Its nickname is the Sunshine State for a reason- with annual sunny days well above the national average, Florida is a prime location to harness clean solar energy.
In 2019, the average cost for a 5 kilowatt (kW) solar installation in Florida is between $11,305 – $15,295, with an average gross price of $13,300. After applying money-saving incentives and tax credits, this estimate will drop significantly. Read on to learn more about solar costs in Florida!
Primary Factors that Determine Costs
Size of the system
Start by determining how many solar panels your home will need. This is done by assessing your home’s energy usage and decide how much electricity you want your panels to cover. Many choose 100% coverage to eliminate future electricity bills. The average U.S. home’s energy consumption is about 10,400 kWh (kilowatt-hours) per year, so for full coverage, a similar-sized home would require between 28 and 34 250-watt panels (a popular size).
Sunlight in your area also affects what size system you will need. Orlando gets an average of 233 sunny days per year, significantly over the national average of 205.
A solar energy system requires the following equipment:
Solar panels – Monocrystalline and polycrystalline are the two main panels on the market. They work similarly, but monocrystalline has a more streamlined appearance, higher efficiency rating, and the higher cost associated with those benefits.
Racking – Solar panels aren’t installed directly on your roof- instead, a racking system is installed on your roof, which the panels are then installed upon. The racking system serves two functions: it places your solar panels to receive maximum energy from the sun, and it avoids damaging your roof. Instead of roof racking, if you are in the market for a solar carport or ground mount solar, you can find a mounting system to fit your needs.
Inverters – Solar power is received as DC current, and the inverter switches it to AC power, which most homes are wired to use.
Performance monitoring system – This monitors how effectively your system is running. Performance monitoring systems measures the energy your system produces per hour and helps identify any issues that may come up with your solar system.
Solar batteries – Solar power storage systems let homeowners use solar energy that their homes generate when sunlight isn’t available, such as at night or on cloudy days. That way, even if your city is more overcast, you can still benefit from solar power at those less sunny times.
The Solar Installation company
Solar energy has been getting increasingly more popular, so there is now a wide array of installers to choose from in most areas. Some charge high fees because they use only top-notch equipment, while others spend more money on advertising and promotional items, passing those costs on to the customer.
Take the time to research installers in your area. Ask multiple installers for quotes, and compare their reviews and equipment used. You can also speak with neighbors about how happy they were with their installers.
Price of Installation Breakdown
Panels are commonly thought to be the most costly part of a solar system, but they only make up about 34% of your total cost. The significant investment is actually in labor and overhead costs.
Researching these purchases ahead of time can save you up to thousands of dollars on installation costs. Large-scale companies already have a reputation, so they can charge more and not worry about competition from small-scale businesses. They also frequently charge more to cover additional marketing and overhead expenses.
FL Solar Incentives, Tax Credits, and Rebates
Orlando Utilities Commission (OUC) offers its residents customers a $900 rebate towards their solar thermal energy purchase. Note that this doesn’t count for solar-heated pool systems. An OUC-preferred solar contractor will provide you with paperwork at the time of purchase and then submit it on your behalf. If using a different contractor, then you will submit the paperwork to OUC yourself.
The Solar and CHP Sales Tax Exemption, administered by the Florida Department of Revenue, will save you 6% on your new solar energy purchase- if your system costs $15,000, this exemption alone will save you $900. At the time of sale, you just complete a form and present it to the seller.
Additions on your home usually make your taxes go up, but Florida residents with solar can enjoy a reprieve on their solar purchase. The Property Tax Abatement for Renewable Energy Property offers residents a 100% exemption on property tax for residential properties that install a renewable energy system.
Finally, the federal solar tax credit (ITC) is one of the most generous incentives nationwide. With this tax credit, the amount you pay in taxes is reduced by 26 percent of your solar system’s total cost. For example, a $10,000 system will give you a $3,000 credit towards your federal taxes. This incentive won’t last- the credit amount drops down to 22% after 2021 and will phase out after 2022.
Solar Financing Options
Paying for your solar panels upfront means that you are the owner of your system. Owning gives you some substantial benefits, including an increased home value. If buying your system outright isn’t an option, look into solar loans and solar leases/PPAs. Each offers $0 down, and your monthly payments will most likely be less than your current electric bill.
Florida residents have access to loan options unique to the Sunshine State. The Solar and Energy Loan Fund (SELF) provides unsecured personal loans to Florida residents toward home improvements, which can be applied towards the cost of solar-thermal electric and solar photovoltaics. If you live in Tallahassee, loans toward renewable energy purchases are offered with a 5% interest rate. The City of Tallahassee Utilities offers residents loans of up to $20,000 toward the purchase of a solar energy system, with payments made on monthly utility bills.
