The answer is – it doesn’t really matter – if you are using a Fafco Revolution 500 series Domestic Solar Water Heating System. These featherweight panels are just 8 pounds each empty, and 22 pounds filled. The additional dead load imposed on your roof is totally inconsequential. A traditional 40 square foot glass/copper solar collector system weighs over 180 pounds when filled! The pictured collector system is a 96 square foot Fafco Revolution system with four 2’x12′ solar panels, a photovoltaic panel for circulation, and an expansion tank. This low profile system is mounted on the roof and UV rated cross-linked polyethylene tubing (similar toRead More →

Now that the Chevy Volt and Nissan Leaf are showing up around Southwest Florida, I am starting to hear interest from people that want to offset their increase in electricity consumption with solar energy. In fact, we increased the size of one customer’s solar electric system recently in anticipation of his Chevy Volt purchase. That’s no surprise – an electric car does use a substantial amount of electricity instead of liquid fuels. For the Chevy Volt, each full charge gets you between 30 and 50 miles depending on driving style, and consumes 12.9 kilowatt-hours of electricity. That full charge equates to around $1.40 in utilityRead More →

New housing starts are picking up, and I am starting to get more requests to fit solar energy products onto new home plans. Typically this works great because we can make provisions during the construction stage to make the job easier and the installation better. However, it would be nice to get in on the “ground floor” and be consulted about the roof ahead of the construction start. Ideally I would get involved at the design stage and discuss requirements with the architect. Since the “solar guy” is not often consulted in advance, here are the top 10 requirements that make for a better solarRead More →

Many Southwest Florida residents subscribe to FPL’s demand shedding On Call Program. This program reduces your electric bill by providing credits for allowing the utility company to turn off certain appliances when utility demand exceeds production capacity. What happens if you have FPL’s On Call program and you install a solar energy system? The good news is that FPL still lets you participate in the program, even though you will likely use much less energy than the typical utility customer, and your demand may be less than the average utility customer. However, the program conditions state that you cannot receive more credit than 40% ofRead More →

Today, the winter solstice, is the shortest day of the year. That means your solar electric, solar pool heating, and solar water heating panels will have the least time in the sun today. It also means that your solar panels are probably not at an optimal tilt angle to capture the most radiation possible. Most solar power or water heating installations are geared to collecting the most energy over the whole year, so naturally there will be a best day and a worst day for solar. The good news is that this time of the year is generally cloud-free in Southwest Florida. Although days areRead More →

This is the time of year that I hear quite a few people saying that their solar pool heat is not working. In most cases, the system is working well, but they may not be comfortable swimming at the current pool temperature. The easy solution would be to ask them to turn off their solar pool heater and report back with the temperature after a few days. I bet it would be much colder! Generally speaking, an unheated pool will be approximately the same temperature as the Gulf of Mexico. The average historical Gulf temperature in Naples, FL in December is 68°F. Today, December 20,Read More →

Traveling around Fort Myers, I often find the questions about solar electric systems very basic. I created this graphic to demonstrate in a simple way how solar electricity works. Sometimes I forget that everyone doesn’t know this stuff! The basic premise with a utility-interactive solar electric system is that you purchase electricity from the utility company when you need it, and you send electricity back when you don’t. Whenever your home is using less electricity than the solar panels are producing, you send electricity back to the grid for your neighbors to use! Pin ItRead More →

Just like electrical power is allowed on a boat dock, you can install solar panels on a boat dock. The electrical power would be returned to the home using buried conduit and tied into your existing electrical distribution system. The main consideration is the structural engineering of the system. The key question is whether wind uplift from the solar panels will exceed the capability of the boat dock roof and underlying structure. Given that most boat docks in Southwest Florida are in the coastal region where the design wind speed for structures is relatively high at 130-150 mph. Modern covered boat docks are built toRead More →

A plumber recently came out to my home to fix a drain problem, and when I told him I was in the solar business he responded by saying that he “does not believe in solar.” He went on to say that he is developing a perpetual motion machine that works. His lawyer must be Johnnie Cochran, because he just beat the laws of physics! He didn’t successfully fix my plumbing issue, either. No surprise… The world is full of snake oil salesmen that claim to have the answers to all of our energy woes. There is the guy that is doubling his fuel mileage byRead More →