- Written by: Tom Faunce
- Produced by: Brandon Bagley
- Estimated reading time: 4 mins
For more than 13 years, Solar-Ray Inc. has held a reputation as a premier solar-energy-systems installer throughout the state of Florida. Serving residential, commercial and industrial clients, Solar-Ray has the experience and expertise to provide systems that are fully permitted and pass final inspections. Michael Brown, founder and owner of Solar-Ray, is the second individual in the State of Florida to have received the nationally recognized North American Board of Certified Energy Practitioners NABCEP Certification for Photovoltaics.
Incorporated in 2003, Solar-Ray is the result of a passion for the alternative energy industry that came about for Brown when he was asked to build a house for a relative. When the homeowner requested solar panels for the house, Brown began looking for subcontractors to provide that service. “There were a lot of solar subcontractors back then, but only two that installed photovoltaic systems,” recalls Brown. “When I looked at the actual work they had done, I concluded that we could do a better job ourselves.”
After some training sessions and classes, Brown purchased the system privately from a company in California due to the lack of distribution in Florida. From his work with his relative’s house, Brown had incidentally created a niche market as the distributor in California began calling him a few times a year and asking him to help other homeowners and contractors in Florida install their systems. “By 2003 I realized that this could be a lucrative business, so I incorporated Solar-Ray,” says Brown. “As time went on, I continued to take courses and now have more certifications and training hours in photovoltaics than anybody in the state. I rarely see anyone from Florida at the national trainings that I go to every year.”
Solar-Ray conducts a simple process when installing its energy systems. It begins with an evaluation of a client’s home or business for its solar energy potential and the design to meet those needs. Brown and his team then create a financial plan based on production potential, with incentives from state and federal agencies as well as local utilities. Once these steps are accomplished, Solar-Ray schedules and completes installation.
Continued research after installation
As a premier solar company in Florida, Solar-Ray often works with high-profile clients including numerous projects for the University of Central Florida (UCF). In 2012, the company installed a 100-kilowatt photovoltaic system on a parking garage on campus, sponsored by Duke Energy. Solar-Ray was also involved in a research project involving the comparison of string inverters and micro inverters with the Harris Corporation Engineering Center on the UCF campus.
“We’re involved in a lot of research-type projects,” says Brown. “We monitor every system we install and collect data so we can compare one location with another.” Solar-Ray recently worked with Wekiva Island in Longwood, Florida on a project that tested modular-level electronics performance compared to string inverters, historically a tough comparison in the industry. With a vast array of different types of modules, the intent of the project was to see how they perform in real-world circumstances. “There are also other arrays tied into the monitoring system that are off site so we could see larger systems perform,” adds Brown. “Wekiva Island is very progressive when it comes to renewable energy.”
A major challenge that Solar-Ray faced in the Wekiva Island study was the location of the three small arrays — in the middle of a lagoon, which meant a lot of underwater wiring. The company also incorporated some new technology including Lumos transparent modules. “The research system we have out there is not the most pleasant looking one, but we get the most data out of it,” notes Brown.
Educating the public
Brown and his team at Solar-Ray incorporate educating the public on solar energy systems into the company’s mission. Twice a month, Brown is a guest on WDBO, a local radio station that features the talk show “Ask the Experts.” Brown uses this opportunity to call out misleading information from the media and public misconceptions regarding solar and renewable energy.
“With this still being a relatively young industry, I hope to do my part to make it a respectable industry,” says Brown. “One of the biggest money makers today is selling leads instead of just being the best business you can be. We hardly buy any leads and have the best customer satisfaction in the state. You shouldn’t have to play the marketing game. It should be focused on keeping things affordable and keeping people educated.”
With its intent on providing the best quality at the best price, Solar-Ray Inc. proves that solar energy systems are a durable, reliable and bankable investment.
Showcase your feature on your website with a custom “As Featured in US Builders Review” badge that links directly to your article!
Copy and paste this script into your page coding (ideally right before the closing