Did you know that Florida ranks third in the nation for solar installations? According to a 2021 ranking by EcoWatch, Florida falls behind California and Texas when it comes to new solar panels installed. However, the Solar Energy Industries Association (SEIA) said recent developments—including the state utilities’ investment in solar projects—might lead to significant growth in the future.
So, what does all of this mean for you as a homeowner thinking about going solar in Florida?
With so many days of sunny skies in the Sunshine State, you might be wondering, “How much do solar panels cost in Florida?”, “How long do solar panels last?” and “Are solar panels a good investment?”
Let’s look at the costs and benefits of solar panels in Florida.
What’s the Average Cost of Solar Panels in Florida?
According to SolarReviews, an unaffiliated consumer education website, the cost of a newly installed Florida solar panel system depends largely on the size of the system you install, the brand you choose, and your geographic location. The site itself offers helpful calculators to determine what size solar panel system you need and how much a system will cost in your zip code.
Plus, you might need a refresher on the difference between a kilowatt, kilowatt-hour, and other energy terms you’ll need to understand when considering the cost of solar panels in Florida.
As you’re pricing the cost to install solar panels in Florida, you should know that the financial tally includes more than equipment and installation costs; you will also want to account for the fees to get permits and inspections. Then, factor in the amount of electricity your home uses; the type of solar panels you want; and the solar incentives on the federal, state, and local levels that make installing solar more cost-effective for homeowners.
According to Energy.gov, the federal solar investment tax credit (a.k.a. the ITC) gives homeowners a tax credit equal to 26% of the solar system cost for systems installed in 2022 and 22% for systems installed in 2023, which you claim on your taxes the year following installation.
Important: State and federal tax credits change annually, so be sure to check their availability and percentage the year you plan to install your system.
At the state level, EcoWatch shows several Florida solar incentives, including the Florida Solar System Property Tax Exemption, which provides a property tax exemption for residential renewable energy properties. Additionally, Florida Net Metering Programs, which may soon change, provide billing credits to homeowners who sell excess energy produced by their solar panels back to the local power grid.
Finally, with the Home Solar System State Sales Tax Exemption, you don’t have to pay any state sales tax when you purchase a new rooftop solar panel system. Although these laws fluctuate over time and should be verified at the time of purchase, solar energy systems have been sales tax exempt in Florida since 1997.
All that said, how much are solar panels in Florida?
As of April 2022, SolarReviews shows that the average cost of solar panels in Florida is $2.58 per watt. For a typical 6000 watt (6 kW) solar panel system, this adds up to $11,442 after you claim the 26% federal solar tax credit currently available.
SolarReviews also shows the average cost of U.S. residential solar panel systems to be $3.00 per watt, while EcoWatch claims the average national cost per watt is $2.66. Either way, Florida’s average costs are currently lower than the rest of the country’s.
Again, the average cost of residential solar systems throughout Florida varies by system size. Systems range from $2.64 per watt for a 4kW system size (total system cost after tax credit is $7,811) to $2.46 per watt for a 10kW size (total system cost after tax credit is $18,167).
What Are the Benefits of Solar Panels?
Investing in solar energy for your home offers a number of benefits, from offsetting energy costs to reducing your home’s carbon footprint to supporting local businesses.
So, are solar panels worth it in Florida?
They can be when you look at both the benefits and savings below.
According to the U.S. Green Building Council (USGBC), the primary benefits of solar panels on your home include the following:
- You can decrease or eliminate your energy bills. On warmer days, you’ll typically generate more energy than you consume, which you’ll trade with your utility company. On hot or cloudy days, you’ll draw from the utility’s energy grid.
Note: Solar panels still draw energy even when it’s not sunny, with cloudy days producing 10-20% of the power generated on sunny days.
- You can earn rebates and tax credits. The USGBC says you’ll receive a federal income tax credit of 30% of total system costs back from equipment and installation. This translates into a $7,500 savings on a solar panel system that costs $25,000. You might also receive state and local rebates and Solar Renewable Energy Credits (SRECs) to further reduce your costs.
- You start saving on day one of installation. While it will take several years to recoup your initial investment (see How Much Can I Save with Solar Panels? below), installing solar panels increases your home’s resale value, with a $5,911 boost per installed kilowatt, according to USGBC. So, if you install a 3.1-kilowatt system, you could see your home’s resale value increase by almost $18,000.
And there’s another bonus: solar panels protect your roof from rain and debris, so they’ll extend the life of your roof and make your house more energy-efficient during the hot summer months.
- You lessen your impact on the environment. While coal and natural gas plants yield harmful air and water pollution (and fossil fuels require significant water resources), solar panels don’t do either. Instead, they draw free, clean energy directly from the sun, reducing your dependence on fossil fuels and helping fight greenhouse gasses.
If you’re trying to live a greener lifestyle, this eco-friendly home improvement goes a long way to reducing your home’s carbon footprint.
How Much Can I Save with Solar Panels?
Solar panels are one of those home investments that take a while to recoup the costs, with savings starting on day one and accruing over time. But how long does it take for solar panels to pay for themselves?
According to EcoWatch, the solar panel return on investment is 12 years (assuming a cash-purchased system). Meanwhile, SolarReviews places the payback period between 8.3–10.2 years.
How long do solar panels last in Florida? Since solar panels typically last 25–30 years, you’ll reap cost savings for years (perhaps decades) after a system installation.
EcoWatch provides these general costs and savings:
- Cost of Average System: $17,716
- Cost of Energy Without Solar: $46,319
- Lifetime Savings of Going Solar: $22,379
SolarReviews provides more state-specific costs and savings. Using the example of Seminole County, FL:
- Cost range: $9,423–$11,517
- Utility bill: $132
- Net profit (savings less system cost): $23,876–$29,182
Important: Speak with your home insurance provider before installing solar panels. Solar panels can impact your eligibility for home insurance and may increase home insurance costs. Take this cost increase into consideration as you calculate your savings.
The Bottom Line: Is Solar Worth It in Florida?
Solar panels provide an eco-friendly, cost-savings approach to residential energy usage. Plus, they increase the resale value of your home and extend the life of your roof. While the upfront investment varies depending on the size of the system and where you live, investing in a solar power system can reap rewards for decades.