It is the little things that can make a big difference
We are the best at what we do and we show you how we are different. Included here are a series of pictures detailing the differences between an Emerald Coast Solar install and the competition. The competition pics are from a number of different installs done by 4 of our main competitors.
All pictures in this section are from actual installs and have not been altered in any way - other than to magnify to highlight certain issues. As well, all pictures here are open source and freely available on the internet. Competitors pictures have been taken directly from their FACEBOOK or web sites.
We use (as shown in the this pic) 2 stainless steel rods and threaded expansion bolts. We drill into your roof, insert the expansion bolt, add a stainless steel lock nut and then insert the stainless steel threaded rod. When this assembly is tightened, it actually pulls more of the rod into your roof.This ensures the maximum amount of the rod is locked into your roof.
Some companies attach the mounting legs directly to you roof. Others, build a cement column. In either case, the bolt is set in a drilled hole and is only a maximum 2.5” (6cm) into the concrete.
You should also note that in all of these installations, by our competitors, the roof and/or the column is left unprotected or simply painted.
Emerald Coast Solar takes a different approach. We want the base of your system to be as secure as possible. In order to accomplish this, we set our expansion bolt and stainless steel rod as noted above. Then, we chip your roof about 1 to 2 cm deep. We then use Festerbond as a bonding agent to ensure a strong connection between the old and new concrete. We set our column form and pour 10 cm of concrete. This gives our base much more strength. We have at least 5.5” (14 cm) of stainless steel locked in place with 4.75” (12 cm) of concrete bonded to your existing roof.
Emerald Coast Solar goes the extra step and coats both the new column and the surrounding roof with 3 coats of roof sealer.We do this even when we are elevating the entire system off the roof.
This second part deals with panels, electrical, and system safety.
Now, we deal with the electrical connections, the inverters, and the feed into the house. This is really the most critical part of your system. If this is not done right, your system, at best, will not work properly. At worst, it can be lethal. Unfortunately, this is also the part of the system that you, generally, do not see and have no idea as to the quality of workmanship.
Here are a couple of examples of a very poor and dangerous install. This is a solar system using a standard wall mount central inverter. The people waited over 6 months to get the job done and the system in operation. They even had to hire another solar company to come out and fix the system after the original company refused to return. This is wrong on so many levels.
You can see from this picture that the black line actually has the copper wire exposed. This system and this wire actually carry up to 600 volts of power from the panels to the inverter. Someone could have been seriously injured or killed contacting this open wire.
Same company, same installation. If you look carefully at the wires, you will see that most of the copper wire has been stripped away and only a few strands are available to make a connection. For those who do not know, wire comes in different thicknesses (gauge). The thicker the wire (lower the gauge), the more power you can run through the wires. If you have too small a wire, it will heat up and eventually short out. These wires would not have lasted long, given the amount of power that was going to be sent through them. Six months, maybe a year down the road and this system would have failed.
Here is one example of what happens when you send too much power through an electrical cable that is too small.
Certainly not what you would want to happen with your solar system.
You need to be able to trust the company you hire to install your solar system is not more concerned with how they can reduce their cost for your system than the safety and operation of your system.
You also need to understand that there is no inspection of your system by CFE or anyone else. There is no government regulatory body that oversees solar installers and there is not even a requirement that the installer be certified. There is supposed to be, but in the 7 years we have been doing this, we have never been asked for certification from anyone.
Buying a solar system based on the lowest price is a recipe for disaster. Even going with an established company without doing research on that company can result in huge problems. The homeowner with the above issues found out the hard way.
One final point: experience does not equal skill. The installer for the above system claims 20 years experience in solar installs.
At Emerald Coast Solar, we will not compromise the quality of your install to save a few pesos. We only use the right equipment for the job. Are there choices that can be made for which equipment to use? Yes, and we will always go for what will work best, not what is cheapest.
We almost never see wires joined together using the proper wire nut. Wires are just twisted together and wrapped in electrical tape. This is the #1 reason wiring shorts out down here, especially if it is exposed to sunlight, heat, salt, and moisture. The tape just disintegrates and then you have exposed wires in easy contact with each other.
We always use the correct gauge of wire or better and we always color code our wiring. Not only do we color code the wires, we use a type of wire that is bundled. What I mean is the black, red, white and green are all bundled in one neat package with a rubber sheath over all to protect from the elements. This is substantially more expensive than the single line wires used by the competition but far better for longevity and much easier to work on if the need arises. It is also weather resistant and eliminates the need (in most cases) for green polyvinyl tubing.
Emerald Coast Solar always uses proper wire nuts.
Even this use of wire nuts, while an improvement, is far from correct. Every time one wire is joined to another, it needs to be secure in a junction or switch or plug box. Wires should never be simply joined together.
Junction boxes. I have yet to see anyone use an exterior grade junction box with proper cable or tube feed in. Most of the time, it is just an interior junction box and if there is any tubing, it is set into the box or just up to it. Most boxes have no cap and it does not matter as they are open to rain etc. on all sides anyway. Sealed and water proof are almost unheard of here.
At Emerald Coast Solar, our cable connections are color coded, bundled cable that we feed either through polyvinyl tubing or directly into waterproof, sealed junction boxes. These boxes have a rubber seal at each cable hole opening that is cut to fit the cable passing into the box or, the rubber seal is removed and locking nut connectors are used to feed the polyvinyl tube to the box. In either case, the junction box remains water proof and protects the connections inside.
Our competition generally uses the same electrical panel boxes inside as they do outside. While these boxes are suited for the inside, they are not the best choice. They are plastic and break easily. They use the Mexican style breaker. This breaker is not even close to the quality and safety of a standard Square D breaker.
Each of these breaker boxes is designed for interior use. Each of these breakers does not need to be outside. If you look closely at the last box,you will note it is a 220 breaker but only has 3 wires going into the box. This means that the breaker is either not grounded or does not have a neutral line.
We use the Schneider Electric Square D small load centre when necessary. This allows for direct input of the power from CFE to the box – not to a breaker. We then install the necessary breakers and fully wire with 2 hot wires, a neutral, and a ground, when possible. This box can be mounted either in the wall for a flush mount or on the wall. It is metal not plastic and is much more aesthetically pleasing.
We hope you have found this to be informative and now have a clearer understanding of what makes an Emerald Coast Solar system not only different but, also far superior to any of our competitors.
While the industry in general has been moving more and more toward faster and cheaper, we are bucking that trend. Since we only install systems at the beach, we have taken the approach that quality is our number one goal. Quality of product, quality of installation and quality of service after the install. We deal with different conditions at the beach. Our climate is much harsher than even just the short distance to Merida. We build systems to last out here and we back them up with the highest level of service available. We do not do lots of systems but, the systems we do are the best available.