With the news of Hurricane Irma’s uncertain effects to our area here in SWFL, we have received a lot of questions regarding how to prepare solar panels just in case of impact. Here are a few tips:
Solar Electric: A hurricane may cause utility power to fail. If this happens, your inverter(s) will cease to produce power and the system will automatically shut down (unless you have a backup battery installed). You may wish, as an added layer of protection, to shut down your system manually. This can be done by turning off the main photovoltaic disconnect switch(es) located near your utility meter (If not there, a sign near the meter should tell you it’s location). After the storm passes, it is very important to not handle ANY damaged solar electric modules as they may be high in DC voltage which is extremely dangerous. They should be treated like live utility wires. Contact us for an inspection if you observe any storm damage to your equipment.
Solar Pool Heating: In the event of a hurricane, it is wise to turn your pool pump off manually. To be sure, switch the pool equipment circuit breaker into the off position. You may have a breaker located at the pool pump itself or a breaker for the pool equipment in your main circuit panel. Turning off all sources of power is usually the safest and best option. Should you choose to not turn off the power to your pump, make sure that first your solar pool heating system is turned off and then isolated to stop any water flow to the panels mounted on your roof. Turning the isolation valves off manually so that water is not being pumped up to your roof is highly recommended.
This picture is of a typical solar pool heating manifold. The valves pictured here are open. With these style of handles, in order to close the valves, you want the handles to follow the pipe. The third valve pictured here is called a diverter valve and should be in the off position prior to isolating the solar pool heating system. If you have a controller, set the solar to “manual off”. Consult your manual or contact us for further assistance.
Note: Your valves may be a different style with red handles. Red handled ball valves are closed when perpendicular to the pipe and open when parallel to the pipe.
All Solar Products: Solar products that we install are covered by most homeowner’s insurance policies. If you have storm damage to any solar products, notify your insurance company, first, then call us immediately to receive a free repair or replacement quotation. Your solar investment should be treated like any other part of your home. Insurance companies may not be qualified to assess the cost to repair your solar energy products, so it is very important that you contact us to assess any damage. Having been in SWFL for over 40 years, we are very experienced in handling storm damage repairs and replacements.
Most importantly, keep yourself safe and protected. If you have any questions, please feel free to contact us 239-574-1500
Tesla's Powerwall is going to change the way you think about your power, forever.
It is being considered the key to personal energy independence.
It's a wall-mounted, lithium ion battery, that has inherited Tesla's already proven automotive battery technology which will power you home safely and economically.
It is completely automated, installs very easily, and requires little to no maintenance!
It has the capacity to store 6.4 kWh which is sufficient to power most homes at night using the energy generated from the solar panels during the day!
Better yet is that is comes with a 10 year warranty!
Right now the only way to purchase one is to either own a Tesla or be a customer of SolarCity, however we are anxiously awaiting our opportunity to become a distributor and installer of this product!
Stay tuned for our first Tesla Powerwall installation happening in 2016!
Congratulations to all those who went out and voted yesterday! With an amazing 73% of the votes we were able to get Amendment 4 passed!
This means that the cost to go solar will be lower due to the property tax exemption provided to those who install solar panels on their home, but this is just half the battle!
Now it is time to spread awareness and kNOwledge about Amendment 1 in NOvember.
There are two parts to this amendment and they are meant to confuse you.
The first part is a ploy to make you feel that this amendment is in support of solar energy when in all actuality it is just repeating what is already law.
It is the second part of this amendment that has the solar energy industry and its supporters ready to battle!
This second part (which is receiving 75% of its financial support from the utility companies telling us all who it will benefit most) provides government assurance that those who decide not to produce solar energy will not have to subsidize solar energy production costs.
This issue stems from something we have discussed here quite a few times- net metering.
Net-metering is a sore spot for the utilities because it requires that the power companies purchase any surplus electricity that is generated by residential solar systems at market rates.
While net-metering hurts the electrical companies, it provides a quicker recovery on the initial investment in solar by the purchaser.
The utilities allege that net-metering leads to an indirect tax placed on homeowners who do not produce solar, but what it really does is instantly creates competition to the big utilities from hundreds of thousands of private energy producers selling their solar power!
Let's show the utilities that we are not that easily confused and vote NO on Amendment 1 in NOvember!
We've all heard of Elon Musk, our very own Tony Stark, but have you heard of his newest plan? How would you feel about turning your entire roof solar? After merging his two companies, SolarCity and Tesla, he announced that his master plan is to release a solar roof. Now let me clarify here, this is not a roof that has solar panels on it with the normal asphalt shingle roof underneath it, but a roof that is actually made up of solar panels! This could potentially open up an entirely new market allowing for the sale of a solar roof instead of just the panels that go on top of it. The possibilities are endless here! Gone would be the days of being limited to the amount of panels that you can install at your home due to the available space on your roof! It's a very interesting concept, one we are very intrigued to learn more about! Leave us a comment below to tell us what you think about it, and if you think this is something you would be interested in!
We're very happy to announce we've been awarded a contract to install a 54kW solar electric (photovoltaic) system at the Lee County Public Safety Building.
It's at no cost to taxpayers!
Our Solar Operations and Project Manager, says:
"The Lee County Board of County Commissioners has accessed Federal grant money to help reduce operating costs at the Lee County Public Safety Building.”
Not only will this put our local skilled solar technicians to work right here in Lee County, but it will continue to pay dividends to the county for decades. It will also decrease the County’s dependence on fossil fuels by tapping into the most abundant renewable energy source in the Sunshine State.
In addition, it is a flexible system that allows for future expansion.
