The Broadway Apartments affordable housing project in Fort Myers is going solar, and panels are starting to be placed on the south facing roofs. Each of the 40 dwelling units will have a solar water heating system that will save water heating costs for the residents. Each system contains two Fafco Revolution 500 Series solar collectors totaling 48 square feet of collector area. Inside each apartment is an integrated control module that circulates a heat transfer fluid to the roof mounted collectors, heating the domestic water supply with a heat exchanger. Fafco Solar is on the roof this week and next installing the panels. TakeRead More →

Customers who sell energy back to Florida Power and Light are known as netmetering customers. The “netmeter” is a bidirectional meter that records energy in both directions to and from the utility. FPL has a special netmetering department. However, they do not publish a phone number for this department. If you want to speak to someone at FPL about your netmetered account, you need to leave a message for them to call back. They quote a three business day call back timeframe. In my experience, they call back about one out of three times. This kind of customer service is unacceptable. FPL is generally aRead More →

One nice feature of the Fafco Revolution 500 series Integrated Control Module is the ability to see the water temperature at the top of the water tank, the bottom of the tank, and on the roof at the solar collector. As long as the water temperature on the roof and the desired temperature is greater than the temperature at the bottom of the water tank, the Integrated Control Module will start the heat exchange pumps, heating the water in the tank. The upper tank sensor tells you the temperature that you can expect to get out of the tank if you open a faucet. ThisRead More →

Funny name… but a very serious feature of some solar pool heating systems! A “hump jump” in solar pool heat plumbing is when the PVC pipe goes over the roofing cap on a hip roof. The plumbing needs to “jump” over the “hump.” You may be asking why the two pipes take a different path over the hip. The reason is that the feed pipe (the lower pipe) needs to have a continuous downward path for the solar panels to drain properly when the system shuts down. If the hump jump were to follow the path of the return line, there would be a trapRead More →

A customer recently asked me if we were orienting his solar panels to true north or magnetic north. He and I are both private pilots, so I knew what he was asking about – magnetic declination. The true north pole (based on the axis upon which the earth spins) is not at the same location as the magnetic north pole. Solar panels generally produce the most energy when oriented to the south – true south. What makes my job easy is that true and magnetic north in Southwest Florida are pretty close. The current magnetic declination is about 5 degrees west (to further complicate things,Read More →

A variable speed pump lets you change the motor speed in revolutions per minute (RPM) to “dial in” an optimal speed for your pool. Using a flow meter, you can produce a flow rate to turn over your pool water the desired number of times per day to adequately filter your pool. The advantage of a variable speed pump is that it costs less to run than a single speed pump. You want to run your pool pump at the slowest speed possible to achieve the required results. Why? The amount of energy required versus the flow rate is not linear. Consider the energy usageRead More →

We’re working on a solar energy project in Alva, FL. The first thing my customer said when he saw his ground rack for the 11kW solar electric systems was, “Wow, it’s big!” I responded, “No, it’s powerful!” The truth is, ground racks for solar panels can be quite robust, especially in Southwest Florida where required design wind loads can be as high as 150 mph. This particular system is a Unirac U-LA (Large Array) design using 3 inch galvanized steel pipe and 3 inch square aluminum tubing for the main substructure. The solar panels will sit atop Unirac HD rails and will be bottom clampedRead More →

A solar pool heat controller will turn your solar pool heating system on or off automatically. Typically a controller does not control the operation of your pool pump*. What is controlled is whether pool water is directed through the solar panels or if the solar panels are bypassed. Determining whether the solar pool heating system should be on or off depends on a couple of factors: Is the temperature of the collectors on the roof warmer than the pool water? Is the desired temperature higher than the current pool temperature? To determine the above factors, the controller uses sensors. One sensor is located near theRead More →