Are solar panels in Florida worth it? Your expert savings guide for 2021

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Are solar panels in Florida worth it? Your expert savings guide for 2021

The Sunshine State has seen a recent boom in solar panel installations as more homeowners become aware of the huge savings solar energy offers. 

Solar’s value proposition has been driven up by the declining cost of solar panels, which are now available in Florida at an average cost of just $2.61 per watt before incentives.

Combine the reduced cost of solar panels with generous federal incentives, favorable utility programs, and Florida’s Property Assessed Clean Energy (PACE) financing, and going solar in Florida is a better deal than ever before.

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    How much do home solar panels cost in Florida?

    The average cost of solar panels in Florida is $2.61 per watt as of April 2021. This puts a typical 6 kW solar system at $15,660 before claiming any incentives. 

    While that’s a lot of money, you will actually end up paying a lot less once all incentives are factored in.

    Solar panel costs in Florida are also less than the national average for residential solar power systems, which is currently $2.85 per watt.

    Learn more: Florida solar panel cost data

    What solar incentives are available in Florida?

    Solar incentives currently available in Florida:

    • Solar tax credit (26%)
    • Net metering
    • Property Assessed Clean Energy (PACE program Florida)

    What is the Florida solar tax credit?

    When people refer to the ‘Florida solar tax credit,’ they actually mean the 26% solar tax credit, known formally as the federal investment tax credit (ITC). 

    This is actually a federal incentive available in all 50 states. It allows tax-paying homeowners to claim 26% of their solar system’s cost as a deduction on their income taxes. In other words, the federal tax credit offers you a 26% discount on your solar system. If your tax liability is less than 26% of your solar system’s cost, you can roll the remaining balance over to the next period for up to 10 years.

    How do I apply for the 26% solar tax credit? 

    After purchasing your solar system, fill out Form 5695 when you file your taxes. Here is a guide you can follow on how to claim the solar tax credit.

    Learn more: The federal solar tax credit - All your questions answered

    What is Florida net metering?

    Net metering is a solar incentive offered in Florida that allows you to sell your surplus solar electricity to the electricity grid at the full retail rate. 

    Why net metering is valuable in Florida: With all the sunshine in Florida, it’s very likely that at times, your solar system will produce too much energy for your home. This excess power is exported to the grid, and net metering means your utility must compensate you at the rate you pay for power. Every 1 kilowatt hour (kWh) of power sent to the grid is 1 kWh off of your electricity bill; this is how solar pays for itself.

    Provided you size your system correctly, you should be able to wipe out all or at least most of your electric bill.

    Learn more: What is net metering and how does it work?

    Are solar systems in Florida exempt from property tax and sales tax?

    Yes - solar power systems in Florida are exempt from property tax and sales tax.

    The sales tax exemption represents a savings of 6% on the upfront cost of a rooftop solar system. 

    Meanwhile, the property tax exemption means ongoing savings on your annual property tax bill. This is especially beneficial considering that when you go solar - be it on an existing roof or new home - you will see a boost to your home’s selling price.

    On top of the energy savings, this is a great selling point when listing your home on the real estate market.

    Does Florida offer any other rebates or tax credits? 

    The city of Longwood used to offer a small rebate program but this program has now expired. Sadly, there’s no other state tax credit or rebate for solar in Florida. The same goes for rebates.

    Luckily, the dual impact of existing incentives and advancements in manufacturing technology means that the cost of solar power in Florida has dramatically decreased for the average homeowner.

    What is solar PACE financing?

    The state of Florida allows for localities to offer loans which are paid for through a property tax increase to your local government. 

    PACE loans can finance not just solar systems, but most energy efficiency upgrades, as well. The benefit of PACE is that you can start saving money on your utility bills from Day 1, and if you choose to move,  you can pass the remaining balance on the loan to the next property owner. 

    This is why PACE is different from regular solar loans. The new owner can elect to keep paying the loan or have the equipment removed, although it’d be unwise to do so, as the savings from solar would far outweigh the loan payments.

