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Here Comes the Sun as solar dispute settled

Article about us and our customers printed in the Canton Observer

By Darrell Clem
Observer Staff Writer
The Observer & Eccentric Newspapers Sunday March 07, 2010 Volume 35 #73

A Canton man who installed solar energy panels on his roof has started producing hot water and reducing his family’s utility costs after settling a lawsuit he filed against a homeowners association that initially sought to block his efforts.

“I’m making my own domestic hot water,” a proud Dan Hall said, standing inside his home on Crowndale Lane, near Beck and Cherry Hill roads in Canton’s Pheasant View subdivision.

Hall, a civil engineer, has eased his criticism of homeowners association officials after they agreed he could install three solar collector panels on his roof and harness the sun’s energy to produce hot water and, eventually, to help heat his home and backyard swimming pool.

Hall hopes his 14 month legal battle against the Pheasant View Homeowners Association and its architectural review committee will send a message to others who may face similar hurdles as they try to save money and energy while becoming more environmentally conscious.

“My experience and the hurdles I had to overcome should set a precedent for people in all these subdivisions to follow,” he said.

Hall spent $5,000 on solar-energy materials, worked with Canton-based Mechanical Energy Systems Inc. to design his system and then built it himself. Long-term saving aside, he expects to recoup the money he spent on the system within three years.

“I call him my solar pioneer,” said Donna Napolitano, who owns Mechanical Energy
System Inc. with husband Joe. She said Hall’s effort to save money and energy “makes much sense.”

Hall said projects like his can even help homeowners qualify for federal tax credits. Pheasant View officials have previously said their intent wasn’t meant to be mean spirited but rather to uphold the rules of governing what residents can do to the exterior of their homes. They couldn’t be reached Friday, but they have previously said the goal was to follow the spirit of the association’s covenants and restrictions.

Hall, saying he and the homeowners group have agreed to an out-of-court settlement, stood outside of his home Thursday and pointed out three flat panel solar panels, 8 feet by 4 feet, that he says look more like side by side skylights than a neighborhood eyesore.

Hall and his wife Michelle’s youngest of the three sons, 11 year-old Hunter, said he is proud of his father’s solar energy system. “It really actually is pretty cool because the sun has so much energy,” Hunter, a Dodson Elementary School 5th grader, said. “It’s really cool with all the ‘green’ stuff that’s going on.

Hall’s solar energy project is complex yet simple. A mechanical system in the basement pumps a mixture of water and antifreeze through pipes to the roof-mounted solar collector panels. The panels then use the sun’s energy to heat the mixture and return it to the basement, where the mechanical system ultimately heats up the hot water tank and produces hot water for showers, dish-washing and other household activities.

“It was all theory until I built it and it actually worked,” Hall said. “When I got it working, I was really happy because it had become such an albatross.”

Now that his legal dispute has been resolved and he is producing his own hot water, Hall seemed more at peace than he did when he was battling the homeowners association. He said he simply wanted to save energy and cut expenses.

“I just wanted to do the right thing,” he said.


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