Frequently Asked Solar Questions
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At Small Jobs Electric®, we work hard to be your No. 1 electrical resource. We try to provide as much information as possible to assist you in making the best decisions regarding your electrical needs. We are here to answer any of your solar- or electrical-related questions. Please browse through the list of solar electric frequently asked questions below to find the answers to some of the most frequently asked questions regarding solar panels and installation in the Tampa Bay Area, including Hillsborough, Pinellas, and Pasco counties.
If you don’t see your question in the list, please feel free to call our office at (813) 652-0565. A knowledgeable member of our team is always ready to address your questions or concerns.
How much is a Photovoltaic solar electric system?
With low solar installation costs and the federal tax credit, there has never been a better time to purchase solar electric in the Sunshine State. The typical cost of a 5kW system is about $30,000. The 30% federal tax credit would be approximately $9,000. Payments on the remaining balance can be as low as $185.00 per month. This allows your family to use clean, renewable energy far into the future. Of course, larger systems are available, and our solar consultants can assist you in calculating the cost of a larger system.
Why should I choose Small Jobs Electric® to install my solar electric system?
Don’t let our name fool you, we do big jobs, like solar panel installations, too! Because we are a residential service repair company, we don’t rely on solar installations to stay in business—that means our customers save money! We do solar because going green helps our environment and it lowers and/or eliminates our customer’s electric bills!
How much of my energy needs can be produced from solar?
The simple truth is the amount of energy you can produce from a solar electric system installed by Small Jobs Electric® is dependent only upon the space you have available and the amount you are willing to invest.
How does my home or business use the electricity produced from my system?
As the sun’s rays shower the next-generation silicon cells of our photovoltaic panels, these cells release small amounts of electricity. This process is known as the photoelectric effect. This effect refers to the emission or ejection of electrons from the surface of a metal in response to light. Sunlight is made up of photons or particles of solar energy. Photons contain various amounts of energy, corresponding to the different wavelengths of the solar spectrum. When photons strike a PV cell, they may be reflected or absorbed, or they may pass right through. Only the absorbed photons generate electricity. When this happens, the energy of the photon is transferred to an electron in an atom of the PV cell (which is actually a semiconductor).
With its newfound energy, the electron escapes from its normal position in an atom of the semiconductor material and becomes part of the current in an electrical circuit. By leaving its position, the electron causes a hole to form. Special electrical properties of the PV cell—a built-in electric field—provide the necessary voltage to drive the current through an external load (such as a light bulb).
What is an inverter?
Once the sun’s rays have been converted to electricity, that electricity is sent to a piece of equipment called an inverter. The inverter basically changes the DC (direct current) voltage produced by the photovoltaic panels into AC (alternating current) voltage. The inverter channels this AC voltage into your existing electrical system for distribution throughout your home or office. You basically have to do nothing but sit back, relax, and watch your energy bills go down month after month.
What happens when my system produces more energy than I am currently using?
Any energy you produce during daylight hours which is above and beyond your current usage (residential or commercial) is sent back to the power company who provides credits to you for this unused power. Generally, you will use these credits up in the evening hours when there is no sunlight to provide electricity from your solar electric system. You can think of the power company as a bank for your extra electricity with debits and credits from your solar electric system as needed.
How much federal tax credit can I expect?
As of January 1, 2009, to December 31, 2012, the federal tax credit for solar electric installation amounts to 30% of the installed cost of your solar electric system and has no cap to the amount of the credit.
Will I still need my power company?
Although complete systems which include battery backup can allow you to operate completely free from the power grid, a solar electric system must be grid-tied or connected to the power company’s power grid to qualify for the state rebate. This will allow your solar electric system to send excess energy to the power company and in return, you get credit to your account.
Will there be some way for me to see the power production of my system?
Most installations come with Smart Monitoring, an online performance monitor account. After system installation, you may register for an online account where you can view your power production in days, weeks, months, etc. In addition, most installations also have a handy wireless wall-mount display which allows you to monitor the performance of your system at any time without being logged into your online account.
What happens when the power from the electrical company goes out?
By design, the typical solar electric system will cease providing power to your electrical system in the event of a power outage. This acts as a safety feature against any electricity being sent back to the power company’s grid during an outage. Such “energizing” of the power lines during an outage could potentially be harmful to any utility worker attempting to restore power to those lines. However, with the proper electrical equipment and battery backup system, any solar electric system can be turned into a backup generator for your home or office.
Can I install a system with backup power?
Yes. There are several factors to consider in deciding how much battery backup power you need such as how much of your home or office you would like to power and for how long. Our Tampa solar energy consultants would be happy to assist you in calculating the system size and cost for a solar electric system with battery backup.
What if I have a homeowner’s association–will I need approval?
Although we strongly recommend working with your Homeowner’s Association and submitting your plans to them, Florida Statutes protect your right to install renewable energy to the most productive part of your roof.
How durable is a solar electric system?
Our panels are designed to withstand hail up to one-inch diameter and are engineered to meet some of the toughest wind load codes in the country. The design of your solar electric system will be engineered to the specifications of your local county or municipality up to 150 MPH and will be inspected by the local governing authority to that specification.
How long is a typical solar electric system designed to last?
There is a 25-year manufacturer’s warranty on the photovoltaic solar electric panels and Small Jobs Electric® provides a 3-year warranty on the inverter.
How long does my warranty last?
Photovoltaic solar electric has come a long way over the last century. A solar electric system is designed to continue to provide you with electricity for the next 25+ years, making this one of the best investments you can make.
What maintenance is required for my solar electric system?
Photovoltaic solar electric systems are essentially hands-off. Set them and forget them. However, depending on the environment around your home, occasionally, it may be necessary to clean them off like a window. We typically recommend cleaning them off once each year. If your application is in an area subject to excessive leaves, pollen, or other environmental debris, it may be better to clean them off a little more frequently to maintain maximum translucency.
How long does it typically take to install a complete system?
From the signing of the contract to the final inspection by your county or municipality, it may take four to six weeks depending on the requirements of your local governing authority.
Can I use my system to charge my electric car?
Yes! You can use the energy from your solar electrical system to charge or power up your electric car just like how you use it to run the appliances in your home.
Give our Tampa solar energy experts a call at (813) 652-0565 to learn more about installing solar panels and the benefits waiting for you.