We were only able to visit one of the stops on the annual Orlando Solar tour on 10-2-10 but it was a great stop at a downtown homeowner who was very gracious and passionate in showing off his system and discussing the particulars.
He had a big system for a medium sized home although he does rent out a portion of the home so there are really 3 members of the home.
Here's what we learned:
-The system is a 6.3 kw system and cost around $45k to install before any rebates.
-He did get his IRS tax credit but sadly has not received his state of Florida rebate, which totals almost $20k since the state has temporarily run out of funding. He is hopeful but not sure he will get these funds.
-He is grid tied into the local Orlando utility OUC. He feels he saves about $1k per year on his electric costs although he mentioned that his electric use is small. With this small use of electricity and the big cost of his system, his payback will be quite a few years. I mentioned this to him but he says he feels the solar investment would be included in a higer selling price should he sell the home.
-He spoke of how important a minimalist lifestyle is to successful solar electric living. He says he turns the Air conditioning up to 85 in the summer, when he is not at home, and down to 80 at nite. Likewise in the winter he sets the thermostat at 70 on cold days. He uses CFL bulbs everywhere and has a brand new hi performance heat pump. He did say his windows were not well insulated and that his block home had poor insulation.
-He has software provided by the solar inverter manufacturer, that shows the production of his solar PV panels constantly. So he is able to chart the best times of the day and year for his production.
It was interesting to see that the spring give his best production. He says this is due to cooler days and few clouds.
-He chose micro inverters in lieu of one large inverter. These inverters are placed underneath each panel and offer a degree of protection from shading since he has a lot of large oak trees on the west side of the home. The microinverters ran the job up another $4k but the shading protection is important. Microinverters are newer but are gaining popularity
-The system is composed of 30 each 210 watt panels 10 on a flat roof and 20 on a pitched roof
In closing we feel his system is a great one but a bit over sized and from a business perspective miles away from a respectable return on investment. Solar electric needs to be a more affordable if it is to ever find wide spread use in this country.
In that he is proud to show off the system he does have a bit of a "Green glow" from being off grid. It's hard to know what this good feeling he gets is worth to him?
-Here's the link to Enphase microinverters
-Conserv-A-Store sells and installs solar hot water devices in central Florida-Call us if you want a quote