Solar Power - Frequently Asked Questions

How much does solar cost?

Like buying a car, prices vary. The variables include difficulty of site, type of roof, how many floors, and how much power you need to produce. As of the time of this writing, solar installed is averaging less than $2.50 a watt. For more on pricing, and for an economic example, check out the solar costs page.

What rebates and incentives are there for going solar in Central Florida?

There are three major benefits you receive for going solar in Florida that impact your overall financial gain on a solar power investment: 1. 30% Tax Credit - If you have the tax liability, you will receive 30% of the price of your solar as a federal tax credit. Example, You spend $10,000 on a solar installation, you will receive $3000 cash as a tax credit. 2. Net-Metering - This allows you to bank excess power produced to use later. This means you are able to basically sell your excess power to yourself, at a rate of about $0.12 p/kWh in Central Florida. For more information, see other FAQs below or visit the Net-Metering 101 page. 3. Accelerated Depreciation - As a business, you can depreciate the solar panels as an asset over 5 years which will directly impact your bottom line month by month.

How much do I pay for electricity?

In Central Florida, both FPL and OUC customers, typically pay around $0.12 per kWh but that is going up over the next few years. You pay a certain amount for kWh < (less than) 1000 kWh a month, a certain amount for kWh > (greater than) 1000 kWh used in a month, and then you also pay fuel and transport fees, plus other misc fees and taxes. Net-metering allows you to produce energy for yourself at this same rate.

Can I sell excess energy back to my utility company?

Yes, but its not economically as beneficial as selling it to yourself. With Net-Metering, you can bank excess power you produce as a kWh credit, and then use it as needed. See our net-metering page for more info. The beauty of this is, you are basically producing and getting power at around $0.12 p/kWh. the same you pay for your power now. But if you over produce way more than you actually need, you can request a cash credit, but you will only get that kWh at about $0.05 to $0.06 p/kWh. Your utility company is not going to pay you fuel and transport, only p/kWh. In other words, the power you sell to your utility company is only worth about half as much as the power you produce for yourself. That is why Wave Energy only targets about 95% of your annual power needs when designing an array for you.

How much value does solar add to my property?

Wave Energy works with many realtors throughout Brevard County. We always discuss 'market values'. Its a fun happy-hour conversation. I like to ask the rhetorical question to my potential clients: "How much is your home worth now?". The true answer is "Whatever someone is willing to pay for it.". After you install solar, that answer doesnt change. True market analysis shows that installing solar has an instant equity return of about 50-70%. A new roof? About 78%. New french doors and esthetically pleasing windows? 108%. A pool? 50-70% as well. So wait a isnt a good investment? YES IT IS! It makes you money month over month for at least 20 years! It produces money and has some equity value when its time to sell. It's a cash generating machine. How many pools do you know that can do that for you?

How much maintenance is required on solar panels?

Solar panel systems are made of durable tempered glass and require little to no maintenance for the 25 to 30 years. Sometimes cleaning is required. Leaves, bird poop, and dust can collect and to get the most out of your panels, we recommend a quick inspection and cleaning annually. In Florida, our afternoon thunderstorms and heavy rains actually help keep your panels clean for you. Our panels and inverters include a manufactureres warranty and workmanship warranties as well.

How do solar panels do in a hurricane?

Your panels will fare as well as your roof. They are secured to the frame and deck and most panels do very well. Impacts from objects can break the glass, but the glass is tempered and strong. For more information, see our quick mounting tutorial.

What is solar and what are the different types?

Solar, simply put, is the science of converting the sun's radiation into one of two forms of energy: HEAT or ELECTRICITY. In the state of Florida, one of three products are most commonly used:

  • Solar Hot Water (HEAT) - Running your home or business' water through a solar heater. Just like your gas or electric heater does now, except using the sun's energy to heat your water for daily use.
  • Solar Pool Heater (HEAT) - Running your pool's water through solar heat collectors to allow you to swim in your pool in colder months.
  • Solar PV (ELECTRICITY) - Converting solar radiation into usuable electric energy for your home or business.
Wave Energy focuses on Solar PV. To learn more about solar PV in Central Florida, take our guided tour.

How many solar panels do I need for my home?

That depends on how much electricity you use and how much of your electric bill you wish to offset. The average 3 bedroom, 2 bath home will need a system sized between 7,000-8,000 Watts DC. Each panel is about 280 to 315 Watts. 24 panels would meet the demand in this hypothetical circumstance.

What if I can't afford to go solar?

If you can afford your electric bill, then you can afford to go solar. We offer some unique financing options and can design a system within your budget. If you cannot meet your entire electrical needs in one installation, you are still making a great investment! We can build a scalable system, meaning we can install in such a way that it is easy for you to install more panels later. Our proposal will show you all the financial benefits and costs associated.

Where is the best place to install solar panels?

Anywhere there is a lot of sun! Solar can be installed on the ground, on poles, on the roof, and even over parking lots to provide shade and power. The most common installation is the rooftop solar installation. The ideal position is South facing, and the azimuth (or angle) varies depending on your actual geographic location but around 27.5 degrees South is the ideal position throughout Central Florida. This angle and direction ensures the most solar gain for the entire year. Since home elevations vary, and are fixed, we will look to the south first, then East and West. We will not install on the North facing roofs or heavily shaded areas! PVWatts has a neat little tool you can use to calculate solar output depending on direction. Here is a quick output using that tool for the Melbourne, Florida area TTY3

  • South 27.5 degrees - 10 kDC System - 14,377 kWh p/year
  • South 10.5 degrees - 10 kDC System - 13,906 kWh p/year
  • South 41.5 degrees - 10 kDC System - 13,989 kWh p/year
  • East 27.5 degrees - 10 kDC System - 12,406 kWh p/year
  • West 27.5 degrees - 10 kDC System - 12,300 kWh p/year
  • North 27.5 degrees - 10 kDC System - 9,700 kWh p/year
A few things to note from this:
  • South facing at less-than ideal angles still out performs East, West, and of course, North facing at the same angle.
  • North facing is horrible.
  • East is marginally bettter than West. This is still under debate but primary reasons are 2 fold: More moisture in the atmosphere and higher temperatures prevent West facing arrays from performing as well as. (Morning vs Afternoon)
  • If you tried out the pvWatts tool, you will find multiple settings and variables. We have found our installations outperform pvWatts estimates by 10%, on average, due to higher efficiency products and conservative estimating from the calculator.

Which is better? Poly or Mono Crystalline

The answer isn't that simple. Generally speaking, ounce for ounce, a monocrystalline structure will provide higher efficiencies than a polycrystalline substrait. But, when looking at datasheets, you can and often will find a poly panel that has a higher efficiency than a simillar mono. That is the number that matters. With that said, in Florida, Poly panels actually perform better. STC (Standard Test Conditions) and ITC (Inclement) for most European panels are performed in colder conditions. We have very little test data from hot humid and salty conditions like here. But what we are finding, is comp polys (dirty mixes) perform better. Why? Temperature Tolerance Polycrystalline solar cells generally have a lower temperature coefficient than monocrystalline solar cells. Lets say you have a monocrystalline solar array on the same roof and side by side with the same wattage polycrystalline array. Same peak efficiency and same power density (meaning each panel is rated at same wattage). The polycrystalline array will generally generate more electricity over the year when compared to the monocrystalline solar array because of its better temperature tolerance. As time goes by and more data becomes available, we are learning that over time, this improves. It will always be worth a side by side comparison, but to simply say one solar panel's composition is better than the other isn't true. You need to evaluate all data points and cost.