All grid tied PV systems will have the following basic components:
Various electrical components: All the electrical components required to complete the functioning solar PV system including: conductors, grounding wire, grounding lugs, junction boxes, combiner boxes, breakers, fuses, and conduit.
Typically, there are three factors that will determine the size and cost of a solar system:
Generally speaking, unless you plan to live in a remote location where there is no grid available, yes you will maintain your relationship with your local power utility.
The type of solar PV system you are likely to receive is known as a grid-tied solar system. This means that your solar system will operate in tandem with your local power utility. The utility grid acts to solve the timing discrepancy between the amount of energy you are consuming vs. the amount your solar system is producing at any given moment.
For example: if during the day you produce more power than you consume at a given moment, the excess power is sent to the grid and your utility meter spins backwards. Likewise, during the night you will consume more than you produce (solar panels do not produce energy in the absence of sun light), and that power will come from power grid.
At the end of the utility billing cycle, you will be liable for energy you have used from the grid minus energy you returned to the grid. If you have produced more energy than you have used on a given month, you will receive a credit on your next month’s billing cycle.
We believe that most residential and commercial solar customers pay for their solar systems with some type of financing program. The question of whether to finance, and if so which program to use can be daunting. Here are some things to consider: Of course, when financing the customer is not only paying the principal cost of the solar system, they are also paying back interest on a solar loan. Therefore, to customers that have the capital available for a solar system, it may be preferred to pay outright for the system at the start and avoid paying for the interest on a loan.
That being said, for customers who do not have the capital to cover the cost of a solar system on the front end, it is still preferred to purchase a solar system with financing than to not purchase a solar system at all. The reason is simple; a solar system will actively return the investment through savings on a customer’s power bill. We believe our prices are so affordable, that we can structure a solar loan to have lower monthly payments (principal and interest) than the amount of money that the customer would have paid to the utility without a solar system.
The graph below is from a report generated by one of the financing programs we offer. It shows the amount of money paid back to the financing program to cover the cost of the solar system over the 20 year life of the loan (yellow area) – compared to the expected cost of energy if purchased from the local power utility (i.e. if a solar system is not purchased), shown in the area in blue. As you can see, the blue area is vastly larger, meaning it is more expensive to not buy a solar system than to buy a solar system with financing.
Purchasing a solar system is a major decision and that decision is often based on estimations of how much energy the solar system will produce. So naturally, once the system is installed it is desirable to have monitoring equipment in place to be able to track the performance of the solar array and the savings that has resulted from the system’s operation.
During our consultation process, we provide our customers with a life-cycle cost analysis and an estimated duration for the system to pay for itself in energy savings. For this to take place there is a caveat and that is that the system is always in operation and operating correctly. To ensure proper operation, and to protect our customers’ investment, we offer power monitoring for the life of the system, included with every system we install. This interface is integrated with the inverters, and information about the solar system’s performance is uploaded to an online cloud. This allows for us and our customers to monitor daily, monthly and lifetime energy production, real time power, cash savings resulting from the system.
Solar energy is both clean and renewable. This means that once the solar system is installed and in operation, energy production has in-effect no impact on the environment whatsoever. This is because the power production happens cleanly by converting sunshine hitting the panels into power. Therefore, there is no byproduct from the power production and no waste needed from extraction of a fuel to burn. The power is renewable because the sun shines every day without fail. Unlike fossil fuels, this power source will never run out.
The exact tangible benefit that the system has can be abstract to comprehend. Ultimately the environmental benefit that the solar system has is related to the energy source it is replacing. To understand the actual environmental benefit solar has, one first needs to understand the energy portfolio of their local utility and what sources their local utility use to produce energy. The greater the environmental impact that a local utility has in the energy production process, the greater the benefit of replacing that energy need with solar. To learn more about the impact your local utility is having with their energy portfolio, consult Blue Sky Model. There you will learn the energy portfolio and the water and CO2 impact each utility has. According to them, Florida Power & Light emits 1.22 lbs of CO2 per kWh of energy generated.
Yes, Goldin Solar is a state certified solar contractor. State certification is done under the Department of Business and Professional Regulations (DBPR) Construction Industry Licensing Board – License number CVC56965. This means that we are licensed to install solar anywhere in the state of Florida. We carry a General Liability insurance policy of $1,000,000 which is significantly more than the required minimum.
