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Rottinghauses ramp up for residential solar on Charles City home

Rottinghauses ramp up for residential solar on Charles City home
Electricians from Perry Novak Electric are putting up a solar panel array for Frank and Pat Rottinghaus. Press photo by Travis Fischer
By Travis Fischer,

The summer sun is shining and Frank and Pat Rottinghaus are looking to tap into that energy with the installation of a residential solar array.

“I’m excited to have it hooked up,” said Frank Rottinghaus, who said he wanted to share the message that solar is a workable option for homeowners in this part of the country.

Rottinghauses ramp up for residential solar on Charles City home
Frank Rottinghaus
Rottinghauses ramp up for residential solar on Charles City home
Pat Rottinghaus

“Frank is big on conservation,” said Pat Rottinghaus. “He wants to be a role model for climate change mitigation.”

Wanting to do their part to reduce their carbon footprint and make an investment in the future, the Rottinghaus family has contracted Perry Novak Electric to equip their home with solar panels.

“It’s a very booming thing right now,” said electrician Marshal Doughty. “It’s a good way to go.”

Solar energy has become a big part of Perry Novak Electric’s business over the last decade, putting up large commercial arrays across northeast Iowa with jobs booked out into 2026. Smaller residential jobs like the Rottinghaus’ are less common, but can be scheduled in.

The work began on Thursday as the Perry Novak crew came out to start the installation of 20 410-watt solar panels on the Rottinghaus roof. Over the next few days they will place the rails and solar panels up and install the equipment needed to convert the collected solar energy into usable electricity for the power grid.

“Basically we’re converting sun energy into useful energy for the home,” said Doughty.

When it’s done the array should feed in enough electricity to effectively negate the Rottinghaus’ household usage, leaving them with a power bill that only includes the meter fee.

Installing a solar array comes with an upfront cost, but the Rottinghaus’ system is projected to pay for itself in about 13 years. The panels themselves have a 25-year life expectancy before they start to suffer from diminishing returns in their efficiency.

Along with the eventual savings of the array, there are several grant opportunities and tax incentives available for both commercial and residential property owners to mitigate the upfront cost. However, Doughty recommends being careful about who you give your information to.

“The Facebook guys that you see, you gotta be careful with,” said Doughty. “There’s a lot of scammers out there.”

Doughty says that they work with their customers to navigate potential grants available along with dealing with the utility company for the process of getting the solar array hooked up to their grid.

For the Rottinghauses, a tax credit from the Inflation Reduction Act will subsidize about 30% of the cost.

More than the benefits of the eventual savings, Frank Rottinghaus said he wants to raise awareness of solar power as a viable option as both a way to reduce energy costs and reduce the usage of fossil fuels.

“Fossil fuels are going to run out at some time. We have an obligation to mitigate climate change for our children and grandchildren,” said Rottinghaus. “I’m hoping that seeing what we’re doing here will inspire other people to take a look at this.”

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