There are literally hundreds of solar companies here in the islands. But that probably just comes with the territory when living in a climate like Hawaii.

With the industry currently booming, there are some basic facts that every consumer should get to know.

What’s the difference?


Solar hot water systems and photovoltaic systems (PV) are both great long-term investments with fantastic financial incentives, but consumers often mistake them for being the same thing. The hot water system heats water and the PV produces electricity.

Customers often ask if they need to get both systems. While it is possible to just go with PV, there are several things to consider. It takes a lot of energy to heat water, and doing that with just PV would probably take about six to eight panels to produce enough energy to heat an equivalent amount of water that just two of the solar hot water panels can heat. Not only will that cost more, but another thing to think about is if there is sufficient roof space. Obviously, eight panels will take up more room than two, so that could potentially limit how deeply the electric bill will be reduced.

PV efficiency

Some companies will claim their panels are more efficient. While it is true that some panels can harvest more of the sun’s energy, that “efficiency” is already reflected by the designated wattage of the panel. If a system is designed to have a total of 8,000 DC Watts, it doesn’t make a whole lot of difference in power production if the system is composed of 25 panels rated at 320 DC Watts or 32 panels rated at 250 DC Watts. Many times these “high-efficiency” PV systems will cost more than $7 per DC Watt. But keep in mind that another PV system producing very similar power will cost only about $5.50 per DC Watt. Is it worth it to get almost the same power production for $12,000 more?

Know the company


It is common in the industry to have warranties up to 25 years, but be sure to know the manufacturer. A warranty will mean nothing if the company is no longer in business. Of course, there is much more to know about a fantastic investment such as PV. To learn more, visit Hawaii Home Expo’s showroom at 2933 Koapaka St. in Honolulu or call 695-3976(EXPO).

CONTACT: 695-3976