As pools get warm and solar pool heating season winds down, electricity use in the home increases from air conditioning and solar electric systems in Fort Myers, FL become a popular topic in the homes of our clients.
Solar electricity offsets the utility electric usage in a home or business to which it is connected. The panels connect into the same electric panel as your circuit breakers, and you get seamless power from both sources simultaneously. When you need a little extra, the utility grid delivers. When you are producing more power than you need, the excess gets delivered to your neighbors and sold to them by the utility company, and you get full credit.
Solar electric panels come at a higher cost than their cousins that are so popular in Southwest Florida, solar pool heating panels. Pool panels are solar thermal technology that directly heat pool water in black panels. Solar electricity panels, known as photovoltaic modules, convert sunlight to electricity. Electronics convert that electricity into usable 120V/24V power compatible with your home’s existing electrical system. That means you can use it to power anything in your house, not just specific appliances.
One downside to these systems, known as grid-interactive or grid-interconnected systems, is that they only work when there is sunlight available. At night and during inclement weather, you will be drawing power from the utility grid. On the other hand, if you are producing more than you use during sunny weather, you get to “bank” the excess power for a rainy day — literally!
Grid-interactive systems rely on the utility grid to sync up. Since no batteries are involved, keeping the cost down, when utility power is lost the solar panels also cease to produce usable power. Battery technology to keep the lights on during outages is definitely possible, but very expensive and requires more maintenance and periodic replacement. We recommend that those people connected to the utility grid stay connected and use a traditional generator for backup power. If they insist on battery backup with solar power, we recommend carving out a very small subset of appliances and electrical needs. In the end, the cost of batteries is usually prohibitive.
That’s not to say that grid-interactive systems have shortfalls that keep people from installing them. The explosion in solar electric systems nationwide has occurred because the cost of solar electric systems has plummeted in the past 5 years or so, making them very reasonable investments for those with a long-term investment horizon and those who wish to hedge against higher utility rates and general inflation.
Most systems in Florida are purchased with cash or loans, and are owned by the homeowner. This is in stark contrast to the rest of the nation, which allows third-party ownership. Florida restricts third parties from owning a solar electric system and selling you the energy it produces. This monopolistic restriction exists due to an apathetic Florida legislature and hugely powerful utility lobby in Tallahassee (no pun intended). Despite limitations in financing options that other states enjoy like Power Purchase Agreement (PPAs), Florida home and business owners are flocking to solar energy, which makes obvious sense in the Sunshine State!
Solar electric systems in Florida can be found everywhere. If you are interested in having you home or business evaluated, we can provide a free 3D computer analysis. Based in Fort Myers, FL, we cover all areas in Southwest Florida from Sarasota to Marco Island.Learn More About Solar Electric Systems in Fort Myers