Growing up in Barrington, Zach Witt always knew he wanted to be an entrepreneur. And as a college student majoring in business management at Montana State University, solar energy became something that he was downright passionate about.
But then, in 2016, he came home. And sadly, he found relatively few examples of solar energy being used in the community.
“I was just frustrated by not seeing renewable energy or solar anywhere,” recalls Witt. “No one was talking or thinking about it, and that’s when I thought if I don’t do something about this, who will? At the time, I didn’t have solar experience or construction experience or electrical experience, but I thought I could just dive in and figure it out.”
And he did.
Witt now serves as the owner of Ilumen, LLC, a company that provides solar power solutions for both residential and commercial properties.
“Our goal is to provide clean and professional installs,” explains Witt, who routinely goes into Barrington-area schools to speak to young students about solar energy. “Aesthetics is our number one priority. It has to look good and it’s got to be symmetrical (when possible), and it’s got to fit your financial goals. We only use all black panels, so it basically looks like a tinted window on your house.”
Simple enough right?
Heck, Witt can even make the actual solar conversion sound simple.
“Basically the sun hits the panels and that converts to DC electricity,” he explains. “That energy flow hits the inverter, which is the brains of the operation, and it converts it to usable electricity.”
And yes, the results and the numbers it results in are impressive. Studies say that the installation of solar panels can add 4 percent to the resale value of one’s home. Additionally, there are a number of tax credits that come as a result of a solar panel installation.
“Solar adoption is driven by many factors, including tax credits, state rebates, and locally, ComEd Net Metering,” says Witt, whose company is currently an active installer in Lake Barrington Shores. “Right now, Illinois has one of the strongest tax incentives when it comes to solar energy in the country, and that’s driving the growth.”
According to Witt, the total solar installation process can take 3 to 4 months, from the site visit to finalizing the agreement to accessing permits to ordering equipment. Yet, the actual installation of the solar panels is usually completed in 2 to 3 days.
“Homeowners can see immediate results on day one following installation, just via the satisfaction that comes with knowing your energy is clean and provided by the sun,” remarks Witt. “I have had customers say that it literally changes the entire lifestyle of the house.”
Besides the psychology of it all, the sheer financial benefits of solar energy are impressive. A typical return on investment is usually felt in years 6 to 8 years depending on the system, but Witt says that a majority of a homeowner’s investment comes back in the first 12 months via the federal tax credit and the state rebate.
“The fact is that we have a climate emergency going on,” Witt concludes. “People don’t really know about renewal energy and they aren’t being accountable for their energy. My hope is to educate people as much as I can. We all need to pay attention what’s going on and take accountability for electricity usage.”
For more information, visit ilumenpv.com.