I didn’t have you install my system for financial reasons, but because it was the “right thing to do.”

It was five years ago today that you tied my system to the grid. I’m taking this opportunity to share some statistics on a “real world” system with you. Feel free to share this information with prospective customers. 

I didn’t have you install my system for financial reasons, but because it was the “right thing to do.” Still, in my opinion, it’s been a good financial investment. In the five years that the system has been in operation it’s put 28,598 kWH into the power grid. At the current cost from SMPA of $0.13755 per kWH, that amounts to $3,934 worth of power. 

I'm getting an annual return on my investment of 5-1/4 percent. That return on investment is pretty hard to come by these days. 
Thanks for doing your part to keep carbon dioxide out of our air.
— Roger
You Get What You Pay For - The extra cost was well worth the money. 

This is a strong letter of recommendation for Dana Orzel and his crew at Great Solar Works!, and to the incredible solar hot water system they installed for us, one year ago. It has worked flawlessly, supplying ALL our hot water (the significance which you will appreciate as you read on). The electric backup has only run for a TOTAL of three hours in that entire year, and that was only after several days of cloudy, stormy weather. The rest of the year, it has run on a tiny 45 watt pump, producing 180 degree F water! That compares to the old electric tank that ran on 12,000 watts to produce 140 F water.

We live in southwest Colorado and have a bed and breakfast – and imposed a business requirement on Dana that his design always produce sufficient hot water to supply our B&B (Sundance Bear Lodge – with higher demands than normal family usage – guest water usage on top of lots of laundry. Dana designed the system with the one concession to our extra usage – a 120 gallon tank instead of the normal 60 or 80 gallon. This was necessary because of a manufacturing design issue – the electric backup on all these tank systems only heat half the tank, so a 60 gallon tank would become a 30 gallon effective tank if you had to depend on the backup. 

He and his crew installed the system over a three+ day period, including one with snow during an April time slot when we had no guests. They did electric and custom plumbing, knew exactly what they were doing, were very professional and clean. We housed the crew in our lodge rooms, giving them added incentive to complete it quickly, since that was their hot water for showers. 

This was a retrofit to our existing house, so they had to accommodate the existing space and power constraints. The system uses evacuated tube design, the above mentioned 120 gallon tank with extra insulation, a three level electric backup system and outputs to a thermal mixing valve to deliver 125 F water to the house so we don’t burn our guests. When you’re evaluating merchants, remember both sides of the design spectrum – efficiently getting energy from the sun AND not getting too much.  

Even though Great Solar Works! was the most expensive quote, we chose his design for two primary reasons: (1) the evacuated tubes are more efficient at collecting the solar heat and (2) his was the only design that dealt effectively with excess heat by positive action. By that I mean the system has an extra temperature controlled diverter valve and a small “exhaust” heat exchanger on the roof. When it reaches the high limit mark because your tank is up to temperature, the diverter valve sends the fluid through this outside heat exchanger instead of your hot water tank, dumping the energy back into the atmosphere. 

The other vendors just claimed theirs wouldn’t overheat without giving a justification. Think about that when you go on vacation in July and nobody is using hot water. Do you want to have to turn it off and drain the system? 

Conclusion: we are very happy with the system and the experience with Great Solar Works!. The extra cost was well worth the money. You can contact us through the Sundance Bear website if you’d like any more details. And I predict that for the first month, you’ll do like I did – checking it several times a day to see if it is really working – trust me, it was and still is. 

By the way, when the city inspected the completed installation, they commented that this was one of the best they had seen. Thank you, Dana 
— Bob and Sue
Since we live at 10,400 feet ASL, this has allowed us to live comfortably, efficiently and completely off the grid as far as all our energy needs are concerned. 

Pursuant to your request, this letter is to recommend your services as a solar engineer/installer based on the $180,000 + work you have performed on this ranch over the last six years. 

Said work included the installation of 2 solar-tracking PV panels, an 8,000 lb. battery bank, a 3-cylinder Cummings back-up generator, glycol panels to supply a radiant floor-heating system, solar domestic hot water system, and lightning protection.
— Robert Tebbe, Jr
I would recommend Great Solar Works! to everyone.

I have been receiving the services and Dana Orzel and his skilled team for about three years.

I have been treated with respect with excellent levels of quality in a variety of complex installations as follows:

1. Photovoltaic Grid Tied Syst. (72 Evergreen Solar 180W Modules 13 KW)
2. Rooftop Solar Thermal Syst. (6 Apricus 30 Tube Collectors (3) 120 Gallon Tanks 900 K BTU Day) This provided domestic water, in floor, roof melt and pool heating backup.
3. Water Rx System
4. Radant Foil

The team consistently accomplished these tasks correctly the first time with freedom from breakdowns after installation. As complicated and high tech as these systems are I find that rather astonishing. This is a rare example of getting what you pay for, understanding that this is an exception to what I receive from contractors in our SW Colo. region in other areas in terms of a cost benefit analysis.

These installations have had to withstand the tough mountain conditions on our 115 acre working horse ranch at 7800 feet where 24 to 65 inch snowfalls occur. Power outages of 4 days have been sustained. (See location at and click on Bar Bay Ranch at the bottom of that page for photos)

Please see Dana for photos of our projects. I would recommend Great Solar Works! to anyone 
—  Todd Barbey