Solar FAQs

At Brilliant Harvest, we are committed not just to installing solar energy systems but also to ensuring that our clients and the community understand the benefits of solar power, which is clean, reliable, infinitely renewable, increases your energy self-reliance, and can increase your home’s value. Here are the answers to some of the FAQs we hear from potential clients and our valued customers.

How, exactly, does solar energy work?

The basic concept behind solar energy is that sunlight hits solar cells, the solar energy panel converts sunlight into electricity, electricity powers your home, and your utility bills decrease. We have a little more detail on how that actually works. Well, a lot of detail.

A photovoltaic (PV) solar energy system consists of solar panels, which are groups of PV cells, an inverter, an electrical panel, utility meter, wiring and mounting hardware. Once mounted, there are no moving parts (except a cooling fan in the inverter) and, with a quality installation and reputable equipment, a system can last more than 30 years with little maintenance. Let’s break it down piece by piece:

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What do I need to know before going solar?

Deciding whether or not to install a solar energy system on your home or business is a big decision, one with a number of factors you should consider. Cost, system size, the reputation of the contractor, and the return on investment are just a few of the issues that need to be weighed before going solar.

You should be asking yourself the following questions:

  • Is the company / are the companies I’m considering reputable?
  • How can I make a decision on my solar system when I don’t know anything about the technology?
  • Is your return on investment going to justify the expense of installing a solar energy system?
  • Are there any warranties and/or guarantees on the quality of my system and its materials?
  • What about maintenance?

At Brilliant Harvest, we don’t just want to sell you a solar system – we want to provide you with all the information you need to make an informed, confident decision.

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How can I find the best solar installer?

When you are considering installing a solar energy system on your home, this is quite possibly the most important question you can ask. There are a number of factors that can help guide you in hiring a trustworthy solar installer; the most critical are recommendations and consumer reviews, seeking multiple quotes, understanding your estimate, professional certifications of the installer, the quality of customer service, financing and – probably most importantly – getting and calling references to ensure your installer does good work and has made past clients happy.

Let’s go through some of the most important factors you should look out for when seeking a solar installer:

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Which solar panels should I use on my home?

The key factors to consider when comparing Sarasota solar panels are performance (they should produce the power that the rating leads you to expect), quality, durability and beneficial warranty terms. Aesthetics can also play a role in a consumer’s decision-making process. While online research should provide you with some great background, there are expert resources that can be extremely helpful in guiding your final decision. There are annual lists produced by solar publications (like PV-Tech, Solar Power World, Renewable Energy World, Solar Industry Magazine, and even Forbes) of the top PV panel manufacturers. These resources make it very easy to learn which manufacturers make a quality product – and which ones to avoid.

Solar panels should last and produce an output of more than 80% of the rated power for at least two decades. The lifetime of solar panels varies depending on the quality of materials and the manufacturer. If a panel has a warranty of less than 10 years, you should exercise caution – a warranty of 25 years is much more desirable.

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Why should I consider including a Tesla Powerwall in my solar energy system?

The Tesla Powerwall 2.0 is officially here and making an even bigger splash in the home energy market than its first-generation predecessor. It can be Tesla Powerwall 2.0indoor/outdoor, wall or floor-mounted, holds 13.5 kWhs per battery, will power a continuous 5 kW of energy and surge to 7 kW, you can stack NINE batteries per inverter … plus it’s really sleek and cool.

The Tesla Powerwall 2.0 protects you against power outages, self-recharges and will help to move you away from reliance on fossil fuels and toward clean, renewable energy.

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How will you attach the solar array to the roof of my house?

This is a very common question when people talk to us about solar energy. No matter what type of roof you have, Brilliant Harvest exceed Florida’s tough wind load standards. There is almost no greater challenge to building in Florida than addressing the threat or actual instances of dangerously high winds; making sure the solar panels mounted on your home are secure is our first priority.

Some of the most common roof types include asphalt shingles, 5V metal, standing seam and tile. Here is how we secure your solar array to your roof:

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What is net metering and how does it work in Florida?

If you have a solar energy system, then you are the beneficiary of net metering. If you’re not quite sure what that means, we’re happy to explain. In Florida, net metering rules were adopted in 2008. Net metering allows utility customers who connect approved, renewable generation systems – such as solar panels – to the electric grid to sell electricity back to the utility company.

When consumers generate electricity from their solar array for their home or business, it reduces the amount of energy they need to purchase from the utility and lowers their monthly electricity bills. If their system produces more energy than they need, the excess power is sold back to the grid. That amount of energy is deducted from their monthly bill or credited toward a future bill in the same calendar year.

To be eligible, a home or business owner needs to apply with the utility company and have their electric meter replaced with one that measures excess power supplied to the grid.

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I can’t get financing – is there another way I can pay for solar?

For some home or business owners, there may be a desire to install a solar power system but the funds aren’t available to purchase it outright and impediments to financing – such as a lack of equity or past bad credit – keep the opportunity out of reach. A new avenue for financing called PACE (Property Assessed Clean Energy) can help and it’s expected to come to our area later this summer.

PACE is a simple and effective way to finance energy efficiency, renewable energy, and water conservation upgrades to buildings. PACE can pay 100% of the project costs for new heating and cooling systems, lighting improvements, solar panels, water pumps, insulation, and more for almost any property – residential, commercial, nonprofit, and agricultural.

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How do the changing seasons impact my solar system’s performance?

We are asked all the time about the factors that can impact the energy output of a solar array. Geography is certainly one of the top factors. With approximately two-thirds of its days per year being sunny, Florida ranks third in the nation for rooftop solar potential (due to its solar resources and its population). Other factors include the cleanliness of solar panels, and weather and seasonal variations – the angle of the sun to solar panels changes with the time of day and time of year.

In order to understand how the solar resource varies throughout the year, we need to introduce a new term: “peak sun hours.” As the sun travels through the sky during the day, the amount of sunlight hitting your roof varies. “Peak sun” is defined as sunlight intensity of 1,000 watts per square meter (i.e., very strong sun on a very clear day). One “peak sun hour” is 1,000 watts per square meter for one hour (that also happens to be one kilowatt hour – of sunlight! – hitting that surface in that hour).

According to the National Renewable Energy Laboratory (NREL), for Sarasota, the monthly average peak sun hours per day are as follows:

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