Common Solar Questions w/ Answers
Depending on your energy goals, systems take between as little as 40 sq. ft. and up to 1,000 sq. ft. The average pool solar system on a south facing roof is around 300 sq. ft. A solar hot water panel only needs about 40 sq. ft, while a solar electric system can be anywhere from 200 -1,000 sq. ft. depending on the energy output desired.
While south is best, panels installed facing east or west can still provide a large amount of heating power or electric production for you. Certain solar systems can utilize tilting brackets to better orient the panel to the proper exposure. Our solar energy specialists are trained to determine the size system that best fits your needs. Call us today at 407-834-0664 to schedule a free solar evaluation.
Solar electric panels ideally are installed where they will get direct sunlight. Shading of any portion of the panels can reduce the ability of the system to properly perform. Our solar energy specialists will design your system to minimize performance issues and maximize output to ensure that you gain the greatest return on your investment.
Panels are most often mounted on rooftops, but other options do exist. Ground racks can be used in a yard and are viable alternatives if your house is shaded or if your roof has obstructions preventing solar usage. They are also used for large solar electric systems in which there is not enough roof space. Solar canopies are becoming a popular choice as well, commonly used as a semi-transparent cover for porches or as an alternative roof for car ports.
1. Contact us and set up a free on-site energy evaluation. This is a no-obligation assessment of your needs to determine what size system will work best with your home, needs, and budget. We can also determine if there are any other factors that could affect the performance of the system (such as shade, limited roof space, etc), as well as observe if there are any other energy efficiency projects recommended for the home.
2. Sign the contract and prepare your financing/payment. At this stage, you may need to complete a HOA application for architectural review if it is necessary per your community.
3. Final design on the system is completed and any applicable permits are obtained from the municipality/county/city.
4. The system is installed by one of our highly-trained technicians. We will paint any external pool heating system piping that runs along your wall (just leave a small canister of your exterior paint color by your pool equipment; our installers are trained to look for it). After the system is completed, we will conduct an in-person walk-through of the system so that you feel comfortable with the features. General instructions, warranty information, and a welcome packet will be given to you at this time.
5. If you have any questions or concerns after installation, please feel free to contact your energy specialist or the main office. We are always happy to help!
Every home or business is different and so is the amount of electricity you use, as there are many factors that make up your power consumption every month. The size and age of your home, energy efficiency of your major appliances, and your current electric bill are all taken into account when designing a solar electric system. Our team is specially trained to identify your site variables and design a system that best fits your needs and budget.
Net Metering is where you send power (kWh’s) that you are not immediately using back to the power grid, where it is credited to your account. In other words, you produce solar electric power during the day and immediately use it as you run appliances, turn on lights, etc. The surplus power goes to the power grid (and thus your utility company), where they credit your account the excess energy produced by your solar system. In turn, when you use their power during the night hours (or heavy usage times during the day where usage>production at that specific time), you use up some of those credits. This is rolled over month by month until the end of the year, where the utility pays you per kWh for any extra power generated that you didn’t need to use.
Example: Customer A is a (real) family of four that have an 8.8kW solar electric system for their 2,525 sq. ft., 2 story home. They have a mix of older and newer appliances and poor insulation. Three people stay at home all day throughout the week, increasing their electricity needs. In the late winter and spring months of the year, they produce more power than they use due to not running the A/C as frequently. Come the summer, the A/C is nearly always set for 72-75 degrees, so their electric needs go up and they start using the credits they’ve accumulated. A few months during the hottest months of the year, their energy needs surpass their credits and they have a slight power bill. When fall comes, the energy consumption drops and they equalize usage with power production. By early winter, they are once again using less than their production and gain credits. December 31st, the utility company cuts the customer a check for the excess kWh credits on their account.
During power outages, certain solar electric inverters will provide emergency backup power during the day, but you will not get credit for any excess not used immediately because the net metering will be down due to the utility outage, and you will not be able to gain any additional power if your energy needs exceed the system output. Nighttime would only have power if an optional battery backup system were installed. Net metering alone is generally recommended due to ability to draw extra power when needed, rareness of power outages, and the extra costs of battery backup systems.
If you think that your roof will need to be replaced within the next 5 years, it is generally a good idea to replace your roof before installing a solar system. Solar panels can be installed onto virtually any type of roofing material, so you are not limited in your choices. If you have an existing solar system, we can easily remove any solar system, allow your roofers to repair/replace your roof, and then re-install the system afterwards.
