What Are Solar Photovoltaic (PV) Systems?


Solar Electric Photovoltaic Systems

Solar photovoltaic systems refer to a wide variety of solar electric systems.  They use solar panels made of silicon to convert sunlight into electricity. This electricity is typically added to your regular source of electricity (your utility company). 

The use of solar energy can reduce your reliance on other forms of energy to any degree you choose.  For some, a battery backup will allow power by solar without a grid tie. This type of application is especially useful where utilities aren’t available. Where utility power is available, it is often most economical to purchase a grid tie system.

Need More Information About Solar Photovoltaic Systems?  
Contact Fafco Solar or Call 239-574-1500.

Why Should I Consider A Photovoltaic System?

Photovoltaics (PV) is an important energy technology for many reasons:

  • As a solar energy technology - it has numerous environmental and a financial/benefits.
  • As a domestic source of electricity - it contributes to the nation's energy security.
  • As a relatively young, high‐tech industry - it helps to create jobs and strengthen the economy.
  • As it costs increasingly less to produce and use - it becomes more affordable and

And there are many more reasons to do it now, not the least of which are all the incentives currently available.

Need More Information About A Photovoltaic System?  
Contact Fafco Solar or Call 239-574-1500.

How Much Does A Photovoltaic System Cost?

Figuring out how much a particular PV system will cost is a complicated process.  There are many variables.  The overall cost depends on a number of different factors: 

  • Size and Type of Installation
  • Solar Panel and Inverter Manufacturer
  • Roof Type and Mounting Method
  • Existing Electrical System
  • Engineering, Permitting, and Logistics

Other factors include solar rebates, grants, subsidies and other government incentives, which can significantly lower the overall price tag.  At Fafco Solar in SW Florida we are fortunate that our panel manufacturer and state and federal incentives cut our system prices dramatically.

Need More Information About How Much A Photovoltaic System Cost?  
Contact Fafco Solar or Call 239-574-1500.

What Is The Break-Even Point For A Solar Energy System?

There is no single right answer, but many systems pay for themselves between 5 and 15 years.  Much depends on the overall cost of the system, which is a product of the type and size of the installation and the incentives available. 

Furthermore, the break-even point is influenced by the price of electricity:  if your utility charges 12 cents per kilowatt-hour (all else held constant), your break-even point would come sooner than if you were only being charged five cents per kilowatt-hour.  This is because in the first case you'd be saving more money in monthly electricity charges:  each kilowatt-hour produced by your PV system would save you 12 cents, as opposed to five.

Need More Information About A Solar Energy System?  
Contact Fafco Solar or Call 239-574-1500.

What Kind Of Financing Is Available To Purchase A Solar System?

There are several different kinds.  More and more, companies and banks are working together to provide hassle-free loans to consumers interested in purchasing solar power systems.  We are fortunate to offer interest free financing and can help our clients to work with equity loans. 

Need More Information On Available Financing To Purchase Solar System? 
Contact Fafco Solar or Call 239-574-1500.

What Is The Estimated Energy Payback Period For Photovoltaic Systems?

"Energy payback" refers to the relationship between the amount of energy a solar panel produces and the amount of energy that went into its manufacture.  On average, the time it takes for a PV system to create the same amount of energy that went into its manufacture is anywhere from two to five years. 

Because well-made PV systems will operate for two decades or more, they generate far more energy than the amount that goes into making them.

Need More Information About The Photovoltaic Systems? 
Contact Fafco Solar or Call 239-574-1500.

How Do I Choose The Right Solar System Size?

The best way to figure this out is to discuss your particular needs with a photovoltaic professional and have him or her do a solar-power consultation.  Many factors can contribute to your decision.  What are your expectations?  Do you use other energy saving methods in your home?  What can your roof and budget accommodate?

Need More Information About The Right Solar System Size? 
Contact Fafco Solar or Call 239-574-1500.

Will My Solar Electric System Work When Utility Power Is Out?

In Southwest Florida we are prone to hurricanes and storms that result in power outages. It is natural to want a backup to utility electric power, and common for people to assume that a solar electric system will provide backup during outages. There are generally two types of solar electric systems: grid-tied and off-grid. There are also hybrid systems. Hybrid systems allow you to have backup power during outages by using specialized inverter/chargers and a battery bank.

Grid-tied or grid-interactive systems connect to the utility power grid and do not provide backup during power outages. Your solar panels provide electricity to your home during the day with excess energy sold back to the utility company. Conversely, excess usage is purchased from the utility company. The benefit of a grid-tie system is that it uses a relatively low cost inverter, there is no costly battery bank required, and there is virtually no maintenance. A grid-tie system is also the most efficient use of the energy from your solar panels. The vast majority of solar energy systems sold today are grid-tied systems, which provide the best "bang for your buck."

Off-grid systems use a battery bank charged with solar power and an inverter to produce A/C power. There is no connection to the utility company. In this type of system, you are limited to the amount of solar energy your solar panels produce and how much storage capacity exists in your battery bank. These systems require a costly battery bank and limit you significantly to the amount of energy you can consume. The battery bank requires periodic maintenance and replacement.

