Florida- AKA "The Sunshine State"
We have an incredible resource right at our fingertips. The sad truth is that we aren't utilizing it like we should be.
Florida is considered to have the 3rd best solar producing potential in the US. That means we should be a leader in using solar energy as an alternative energy source. Instead, we rank 12th in solar production. While other states are placing regulations that require energy providers to increase solar power by 2% a year for 10 years, Florida just sits on the sidelines getting passed by. Total energy provided by solar on Florida is an astoundingly low 0.38%. That's a shame.
The solar industry is actually a benefit to energy companies to a certain extent. If everyone has solar power, their profits plunge. However, if just, let's say, 20% of energy is provided by solar, the energy companies may be able to run with less turbines or less plants and thus be saving money in that regard.
I've heard some complaints regarding the fact that even with solar you still have to be connected to the grid and still have to pay the fees associated with that. This is true. I can say that even with the large system I have on my home, it will not power my house in the peak of summer with a/c blasting. If I wasn't connected, I wouldn't be able to power my home.
I've also heard some complaints about the fact that even if the sun is out, if the power is out in your area, you will be out too. There is a reason for this. There is a safety feature that won't allow the unit to put energy back into the grid so that a lineman can't be injured while working on a power line. You can purchase a battery backup where the power produced goes the backup and then powers the house.
I've heard some suggestions about requiring new buildings and parking structures to have solar panels. After learning more about solar from our solar installer, I understand why this isn't a practical solution. Not every building is prime for solar panels. The panels work best at a certain angle to the ground and facing a certain direction. You could put a $30,000 system on a house that is surrounded by trees that provide constant shading which would produce a small fraction of what it could in optimal conditions and could be a waste of money. It's not practical to have a blanket policy on solar like that.
So let's talk about the nitty gritty of solar on your home...
There are numerous solar installers in the area. Most of them provide financing options so that you don't have to pay all the money up front. In this case, you can be paying the solar company or the loan on the solar panels instead of the energy company. Depending on how much the energy companies raise their rates each year and how effective your system is, your system could start saving you money 5 or 6 years in.
As I drive around, I have noticed more and more homes getting solar panels. That's fantastic to see. I think there are still a lot of people with reservations about functionality, durability, and potential damage. When the installers were taking a break from putting the panels on our roof, we had a number of neighbors come over and ask them questions. To highlight a few...
- What if the roof needs replacing?
- Answer: the solar company comes in, removes the panels, the roofers install the new roof, the solar installers reinstall the panels.
- Will they blow off in a hurricane?
- Answer: the panels are rated to withstand about 140mph winds (depending on the particular manufacturer). That's a category 4 hurricane.
- What type of energy bill reduction can I expect?
- Answer: it depends on your system and your house. Our usage in summer was about 70kw/ day, our system has produced up to 60kw/ day depending on the weather/ cloud coverage. As we get more sun hours in summer, that number is likely to increase.
- Did the HOA have any issues with it?
- Answer: HOA cannot deny solar install per Florida statutes
Solar energy is an incredible power source that our legislators need to be encouraging. I hope I've helped to explain a little bit about why this a direction we should be pushing Florida to.