Solar Power, Panels for your Home - FAQ's | SUNBELT SOLAR ENERGY

FAQ's

With low solar installation costs and  the federal tax credit there has never been a better time to purchase solar electric in the Sunshine State. The typical cost of a 5kW system is about $30,000. The 30% federal tax credit would be approxmiately $9,000. Payments on the remaining balance can be as low as $185.00 per month.  This allows your family to use clean renewable energy far into the future. Of course, larger systems are available and our solar consultants can assist you in calculating the cost of a larger system . For more detailed information please see Solar Cost & Savings.

Sunbelt Solar Energy is a division of Sunbelt Electric, Inc. (Lic. No. 13002085). We specialize in solar electric products. Most solar companies specialize in hot water heating simply using the heat from the sun to warm water and have only recently become involved with electricity. Because of our extensive electrical background and our knowledge of the National Electrical Code and electrical safety standards and practices, there isn’t a job we can’t handle for you. This is one reason why we were chosen to install the first, and currently largest, photovoltaic solar electric system for a utility (FP&L) here in Florida’s Sarasota County (see Photo Gallery/Rothenbach Park). We are also the Premier Dealer for SunPower Corp., the most powerful solar electric modules on the planet, for the Southwest Florida area.

The simple truth is that how much energy you can produce from a solar electric system installed by Sunbelt Solar Energy is dependant only upon the space you have available and the amount you are willing to invest.

As the sun’s rays shower the next generation silicon cells of our photovoltaic panels these cells release small amounts of electricity. This process is known as the photoelectric effect. This effect refers to the emission, or ejection, of electrons from the surface of a metal in response to light. Sunlight is made up of photons, or particles of solar energy. Photons contain various amounts of energy, corresponding to the different wavelengths of the solar spectrum. When photons strike a PV cell, they may be reflected or absorbed, or they may pass right through. Only the absorbed photons generate electricity. When this happens, the energy of the photon is transferred to an electron in an atom of the PV cell (which is actually a semiconductor).With its newfound energy, the electron escapes from its normal position in an atom of the semiconductor material and becomes part of the current in an electrical circuit. By leaving its position, the electron causes a hole to form. Special electrical properties of the PV cell—a built-in electric field—provide the voltage needed to drive the current through an external load (such as a light bulb).

Once the sun’s rays have been converted to electricity, that electricity is sent to a piece of equipment called an inverter. The inverter basically changes the DC (direct current) voltage produced by the photovoltaic panels into AC (alternating current) voltage. The inverter channels this AC voltage into your existing electrical system for distribution throughout your home or office. So, all you have to do is…nothing. See How Solar Works to get a better idea of the inverter’s part in the solar electric system.

Any energy you produce during daylight hours which is above and beyond your current usage (residential or commercial) is sent back to the power company who provides credits to you for this unused power. Generally, you will use these credits up in the evening hours when there is no sunlight to provide electricity from your solar electric system. You can think of the power company as a bank for your extra electricity with debits and credits from your solar electric system as needed.

Each power company has its own documentation (Application and Agreement) which it requires you to complete, and sign, in order to connect your solar electric system to its power grid. This documentation is also the agreement between you and the power that they will provide you with credit for the energy you send them. Sunbelt Solar Energy will locate this paperwork, from your power company, and then assist you with the completion and filing of this paperwork at the end of your installation.

As of January 1, 2009, the federal tax credit for solar electric installation amounts to 30% of the installed cost of your solar electric system and has no cap to the amount of the credit. This credit is applied for by you or your accountant filing the Residential Energy Efficient Property Credit (last year’s form 5695; the IRS should be releasing the revised form for the 2009 tax year before year end).

Although complete systems which include battery backup can allow you to operate completely free from the power grid, to qualify for the state rebate, a solar electric system must be grid-tied, or connected to the power company’s power grid. This will allow excess energy produced by your solar electric system to be sent back to the power company and thereby credited to your account with them.

With SunPower’s all black appearance you can be assured of the most aesthetically pleasing configuration possible for your roof or ground. Please see our Photo Gallery for various installations and configurations of solar electric panels to get an idea of how the system might look in your application.

When the time comes to replace the roof of your home just call us. We will uninstall the solar electric system and work with your roofer through the reinstallation.

Most SunPower installations come with Smart Monitoring, an online performance monitor account. After system installation you may register for an account. Logged into your account you can view your power production in days, weeks, months etc. In addition, most installations also have a handy wireless wall-mount display which allows you to monitor the performance of your system at any time without being logged into your online account. Please see Live System Monitor for an example of Smart Monitoring.

By design, the typical solar electric system will cease providing power to your electrical system in the event of a power outage. This acts as a safety feature against any electricity being sent back to the power company’s grid during an outage. Such ‘energizing’ of the power lines during an outage could potentially be harmful to any utility worker attempting to restore power to those lines. However, with the proper electrical equipment and battery backup system any solar electric system can be turned into a backup generation source for your home or office.

Yes. There are several factors to consider in deciding how much battery backup power you need, such as how much of your home or office you would like to power, and for how long. Our solar consultants would be happy to assist you in calculating system size and cost for a solar electric system with battery backup.

Although we strongly recommend working with your Home Owner’s Association and submitting your plans to them, Florida Statutes protect your right to install renewable energy to the most productive part of your roof. For more information go to H.O.A. & FL Statutes.

Our panels are designed to withstand hail up to 1” in diameter and are engineered to meet some of the toughest wind load codes in the country. The design of your solar electric system will be engineered to the specifications of your local county or municipality up to 130 MPH and will be inspected by the local governing authority to that specification.

SunPower provides a 25 year manufacturer’s warranty on the photovoltaic solar electric panels and a 10 year warranty on their inverter. For more detailed information see All Solar is NOT the Same.

Photovoltaic solar electric has come a long way over the last century. A solar electric system installed by Sunbelt Solar Energy is designed to continue to provide you with electricity for the next 30 plus years making this one of the best investments you can make.

Photovoltaic solar electric systems are essentially hands off. Set them and forget them. However, depending on the environment around your home, occasionally it may be necessary to clean them off like a window. We typically recommend cleaning them off once each year. If your application is in an area subject to excessive leaves, pollen or other environmental debris it may be better to clean them off a little more frequently to maintain maximum translucency.

From the signing of the contract to the final inspection by your county or municipality it may take 4-6 weeks depending on the requirements of your local governing authority.

Yes. The panels can be installed on almost any type of roofing material. The most common panels, of course are shingle, ceramic tile (flat and barrel) and metal (V Crimp and Standing Seam). However, we have experience installing solar electric systems on metal tile roofing systems and Nordman Tile ™ Roofing Systems. We can also install our solar electric systems on most flat residential and commercial roofs including TPO and modified roofing materials.

In Florida, generally, the answer is no. The system has to be installed to meet the required wind loading of the local governing authority (your county or municipality). Generally, mobile homes can not supply a secure enough attachment to meet the requirements of the local governing authority. However, we can do a ground mount installation if your application will allow it and feed the electricity produced back to your mobile home.