    See what solar panels cost in Florida after applying all incentives

    How do I sign up for PACE Florida? 

    One option is to check with your local county to see which PACE programs are offered in your area. 

    The other, easier option is to talk to your local solar installer. They can advise you about your options and help you sort out the required paperwork.

    See the best solar companies in your area

    Do I qualify for PACE? 

    Provided you don’t have overdue taxes, mortgage payments, or are part of a bankruptcy filing, you should have no trouble qualifying for PACE.

    How much can I save by purchasing a solar panel system?

    Installing a properly sized renewable energy system in Florida can save you up to $80,000 in avoided energy costs. This is about average for the United States. 

    The example below shows the potential solar savings for an average home in Hardee County, Florida. 

     Financial data for an average Hardee County home going solar.

    Solar system costs and savings for an average home in Hardee County, with a monthly utility bill of $169. You can see an estimate tailored for your home by entering your details into the Florida solar savings calculator below.   

    Your exact savings will depend on many factors, including solar panel costs, utility company rates, and the climate where you live. Above all, your total savings will depend on your energy consumption - the more electricity your household consumes, the more you will save with solar panels. 

    To get a solar savings estimate tailored to your location and your circumstances, enter your address into the Florida solar savings calculator below. 

    How long will a solar installation in Florida take to pay for itself?

    Solar energy systems in Florida usually take about 8-9 years to pay for themselves, but the payback period can also be as quick as just 5 years. Some important factors that affect your repayment time are:

    • Your overall electric usage
    • The size of your solar system
    • Whether or not you use a lot of power during the day
    • Your electricity rate plan

    To maximize your savings, you want to cut down on your usage as much as possible - this will mean your solar system sends more energy to the grid that your utility must pay you for.

    The time of day you use the most power is also a major factor of your solar repayment time. If you’re at home during the day when your solar system is producing the most energy it will mean your solar system exports less energy to the grid. The less energy sent to the grid, the less your utility is required to pay you in net metering credits. Although still cheaper than without solar, this will increase your electric bills.

    Should I install a solar battery system in Florida?

    With products such as the Tesla Powerwall 2 gaining large media attention, you may be wondering whether or not batteries are right for you. 

    The truth is that since net metering is available in Florida, the significant upfront investment in a battery storage solution isn’t worth it. Since net metering ‘stores’ the monetary value of your excess electricity — for no additional upfront investment — batteries just aren’t worth it.

    That said, there are two cities, Orlando and Jacksonville, which offer rebates for solar battery backup systems. You can get up to $2,000 back in Orlando, and up to $4,000 in Jacksonville. Here are more details of each program:

    Are solar panels resistant to extreme weather?

    Most solar panel manufacturers that are at least semi-reputable will test their panels in 140 mph (i.e hurricane-like) winds. It is extremely unlikely that your solar panels will add to the danger, or suffer damage, during most extreme weather events.

    As for hail storms, this shouldn’t be a concern of yours either. Solar panels are legally required to comply with international standard IEC61215. Under these conditions, a solar panel must be able to withstand a hit from a ball of hail 25mm (about 1 inch) in diameter at speeds of 51.4 mph. Some premium brands of solar panels are rated to withstand hits from even larger balls of hail at even higher speeds.

    Florida savings calculator: See how much you can save by going solar

    Key takeaways

    • As of April 2021, the average cost of solar panels in Florida is currently $2.61 per watt.
    • The two big incentives available to Florida residents are net metering and the 26% solar tax credit.
    • In Florida, a typical 6 kW solar panel system will cost $15,660 before incentives and $11,588 after incentives.
    • Solar payback periods are usually between eight (8) and nine (9) years, but in some counties it can be as low as just five (5) years.
     

     - Author of Solar Reviews

    Andrew Sendy

    Home Solar Journalist

    Andy is deeply concerned about climate change but is also concerned about cost of living pressures on American families. He advocates for solar energy and solar battery storage only to the extent that they make financial sense for homeowners. He is not affiliated with any particular solar company in the United States.

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