Learn About Solar

What is photovoltaics (solar electric)?

Photovoltaics or “PV” provides electricity when specially formulated materials, most commonly silicon, produce an electric current when exposed to light.

Most people think of PV as a technology used by NASA for satellites or on small power products such as calculators and watches.While this is true, the PV industry has expanded markets and individual buildings also take advantage of this power source. A rooftop PV system reduces a building’s demand for electricity from the utility line. A PV system on an office building could be used to offset peak demand electricity use, such as mid-day in the summer when air conditioning is used.

Since PV systems have few moving parts, they require little maintenance. The components are designed to meet strict reliability and durability standards so that they can withstand the elements. Many PV panels have a life expectancy of thirty years or more! Although the initial cost for a PV system can be relatively high, by taking advantage of available financing, rebates and tax credits, a complete system will pay for itself in a short time. Utilities are starting to realize the benefit of having electrical demand reduced and some offer incentives to the building owner to install a PV system.

Photovoltaic cells produce electricity from light not heat, so PV systems can be sized to perform very effectively and cost-efficiently anywhere in the world. Florida Solar Services are experts in identifying the kind of system that would best suit your needs.

Solar Water Heating

The main component of a solar hot water system is the collector, which absorbs thermal energy from the sun. Most solar domestic hot water systems use flat-plate collectors. These collectors are typically mounted on the roof of a building, usually oriented due south, but can also be mounted facing east or west. One or two collectors are used in typical residential systems, depending on the climate and the amount of demand for hot water.

The other major part of the system is a storage tank. The tank should be large enough to provide one day’s hot water demand–approximately 20 gallons per day per adult and 15 gallons per day per child.

The storage tank also has a backup element for use during cloudy weather and periods of excessive hot-water used. It is a single electric element, located in the upper portion of a solar storage tank, and it will come on automatically when the collectors are not providing enough hot water.

Saving Money and Energy: Solar water heaters are more economical over the life of the system than heating water with electricity, fuel oil or propane gas. In Florida, solar systems can easily provide faster paybacks and rates of return on investment of 10 or 11 percent or more. Our systems typically pay for themselves in 2-5 years.

Savings are even greater in new construction, where builders can install solar equipment without having to first purchase conventional water heating equipment, thus saving on both installation costs and some of the equipment costs “up-front.”

Every Solar Hot Water system comes complete with the following:

  • Solar Collector(s)
  • Storage Tank
  • Drain-back Tank
  • Differential Temperature Controller
  • Circulation Pump
  • Mounting Hardware
  • All pipe runs are copper NOT plastic tubing

Solar Pool Heating

Because homeowners usually want to raise the pool water temperature just 8 to 10 degrees–enough of an increase to extend the swimming season up to three or four months in most parts of the country–very simple solar collectors are used. Most solar pool collectors are made of a black plastic material with tubes running in a parallel fashion. No glass or plastic covering is used in these systems. Since the pool itself serves as the storage tank, no separate storage unit is needed.

The significant savings over the cost of conventional fuels pays back the system investment in about two to three years. In addition, the consumer benefits from an immediate extension of the swimming season.

The pool’s filtration pump is used to force water through the collectors. An average pool heating system might consist of 4 to 10 collectors, with an electronic controller.



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