A hybrid system uses a combination inverter/charger that can both charge batteries using your solar panels and sell excess electricity back to the utility company. This type of system provides maximum flexibility, and can even include a generator for even more reliability/redundancy (however, we do not promote fossil fuel burning generators). The greatest disadvantage is cost. The system components are significantly more expensive and complex. The battery bank requires periodic maintenance and replacement.

In conclusion, we often tell our customers to ask themselves how often they are really without utility power. A grid-tied solar electric system is what most people ultimately decide upon after weighing the alternatives.

Need More Information About Utility Backup Systems? 
Contact Fafco Solar or Call 239-574-1500.

Can I Use A Backup Generator With My Solar Electric System?

While Fafco Solar does not promote the use of fossil fuel burning generators, we realize that it is often a cost effective and desirable solution to utility power outages, particularly during hurricane season. If your home has an existing whole house or critical load generator with a transfer switch (manual or automatic), we can install a grid-tied solar electric system without any problem. The solar electric system will supplement utility power and sell excess power back to the utility company. When an outage occurs, your generator will supply power to your home and the solar energy system will shut down to prevent injury to utility employees who are working to restore power to your neighborhood.

Need More Information About Solar Electric Systems? 
Contact Fafco Solar or Call 239-574-1500.

How Much Will A Solar Energy System Add To The Value Of My Home?

The rule of thumb is that a solar electric system will add $20 to your home resale value for every $1 of electricity saved annually by solar energy (source: National Appraisal Institute). This depends on the size of your system, the tilt and orientation, your cost of utility electricity, and other factors. Fafco Solar's sales professionals can advise you on how much a solar energy system can save you on annual electricity costs and how much a system may add to the value of your home.

Since electricity costs are expected to increase in the future, the value of your solar energy system will become greater, making a solar electric system the smartest investment you can make in your home. When you are ready to sell, home buyers will be thrilled that you made a good choice to hedge against higher energy costs.

Additionally, a solar electric system can set your home apart in a down real estate market, leading to more viewings and fewer days on the market. There is no question that income generating solar panels will be attractive to prospective buyers.

Need More Information About How to Increase the Value of Your Home? 
Contact Fafco Solar or Call 239-574-1500.

How Long Does A Solar Photovoltaic System Last?

A quality PV system will last well over 20 years.  The PV modules - the actual panels that sit in the sun everyday - can last 30 to 40 years! We use panels that feature an industry leading 25-year performance warranty. Inverters may require replacement during the systems life time, and typically have a 5 to 10-year warranty. We now offer SolarEdge Optimizers that are warrantied for 25 years! Additionally, we offer Enphase Microinverters that are warranted for 15 years with advance replacement. Enphase also tested their inverters to have a mean time before failure (MTBF) of 119 years.

We use all aluminum anodized rack components and stainless steel fasteners.

In other words, a photovoltaic system is a long-term investment that will reliably provide energy savings for many years.

Need More Information About A Solar Photovoltaic System? 
Contact Fafco Solar or Call 239-574-1500.

How Much Renewable Electricity Does A PV System Generate?

The larger the area of PV panels, the more electricity is generated.  A typical residential 5 kilowatt system, for example, may produce about 10,000 kilowatt-hours a year.  Over a 25-year lifespan, this comes out to be 250,000 kilowatt-hours. 

Many factors are involved in determining your PV system output. The weather, temperature, shading, tilt, orientation, and other factors can affect the performance of your system. We are able to use well established averages to advise you about system performance. Your system output will vary over time, sometimes significantly outperforming the averages and sometimes falling short. Because a grid-tied system is connected to two power sources (the utility company and the solar electric system) you will always have all of the power you need.

Need More Information About Renewable Electricity? 
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Will The Solar Panel Roof Top Attachment Affect The Life Span Of The Roof?

The greatest care is taken when securing the modules to the roof.  Different methods are used depending on the type of roof and roof attributes. 

A system of railings and mounting hardware are used to assure that all Miami Dade wind codes are met. In fact, Fafco Solar uses an additional rail mount in addition to the code requirements. These rails are ultimately attached to the roof trusses and increase the overall strength of the roof structure. The roof penetrations are as sound as the roof itself.

Need More Information About Solar Panel Roof Top Attachments? 
Contact Fafco Solar or Call 239-574-1500.

Is Solar Panel Roof Mounting The Only Way?

Ground racks can be built to accommodate a PV system provided there is adequate land space facing the appropriate direction.

Need More Information About Solar Panel Roof Mounting? 
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Can I Have Solar Refrigeration?

A photovoltaic system is most often tied into the main distribution panel of the entire house.  Most times, electricity is generated and excess (power not used at this moment) is “sold” back to the utility.  Today's Energy Star rated refrigerators are relatively efficient. Powering a refrigerator using a traditional grid-tied solar energy system is the best option, because refrigerators require power at night when the sun is not shining. Whether you have a solar energy system installed or not, investments in efficient appliances are always a good idea.

Technology available today for directly solar powered refrigeration does not provide the convenience and efficiency required for the typical home. Batteries would be required to power a refrigerator when the sun is not shining.

Need More Information About Solar Refrigeration? 
Contact Fafco Solar or Call 239-574-1500.