Florida law requires FSEC to develop and promulgate standards for solar energy systems (§377.705(4)(a), FS) and to establish criteria for testing the performance of solar energy systems (§377.705(4)(b), FS). That same law requires that all solar energy systems sold or manufactured in Florida meet those standards. The standards developed and promulgated by FSEC are subject to rulemaking under the Florida Administrative Procedures Act (Chapter 120, FS). This requires notice to interested parties, workshops, and hearings in order to assure the standards are developed with industry input and consensus to the extent possible. The standards are then adopted by reference in the Florida Administrative Code (FAC).
The FAC Rules can be found online at:
The FSEC Standards adopted by reference in these Rules can also be found online
Both solar thermal collector and system certifications may be verified online through either the FSEC solar thermal certification portal or the SRCC solar thermal certification portal. The databases on these portals are searchable for both Collector Certifications and System Certifications and by Company Name and by Certification ID.
No, FSEC is no longer an SRCC-accredited test laboratory. However, FSEC accepts the solar thermal collector test results from accredited test laboratories and continues to conduct solar thermal collector and system research on a contract basis. Parties interested on solar thermal collector or system research are encouraged to contact FSEC by electronic mail to firstname.lastname@example.org. Manufacturers and vendors seeking standardized solar thermal collector or solar thermal system testing are encouraged to contact the Solar Rating & Certification Corporation™ (SRCC). A listing of SRCC-accredited test laboratories who perform this service can be found online at http://www.solar-rating.org/test_labs/approved_labs.html.
Yes, under certain hardship conditions, FSEC will issue new collector or system certifications. Such new certification requests will be considered on a case-by-case basis and applicants will need to provide hardship justification. FSEC is encouraging all solar thermal venders to seek national certification of their products.
Yes, there have been no changes to the operation of the FSEC photovoltaic testing and certification program.
While many contractors may be licensed to install solar energy systems, their in-house expertise and experience levels will vary substantially between companies. Even experienced contractors can make costly design mistakes that can compromise system efficiency and reliability, or even cause property damage. Since its inception, the certification program has corrected many designs that contained substantial errors relating to both safety and performance. The program safeguards a consumer’s solar energy system investment and offers contractors a complete design review and feedback before system installation, often saving costly call-backs.
A properly functioning solar energy system consists of many more components than the solar thermal collector or the PV modules. System certification verifies that the individual components do in fact comply with standards and that the system configuration will result in an operational system.
For a solar thermal system, the overall performance depends not only on the performance of the collectors, but also on the performance of the hot water storage component, and on the climate where the system is installed.
For photovoltaic systems, performance depends on the correct assembly of UL-listed components in accordance with the NEC and best practices. UL standards are primarily safety standards. While PV modules and all other system components must meet UL electrical safety requirements, they must be properly installed in a design that is safe to operate and provides optimal performance to the customer.
The law does not give FSEC any enforcement responsibilities or powers. However, the statute clearly states in §377.705 (4) (d), that "all solar energy systems manufactured or sold in the state must meet the standards established by the center . . ." FSEC conducts training of building officials, which includes information about the certification program, and encourages the AHJ to take advantage of the program as a quality control measure.
The installation of a solar energy system on a building requires a building permit – plumbing codes must be followed for solar thermal systems, and electrical codes must be followed for PV systems. Additionally, a contractor licensed by the Florida Department of Business and Professional Regulation (DBPR) must perform the installation. The licensed contractor obtains the required permit from the Authority Having Jurisdiction (AHJ). Therefore, responsibility for ensuring that solar energy systems are certified falls to the AHJ enforcing Florida’s Building Codes. Florida’s Building Code Officials are responsible for ensuring that Florida’s buildings are constructed in accordance with State requirements and that they are safe and healthy for their inhabitants.