Frequently Asked Questions

What is a solar photovoltaic system?
Is a solar system the best first step for reducing my power costs or my impact on the environment?
What size system should I choose?
What financial incentives are available to me?
Is my location suitable?
What about Florida?
Will the system produce electricity during a power outage?
Will the utility buy back excess electricity?
Can I install a photovoltaic system myself?
Should I replace my roof before installing a solar photovoltaic system?
How much maintenance does a solar photovoltaic system require?
When shopping for a house or building a new one, what should I look for to make sure it will be suitable for a solar photovoltaic system?
What happens when I sell my house?
How much carbon emission will the system eliminate?
What areas of Florida does Greenheart serve?
How can I obtain a free estimate?

What is a solar photovoltaic system?

A solar photovoltaic (PV) system converts sunlight into electricity. The solar cell was developed approximately half a century ago and is in common use worldwide. A solar module combines multiple cells into a rigid rectangular frame approximately the size of a dinner table. Multiple solar modules are linked together to form an array, and are mounted on a roof, wall, a pole or other structure. An electrical interface delivers electric power to the house’s load center (the electrical panel containing breakers). This inverter converts DC (Direct Current) power to AC (Alternating Current) and delivers it to the house’s load center.

The most common system, the Grid-Tie system, has no batteries and typically no moving parts at all. And for solar panels, a 20- to 25-year manufacturer’s warranty is standard.

Is a solar system the best first step for reducing my power costs or my impact on the environment?

In most cases, a key first step is to find ways to reduce energy demand by improving efficiency. Improving efficiency means enjoying the same comfort or lifestyle benefits while using less energy. This typically involves adding insulation, switching to more efficient light sources and appliances, and so on.

Click here to learn more.

What size system should I choose?

It is generally not useful to produce more energy than your annual demand since the utility company typically clears any negative balance after 12 months.

Other factors to consider include:

What financial incentives are available to me?

The Federal government allows a tax credit of 30% of the value of the system (a $2,000 cap was eliminated on 1/1/2009).

For an estimate on payback (the number of years it would take for your system to pay for itself), please call or e-mail kelly@greenheartsolar.com

Links

Florida Energy and Climate Commission incentive (Expired June 30, 2010)

Local Florida incentives

Federal tax credit

Is my location suitable?

The best location for a photovoltaic (PV) system is a south-facing roof surface (southwest or southeast is also acceptable) with a medium pitch and absence of shade.

What about Florida?

You mean the Sunshine State? Although the dry desert conditions of the Southwestern states provide more raw sun energy (insolation), Florida has very good conditions.

Please call or email us with your questions, as a thorough site survey will consider other factors, and there are possible solutions if your site does not meet all of the requirements listed above.

Will the system produce electricity during a power outage?

You have a choice.

Without batteries or a connection to the grid, the output of a PV system would fluctuate with passing clouds and the time of day. The most popular PV systems have no batteries. Instead, these Grid-Tie systems use the utility grid as a giant, maintenance-free battery! This type of system remains off during a power outage. This is also done to protect any utility crews working on neighborhood lines. At an extra cost, batteries and other equipment can be added, producing a system with Off-Grid capability.

Will the utility buy back excess electricity?

Yes, up to a point. When demand within the residence is low, the PV system automatically directs excess power to the grid. The utility “buys” back this power (1). Utilities do not write the homeowner a check at the end of the month in case of a negative balance, but they do carry this balance from month to month. However, they generally erase any accumulated negative balance after 12 months. Therefore, it is not currently useful to size a system to exceed the average yearly energy consumption of the residence.

(1) Florida has passed a Net Metering law, which forces utilities to purchase excess electricity from homeowners at the same rate as the rate at which they sell it. This took effect on 1/1/2009.

Can I install a photovoltaic system myself?

Florida incentives are conditional on installation being performed by a certified contractor. A key reason behind this is that the installer supplies the following expertise and services:

Should I replace my roof before installing a solar photovoltaic system?

The solar panels can be expected to last in excess of 20 years. A significant part of the cost of a solar photovoltaic system is the installation cost. Therefore, it is best to install them on a roof that is relatively new and in good condition.

How much maintenance does a solar photovoltaic system require?

Grid-Tie systems have no batteries and require very little maintenance. To maintain peak performance, simply rinse dust and pollen off the panels as necessary.

When shopping for a house or building a new one, what should I look for to make sure it will be suitable for a solar photovoltaic system?

The best location for a PV system is a south-facing roof surface (southwest or southeast is also acceptable) with a medium pitch and free from shade.

In any case, do call or email us with your questions. A thorough site survey will consider other factors, and there are possible solutions if your site does not meet all of the requirements listed above.

Click here to learn more about some of our client installations.

What happens when I sell my house?

Potential buyers increasingly consider a home’s energy bill before making a decision. A house with a PV system can command a higher price, or sell more quickly, or both.

How much carbon emission will the system eliminate?

When getting its electricity from a coal-fired power plant, a typical house with a $150 average monthly utility bill is responsible for emitting approximately 26,000 pounds (13 tons) of CO2 and other greenhouse gases in the atmosphere per year (1).

(1) Based on a retail electricity cost of $0.11/kWh and data from the Energy Information Administration (click here to learn more), assuming electricity production from coal.

What areas of Florida does Greenheart serve?

Greenheart Solar will provide engineering, design, sales, installation and service for our PV systems anywhere in the state of Florida. However, our solar electric company is based in the East Lake community of Palm Harbor, located in Pinellas County on the West Coast of Florida. Palm Harbor is situated near the towns of Tarpon Springs, Dunedin, Safety Harbor, and New Port Richey. We are minutes from Clearwater, Tampa and St. Petersburg in the Tampa Bay area. And we have easy access to the Orlando area.

How can I obtain a free estimate?

Just call us at 727-365-2756 or email us and we can arrange an appointment at your home or business where you wish to have the solar electric system installed. Or we can work with you to gather information on your site and your goals for energy production. Then we’ll provide a recommendation and estimate on the best system to meet your needs and your budget.