Solar Panels in Florida
How Much do Solar Panels Cost in Florida?
Solar panels in the state of Florida are some of the cheapest in the United States. Estimates range between about $2.28 to $2.48 per watt, and the national average is something like $3.00. Most solar panels are sold in 250 watt sizes, which means each panel will run you between $570 and $620, and you will need between 20 and 30 panels to be completely self-sufficient from the electrical grid. So a low estimate of how much you’ll spend just on solar panels themselves is around $11,400, while a higher estimate looks more like $18,600. While this is a lot of money, keep in mind that especially in Florida there are a ton of incentives, rebates and credits you can take advantage of to defray that cost, not to mention the fact that your solar panels in Florida will pay for themselves a lot faster than they would in other places.
What are the benefits of going solar?
The state of Florida has got a lot of incentives in place for citizens who want to go solar, much more than in some other states. Couple that with the fact that Florida has some of the cheapest panels in the union and you can see that solar power in Florida has a lot going for it. Here are just a few of the incentives and credits available for solar customers in Florida:
- Florida has strong net metering laws, which means your utility company will have to pay you for any excess energy your solar power system generates and feeds back into the grid. In other words, anything you don’t use will earn you money or credits toward future electric bills. This can come in extremely handy for those who aren’t home a lot or for people who want to install a lot of extra solar panels and create a small solar farm in their yard or on their roof.
- The state of Florida also has statewide interconnection standards, meaning connecting your solar system to the grid anywhere in the state is going to be standardized. This is extremely helpful because your solar installer shouldn’t have to do anything different for your system than they do for anybody else, meaning it should go quicker, easier and save you some money in the process.
- Florida offers PBIS- Performance based incentive payments, based on the amount of electricity your system actually creates and feeds back into the grid (though in Florida they are called “Solar Power Performance Payments”). The payment is based on the amount of kilowatt-hours (kWh) your system is able to generate according to your home’s electric meter. The energy produced is then credits to you as SRECs (solar renewable energy credits)
- The state of Florida offers a property tax exemption on all solar installations- Meaning your property taxes cannot legally be reassessed based on the installation of a solar power system. So your property taxes should not go up, while your property value will.
- The state of Florida also offers an exemption from state sales taxes when paying for your solar panels or their installation. And while that small little bit may not sound like a whole lot- State sales tax in Florida is only 6%- when you’re talking about something that is going to cost in the tens of thousands of dollars, that 6% adds up really quickly.
- The federal government also offers a federal income tax credit of 26% of the total cost of your solar system installation. Once again, if you’re spending $12-18,000 on this installation, you’re saving somewhere between $3,000 and $5,000 with this one incentive alone.
- Your home’s value will increase by an estimated $10-20,000 as a result of the addition of a solar energy system, possibly even more than that depending on the size of the system and its energy output. This is an especially big deal for someone who might be considering selling their home in the next 10-20 years, as this increase in value alone will just about pay for the entire system by itself. A realtor can give you a better estimate on how much the value of your home may increase with the addition of solar panels, but one thing that isn’t in dispute- homes with solar panels sell faster than homes without them, almost 100% of the time.
How much solar power do I need to power my home?
The average American home is going to require somewhere between 6 and 8 kw of solar panels to operate completely independent of the grid. This is going to workout to something between 20 and 30 solar panels total. Your solar installer will be able to give you a better idea of how many solar panels you’ll need by looking over your past electric bills, so leave this one to the experts.
How long do solar panels last?
Most solar panels come with a 20-25 year warranty, meaning the manufacturer will replace or pay for the repair of your panels if they should fail due to a manufacturing error within that time period. Most solar installers offer a similar warranty, usually guaranteeing their own work for 20-25 years, meaning they will fix basically anything that goes wrong with your solar panels due to an installers error within that time period as well. Therefore, it is a pretty safe bet that you can expect your solar panels to last about 20-25 years, roughly.
What is the “Payback” period for Solar Panels in Florida?
Your solar panels will eventually pay for themselves, everybody knows that. Through rebates, incentives, tax breaks, etc. This figure depends heavily on your own personal situation- size of your home, temperature preferences, how many people live in your home, etc. Current estimates suggest that in the state of Florida your solar panels will likely pay for themselves in 12-14 years, and while this may seem like a lot, keep in mind that your panels are going to last for at least 20 years, probably more, which means that once they’ve “paid” for themselves, you’ll still have them for many years, producing “free” electricity for the rest of their life.
Types of Solar Panels & inverters
So solar panels are obviously the devices that actually capture sunlight, but what are inverters? Inverters are the devices that actually convert captured sunlight into usable electricity, and obviously any solar energy system requires inverters to work. So let’s take a look at what kinds are available.