Goldin Solar will perform all the installation of the Solar Components by our own full time W-2 employees. All our employees are covered by our Workman’s Compensation insurance policy, such that there is no risk to the owner by having workers on their property. Goldin Solar may be required to sub-contract the electrical interconnection to an electrical contractor, if required by the local AHJ. This is something Goldin Solar feels very strongly about implementing. The reason is that it is our way to implement Quality Assurance/Quality Control to make sure that all workers will perform to our workmanship quality and safety standards. It is also our way to make sure we can offer our value-driven turn-key installations to our customers at the most competitive prices. While other companies hire subcontractors to perform various components of the project (or all the installation), we are the one stop shop. This is how our customers know that by going with Goldin Solar, they are getting top notch quality and safety at leanest possible prices.
The electrical code, to which all engineering and installation in the state of Florida currently adheres to is the National Electric Code (NEC). This code is detailed and meticulous and covers a great wealth of information. There is an entire chapter that discusses solar installations, as well as information covering wire sizing, overcurrent production devices (breakers/fuses), and many more details. By designing our systems in accordance with the NEC, we are ensuring that means and methods used are safe and approved. The code, and our adherence to it is enforced in multiple phases throughout and process. First, our detailed engineering is prepared by and sealed by our Professional Engineers (PEs) who certify that the plans are in accordance to code. Then, the sealed engineering is reviewed for compliance with code by the local Authority Having Jurisdiction (AHJ) prior to them issuing a building permit. Finally, after a permit has been issued and the system is installed, the AHJ building inspectors inspect the completed system to ensure that it was installed in accordance to the permitted engineering.
The size of solar system that you should install depends on several factors:
We will work closely with our customers the propose a system custom tailored to their needs
As of now, the best incentive for people to go solar is the Federal Investment Tax Credit (ITC). This tax credit gives solar customers 30% of the cost of the system back in the form of a credit against their federal tax liability. This is a very significant incentive and is only available for a few more years. Additionally, there is a significant incentive in place for solar systems that are commercially owned such as accelerated depreciation of the system.
This question may be the single most important question for a potential customer to understand when making the decision if solar is the right investment for them. We are all excited for solar for being a renewable energy source and want to support the transition to clean energy. Nevertheless, the investment decision to go solar must make financial sense. The amount of time it will take for the system to pay for itself in-terms of the of savings it has caused equaling the amount spent on the system will depend on several factors:
Ultimately, Goldin Solar has designed our price points for a return of approximately 6-7 years.
As one might expect, the optimal condition for solar panels in regards to sun exposure is zero shading. Shading adversely affects solar power production because the photovoltaic effect works when solar radiation hits the photovoltaic cells and causes the flow of current through the panel. When shade prevents sun from hitting the panel, this process is hindered. An important question to ask is to what extent does shade hinder power production if the solar array is partially shaded? and what can be done to mitigate shading effects?
The selection of inverter brand will have a significant impact on the extent to which shading impacts power production on a solar array. When a traditional “String-Line” inverter is used, the solar array can tolerate zero shading. With string inverter use, the solar panels are connected in an electrical series and if one panel is shaded, the entire string of panels will lose power production. Goldin Solar uses SolarEdge inverters exclusively on all their projects. SolarEdge inverters and are DC power optimized systems. Each solar panel will connect to a DC power optimizers, and the optimizers are connected in series to an inverter. In this configuration, the power of each panel is conditioned and optimized individually. This means that if one panel is shaded, only that panel will be impacted. The remaining panels in that string will continue to function that their optimized peak performance. For this reason, systems installed using SolarEdge can tolerate slight amounts of shade. Additional consideration is the face that SolarEdge enables individual panel level monitoring. Therefore, Goldin Solar and the system owner can observe the power performance and each individual panel, and know if and to what extent panels may be adversely impacted by shade. Then, the system owner can make informed decisions on whether shade mitigation measures are necessary.
The optimal production of energy occurs when the inclination of the solar panel is perpendicular to the line formed with the sun. while large, utility-scale ground mounted solar systems may use single or dual-axis tracking systems to track the sun throughout the day and seasonally, most residential and commercial buildings will receive a fixed solar system. This means that the solar array position never changes after installation. Typical residential systems are flush mounted with the angle of the roof, meaning that the angle of the panels is parallel to the angle of the roof. This practice on residential buildings is done for aesthetics and to maximize the amount of area of the roof that is utilized. Some commercial buildings that have flat roofs use a fixed-tilt configuration to maximize power production. Meaning that panels will be tilted to the south, even though the roof is flat and the rows of panels will be spaced to prevent inter-row shading.
