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Gone Fishing? Gone Solar!

The Tackle Shack installed forty-one solar panels to produce 15,000kW annually, which is enough to offset the business’s entire electric demand. Photo: Sol-Air.

Evan Lawrence

If you’re going fishing for the big one in Lake Sunapee, you might want to stop by the Tackle Shack on Route 103 in nearby Newbury, New Hampshire, to stock up on bait and catch a view of its rooftop photovoltaic system. The 41-panel array is expected to generate 15,000 kWh annually, enough to offset the business’s entire electrical demand.

The Tackle Shack carries fishing supplies and live bait, hunting, archery, camping equipment, and kayaks. It has a 20-yard indoor archery range.

The aerating and chill units for the fish tanks, mini-split air-source heat pumps, and store lighting can use a lot of electricity, especially in the winter. Owner Dale Sandy told us, “We want to have as low an overhead as possible, so we can be competitive on prices. Mainly, I wanted to eliminate the electric bill, plus I like the idea of solar.”

Sandy said he chose to work with Sol-Air, a renewable energy company in Newport, in part because he and Pahl come from the same hometown. Pahl did a consultation and Sandy accepted Sol-Air’s proposal. He said his choice was “pretty much all because of Ian and his professionalism. There was no pressure.” He appreciated the fact that the company took care of everything, including permitting, design, construction, and arranging for state inspection.

Sol-Air’s installation crew put up the panels in three days. They used all-black Trina panels and Enphase microinverters. “One size does not fit all,” Pahl said. “We design what the customer wants.” The array was up by early February. Connecting to the grid took a few weeks longer while Eversource completed some upgrade work on its end. Sandy is hopeful that the next bill will go to zero, saying, “I want to bank enough [credits in the summer] to go through the winter when I use the mini-splits. That’s the goal.”

Sol-Air is not just a solar installation company. “Our goals are to help homeowners and businesses reduce their electric consumption while also reducing carbon emissions,” Pahl said. Other than our LED System Consultant, Peter Salvitti of Efficient LED Lighting Systems, Sol-Air is operating completely in-house, according to Pahl. “We do not sub anything out, do all the work from stem to stern, and also offer hyper heat series mini splits and on/off grid battery solutions.”

For retail businesses, where lighting can be the primary use of electricity, switching from incandescent to LEDs can reduce consumption by 30% to 50%. The next step is solar generation, which provides the power the lights need during the day. Retail businesses usually close at night when the panels aren’t producing.

“The system is perfect,” Sandy told us, “I can go on line and see what the system is doing.”

Sandy said he is happy he chose Sol-Air. “They’re wonderful. They’re great to deal with and I’ve recommended them several times.”

On Saturday, June 8, 2019 starting at 1 p.m. there will be a Solar Celebration Event happening at the Tackle Shack with promotions throughout the afternoon including popular vendors from the store.

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