to October 6 and 7.