Solar Southwest Florida - Solar Energy and Solar Panel Information for Fort Myers, Naples, Cape Coral, and Port Charlotte Areas

Solar Southwest Florida

Solar Energy and Solar Panel Information for Fort Myers, Naples, Cape Coral, and Port Charlotte Areas

The best looking solar pool heaters are not just about the panels. The plumbing is a key component that can easily be botched. This is a masterful job.

The best looking solar pool heaters are not just about the panels. The plumbing is a key component that can easily be botched. This is a masterful job.

While all of our installers do great work, I can often tell which installer did a job by the plumbing. Sometimes it’s the valve manifold at the pool equipment pad and sometimes it’s the roof work. While he likely trained the person doing the actual work on the roof, I’d call this a “Danny job,” recently installed in Cape Coral, FL.

Because two lengths of solar pool heating panel were combined in this system, it required that a “common high” be installed. This entails making sure that the water leaving the shorter panels reaches the common high point in the system, which equalizes pressure and keeps the flow rate uniform among panel sizes. We use a “zee” plumbing technique to tie two solar panel lengths together.

Also of note are the two 45º fittings at the upper right. This bend could have been accomplished with a single 90º fitting, but using the two 45’s follows the hip line and avoids the 90 sticking out over the hip. You might think this is obvious, but believe me — I’ve seen some pretty embarrassing plumbing jobs done by others. The two 45’s also reduce pressure loss slightly, maximizing flow rate.

Since we are often maximizing the amount of solar pool heating coverage on a roof, we bump up against hips often, making masterful plumbing techniques an important skill for solar pool heating installers. Tile roofs present even greater challenges with hip caps that protrude from the roof plane. In this case we need to perform a “hump jump,” which is one of the hardest plumbing techniques to learn, using at least 9 fittings to get the feed and return lines around corners properly.



Solar Pool Heat on Complex Roofs

Posted by On March 29, 2012

There are lots of Spanish tile roofs in Southwest Florida. There are lots of hip roofs and broken up roof surfaces, too. These present some challenges, but as this picture shows, pretty much anything is possible.

With three different panel lengths in two banks of panels, there is complex plumbing, but it gets the job done – the pool is warm!

Solar Pool Heat Complex Roof

A Bonita Springs home with BIPV

A Bonita Springs, FL home with BIPV

Building Integrated Photovoltaics (BIPV) describes solar panels that are integrated with a roof. The solar panels replace roofing tiles, and create a seamless appearance with the roof, other than the color, which is typically dark blue or black.

The benefit of BIPV is the appearance. That’s generally where the benefits end. The downsides are numerous:

  • In most cases, it’s more expensive to integrate BIPV, even though the solar panels replace roof tiles.
  • The energy produced is about one-fourth what is attainable using traditional solar modules (crystalline-silicon) in the given area.
  • The return on investment is typically far lower.
  • The 2010 Florida Building Code that goes into effect 3/15/12 places increased requirements on BIPV products, which may significantly increase the cost of a BIPV installation.
  • BIPV installation requires special training that your average solar installer may not possess.

If your primary consideration is aesthetics and you prefer the look of BIPV, you might be a candidate for this technology. Hopefully the technology will advance to the point that it is economically competitive. For now, I do not recommend or sell the product, and I am not aware of any major local solar installer that does.


Solar Water Heating (SDHW) on Small Roofs

Posted by On January 28, 2012
Fafco Revolution SDHW

Fafco Revolution Solar Water Heating System with 48 square feet collector area (3 panels @ 2'x8')

In Southwest Florida’s upscale communities, you find homes with lots of small, broken up, hip roof surfaces. Roof layouts can be very challenging for solar energy systems, especially because we are targeting the south facing roofs to maximize performance.

Solar water heating systems come in various sizes, but are all generally rectangular in shape. The Fafco Revolution system is flexible, offering 2′ wide panels in lengths of 8′ and 12′. On almost any roof we can find a suitable location for a solar water heating (SDHW) system.

Some roofs are simply not suitable for larger solar pool heating panels, but can accommodate solar water heating or solar photovoltaic systems. While installation can be more challenging on smaller roofs, it’s absolutely possible to “go solar” no matter how your roof is constructed. All I need is your address, and I can look at aerial imagery to determine what will fit!

Difficult Solar Roofs

Some complex hip roofs have limited options for solar energy products and present challenges to solar contractors.



Solar Pool Heat on Barrel Tile Roofs

Posted by On October 5, 2011

Mediterranean style roofing is very popular in Naples, Bonita Springs, Southwest Cape Coral, and other areas throughout Southwest Florida.

Solar Pool Heating Systems can easily be mounted on barrel tile roofs, sometimes known as Spanish tile or clay tile. Methods depend on the type of panel being installed.

Fafco’s flagship product, the Revolution, is mounted on aluminum rails. Aluminum is first secured to the roof, then the strap tie-downs are mounted to the aluminum.

The procedure is the same for flat tiles and is generally the same for all profiles of rounded tile roofs. This installation method provides a secure and long lasting solar pool heat system on a barrel tile roof!