Anyone doing any work in this field?? Just got done my 15 code hr update and the instructor talked about getting certified by some nat'l organization of solar installers?? I have a chance to take a course, not much money 200 bucks but a huge time commitment, 10 saturdays from 8 to 2. It would prepare me to take the certification test from the nat'l organization. Not sure if I want to commit that much time although the coursework seems interesting to me. Not sure there is really any money in it??
While the PV field is a growing and experiencing rapidly advancing technology, the cost per watt is still so high that it is almost not practical for most consumers.
I too feel any and all certifications and licenses that can be obtained are well worth the time and money spent, if, you are better educated, and it leads to employement advancement or new work possibilities.
While getting in at the ground floor is usually the winning advanatge, I still feel PV is 10+ years out from wide scale use.
Bryan P. Holland, ECO. Secretary - IAEI Florida Chapter
I think one serious question for people down here where Bryan and I live is the wind code rating of these panels. Hail is an issue but we have "large missile" ratings to deal with too. (normally applying to windows and doors). If your collectors are $50,000 or more, not an unusual price, you have plenty to lose and that would certainly affect your "payback" time if you lost them. Another thing that scares me is roof leaks. I got my pool collectors cheap from a guy who was getting a new roof because the pool collectors destroyed his old one. I put them on a double skin pan roof but I would not screw them through shingles and tile is even more troubling. When I rebuild that room I am going to build another structure on the end of the house for the express purpose of carrying the collectors and it will double as a car port.
Greg is right on. We require engineering for the loading and uplift on the new/existing roof. While the panels individually are not all that heavy, a group of them is and they act like a sail. Many of the anchoring requirements as indicated by the manufacturer's instructions will not meet the minimum wind-born debris cladding and component requirements of the FBC.
And, FPL only provides rebates for interconnected systems but pay back at a lower rate than they charge for the same power. In order to receive the tax incentive, the system must be of certain capacity and must meet other very stringent critieria which makes it nearly worthless.
There is some opportunity out there however. As a matter of fact, this is a portion of an email I received this morning regarding PV future:
The solar business in Florida and soon the Southeast is about to explode with activity. We sent out bids for commercial Photovoltaic Projects the first three weeks of January that totaled more than all our business combined in 2007. Solar Source is not only one of the few state licensed solar contractors, but a distributor and educator as well. With 25 years of experience in solar construction we have installed more solar pool heating, solar domestic hot water and now solar electric systems than any other contractor in the state.
Solar Source University is in the forefront of training electrical contractors, and others that are interested in learning more about this fascinating field. The Public Service Commission, Florida Energy Commission, and the Governor's Action Team are set to make policy that will open up the flood gates to tremendous growth in "green" technology. We have received many calls from major investors looking to enter this business in Florida. But the bottom line to all this activity is the need for a trained and knowledgeable workforce. While at the Solar Power 2007 Conference in Long Beach, Cal. last year we were able to get a glimpse of what can be expected here. The IBEW was in the process of graduating a class of 200 electrical contractors to be certified in solar technology and were told this was just a fraction of those that were needed to fill all the available positions.
We look forward to working with you and the IAEI. Feel free to contact us any time.
Ron Phillips Solar Source Director of Training & Sales 10840 Endeavour Way Largo, Fl 33777
Bryan P. Holland, ECO. Secretary - IAEI Florida Chapter
I learned the tax lesson during the Carter administration when he was saying the feds and state would help you build your system. Some IBM engineers and I got very interested in various solar technologies and a few actually build solar space heating systems. (I did a solar spa heater). None of us ever got a dime back from the government. The rules were drawn so strictly that the only way you could get anything was if you used a government registered provider and installed a government approved system. That was a very rare thing since they didn't actually approve many (again because of the bureaucracy involved). In those days PV was totally out of the question if you were not NASA with an unlimited budget and a special requirement.
BTW every one of the systems they installed were removed when they got a new roof and not reinstalled ... including my spa heater (by my ex after I left)
It was a good exercise in design tho and I am still using some of the circuits designed by the engineers in my current electric spa heater and the solars for my pool.
In Maine? There's certainly money in it. Well, for the installer at least. There's no way the HO will achieve energy payback on a solar panel in maine right now, so anyone putting in panels is doing so not for economics, but for ecological reasons and at the cost of these systems, it means they have money to burn! So charge double your rate for this specialty work and know that you're helping the environment, too I'd be prepared to give a lot of estimates to sticker shocked people, though. For as much as solar is talked about, most people just have no idea how much solar costs for how little you get back.
Unless you live in a VERY sunny area with extremely high electricity costs, large government subsidy and time of use billing, solar doesn't make sense. A homeowner in southern California might actually save some money, but that's only because they're already paying an outrageous amount for their electricity. For someone like me in VA with 7 cents/kWh electric, a middling lattitude and a lot of cloudy days, even if I lived here 25 years, I wouldn't cover 1/3 of the installation cost. Solar water heating is economically viable in most of the country, but that's more of an issue for plumbers than sparkies. And even then, still wrought with problems.
Electricity rates in Maine are 14, 15, cents a KWH. And for 3 months out of the year, nov, dec, jan, one isn't going to produce much but costs are still going up and we get another hit in March. I looked online for some grid tied systems, 37,000 bucks for a 7kw system. I think I'm going to do it for interest and not so much for future work. My business is gasoline equipment and thats going to dry up as the years go on.
I disagree with you on Solar Hot water though. I've had a system for 16 years. Lost one controller early on and haven't had an issue since. Payed for itself without a doubt and continues to save money.The earlier mentioned 3 months are a killer but it will still run on sunny days during that period. Why anyone would live in the south without a solar hot water system is beyond me???
Hot water is not that big a deal in Florida. If you just had a big loop of pipe in your attic you would have scalding hot water more than half the year. One problem we have with a copper collector is the quality of the water. Some of the water eats copper.