Other Factors that Affect the Cost
Purchasing a solar energy system is a long-term investment. When you look at the cost involved, keep in mind the savings you will encounter over the next twenty years or so. Good things to consider are:
- Cost of materials needed for installation
- Labor and overhead fees from your installer
- Maintenance fees
- Savings you’ll receive through federal, state and local tax credits
- The cost and average power usage on your current electric bills
- What you can expect to save on future bills
The length of time it takes you to financially recover from your solar purchase is called the payback period. In Florida, the average payback period is 7.2-9.7 years. After passing this mark, the amount you’ve saved on electricity would have paid for the cost of your system. Solar panels are often covered by a 20-30 year warranty, so you’ll enjoy clean and mostly free electricity well after you hit this mark.
Resident Electricity Rates in FL
Florida residents pay an average of 10.42 cents per kilowatt-hour (kWh). This is very close to the national average of 10.48 cents per kWh. By covering your home’s full electrical needs with solar energy, you will eliminate future electric bills. Keep the 20+ year lifespan of solar panels in mind, and this amounts to considerable savings over time.
Your roof’s size and configuration will likely impact your solar installation cost. Some aspects that factor in is how steep your roof is, if it has one or multiple levels, and if skylights or other items are installed onto your roof.
Since solar panels tend to last for 20-25 years, older roofs may need replacement before installing a solar panel system. You can likely add this expense to your solar project, possibly qualifying for incentives and rebates.
Costs by City
The cost of solar panel installation varies based on which city or county you live in. Bay County residents pay an average of $16,548 for a 5kW system, or $11,583 after applying tax credits. Residents of Brevard County pay an average of $12,173 for the same-sized system, or just $8,521 after the same tax credits are applied.
These figures are estimates, so check with local installers to determine rates in your area. Remember that solar power systems are built to meet your finances and power needs.
Once your solar power system is up and running, it is typically self-sufficient. Minimal maintenance is needed throughout the year, mainly cleaning and inspection. Regular cleaning of your system keeps it running smoothly, and an inspector will alert you if a problem arises.
Professional cleaning services average $3 – $10 per panel, or a flat rate of at least $100. Cleaning your own panels is an option- some people do- but be sure to speak with your installer before trying it yourself.
Annual inspection costs about $150 per year. During this inspection, the contractor searches for cracks or issues with the system. The price to repair a solar panel averages around $650.
Installers frequently offer warranties to cover the system’s performance. If damage is caused by inclement weather, your homeowner’s insurance may cover some of that expense. Be sure to ask a professional for more information, as warranties and insurance coverage vary.
Home Value Increase
In a recent study, the average U.S. home with solar power has a 4.1% increase in value when compared with similar homes without solar panels. More studies are needed for a comprehensive look at rates nationwide, but the data looks promising. According to a recent Zillow study, no city saw a drop in property value when the owner purchased solar panels outright. Leased panels may be another story.
How to Determine Your Solar Installation Costs
Solar Panel Cost Calculator
Project Sunroof is a great resource to help estimate the cost of your property’s solar project. This cost calculator uses Google Earth images to look at your roof’s shape and determine local weather, two factors that greatly impact the cost. It will also ask for your electric bill information to estimate how many solar panels you’d need to fit your energy requirements, and what the cost would be. You can then compare funding options for your project.
With its high amount of annual sunny days, Florida has some of the highest solar potential in the country.
The Sunshine State offers some great incentives statewide to get you started, and the ITC is a generous federal tax abatement. These incentives will only be available for a limited time, especially the ITC. Talk with an installer in your area to see if your home is a good candidate for solar energy!
People also ask
Solar Cost per watt?
The average cost for solar panels in Florida ranges from $2.66 per watt. Prices on solar panel systems will likely continue to drop, but incentives such as the ITC won’t last long.
Is solar really worth it?
In short, yes. The solar power market continues to expand, and Florida is an excellent place to harness clean solar energy.
All those sunny days means your panels will collect even more solar energy. Solar plans are highly customizable these days, so you’re sure to find one to fit your needs!
How many solar panels are needed to power a house?
You determine this by measuring the solar panels’ wattage, your home size, average energy usage, and whether you want some or all of your electrical needs met.
For a household that uses an annual average of 10,400 kWh of electricity along with the common-sized 250-watt solar panels, then an estimated 28-34 panels would fully cover its electrical needs.
How long do solar panels last?
Solar panels last for an average of 20-25 years. After this period they may still produce electricity, but production will likely slow down. Solar panels are durable and don’t need much maintenance- just an annual cleaning and inspection should keep them running efficiently.
Be sure to research your panels’ warranties, making sure they’re well-covered for defects and environmental damage over the years.
Can I install my own solar panels?
Yes, but with some risks. Home solar kits cost much less than professional installation but without comparable guarantees of quality,
workmanship, and proper installation. Make sure you check the manufacturing company’s reputability.
Most installers are licensed, certified, and highly experienced with the installation process. Solar panel warranties usually cover work done by licensed professionals, but not necessarily the DIY method. A professional’s experience comes with a higher price tag, but it might pay off in the long run.