Most of our customers do not clean their panels. However, if your rooftop has an accumulation of vegetation or animal waste and a lack of rain, the performance of your system may be reduced. Clean panels of pine needles, leaves, or bird droppings by spraying them with a water hose in the early morning or evening hours (when panels aren’t as hot). If you feel uncomfortable with cleaning your panels or have an excess accumulation that needs professional attention, please schedule a service visit.
Florida solar systems are exempt from property taxes. In Florida, property appraisal offices do not increase the taxable value of the home, no matter the size/price of the system. So while the actual value of the home has increased, the taxable value does not.
Once a contract is signed, permitting will need to begin and the timeline depends on the municipality/county/city in which the permit is applied for. Usually solar pool heating and solar hot water heating is installed within 1-2 weeks, while solar electric typically takes 2-5 weeks for engineering and permitting. This is separate from HOA approvals that the homeowner may need to request prior to installation, although they can be concurrent to permitting applications. Residential systems take from half a day to 5 days to install, depending on system type and size. Most of the installation process occurs outside the home however, freeing the homeowner from needing to be home for a majority of the work.
The installation of a solar panel array will not make your insurance rates increase; however, it is recommended to make sure that you have solar coverage on the policy, as well as enough replacement coverage built into your policy to cover the whole house, including the value of the solar system(s). This is similar to making sure that you have enough coverage for items such as a new designer kitchen or premium wood floors.
No, it does not raise the risk of a lightning strike hitting your home.
HOA’s are governed by the State of Florida statutes. Included within the statutes is the Florida Solar Rights Law, which prevents HOA’s from denying solar systems (any type) from being installed in the location that best suits the system for energy and/or thermal heat production and cost (i.e. alters performance or increases cost). If an HOA is trying to make you re-locate your solar system, the new location would have to offer as much energy and/or thermal heat production as the original location, while not accruing any additional cost. If you feel you need assistance, please let your energy specialist know and they will be happy to help assist in obtaining HOA approval.
Example 1: HOA application requests a pool solar heating system to be placed on the homeowner’s south facing roof, which also faces the street. The HOA is mandating the solar system design be changed to the west roof in order to be approved. However, the west roof will not have direct sun for as long as the south roof, meaning that the system will need an additional panel to offset the lost production. The additional panel comes at an additional cost. Therefore, the HOA would NOT be able to request this relocation and would need to approve the original design.
Example 2: HOA application requests a solar hot water heater be placed on the homeowner’s west facing roof. The HOA mandates that the system be relocated to the east roof which happens to have tall trees nearby. The trees would partially shade the panel, reducing the thermal production. Thus, the HOA would not be able to request this relocation and would need to approve the original design.
Solar pool heating systems do not have any incentives at this time. Solar hot water systems can qualify for utility rebates (every utility is different), in addition to a Federal tax credit that is available for 30% of the solar purchase price (through Dec. 31, 2016). Solar electric systems and solar attic fans also qualify for the 30% Federal tax credit.
Squirrels and snakes are common in Florida. Excessive squirrel issues can usually be solved by placing fake snakes or owls near the system. Real snakes cannot access any portion of any type of solar heating or solar power system.
It is rare in Florida to experience low enough temperatures where freeze warnings become active, but it does occasionally happen. Solar pool heating systems are protected from freezing when precautions are taken with the pool equipment. It is recommended that pool pumps be scheduled to run constantly during freeze warning periods, in order to circulate pool water throughout the pipes, filtration system, pump and the solar panel system. The water is not stagnating and therefore should not freeze. Solar hot water systems are more at risk, but there are simple measures you can take to prevent your solar hot water system from becoming damaged. Direct open loop solar hot water systems can be drained down by the homeowner during periods of intense cold. By draining the roof panels of any lingering water, there is nothing outside the home to potentially freeze. Another option is the drainback solar hot water system, which is similar to the direct open loop systems, with the exception of a storage tank that is mounted above the hot water tank. When the water reaches a certain low temperature, it automatically drains the roof panel into the indoor storage tank, making this system freeze proof and therefore less maintenance than the direct open loop solar hot water system. However, we give detailed instructions on freeze prevention / maintenance when we install the system, so you will never be without the know-how of maintaining the system. The solar contractor will not need to service your solar hot water system every time there is a freeze.