Richie Huttner’s Venice home is part of a national solar tour on Saturday, Oct. 6, from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m.

“I will be there all day and am glad to answer any questions,” he said. “We have 28 panels that supply all of our electric needs, including hot water, A/C, heating and hot tub.”

The house, 217 Coral St. off Harbor Drive in Venice, is one of hundreds of homes in every state but North Dakota that are open this week to talk about their solar experience.

There are four homes in the southeast part of Alaska on the tour and one in Hawaii.

The panels comprise photovoltaic cells that convert sunlight into electricity to generate DC power, which goes to a power inverter that converts it to 110 volt A/C current, Huttner said. The power goes to the home’s main electric panel and is used the minute it is created.

When the system generates more power than the family consumes, the electric meter runs backward, and any excess power goes back into the grid with a credit to the homeowner.

“At the end of the year, if there is excess power they’ll pay you for it,” Huttner said.

“The downside is that if the power goes out, so does the solar,” he said. But “the solar company would know if there is a problem before I would.”

Huttner said he could have paid $6,000 additional for a backup generator but opted not to.

The Huttners’ system was installed in 2017 at a cost of $18,000 and is virtually maintenance-free because there are no moving parts, he said. Rain water suffices to clean the panels.


“I opted for American-made products,” he said. “That cost about $3,000 more. The government gave me a 30 percent rebate on the cost. It was applied to my taxes.”

Huttner said he dealt with SEM Power in Tampa and received a 25-year guarantee, which is the typical lifetime of these panels.

He replaced his home’s roof before the panels were installed. The roof is guaranteed for a similar length of time.

“We got a 30 percent rebate for the roof, too,” he said.

He was told it would be about $1,000 to remove the panels if a roof repair would be needed.

Huttner said his wife is active in the League of Women Voters, a group that supports solar power. That group put him in touch with a cooperative organization of 150 members, Solar United Neighbors, a 501©3 corporation.

“They helped negotiate the price and watched over the process,” he said. “It was installed in one day. It is a great deal.”

To learn more about the organization, which assists people who desire to go solar, visit: SolarUnitedNeighbors.org.

RSVP for the tour at: SolarOpenHouse-180.

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