Solar Impact answers your most frequently asked questions about installing solar for your home or business.
The main component of a solar system, the solar modules, are typically warranted for 25 years but have a design life of over 40.
There are modules still operating today that were manufactured in the 1970's. The inverters are typically warranted for 10 years. It is not certain how long they may last beyond their warranty period. A conservative set of assumptions when considering the long term financial performance of your system is to figure the performance at 30 years with the replacement of the inverters at year 15. The inverters may represent roughly 5-10% of cost of the system depending on system size, configuration and system installation cost.
However, keep in mind that PV modules are seeing only six to eight hours of active use per day, so we may find that life spans of 60-80 years are normal. Cells that were put into the truly nasty environment of space in the late 1960s are still functioning well. The bottom line? We’re going to measure the life expectancy of PV modules in decades - how many, we don’t yet know.
Solar Impact provides a 5-year workmanship warranty, the inverter manufacturer has a 10-year warranty, and the modules carry a 25-year warranty.
Solar Impact, as a full-service solar installation company, will handle every aspect of the project for you, from the solar energy system design, filing of the permit paperwork, working with the utility company, the solar installation, and the final inspections. Solar Impact is proud to offer a comprehensive turn-key package to every customer to ensure that installing a solar power system is an easy, pleasant experience for you.
Because solar panels have no moving parts, they are virtually maintenance-free. Basically, you only need to keep your solar panels clean. We recommend cleaning them once or twice a year, after the pollen season has ended. All they require is water and a mop or rag. No high-pressure, or soap, or anything else. Solar Impact does not recommend cleaning them off when they’re hot, since uneven thermal shock could theoretically break the glass. Wash them in the morning or evening. If you do not have the ability or desire to get on your roof and clean your panels, we can recommend a local panel-cleaning business that we hire to clean our solar panels.
Yes, through "net metering" any excess electricity generated will spin your meter backwards, which has the effect of selling your excess power to the utility at a full retail rate. On a monthly basis, you pay only the "net" of what power you used. If you generate more power than you used in a month, your utility company will forward your excess solar energy credits to be used during the next month. This allows any excess energy generated in the summer to be used during the winter when there is less solar energy and usually higher energy usage.
As a solar power generator you are producing power from a renewable energy source -- the sun - which benefits the nation by reducing our reliance on non-renewable sources such as fossil fuels. State governments quantify those benefits in the form of Renewable Energy Certificates (REC)s with one megawatt hour of energy from a renewable source generator being worth one REC.
Currently in Florida, there is no Renewable Portfolio Standard but we believe that will change in the near future. The RECs are part of an incentive program enacted by many states, including New Jersey, Pennsylvania, Delaware, and Maryland, to encourage the development of renewable source energy suppliers. You can learn more about the Portfolio Standard and RECs in your state by clicking on the link to your state above and looking under "Rules, Regulations, and Policies". Under this program, each state enacted Renewable Portfolio Standards (RPS)s which set the minimum percentage of a utility company's power that must be produced from renewable sources. Because there is not enough renewable source suppliers from which the utility companies can buy power directly, they are allowed to buy RECs on the wholesale electricity market to make up the difference needed to satisfy state requirements.
Although there is a ready market for RECs, in reality it is difficult for small producers to sell their RECs outright on the open market because generation can't be registered in units less than 1 REC. Therefore, most small producers sell their RECs through aggregators who combine the kilowatts hours of many small producers and register and sell these as RECs for a commission on the wholesale market.
Most grid tied solar electric systems do not provide electrical power during electrical power outages. As a requirement of a grid tied inverter's safety listing, it must shut down in the event of grid power loss. Backup power systems can be designed into a grid tied solar system with the addition of a battery bank and a battery powered inverter. This option adds complexity and expense that should be weighed against the benefit of having backup power.
It will depend entirely on the size of the solar energy system and your "site efficiency." Site efficiency is a percentage that represents the amount of total annual sunlight your solar PV system can capture. It is determined by looking at how much shade affects your system, what angle the solar panels are mounted at, and what direction they are facing. It is impossible to know your site efficiency without visiting your site in person. To provide some kind of baseline, however, we can say a typical 5kW system (5,000 watts) will produce approximately 550-kilowatt hours per month. The average home in Gainesville, Florida uses about 1,000-kilowatt hours each month, so a 5kW system would reduce your monthly electricity bill by 55%. Our Florida homeowner customers typically want their solar system sized to cover 90-100% of their electricity bill.
It certainly costs energy to produce (and mount) a solar panel. Research has shown that after approximately 2 to 5 years the electricity produced by a solar panel equals the energy that was necessary to produce it. This is called the energy pay-back time. Normally, solar panels have a life of 25 years or more.
According to the Appraisal Institute's “The Appraisal Journal” of October 1998, the substitution of renewable energy systems for purchased utility services will raise the value of your property by a multiple of twenty times a dollar of avoided utility cost per year. In short, if your solar PV system produces $1,000 of electricity per year, your home's value increases by $20,000. To read the report go to http://www.ongrid.net/AppraisalJournalPVValue10.98.pdf
This means that your Florida home would increase in value immediately by about the total net cost of the solar system. If you plan to sell your home, the buyer will be able to afford a higher monthly mortgage payment because of the energy savings produced by solar PV system. In addition, realtors agree that in this challenging real estate environment, any feature that gives your home a competitive advantage over other homes will help your home sell faster.