Fafco Solar’s Sales Manager says, “We are proud to be invited to work with Lee County Officials that recognize the positive financial, as well as, environmental advantages of renewable energy."
Some use the terms power and energy interchangeably...
However, these terms represent very different, but related concepts.
Power is the rate at which energy is consumed, expressed in watts or kilowatts.
Energy is the amount of power consumed, expressed in watt-hours or kilowatt-hours (kWh).
To understand energy use, and consequently our utility bills, we must factor in the amount of power devices and appliances use and how long we use them.
Let’s look at the example of a typical light fixture outside your front door with a 60 watt light bulb. Sixty watts is the amount of power the lamp consumes, or the rate at which the lamp uses energy. If you run a 60 watt light bulb from dusk to dawn for 12 hours, you will consume 720 watt-hours of energy (or 0.72 kilowatt-hours).
In Southwest Florida we currently pay around 10 cents per kilowatt-hour, so that light bulb would cost 7.2 cents per night, or $26.28 annually.
If you look at your utility bill, you will see that you are charged for the number of kilowatt-hours (KWH) that you consume.
This is the amount of energy consumed between meter readings. To reduce the energy you use, you must either reduce the amount of power you use, or the amount of time you use that power (or both!)
Energy = Power x Time
Going back to our light bulb example, you could install a light bulb that uses less power, or you could reduce the number of hours it runs. Both courses of action would reduce the energy used and save you money. Here are three different ideas to save energy and money.
1) Replace the bulb with a 13W compact fluorescent with equivalent light output (reduce power).
Energy Saved: 0.56 kilowatt hours daily, or $20.58 saved annually
2) Put the light on a timer and run for just 6 hours nightly (reduce time).
Energy saved: 0.36 kilowatt hours daily, or $13.14 saved annuall
3) Do both of the above (reduce power and time).
Energy Saved: 0.64 kilowatt hours daily, or $23.43 saved annually
While power and energy are intimately connected, they are not the same.
Understanding the difference can help you save money!
In my next article, I will take this concept one step further and explain why you should think twice when trying to be “energy efficient.”
While offshore oil and gas drilling is the slowest, dirtiest, most hazardous and expensive way to produce energy - investing in clean energy would create four times as many jobs as investing the same amount of money in oil.
We need energy efficiency coupled with new, advanced, sophisticated, clean renewable energy technologies such as solar energy.
What we can do is thank Florida Senators Mel Martinez and Bill Nelson for their continued strong opposition to drilling and spilling oil on America’s best beaches, drilling that would ruin our state’s number one economic resource: our beach sand.
People in other states can help by getting their Senators to take Florida drilling out of the Senate’s energy bill.
Renewable energy technology works extremely well in an iPad world!
As renewable and solar energy continue to gain global awareness one of the most common questions people have is:
"How Do I Power My Home From the Sun?"
The answer is with a Solar Electric Photovoltaic System.
Solar Electric Photovoltaic Systems, sometimes referred to as PV Systems, have many benefits:
- Reduce your electric bill.
- Take advantage of tax benefits and rebates.
- Help our country become less dependent on fossil fuels.
- And - Watch your meter spin backward (we never get tired of this!)
Have you ever thought about how much electricity you use, and possibly reducing your usage?
Think about this:
- The Wii Videogame System uses 18 Watts when in use, and 3 Watts when it's in sleep mode.
- A typical desktop computer with a 17" LCD (Flat-Panel) Monitor uses about 200 Watts.
- A 42" Plasma TV uses 270 Watts.
- A central air conditioner (2.5 tons) uses 3500 Watts.
- A clothes dryer uses 4400 Watts.
- Turning off, or putting your Desktop computer to sleep - rather than leaving it on all of the time, can save over $100/year.
- Switching from 100 Watt Light Bulbs to the equivalent fluorescents can save you over $200/year.
- Going solar can save hundreds per year as well! Be sure to check out all of our solar products.
If you're really interested in learning how much energy you use, you can measure it with this $20 device:
It's called the Kill A Watt Electricity Usage Monitor, and it will not only calculate your electrical use, but empower you to save hundreds on your electric bills!
Here's to saving energy and enjoying life,
Nationwide, electricity rates have increased an average of 4.4% per year over the past 35 years, twice that rate in some parts of the country.
At the local level, Florida Power & Light (FPL) is asking for a $1.3 billion annual increase in base rates, which amounts to about $12.40 per month for the first 1,000-kilowatt hours used.
FPL dubiously notes that declining fuel costs will more than offset that increase for its customers. Regulators will vote on the increase in the beginning of 2010. As you probably know, the Lee County Electric Cooperative (LCEC) is not an energy producer and their goal is to buy all of their power from FPL within the next couple of years. This means rising prices at FPL will be passed onto LCEC and its customers.
One way to offset the inevitable rise in the cost of electricity is to become a small-scale energy producer at your home and/or business. Incorporating solar hot water and solar electricity (or PV) technologies into residential and commercial buildings can significantly offset the rising price of fossil fuels. As you move towards less reliance on nonrenewable energy from the large utility corporations, you´ll gain some independence from the utility companies, reduce your monthly bills, and minimize the impact our energy use has on the environment.
The first step is to apply the basic principles of conservation and efficiency to all of your energy choices. Then consider your energy appetite and needs, your site, and the resources available to you. A solar thermal system to heat hot water for the home, business, and/or pool can reduce about a third of your electric bill. Photovoltaics or solar electric will generate free electricity for decades and allow you to send power back to the grid. Think through your renewable energy choices carefully, speak with a solar professional, and evaluate how you can become a small-scale energy producer as there are numerous options.
You will immediately start saving money with solar technologies because the energy from the sun is free so rates will never increase!
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