What is a solar electric or photovoltaic system?
Photovoltaic (PV) systems convert sunlight directly into electricity.
Unlike solar thermal systems for heating water, PV does not use the sun's heat
to make electricity. Instead electrons freed by the interaction of
sunlight with semiconductor materials in PV cells are captured in an electric
Your house or business remains connected to the electric utility at all times, so any power
needed above what the solar system can produce is simply drawn from the utility.
PV systems can also include battery backup or uninterruptible power supply
(UPS) capability to operate selected circuits in the house or business for hours or
days during a utility outage.
PV systems allow you to produce electricity without noise or air pollution
from a clean, renewable resource. A PV system never runs out of fuel, and
it won't increase US oil imports. A PV system connected or "tied" to the utility grid has these
- One or more PV modules which are connected to to an inverter
- The inverter, which converts the system's direct-current (DC) electricity
to alternating current (AC)
- Batteries (optional) to provide energy storage or backup power
How long will the PV system last?
PV modules last a long time, they come with a 25 year power output
warranty and are expected to last at least twice that long.
How strong are the panels?
The panels are UL certified and tested to withstand hurricane force winds.
What is the maintenance on my PV system?
Because the system has no moving parts they are virtually maintenance free.
Basically you need only keep the panels clean. Most of the time rain will
do the job for you.
How do I know if my system is producing what it is supposed to?
When estimating what your system will produce we take a conservative approach
based on test results from the National Renewable Energy Laboratory (NREL).
Your inverter will have a LCD display that will provide you with a readout of
the actual energy output.
Do I need batteries to store the electricity?
Almost all solar systems are what is called "grid-tied", which means that your
system is connected to the electrical grid, so no batteries are required.
You pull electricity from the grid when you are not producing (at night), and
you feed energy back to the grid for credit instead of storing it in batteries.
What is net metering?
Net metering measures the difference between the electricity you buy from your
utility and the electricity you produce with your solar energy system.
Under net metering, any excess electricity produced spins your existing meter
backwards, effectively storing the electricity until it is needed. Your
meter keeps track of this "net" difference as you generate electricity and take
electricity from the utility grid
When the power goes out, will I still be powered?
No. When the power goes out, grid-tied systems go out too. The
reason is that it's not safe to be pushing electricity back out onto the wires
while workers may be trying to fix the problem. In the event of a power
outage your system will automatically shut down. To maintain power during
an outage you will need battery-backed solar system.
What is the effect of rain and fog?
In fog or rain your system will still produce about 25-30% of normal.
A steady rain is great for cleaning the panels.
What happens when I need to make a roof repair?
The PV panels can be easily removed and reinstalled. If the roof is a tar
and gravel design, it may be possible to simply tilt the panels up and make the
How will it effect the value of my property?
Your solar system will increase the value of your property by about $20 for
every $1 of yearly energy cost saved. Florida, however, will not increase
the assessed value of the property and the solar system is exempt from sales