Your top frequently asked questions about solar in Florida answered.
In Part I of our Solar FAQs, we covered a lot of your top questions about why you should go solar and the financial benefits, but let’s keep the ball rolling on frequently asked questions about solar.
How does solar work?
How do solar panels work?
Solar panels, also called photovoltaic (PV) panels, work by converting the sun’s energy into electricity. Each panel contains a number of photovoltaic cells that absorb photons of energy from sunlight, then knock electrons loose to create an electric current. This direct current (DC) energy is passed into an inverter that converts it into usable alternating current (AC). The AC current will either be used to power your home or it will be sent over to the grid.
Do solar panels work on cloudy days?
Your power production is dependent on sunlight, so it makes sense that your solar panels will make less energy on cloudy days, and they don’t make any energy at night. Our sophisticated design software takes into account normal weather patterns for Florida as well as shading, tree cover, etc. when we plan your system. For most people living in the Sunshine State, solar makes good financial sense even with our normal storms and cloudy days, and the production our software predicts is quite accurate.
Will I be able to go “off grid”?
In the State of Florida, homes are not permitted to be permanently “off grid” so you will remain connected via your assigned utility. This is actually a good thing as you’ll be alternating between contributing to the grid and pulling from it as needed, especially if you don’t have a battery system. In most cases our goal is to replace 100% of your energy needs with solar energy, which means you’ll make double the amount of electricity you use during the day, “banking” the excess with the grid so you can pull it back for use at night. This process of sharing energy with the utility is called net metering.
Does my electric bill go away when I go solar?
Because you are required to be connected to the grid in Florida, you will still receive an electric bill with a “customer charge” (this is usually under $15/month), even if your system achieved 100% energy offset for that month. If your system was designed to produce less than 100% of your needs, you’ll also pay for the energy you used that you didn’t produce, although you’ll be charged at the lowest rate. In months when you used less energy than your solar system produced (such as the winter months if you didn’t run your air conditioner), your bill will show a credit that will offset your higher usage time periods (such as summer, when you do run your air conditioner). If you currently have a system that doesn’t produce 100% energy use offset, adding additional panels to your system is relatively quick and affordable. Note: Buying electricity from the utility naturally incurs additional expenses and taxes that you don’t need to pay when you make solar energy.
Will my solar panels provide electricity during a power outage?
Unless you have a battery system in place, your solar system will shut off in the event of a blackout. This is to protect utility workers who could be injured or killed by electricity unexpectedly being generated from your system. However, if you have a battery solution in place, you will have access to the power stored in your batteries during an outage. Like generator backups, battery backups can be sized to power different percentages of your home. Smaller backups usually focus on keeping your freezer frozen and your lights on. Larger backups cover more usage. One of the advantages of battery-attached solar is that you have an endless fuel source and you never pay more (or wait in long lines, hoping fuel is available during a crisis).