For Florida, we typically consider any roof plane as a good candidate to receive solar panels provided that the roof plane is not facing north. The optimal tilt and orientation would be to position the panels at a tilt equal to the latitude at the location of installation and oriented south. For example, in Miami latitude is 25 degrees north of the equator, so the optimal configuration for installing in Miami would be a panel facing south and tilted 25 degrees. Because Florida is not far from the equator, other tilts/orientations are still highly productive. Installing panels facing east, west or flat will generally result is 90% of the same production as if the panels were installed in the optimal configuration.
Because we use SolarEdge on all our installations, there is a significant level of design flexibility. This means that there is a relatively large “window” between the minimum amount of power that a given inverter requires to operate and the maximum amount of power it can process. Because of this, system size expansions can be planned into an initial installation. With that said, if a potential system expansion is desired on a future date, it is imperative to plan for it during the initial project. For economic reasons, typical installations will receive the appropriate inverter size relative to the solar array being installed – and there is limited additional capacity that the inverter can accept. For that reason, if the customer is considering expanding the solar system, it is important to know upfront to plan for the expansion early. It is also important to note that inverter selection is not the only decision that occurs to plan for potential future system size expansion. Another important consideration for potential future expansion is the means of system interconnection. Most systems desiring a potential expansion should utilize a “line-side” connection and have the inverter terminate in an electrical sub-panel, which has additional space for breakers to accommodate a potential future inverter.
Throughout the project delivery process, Goldin Solar will produce a roof plan to identify panel placement on two separate occasions.
The structural suitability of an existing roof to receive a solar system is a very important consideration. As one might imagine, when the home’s structure was initially designed, supporting a large and heavy solar array on top of the roof and integrated with the structure was not a consideration. While this statement is most likely true, it does not mean that the roof structure is too weak or unsuitable to receive a solar system. While it is true that all the solar panels and all the racking equipment are heavy, it is also true that this weight is spread over a very large surface area. A typical 60-cell solar panel weight approximately XX pounds has the area of approximately 18 square feet. Meaning the pressure that is imposed on the roof is approximately YY pounds per square foot (PSF). When considering the strength of the roofing structure and components, this is a relatively low amount of weight and has no adverse effect on the roof. Therefore, unless there are sever issues with the home’s structural system such as rotten beams, or a structure installed no to code, a typical home in good structural condition should be in adequate condition to receive a solar installation. Every single project that Goldin Solar installs is evaluated and designed by a structural engineer, who will stamp and certify the plans prior to submitting the plans to permitting. This assures that the roof is suitable for both the weight of the equipment as well as natural weather conditions that will occur.
Except for standing seam metal roofs, to achieve the required structural strength needed for the solar array to be properly anchored to the roof, many roof penetrations must occur. These roof penetrations will typically take place in the form of a lag bolt, which fastens the bracket of the structural stands to the existing structural system of the home (i.e. the home’s rafters). A normal solar array can have 50 or more such structural attachments and roof penetrations. The solar industry has evolved over many years to develop best practices in regards to waterproofing and sealing up around roof penetrations after they have occurred. Goldin Solar is proud to state that we are always reading and researching on the latest means, methods, products and technology to offer our customers best roofing practices for ensuring that leaks do not occur. With this said, we offer a comprehensive contractor’s warranty for workmanship, which warrants among other things that if there is water intrusion after a solar system is installed, we will be back to locate and treat the water intrusion. Goldin Solar is proud to stand behind our work and any issue that may arise. As with anything else, we put our customers’ needs above everything else and treat our warranties with utmost seriousness.
The power rating of a solar system is the power rating of an individual solar panel multiplied by the number of panels that are in the system. The power rating of an individual solar panel is determined by the panel manufacturer during panel testing, typically immediately after the solar panel comes off the assembly line. The panel rating, is the amount of power that the panel tested at, when it was tested under specific conditions which are known as Standard Test Conditions (STC). Specifically: 1,000 Watts per meter squared, 25 Degrees Celsius and 1.5 atmospheres of pressure. The reason that these fixed parameters have been established for panel testing is to require every solar panel manufacturer in the world to test their panels under the same conditions. Thus, different panels can be considered “apples-to-apples”. An example of how a power rating of a system would be determined: For a solar system, which is composed of 30 panels, each rated at 300 watts; that system power rating would be: 30 panels X 300 Watts/panel = 9,000 Watts or 9 kW.