Increase your home’s value: Nothing adds value to your home like solar. According to industry experts, your system will add $45,000 to $90,000 to the value of your house. Who wouldn’t want to buy a house that comes with a solar cash machine?
Take control of your power bill: After years of stable electricity prices, nobody knows what’s going to happen next. When you own a solar power system, you no longer need to worry about rising prices!
Protect the environment and our county: Your solar electric system will reduce greenhouse gases and our dependence on foreign fuels. You’ll feel good knowing that you’re making a difference.
Florida State Statute 163.04 clearly states that Flordia homeowner associations are expressly prohibited from disallowing a solar electric system to be installed. (Please ask us for a copy of the statute.)
Solar Impact is Gainesville's #1 solar company with over twice the solar electric designed installed as all other local solar companies combined! Solar Impact's $20 million of commercial, residential, and non-profit solar is enough to power 500 homes and has created over $1 million in local jobs. We service Gainesville, High Springs, Jonesville, Newberry, and Ocala Florida.
Solar Impact clients include McGurn Management Company, Mike Warren/AMJ, Inc. The Florida Museum of Natural History, UF East Campus, UF Hillel, UF Institute of Aging, UF SunSense Project, Alachua County Libraries, Alachua County School District, Oaks Veterinary Clinic, Gainesville Regional Airport, Millhopper Montessori School, Avera & Smith Law Firm, Dell Graham Law Firm, Pinnacle Point Apartments, NanoSonic, Gainesville Job Corps, and over 80 residential clients.
Our installation team is led by our project manager Richie Wilhoit. Richie is a 10 year Army veteran with a Master's Degree from UF in Building Construction. Find out more about the Solar Impact difference.
Solar shading issues are hard for us to determine without seeing your property in person. Typically, unless there are tall trees in the SE to SW window of your site's location, tree shading should not be significant enough to prevent you from exploring solar options. A rule of thumb is to have no shading at least from 10AM to 3PM. Since the sun is higher in the horizon during the summer, tree shading usually provides more obstacles during the winter than in the summer. Solar Impact can provide a complete site analysis to determine the exact shading and impact that any trees will have on your solar electric system.
Contact us today! By simply providing a recent utility bill, we can deliver a detailed report that shows how much you can reduce your monthly energy bill and what rebates and tax incentives you are eligible for by going solar. Call us today!
The best orientation for solar is SE to SW with South being the best. Southeast to Southwest orientations will result in only a slight annual energy reduction of 2% to 4%. We can even installs systems due West or East, but you can expect anywhere from 12% to 18% less production than a Southern orientation. If you have no shading issues, then adding a couple more solar modules to your system will compensate for these losses.
The optimum roof pitch or tilt angle is between 15° - 45°, with only 2% to 4% loss compared to the "perfect" pitch. Even a flat pitch roof will only result in about a 10% annual output reduction; however, we recommend to never have a flat solar array due to major soiling issues that will require unacceptable maintenance schedules and reduction of the solar energy system life.
Yes and no. Solar can be installed on all roof types, but there is a sliding scale of difficulty (and cost). Metal and shingle roofs are the easiest to install solar, while flat and clay tile roofs are more challenging. It is worth noting that we do not have to penetrate a Standing Seam Metal Roof, because our solar racking attaches directly to the metal seams of the roof.
Different roofing materials require different methodologies which can impact the installation costs of solar. We recommend never allowing amateurs or inexperienced contractors to penetrate a torchdown (membrane) or flat roof. Only experienced solar professionals should ever work with these difficult roofs.
If your roof will need to be replaced in the next ten years then we recommend that you replace it before having your solar PV system installed. Solar Impact is happy to provide recommendations for roofing contractors we have worked with and trust.
The recommended size of your system depends on your power consumption. If you want to completely offset your current electrical usage from the utility with a solar electric system, the first step is to review your annual energy consumption (which can be obtained from your utility bill). Solar Impact specifically looks for how many kilowatt-hours (kWh) you consume in a 12-month period.
It depends on your electrical usage and your service area. For example, a 5kW solar system in Gainesville, Florida would remove the majority of a $100.00 per month electrical bill for at least 25 years. Winter months are a little less and summer months a little bit more.
A 5kW Grid-tied system costs approximately $12,950 to install after the 26% Federal Investment Solar Tax Credit in 2020. If you were to purchase this solar power system as a business, you would also get a 5-year accelerated MARCS deprecation on top of the 26% Federal tax credit.
A solar electrical system protects you from future rate increases and allows you to “fix” your utility rates for the next 30+ years. Solar PV systems are designed to lower - or in many cases, eliminate - your monthly electric bill.
If you are a commercial farm, or a business located outside of the City of Gainesville or City of Ocala, Florida there are several grants we can apply for that provide a significant amount of funds to help you transition to solar.
This depends on a number of factors: (1) your current cost of electricity (2) the rate structure of your electrical service (3)the solar incentives available to you (4) and the cost of money on your solar investment.
When paying cash, a typical residential solar energy system may see a simple solar payback in 8-12 years. If you are financing the purchase of your solar system, you may see immediate positive cash flow, or you may initially see a slight negative impact on monthly cashflow when factoring the cost of the loan against the initial savings. As electrical rates increase, and with your loan payment staying fixed, you will eventually see positive cashflow, a break even point, and then a positive rate of return.
Financed systems typically either see immediate positive cashflow or will attain positive cashflow within three years or so.