Note 1: Unless noted otherwise all reference to solar electric will be referring to simple utility interactive (grid-tied) systems using crystalline silicon modules. These systems account for the vast majority of installations. Please call me directly for information on thin-film modules, hybrid systems, bimodal systems, emergency backup systems and/ or off-grid systems.
Q – Why Solar Electric?
A – Many reasons are well known and obvious; Solar electric systems provide a clean, renewable local energy source that replaces dirty, nonrenewable and distant ones. Your solar system will use the sun’s energy which is unlimited, dependable and, best of all, free.
Some reasons are less obvious; It feels good! Getting an electric bill for the minimum monthly charge is very rewarding. So is being “part of the solution”. Perhaps best of all is knowing that for the next 30 or 40 years the electricity you produce will be free from the energy marketplace (always higher prices).
Q – Why Not Solar Electric?
A – While solar electric can have the biggest single impact and is necessary if you want a zero energy home, there may be other more cost effective things you could do first, like solar water heating, adding insulation, air-sealing, shading, passive solar, etc.
Q – When might Solar Electric jump up the cost effective list?
A – If and when your utility company offers an incentive program. These programs can often cut your cost by more than 50%! For more information on these exceptional rebate programs click on the following; GRU, Progress Energy and FPL. GRU also offers a Feed in Tariff (FIT) program which is an exceptional and safe investment even if you don’t consider the solar component. The problem with all of these programs is that they limit how many applications can get approved and funded.
The Progress Energy and FPL allotments were sold out within hours. Recently 5 out of 6 qualified FIT applicants were turned away. Consequently it is essential that you be fully prepared ahead of time. This preparation requires a competent an available contractor like myself to optimize your chances of getting in and to make sure that your paperwork is in order so that you won’t be disqualified if you do get in.
The other time you may want to do solar before everything else is when you need a new roof. That is a great time to install solar, and it may be your only shot at using an integrated solar roof like this one or these (thin film amorphous silicon).
Q – How long do solar panels last?
A – We don’t know how long they last because the earliest ones haven’t worn out yet. Panels built 40 years ago are still producing electricity at 80 percent of their original capacity. Today’s modules are of better quality than ever before. Module warranties don’t bother with life span. What they typically warrant is a percentage of the original electrical output for a length of time, typically 80% for 25 years. In the trade they are referred to as “rocks that make electricity”. So the answer to the question is; “They last a very, very, very long time”.
Q – How much does a solar electric system cost?
Q – How long does it take to reach payback?
A – (You will not read this on any other solar contractor’s website) If you purchase a residential system and were not lucky enough to get into a utility rebate program it will likely take 15 to 17 years to reach payback. “Payback” however is an unfortunate and incomplete term. It doesn’t take into account the fact that your system has equity value throughout it’s life. In financial terms it would be more appropriate to ask, “When will I be in the black?” You will be in the black when the money you’ve saved plus the current equity value of your system exceeds your initial cost. I estimate that to be 3 years (see the #’s page). After that you will be progressively deeper in the black and less out of pocket. If you don’t buy solar you will still pay that money to the utility company anyway and end up with nothing.
Q – What Happens When The Grid Goes Down?
A – Our discussion so far has been about simple utility interactive (grid-tied) systems which rely on the utility grid to be operational. If you are concerned about being without power when the utility grid goes down, the least expensive thing to do is to have a critical load sub-panel, a manualtransfer switch, and a heavy extension cord to a portable generator. At addition expense you can get some combination of more convenience, safety, durability, and length of time off the grid by using a bank of batteries kept charged by solar and / or a fixed position generator. Please call us for more information. We can help you on a path to solar that makes sense.
We offer complete photovoltaic system installations, with or without batteries (and generator). We can design a system using any combination of products and equipment that would best meet your particular needs. We have been working carefully in our client’s homes for over 20 years. We know how to do the job right and with as little disruption and inconvenience to you as possible. I am a NABCEP certified Solar PV Installer, a State Certified Solar Contractor (Lic # CVC 56825), have trained for Solar PV installation at the Florida Solar Energy Center (FSEC) as well as attended many hours of training given by an assortment of solar equipment manufacturers. I will personally be handling your project’s design, jobsite management, and quality control. I will be your point of contact throughout. Please call me with any questions or comments. Thank you.
Kurt Johnsen @ 352-222-9495
For some additional 3rd party information on solar electric (photovoltaics) check out the Florida Solar Energy Center (FSEC) website by clicking here.
Some of our Favorite Solar Products
Mage Solar Panels | Kyocera Solar Panels | SolarWorld Solar Panels
Sharp Solar Panels |
SMA inverters | Schneider and Outback bimodal and off-grid inverters
Enphase microinverters | SolarEdge power optimizers, inverters and monitoring
Ironridge Racking Systems | Unirac Racking Systems