Shushu Amanzi: Hot Water and the Power of Solar


At Optimus Solar, we say “Solar Makes Sense”.  As a company and as individuals, we have yet to come across a situation where this is not the case.  After a recent trip to South Africa to visit a project on which I serve as a director, this statement continues to ring true.  

In the rural Keiskammahoek Valley in the Eastern Cape of South Africa, nestled into green hills and cattle pastures, sits St. Matthews High School. Since 1856, St. Matthews has been a beacon of educational excellence in rural South Africa, a country of immeasurable natural beauty, but also one with a history of educational challenges.  In 2008, I had the privilege of moving to South Africa to support educational development and greater access to technology at rural schools through a top-class public benefit organization called Sifunda Kunye (  St. Matthews was our first partner school and faced many and varied challenges when it came to delivering quality education and a safe environment to its students. Among its many challenges, the school has over 300 female boarding students, housed in two on-campus hostels, which had not had access to hot water since before 1980. That is 28 years without a vital resource integral to food safety and personal hygiene.

Optimus Solar President Ben Pauluhn in front of the solar panels that power the St. Matthews Girls Hostel water heating system.

Optimus Solar President Ben Pauluhn in front of the solar panels that power the St. Matthews Girls Hostel water heating system.

Electricity, basic service delivery and maintenance are all challenges to housing in this area.  However, through partnerships with multiple local groups and organizations, Sifunda Kunye was able to secure a full renovation of the dormitories and teacher housing communities. This included returning hot water to campus with the installation of a solar water heating system.  Now, 6 years on from the renovations, hot water continues to have 100% up-time with $0 in ongoing costs.

This real-world example demonstrates not only that solar has a motivating financial payback, but that it is also the most reliable long-term solution to producing electricity and ensuring hot water availability. It works in rural communities with little to no critical infrastructure just as it works in developed communities. Solar is versatile, reliable, clean, and cost-effective. 

Solar truly can fit every scenario where long-term time horizons and responsible management are part of the goals.  Optimus Solar is proud to play a small part in improving education and opportunities for students in South Africa, and we continue to believe that solar makes sense for everyone! 

St. Matthews campus and boarding students. Photo courtesy of Sifunda Kunye.

St. Matthews campus and boarding students. Photo courtesy of Sifunda Kunye.


Enhancing Your Rental Property Investment with Solar Energy


When many people consider the benefits of installing a solar PV system, they immediately think about tax credits. However, more and more wise investors are choosing to install solar energy systems on their rental homes. Despite the fact that rental homes do not qualify for the 30% federal tax credit, the decision by these owners to invest in solar will pay dividends for decades to come.

Recently, Optimus Solar has had three clients install solar on their rental properties, showing just how far the industry has come over the past five years.  The price of solar energy system installation is becoming competitive even without the federal tax credit.  This is allowing homeowners, tenants and larger-scale rental communities to reap the benefits of solar energy.

Multiple studies have shown that a rental unit equipped with a solar energy system is more marketable, rents faster and is more appealing than a similar unit without a solar energy system.  The market is clear in tenant’s preference for solar capabilities.  It not only provides cost savings, it tells a great story to friends and family, and shows an investment in the environment and in Florida.

Property owners investing in solar energy systems for their rental properties will see positive benefits for decades to come, and we encourage all long-term thinkers to consider this value-add to their real estate assets, tenants and communities.

Do you have a rental property you think might be a good candidate for solar? Call Optimus Solar today for a free estimate! 352.535.0227

Top 5 Reasons to Go Solar in 2019


The year may have just barely begun, but that’s no reason to put off the things that could make 2019 a stellar year. We put together our list of “Top 5 Reasons to Go Solar in 2019” because today is always the best day to plan for your future.

1.    2019 is the last year for the full 30% federal income tax credit

Starting in 2020, the tax credit will reduce to 26%.  In 2021, it is down to 22%. From there, it will continue to decrease until it is fully phased out. It is reasonable to expect that solar installation prices will not fall as quickly as the tax credit, so 2019 may be a homeowner’s best chance to optimize their financial return on solar.

2.    Utility rates continued to rise from 2018 to 2019

The US national average for electricity rose from January 2018 to late 2018. This means that in 2019, the return on a solar investment is more attractive, the payback period is shorter, and if you install this year, you can offset more future costs.

3.    The price of a solar installation in Florida fell in 2018

According to Solar Power World Online, the average price of a residential solar installation in the US fell in 2018 by almost 6%.  That can amount to meaningful savings for a household seeking to invest in solar in 2019!

4.    Having a solar PV system contributes to household financial stability 

For households that pay cash for a system, there is an immediate reduction in their monthly expenses through a reduction in energy bills.  For households that choose to finance their system, they are trading a volatile monthly payment for a fixed monthly payment over the life of the loan. Of course, once the loan is paid off, the real savings begin rolling in!

5.    Investing in Florida helps the local economy and long-term health of the State

Optimus Solar has written about the compounding power of producing electricity locally vs. importing it from out of State.  Furthermore, using Florida-based solar installers, and Florida-manufactured solar panels compounds the local positive impacts and leads to a multiplier of positive economic activity.

There you have it! This Top 5 list is pretty convincing, but if you need more info or want to chat about what a solar PV system could do for your home this year, give us a call! 352-535-0227