Q: How much money will a solar hot water system save me?
A: As people (not houses) use hot water, a family of four will save about $65 to $75 per month with a properly sized and installed solar hot water system, based on average use and $0.15 per kilowatt-hour electric rate. As heating water is an energy-intensive task, this may account for up to 30% of the total household energy consumption.
Q: With a solar hot water system, will I have to shower with cold water on cloudy days?
A: No. Solar hot water systems have a back-up heating source to ensure you are never without hot water, rain or shine.
Q: Is solar expensive?
A: Well, that's a complicated question. Solar, in terms of sunshine, is not expensive at all; in fact, it's free! Solar, in terms of "thermal" for heating water for domestic use or for pools, is very inexpensive. Heating water with sunshine is relatively basic in concept and uses mainly plumbing equipment, so the cost is very reasonable, especially when considering how much energy is offset and the lifespan of the system. This is why solar hot water has the "biggest bang for the buck." Solar, in terms of photovoltaic (PV or solar electric) is more expensive than solar thermal as it uses advanced semiconductors to convert sunlight into electricity. In addition, PV systems usually involve more panels, inverters, mounting systems, electrical parts and highly skilled labor to properly install, which adds costs. In short, solar hot water and pool heating are not expensive. Comparatively, PV can be relatively expensive, especially without financial incentives and/or low electricity rates. But don't forget, sunshine (a source of fuel) has been and will always be free. Most solar power systems have a design life of 25 to 30 years. Another cost usually not mentioned is the cost to the environment. Using solar offsets the burning of fossil fuels with significantly reduced all forms of pollution, but is difficult to place a "cost" to society in terms of air and water pollution.
Q: Aren't panels on my roof at risk during a hurricane?
A: Solar panels must be fastened to meet strict wind codes in Florida. As they are on the roof, they are less susceptible to damage from blowing debris. In some cases after a hurricane, the solar panels and roof below survived better than the non-solar areas. The mounting system can actually reinforce the roof because the roof sheathing is now anchored with lag screws into the roof trusses, making it stronger.
Q: I'm concerned about the need to put holes in my roof to mount panels. Is this a potential risk for leaks?
A: In order to positively mount the panels to the roof, fasteners are necessary. In many cases all or nearly all of any roof fasteners or penetrations can be flashed to ensure a leak-proof installation for decades. By hiring a licensed and credentialed solar professional like A1A Solar, you can be certain that your installation will be leak-free. In the case of standing-seam metal roofs and flat roofs, there are mounting systems that use compression hardware or ballast-type mounting systems that don't require any holes to be drilled.
Q: Will a PV system be able to run my air conditioner?
A: Today's PV system are tied into the main service panel and provide power to the "whole house" rather than just one appliance. This is much more efficient because if the AC is not running, the solar power dedicated to it would be wasted.
Q: Will a PV system make my meter spin backwards?
A: It depends. If the PV system is generating more power that the building is consuming, then YES, is will spin backwards proportional to the amount of power being fed back into the grid. If the building's electrical load is more that the PV power output, then NO, the meter will not spin backwards, but it will be slowed down proportionally to the power output.
Q: Will having solar panels ensure I have power if the utility company has a power failure?
A: Not necessarily. Grid-interconnected (or "grid-tied") PV systems with no batteries or generator are designed to shut down if the utility power goes out. This is a safety requirement by law to ensure the PV doesn't back-feed the utility lines and put utility workers at risk. If the PV is designed with batteries and/or a generator, then back-up power will be available in the case where utility power goes out.
Q: Do all PV systems require batteries?
A: No. In fact, well over 95% of PV systems installed do not utilize batteries. Where utility power is available and reliable, adding batteries adds significant costs for limited benefits. Where utility power is not available, battery systems are used to store energy until the next day. It should be noted that PV systems can be installed in conjunction with automatic back-up generators to have the best of both worlds.
Q: Why should I consider heating my pool with solar?
A: As home owners have made an investment to enjoy the benefits of owning a pool, cold pool water limits these benefits. Having a solar pool heater can double your swim season, allowing you to enjoy your pool more each year.
Q: Is a solar pool heater expensive to operate?
A: No. Unlike gas heaters and electric heat pumps that consume huge amounts of energy, solar pool heaters use sunshine. As a solar pool heater works with your existing pool pump, there is no additional operating cost.
Q: How do I get a price for a solar power system?
A: Making a solar purchase is much different than buying a refrigerator. Because each system must be sized for the demand and as every house and building is different, multiple factors go into pricing a system. By having A1A Solar conduct a solar site survey with energy analysis, you can be confident in having a properly designed and installed system to provide you free energy for decades to come. Call 904-468-SUN1 or email A1A Solar to schedule a consultation today.