Call me, of course! Seriously though, it is so vital that you contract with a reputable company. I went out today on a service call in Port Charlotte from a customer of a former competitor who closed up shop. It’s a common call. We replaced an inverter under warranty. The manufacturer recommended my based on my previous work for them. These situations are a great opportunity to learn how the competition does things. Unfortunately, I’m often put in a position where I am obligated to tell the system owner that there are deficiencies in the system. Most issues are related to code compliance. Among otherRead More →

At the moment this post goes out, I am beginning the 6-1/2 hour examination (the second of two required tests) that will earn me my solar contractor license. My employer already has two Florida State Certified Solar Contractors on staff. I will be the third. Why am I pursuing a solar contractor license if my company does not need it? Really I am doing it for my personal satisfaction and to add another credentialed name to my employer’s list of stellar employees. We endeavor every day to prove that we are THE BEST solar company in Southwest Florida. We can say that we have theRead More →

So many people ask how much it costs to run a solar pool heater. The answer is zero! It costs nothing to operate a solar pool heating system other than the cost of pumping water, which you already do! You do not need a new or additional pump. Your existing pump is normally just fine. Solar pool heating panels heat water from your pool by circulating water using your existing pump and pool plumbing. We install a “solar loop” that brings water up to the roof from your pump and back down to your pool return jets. Since you need to circulate and filter yourRead More →

Today was an exciting day at Naples Botanical Garden. Fafco Solar started installing the photovoltaic modules on the roof in a phase that is expected to take about three days. The guys were “treated” to a light breeze to cool things down despite the sunny weather. It’s still hard work and very hot up there… I’m very impressed with these SolarWorld SW245 Monocystalline modules. These have the Version 2.0 frame at just 31mm thick for a sleek appearance. The new glass coating is gorgeous! This job is a great opportunity to cross-train employees who are normally assigned to Solar Pool Heat installation or the serviceRead More →

With Hurricane Irene approaching Florida, we are naturally getting lots of questions about hurricane preparedness for solar panels. Here are a few tips: Solar Electric: If utility power fails, your inverter(s) will cease to produce power and your system will shut down automatically. For an added layer of safety you may wish to shut your system off manually by turning off the main photovoltaic disconnect switch(es). This switch should be near you utility meter. If not, a sign near the meter should show its location. If your system was installed in the last few years, it is likely installed per Florida Building Code 2007, whichRead More →

Do solar panels need to be cleaned? Here are some tips: Solar Pool Heating Panels Solar pool heating panels do not need to be cleaned. Rain does the work for you. They operate efficiently even if there is a little dust on them. The one thing that you should look out for is leaves, pine needles, and branches. These can build up above the top header and occasionally under the panels. There is really no impact on performance or longevity of the panels, but decaying plant matter could discolor your roof or cause some algae or mold growth. If you are comfortable on the roof,Read More →

The SW Florida Affordable Housing Choice Foundation had the foresight to ask for solar water heating systems on three local apartment renovation projects. My employer was awarded the jobs, and I can’t wait to get started on the roof! Solar panels will heat water and supplement an electric water heater in individual apartment units. The largest installations will include 40 solar panels on a single building serving 20 apartments. Each system will have an Integrated Circulation Module (ICM) that senses when hot water is available on the roof, and circulates it to heat the tank. The ICM operates with a small photovoltaic panel to powerRead More →

The FGCU Naples Botanical Garden Photovoltaic System installation is progressing well ahead of schedule. Decent weather has allowed this exciting solar installation to progress through the mounting system and microinverter installation in under one week! Solar modules will begin to be installed on Monday, and this 40+ kilowatt solar array should be substantially complete by the end of next week. I can’t say enough about the guys on the roof. They are working in extremely hot and humid conditions on a very reflective roof, but they want to impress the owner (FGCU), facility operators, and prime contractor (Manhattan-Kraft Construction). Of course, there was lots ofRead More →

Microinverters are becoming more and more popular. The monitoring capabilities are awesome. The warranty is amazing. These little guys sit under a solar photovoltaic module and convert DC energy to AC energy right on the roof. I have been specifying the new M215 model, and the feedback from the installers in the field and from customers is great. I was taking a look at a system recently using the web monitoring, and it is blowing away expectations. Long term study will be needed, but this Sanibel Island 5kW Photovoltaic array has exceeded average annual estimates by over 10%, and this site has some real shadingRead More →

Some people have a strange love affair with their electric tank water heater. It’s true. When you tell people that you want to replace their water heater when you add a solar water heating system, they get a little misty-eyed, or even a bit angry. That’s okay – we can get you solar water heating and not throw your baby out with the bath water (pun intended)! Most traditional tank water heaters we see in Florida are pretty small – 40-60 gallons. This is different than our friends up north for a few reasons. We don’t need to store lots of hot water because theRead More →

NOTE: Information on this page may be obsolete. Many hanges in incentive programs have occurred since 2011. What incentives are there for solar energy in SW Florida? Here are a few: Save the planet Reduce your electric bill Stick it to the utility company Give something lasting to your kids or grandchildren Impress your neighbors These are all legitimate reasons to install a solar energy product, but probably not what you were hoping to read here. No worries – I know what you want. MONEY! There have been a lot of misconceptions about solar incentives, especially in Florida where we had a virtually scandalous failureRead More →

I’ve said before that solar thermal technology like solar water heating and solar pool heating is the simplest form of solar energy. I take that back. What I meant to say is that solar lighting is the simplest solar energy product on the market today. Every morning, even if it’s a little cloudy, the sun comes “up” and we have light for the entire day. Whether it is hot or cold, cloudy or clear, we get sunlight every day. Even better than a traditional skylight is a solar tubular skylight. This product places a small dome on your roof, a reflective tube through your attic,Read More →

NOTE: The economics of solar water heating have changed since this article. Solar Water Heating is Dead is an article that has more up to date information. Solar water heating is by far the most efficient way to use solar energy in most homes. It always strikes me as strange that more systems are not installed in Southwest Florida. In some places like Hawaii, solar water heating is mandated for new residential construction. While I don’t think we have to go so far as to mandate installation through legislative means, it just makes great financial sense and it is common sense. Why are so manyRead More →

For those of you that know me well, you know that I’ve been consumed with a very exciting project recently. The Naples Botanical Garden, a Florida Gulf Coast University facility, is getting a substantial solar electric system installed starting next week. My employer was selected to install the system, and I am the Project Manager. The system will be capable of producing 35kW of rated AC power using 164 solar modules made in the USA by SolarWorld and 164 Enphase Microinverters. We will be attaching the modules to the standing seam metal roof using S-5! clamps that result in no mounting penetrations to the roofRead More →

Welcome to my blog. My name is Jason Szumlanski. My employer sells and install just about everything solar. My work here has included some of the most exciting and interesting professional experiences that I have encountered. Anyway, I’m not here to talk about my work. I’m here to talk about what I love about my work. I get to meet interesting people each day, from the customer who knows nothing about solar, to the building inspector who thinks they know everything about solar, to the suppliers and manufacturers who actually do know most everything about solar. Southwest Florida is a great place to study, practice,Read More →