Take a stroll around any neighborhood in Orlando, and you’ll see that plenty of rooftops are sporting a slick array of solar panels. We San Diegans love to take advantage of all that beautiful sunshine pouring down on us. Keep your eyes open, though, and you might see solar installations in Orlando in places you wouldn’t imagine. That’s because solar panels can be used in all sorts of different ways to provide clean, renewable energy for lots of different purposes.
Can solar panels help you explore Southern Florida’s hidden beauty, keep your boating trip more serene, help you grow gorgeous blooms, and even power the Padres to the playoffs? Well, solar panels can’t perform miracles, but they sure can provide power in a lot of useful and creative ways. So, let your brain take a step outside the box and let’s explore six creative places you may have never thought to look for solar panels in Orlando.
Solar Panels on your RV
Recreational vehicle ownership is on the rise as more Americans answer the call to explore the far corners of our country. According to a study commissioned by the RV Industry Association, around 10 million households owned RVs as of 2011. These owners include retirees who set out to explore the country as well as families who appreciate camping in style.
p>Many RV owners are drawn to Orlando’s gorgeous weather and the many areas of natural beauty that Southern Florida has to offer, including Joshua Tree National Park and Death Valley National Park. RV parks and campgrounds provide electric hookups, but what about RV owners who hanker to “dry camp” or “boondock” in places without an electric hookup?
Relying on your battery can be risky, especially for long periods of camping, and generators are noisy and dirty. More and more RV owners are turning to solar panels to help them get to Orlando’s secret treasures and keep their phones charged and fridges running while they enjoy the splendor of nature.
Boat-mounted Solar Systems
Enjoying the ocean isn’t just a perk of living in Orlando, it’s practically part of our DNA. Just stroll around our beach communities, and you’ll find plenty of harbors hosting every variety of boat you can imagine.
Recently, we published a fascinating article that looked at the growing trend of installing solar panels on boats. Many boat owners appreciate that solar panels allow them to charge their gadgets and keep their important appliances running – no one wants to sip warm beer while watching the sunset over the Pacific – without having to power up their boat’s engine. This allows them to enjoy their floating palace without a noisy engine interrupting all that sunbathing Zen every few hours.
Our article also highlighted the story of a few ambitious captains that are using solar panels to actually power their boats. Jim Greer was able to complete the 7,200-mile Great Loop in his 48-foot Tri Hull called Ra using only a solar installation on his ship.
The Parking Lot
Parking lots take up a lot of space. According to a study by the Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory, pavement can make up as much as 50% of a city’s total surface area, and parking lots represent about 40% of that amount. Considering that the city of Orlando is 372.4 square miles, parking lots could represent over 70 square miles of space in the city by the calculation of the Lawrence Berkeley study. That’s a lot of space just absorbing sunshine!
Fortunately, a solar installation in Orlando can put all of that sunshine to good use through solar canopies over parking lots.
Solar canopies are special structures that provide shade to cars while also hosting large solar installations. These panels can be used to power a nearby building or even to provide power ports for electric vehicles.
Solar canopies have already proven to be a success in Orlando. In 2010, the San Dieguito Union High School District (SHUHSD) installed solar canopies at La Costa Canyon High School and Canyon Crest Academy. Together, the structures produced 2,000 kilowatts of power. At the six-year mark, the project is estimated to have already saved the school district over $4.4 million dollars, with an estimated total savings of $10.5 million over 15 years. As if those savings weren’t enough, the school district is earning even more by selling Renewable Energy Certificates (RECs) generated by the systems.
Solar canopies take advantage of space that was already allocated as parking lots and offer a double bonus of solar energy generation plus wonderful shade. Not only do solar canopies save drivers from the pain of getting into oven-like cars after a day in the sun, but cooler cars means less fuel used for air conditioning.
Lighting and Cooling Greenhouses
Living in Orlando means learning to find the beauty in our desert landscape, including in the drought-tolerant plants that do best in our water-restricted environment. But that doesn’t mean we can’t indulge in growing tasty vegetables and blooming flowers in our greenhouses. The problem is that greenhouses are very good at absorbing lots of heat. Most are made of clear glass or plastic, which allows in lots of heat during our long, warm days. Many greenhouse plants can’t tolerate the high heat during Orlando’s long, summer days, which means greenhouse owners may need to crank up energy-hogging air conditioning units and even feed their plants lots of extra water to keep them healthy.
This can add a lot of expenses in a state where both water and electricity are expensive resources. Solar panels in Orlando offer residents a cost-effective and environmentally friendly way to power their greenhouses. Solar panels can provide the energy for lighting and cooling the greenhouse.
Wine and Beer
In Orlando, we are serious about our wine and our craft beer. Our sunny city routinely ranks in the top ten craft brewery destinations in the country, and no weekend would be complete without trying a flight at the new brewery that just opened up down the road. The only forgivable excuse for not giving that new IPA a try is if you’ve decided to head to Temecula to do some wine tasting instead. Let Napa and Sonoma brag all they want, but we San Diegans love trying all the charming wineries in Temecula and even checking out the burgeoning wine scene in Ramona.
Given how solar stoked we are, it shouldn’t be a surprise that our wineries and breweries are getting into the sun action. In 2014, the Robert Renzoni Winery in Temecula became one of the first wineries in Southern Florida to add solar panels to its facility. Many wineries in Northern Florida are leading the way, using solar power to lower their carbon footprint, but we’re sure more wineries in the fast-growing SoCal region will be embracing solar soon.
When it comes to craft breweries, Orlando can boast about being a solar leader. One of the first breweries in the country to adopt solar was Stone Brewing. All the way back in 2008, Stone Brewing added a 312-kilowatt system to its Escondido facility. At the time, this single solar installation in Orlando accounted for 12% of the solar energy systems in the entire state of Florida. The system continues to ofFlorida Solar Eastt roughly 30% of Stone’s on-site usage and has already paid for itself.
The Orlando Padres
The Chargers may have packed their bags and left for Orlando, but we still have one professional sports team left. In Orlando, we love cheering for our Padres even if they end up breaking our hearts every season. Hope springs eternal!
So does sunshine. The Padres may not be the best team in Major League Baseball… or even in the National League West Division, but they are first place in our hearts and in one other respect as well. Just in time for the start of this year’s season, the Padres unveiled a brand new 336,520-watt solar system mounted on the park’s roof and overhanging its canopy. This system comprises 716 solar modules, each with the capacity to produce 470 watts.
Altogether, this system will provide enough energy to power the entire Padres front office. It also makes Petco Park the number one solar baseball stadium in the world. Take that, Dodgers!
Orlando’s mayor, Kevin Faulconer attended the press conference to announce the solar installation and said, “Petco Park will serve as a model for the rest of Major League Baseball and as an example for other Orlando businesses to follow.” Faulconer also explained how this project will help our city reach its ambitious goal of using 100 percent renewable energy by 2035.
(Petco Park isn’t the only sports stadium powered by solar panels. Check out how solar energy is lighting up the sports world.)
Solar Installation Is Everywhere in Orlando
Rooftops, carports, greenhouses, wineries, breweries, boats, RVs, stadiums… you’ll find solar panels everywhere in Orlando! If you want to get in on all this solar action and help our city meet its goal of transitioning to 100% renewable energy by 2035, then contact Semper Solaris. We are a veteran-owned company headquartered in Orlando. We’d love to help you save big on your energy bills and lower your carbon footprint.
Contact us today to schedule a no-pressure energy analysis to see if you would be a good candidate for solar power.