This calculation is relatively simple, but is only the first step to determine the solar system size needed to offset a certain amount of energy that a home uses. To determine the amount of energy that a solar system will produce overtime (typically one year – to determine the average monthly production) we can use either equations with well-established parameters or sophisticated computer simulation technology. Both methods have proven highly reliable as they typically produce very similar results. The equation for calculating energy production is:
Power rating X Duration X Peak Sun Hours X Efficiency
For example: A south facing solar system that is rated at 9 kW and is installed in Miami is estimated to produce on an average month:
9 kW X 30.5 days/month X 5.2 Peak Sun Hours/day X 85% efficiency = 1,213 kWh worth of energy on an average month.
We will work closely with our customers to understand their energy consumption, which we can learn from their past year of power bills from their local utility. We will then compare their history of energy usage to a solar system we are proposing to install to offset the proper amount worth of energy.
The exact affect that a newly installed solar system will have on a new customer’s power bill can be highly predictable. To maximize predictability, the following things need to take place:
With the above considerations met, we can have a relatively high level of accuracy in the solar system impact on a customer’s power bill. In other words, if the solar system was designed to offset 80% of a customer’s power bill. The customer can expect to see an 80% reduction in their power bill. It is important to note, that the production and consumption are evaluated on an average basis. Therefore, it is most accurate to evaluate based on 12 months-worth of energy production information. Also, note that utilities typically also charge a “service fee”, which is a nominal administrative fee to manage the account as well as applicable taxes. Meaning that even if a customer is “net-zero” (producing as much energy as they are consuming), they will still have a small fee to pay each month. For FPL customers, this fee with taxes is around $9.42 at the time of writing.
As one might expect, the amount of energy that a solar array produces is highly dependent on external factors. A few of the most impacting factors are:
Even though there is significant seasonal variation in production of a solar array, this is not an issue for the system owner because of the way net metering works. When we perform our energy production estimates, we typically look at the amount of energy that is produced on an average month. The reason is that if a customer overproduces on a given month, they will have a rollover credit onto their following month’s bill.
The amount of power quoted both in the original proposal presented to a customer and in the contract, is subject to change slightly if one of two things happens:
In either of the above two cases, the customer doesn’t need to worry if they are getting the same value they contracted. The reason is that the contract is based on a dollar per watt amount ($/W). And if the amount of wattage changes the contract price will be adjusted accordingly. Thus, we may not be able to guarantee an exact wattage, but we will guarantee the price-per-watt.
The type of solar panel that is used at Goldin Solar will either be Monocrystalline or Polycrystalline. These are the two most efficient types of Photovolaic (PV) technology (as opposed to Thin Film, which is less efficient). Specifically, the type that will be used is dependent on specific project parameters such as budget, and available roof area. Higher power density (higher efficiency) panes, typically cost more and lower power dense (lower efficiency) panels are typically more cost effective. Thus, if the customer is not limited by their available roof area to cover their energy needs, we advise selecting a lower power density panel to get the best pricing in terms of dollars per watt ($/Watt). However, if roof area is limited and maximizing the percentage of energy use offset with solar is desired, we recommend the higher efficiency panels to utilize roof area most effectively and fit the most watts on a given surface area.
The number of panes needed comes down to how much energy the homeowner would like to offset. First, we determine how much energy the homeowner uses on an average monthly basis, and the desired offset percentage. From that information, we can find the total solar system size in terms of kilo-Watts (kW). Knowing the system size in kW, and knowing how many watts each panel has, we divide the system size by the watts per panel to determine the total number of panels.
Understanding the maintenance that is needed with a major purchase of new equipment is crucial. Common wisdom would assume that there is a great deal of maintenance involved with equipment. We all know how much maintenance is involved with ownership of a vehicle, air conditioning, etc’. Rooftop solar in Florida on the other hand, is nearly maintenance free. Consider, the two examples of a vehicle and air conditioning both have moving parts. With a vehicle, one needs to consider lubricating fluids, as well as parts that need replacement from wear and friction such as breaks and tires. Roof top solar, on the other hand is completely stationary. For this reason, nothing needs to be oiled or worn parts replaced. We like to say that in effect, solar is maintenance free. The only consideration is to make sure that the panels are clear and clean so the sun light can reach through the glass and reach the solar cells. For this, washing the panels of dust/debris/bird droppings periodically can be useful. With that being said, in Florida, it tends to rain intensely from time to time getting that job done for you.
