Solar Pensacola
Panama City Beach Solar Residential

Frequently Asked Questions

Why should I use PV (solar electric)?

In recent years, more and more people are realizing the importance of renewable energy, particularly those who are environmentally conscious. PV can supply us with clean and sustainable electricity. It produces no toxic emissions, or greenhouse gases, and causes no hazardous waste. PV systems generate electricity using the Sun’s energy, so the ongoing costs are minimal. Moreover, continued R&D means installation costs are gradually being reduced. Most people would rather invest capital on an energy-producing improvement to their property than continually sending money to a power company. Others like the security of reducing the amount of electricity they buy from power utilities, because it makes they are less vulnerable to power outages and future increases to the price of electricity.

How big a solar energy system do I need?

The size of solar system you need depends on several factors such as how much electricity you use, the size of your roof, and how much you’re willing to invest. Also, do you want the system to supply your complete energy usage or to supplant a portion of your higher cost energy usage? You can contact a Compass Solar Energy to determine what type of system would best suit your needs.

Will a system produce enough energy to cover all my electricity needs?

It is important to understand that a solar electric system does not need to provide all of the electricity you need to be of great value. A small system that displaces an average of one-quarter to one-half of your average demand reduces your electric bill. With battery backup, it can deliver uninterrupted power to critical loads during utility outages for days or weeks. We are happy to provide you with a system that supplies 100 percent of your energy needs, but cutting your electricity by 40 to 50 percent is typically the most cost-efficient approach for home solar power.

How much does an installed solar electric system cost?

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 cost of a grid-tied 5kW system with a string inverter can be as low as $17,000.  The 30% federal tax credit would be approximately $5,100, which brings your net investment to only $11,900.  This allows your family to use clean renewable energy far into the future. Of course, there are many variables and smaller or larger systems are available.  Our solar consultants can assist you in calculating the cost of the best system for you.

Will I still need my power company?

Off-grid systems can allow you to operate completely free from the power grid.  However, most people, who are able to connect to the grid, go with a grid-tied solar electric system to avoid the cost of batteries. When you are connected to the power company’s power grid, it allows excess energy produced by your solar electric system to be sent back to the power company and thereby credited to your account with them.

How much will I save with a 5 kW solar electric system?

Your exact savings will depend on many factors, but the average savings in Northwest Florida at today’s Gulf Power rate is about $90 per month.

What are the components of a solar electric photovoltaic (PV) system?

A PV system is made up of different components. These include solar modules (groups of PV cells), which are commonly called PV panels; one or more batteries; a charge regulator or controller for a stand-alone system; an inverter for a utility-grid-connected system and when alternating current (ac) rather than direct current (dc) is required; wiring; and mounting hardware or a framework.

How long do solar electric systems last?

A solar system that is designed, installed, and maintained well will operate for more than 20 years. The basic solar panel has no moving parts and can last well over 30 years.  The panels that Compass Solar Energy installs have a power guarantee of 25 or 30 years.  String inverters have a 10 year warranty or microinverters have a 25 year warranty.

What kind of maintenance do solar electric systems require?

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 generally 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.

What happens when the power from the power company goes out?

By design, the typical grid-tied 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 generation source for your home.  This type of system would add power reliability to your home.

Can I install a grid-tied system with backup power?

Yes. There are several factors to consider in deciding how much battery backup power you need, such as what exactly you would like to power and for how long. Our solar consultants would be happy to assist you in calculating system size and cost for a solar electric system with battery backup.

What is net metering?

Net metering is a policy that allows homeowners to receive the full retail value for the electricity that their solar energy system produces. The term net metering refers to the method of accounting for the solar system’s electricity production. Net metering allows homeowners with solar electric systems to use any excess electricity they produce to offset their electric bill. As the homeowner’s system produces electricity, the kilowatts are first used for any electric appliances in the home. If the solar system produces more electricity than the homeowner needs, the extra kilowatts are fed into the utility grid.

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.

How long does it take to get a residential solar electric system installed?

From the signing of the contract to the final inspection by your county or municipality it may take 4-8 weeks depending on the requirements of your local governing authority.

Can you install solar electric on a mobile home?

In Florida, generally, the answer is no. The system has to be installed to meet the required wind loading of the local governing authority (your county or municipality). Generally, mobile homes cannot supply a secure enough attachment to meet the requirements of the local governing authority. However, we have done ground mount and pergola installations for mobile home owners.

How much of my energy needs can be produced from solar?

The simple truth is that how much energy you can produce from a solar electric system installed by Compass Solar Energy is dependent only upon the space you have available and the amount you are willing to invest.

How do I know if I have enough sunlight for solar electric?

A solar electric system needs unobstructed access to the sun’s rays for most or all of the day. Shading on the system can significantly reduce energy output.  If you have some shading issues, we recommend using microinverters instead of the standard string inverter.

What is an Interconnect Agreement (from my local power company) and does Compass Solar Energy assist me with completing it?

Each power company has its own documentation (Application and Agreement) which it requires you to complete, and sign, in order to connect your solar electric system to its power grid. This documentation is also the agreement between you and the power that they will provide you with credit for the energy you send them. Compass Solar Energy will locate this paperwork, from your power company, and then assist you with the completion and filing of this paperwork at the end of your installation.

What are the environmental benefits of solar?

Solar energy creates electricity and avoids pollution from conventional coal and nuclear plants. Using national average emission factors, every megawatt-hour of electricity generated through a solar PV panel avoids more than 1,300 lbs of carbon dioxide (CO2), more than 5 lbs of sulfur dioxide (SO2), and almost 2 lbs of nitrogen oxide (NOx), and it also avoids producing radioactive nuclear wastes.

Are there any tax credits to go solar?

There is currently a 30% federal tax credit for any qualifying residential or commercial solar electric system. This tax credit is slated to expire on December 31, 2016.

Do I need to have south facing exposure to have a solar energy system?

Although southern exposure increases the effectiveness of a residential solar power system, a west or east facing roof will also work.  

What other options do I have if the system cannot be mounted on my roof?

If a roof-mounted system proves impractical, a ground-mount or decorative pergola application  are popular options.

Do I need approval from my homeowners’ association?

Some homeowners’ associations have rules regarding the installation of anything on your roof or grounds. Florida, like many states, has a Solar Rights Law that prohibits homeowners’ associations from restricting solar devices.

 How much space do I need for a PV solar system?

 The amount of space you will require will depend on a number of factors. For instance, the amount of energy you wish to produce, the panel type and orientation. It will also depend on whether the PV system will be mounted on a roof or the ground (or another structure).

Will the solar system still work in bad weather?

Yes, bad weather will affect the maximum power output of your system, but it will still continue to produce electricity.


If you have more solar questions, please call Compass Solar Energy at 850-439-0035 or email us at  We  love answering your solar questions – we are constantly adding to our FAQ list, so your questions will help us make our solar FAQ list more comprehensive.