First off, solar panels- There are two basic kinds that are usually used in home installations: Monocrystalline and Polycrystalline. Monocrystalline panels are the smaller kind- They tend to be more expensive and work with less direct sunlight, and they last longer than polycrystalline panels. The downside here is that monocrystalline panels are more expensive, so there’s a good chance that a lot of homeowners are going to go for the cheaper kind. Polycrystalline panels on the other hand are bigger, less efficient and don’t last as long as monocrystalline panels, but of course, they’re cheaper.
As far as inverters go, there are three basic types- String inverters, Micro-Inverters and Power Optimizers. The thing with inverters is that the kind of inverters you use is going to be largely dictated by the kind of panels you’re using and they’re placement. So you have less choice here, but just know that these inverters are the kinds you’re more than likely going to be dealing with in a home installation scenario.
How Does Weather Affect Solar Panels?
Obviously sunlight = good for solar panels. But there’s a lot more to consider in terms of weather. Here’s a few things you may want to think about before making a decision on solar panels in Florida:
- Fog / Cloud Cover- On a foggy or cloudy day, your solar panels will actually only generate 10-30% as much energy as they would on a normal day. The reason of course is obvious- the less sunlight that makes it to the panels, the less they can produce.
- Rain-Aside from the obvious problems with cloud cover, rain is actually a good thing for your solar panels. It helps clean off the associated dirt and dust that will settle on them over time, so frequent showers will actually do your solar panels some good.
- Snow- Snow is bad for solar panels because it blocks the sunlight from reaching them. Luckily, you will literally never have to deal with this in Florida, and if you do, you have much bigger problems than your solar panels.
- Temperature- One negative for solar panels in Florida is that their optimal operating temperature is 77 degrees fahrenheit and below. And you are pretty much always going to be above that temperature. However, your solar panels only lose an estimated 1% efficiency for each degree you rise above 77, so for the most part you’re not losing a huge amount of efficiency, and if you lose more than 30% efficiency, you’re probably going to die anyway. So there’s that.
Things to look for in a solar company:
So you’re not an expert in solar energy, and that’s ok. But if you’re looking for a solar company, you need to know a little bit about what you’re looking at, so here’s just a few things to keep in mind-
Time in industry: Obviously new companies are hard to tell much about. If they haven’t done much work, then you won’t be able to find much out there about them. And that doesn’t mean you shouldn’t trust newer companies; But, when evaluating your choices for a solar company, especially if you’re in a non-standard situation, you might want to consider going with a more experienced company, one that has been around long enough that they have probably seen any kind of strange situation you can throw at them.
Types of panels: As we covered above, there’s more than one kind of solar panel, and not all companies are completely comfortable with working with every kind of panel and inverter. So if you have a preference for solar panels- IE, you don’t want them on your roof, or your only want them on your roof, etc- You need to make that clear up front so the company you’re dealing with can communicate clearly with you whether or not they can or will do that.
Payment options: So your solar panels are going to cost you between $11,000 and $18,000. Then the company is going to charge you for labor and materials- So assume you’re going to tack on a solid $5,000-$8,000 on any solar installation. Ok, cool, so you’re just gonna write a check for $20-25,000 right? Because you have that money just laying around, right? No? Neither do I. So you’re going to need to confirm with your installation company that they have some sort of payment options available- And if they don’t, you’re going to need to secure your own loan. Either way, make sure you know what is going to be expected of you payment-wise before making a commitment.
Warranties: Almost every solar installation company will offer some sort of warranty- But what exactly does that mean? Most of the time, a “warranty” only covers an installer’s error- Meaning if they, the installation company, make a mistake in the installation, they’ll come back and fix it (usually for free, though not always). Furthermore, most solar installers’ “warranties” do not cover manufacturer’s errors (IE, the solar panel itself breaks), nor do warranties cover any incidental damage that might come up with your panels (meteor strikes, squirrel attacks, etc). So make sure you understand your warranty before making a decision! Some installers offer better warranties than others.
Reviews: Probably the best tool we have for evaluating the work any company does is reviews on the internet. Because if it’s on the internet, it has to be true, right? Actually though, people are very likely to tell the truth, the whole truth and nothing but the truth on the internet if they’re dissatisfied with the work of a solar installer. So do your research and find any reviews you can for the company you’re considering- They may not all be good, but the main thing to be on alert for is if they have a *lot* of bad reviews. Almost every company is going to have a few, but not everybody is going to have a ton of them. So do your research, and remember that just because a company has a few bad reviews it doesn’t mean they’re not good- but it’s something to be aware of.
So here’s the conclusion- Florida is as solar-ready if not more so than any other state in the U.S. The state itself is taking lots of steps to offer incentives to residents who choose to go solar, and Florida is literally known for its sunshine. There are a TON of solar installers available all around the state, and even if there’s not one you like in your area, there’s a very good chance you’ll be able to find more than a few who are willing to travel to your area to get your business. So what it boils down to is this- If you’re considering solar panels in Florida, stop considering and do it. End of story.