For a nominal fee, Goldin Solar offers a maintenance plan. With this maintenance plan, we will keep an eye on the power monitoring software to make sure the system is performing as expect. Once a year we will perform a site visit during which we will inspect all electrical connections, the surface of the solar array, under the array, and prepare a report outline the performance and economics of the solar system.
Purchasing solar for your home or commercial business is a major investment. It’s a strong investment, because you are guaranteed to return your investment rapidly with energy savings. However, for you to return the investmentyou need to be sure that your system is always working and working correctly. For that, we are proud to offer power monitoring included in the cost of the system on every system we’ve ever installed. This is done through the SolarEdge online monitoring platform or the SolarEdge smartphone app. With SolarEdge monitoring you can monitor the power your system is producing in real time and the performance of each individual solar panel. This means that you’ll be able to see if you are experiencing partial shading issues, or have an issue with an individual solar panel for warranty purposes. Check out the next few screenshots of the monitoring platform to see what this looks like:
This is a screenshot of the ‘Dashboard’ of the energy monitoring. It shows real time power production, daily, monthly and lifetime energy production as well as lifetime revenue, meaning the amount of money the customer saved over the life of the system.
The top image is a screenshot showing the SolarEdge power monitoring system layout showing the production of each individual solar panel. The picture below is a drone picture showing the layout of the array. These are shown side by side to illustrate the simplicity and usefulness of the panel level monitoring we provide.
There are three generations of inverter technology developed:
Considering that Florida is a coastal state, many homes are close to the ocean and there is higher amounts of salt in the air, corrosion protection is a reasonable concern. The system does have a large number of metallic components, which could in theory react to the amount of salt in the air. These are the aluminum solar panel frames, and the racking structure which holds it all together. Fortunately, the equipment used by Goldin Solar has an epoxy finish protection on all metal components. So corrosion of metal parts is not something a system owner needs to worry about.
Goldin Solar has currently three locations in: Miami, Vero Beach and Orlando. Check our website for addresses and contact info for each office.
All of our systems will be installed by our own in-house installation crews, who are fully time Goldin Solar employees. No portion of the work is subcontracted. This is our way to make sure that all the work is done to live up to our quality standards.
Beyond our own QA/QC standards, the quality and suitability of the system is ensured by third parties (local building departments) throughout the life of the project delivery process. First, our detailed engineering for the project will be drafted and certified by our structural and electrical Professional Engineers (PEs), who will certify that the plans meet building code. Then the plans will then be reviewed by the local Authority Having Jurisdiction (AHJ), commonly called the local building department. There, plan reviewers will review all details of the plans to make sure that the plans meet building codes. Finally, throughout the installation process and at the end of the installation the local building department will have building inspectors out to the site to inspect the work performed to ensure that it was built in accordance with the permitted set of plans.
The solar federal Investment Tax Credit (ITC) is a tax credit that the purchaser of a solar system can claim against their federal income tax liability. We are always eager to help our clients in every way we can, and we will be happy to show you which is the tax form to use with the ITC. However, we are not a tax preparation company so filing the tax credit is the responsibility of the system owner and can be done with their tax advisor.
As one might expect, on a construction project that involves structural, roofing, electrical work that must interconnect with a utility there is a fairly large amount of documentation that needs to be prepared to complete a solar project. Goldin Solar will help guide out customers through the process. Here is a list of documentation a Goldin Solar customer can expect to receive:
The exact terms of the utility interconnection will vary from utility to utility. For example, FPL will have the interconnection/meter replacement governed according to three tiers based on the system size. Tier 1 is 0-10 kW (AC), Tier 2 is 10-100 kW (AC) and Tier 3 is 100-2,000 kW (AC). For customers that connect to a Tier 1 system, there is no fee for the net meter, and there is no insurance requirement. For customers who connect a Tier 2 system, there is a one-time fee of $400 for the net meter connection and a requirement to have and maintain a 1-million dollar umbrella insurance policy for general liability. The actual installation of the net meter will be done by the utility once they have accepted all requirements. We recommend that our customers are very familiar with their utility’s requirements for net metering prior to going forward with a solar project.
If there is a problem with any equipment during the Goldin Solar warranty period, Goldin Solar will cover the cost of material and labor to cover the material replacement. If there is a problem with equipment outside of the Goldin Solar warranty period, but within the material warranty period, Goldin Solar will support the customer in the process of the material replacement from the manufacturer or supplier, however will charge a fee for the labor to replace the part.