Florida is one of the leading states accelerating the number of residential solar installations and the trend is set to continue into 2021. The question is: are solar panels in Florida still worth-while for the average home-owner?
The post will show you if solar panels are worth your time and money. The detailed information that follows will help you to make up your mind about whether or not it is worthwhile installing solar panels for for your home.
As a general rule, solar is worth it in Florida. Generous electricity buy-back rates, the Florida state sales tax exemption, the property tax exemption and the Federal Solar Tax Rebate all combine to give an attractive solar payback period of 11 years on average, making solar well-worth it in Florida.
We’ll take a look at some issues such as:
- How much power is required from solar for the average home in Florida?
- What does installation entail – what is required?
- How much would it cost to install solar panels in Florida?
- Are there any maintenance costs associated with a solar system in Florida?
- How much power can you expect from a solar panel system in Florida?
- How many solar panels would you need to power your home in Florida?
A solar panel installation represents growing and environmentally friendly way of harnessing the power of nature for your energy needs.
Stop wasting money on expensive electricity, and make a greener planet by reducing pollution with this system. It’s easy to install: it’s almost plug-n-play!
In this post you’ll find everything you will need to know before ‘going for solar’ – we cover all the basics. Is getting solar worth it in the long run?
Which components are required for on grid PV installation in Florida?
Most homes have a grid-tie installation, which is when the output is connected to the power grid and may or not have battery storage.
Local permits are needed to install them and connect to the utility grid. The bureaucracy can be a bit of a hassle, but professional contractors include this in the total cost.
Components of a grid-tie solar power installation in Florida
- Apart from the solar panels, aluminium rails are fitted to mount them on the roof
- An solar installation will need one or more string inverters (transforms DC power to AC)
- AC and DC cables plus junction boxes
- Circuit breakers to isolate the various parts of the circuit
- Net-metering devices measure the power going into and out of the utility grid
- If you opt for home energy storage, then a Powerwall or battery bank will be needed
The aim of this post is to provide enough relevant detail in a clear format for you to make an intelligent choice about the best kind of system that can work in your home, taking into account factors like the amount of sunshine per day.
The video below is 12 minutes long and it gives a pretty good idea of the solar installation roof mounting process. It gives a quick run-down of what to expect from a professional solar installer.
It’s surprisingly quick when carried out by the professionals!
Older systems tended to use a single central inverter, and then the topology moved to string inverters connected to a solar panel array of up to 10 panels.
The installation shown above uses micro-inverters, which are the latest innovation for increasing system output. Your installer will advise on the best topology for your home and location.
All systems need an inverter of some kind, as they converter the DC power generated by solar panels in the AC power needed for home use.
Micro-inverters are small and individualized, which means that they can be fixed to the back of each solar panel. String inverters carry out DC/AC conversion for batches of panels connected together – usually up to 10 at a time.
This – inverters to learn gives a good overall view of inverter operation. Designing a solar system – is a post put together by our site’s resident expert and contains masses of information about the whole design process.
How Long Do Solar Panels Last In Florida?
Solar panels are typically guaranteed for 25-30 years, but that doesn’t mean they’re done producing electricity after this time is up. Some solar panels can generate power 50 years!
Surprisingly enough, solar panels are worth it because they have a real-life lifespan well beyond the manufacturer’s guarantee, up to 20% longer than promised.
However, the power output does inevitably decrease by 0.8% every year due to solar cell degradation.
Your solar panels come with a warranty that guarantees you will get the most out of your purchase for years to come.
For example, 90% production capacity after 10 years and 80% production capacity after 20-years!
Professional installers also give an equipment warranty, in case any associated solar equipment fails in use due to quality issues.
Inverters don’t last as long as the solar panels and may need replacing after 10 to 15 years. They are normally supplied a 10-15 year guarantee, but reliability is improving all the time.
Microinverters enjoy a longer life of 25 years or so – about the same as solar panels – which seems to make them the natural choice for modern systems.
Grid-tied solar system schematic diagram
A typical grid-tie solar panel installation follows this layout:
Note: The Net Meter in the top right hand corner monitors current flow IN and OUT of the grid. This is the beauty of a residential grid-tie solar panel installation – overproduction of power goes into the grid and is purchased by the utility company!
How does the federal tax credit work for solar panels 2021?
What is a tax credit for solar?
A federal tax credit is the government rebate system where a percentage of a residential solar installation cost can be set against IRS taxes for the following year.
It’s a direct dollar-for-dollar arrangement, which means a if your tax liability rebate is $6000 and you have a rebate of $2000, you will pay just $4000.
Example: In 2021 the rebate has been held at 26%. Let’s say your home’s solar electric PV installation cost $10000, your tax rebate will be:
10000 x 26% = $2600 rebate to offset against federal taxes
“A solar PV system must be installed before December 31, 2019, to claim a 30% credit in force at that time. It decreased to 26% for systems installed in 2020 through 2021, and to 22% for systems installed starting 2022.
The tax credit expires beginning 2024 unless Congress renews it. President Biden has recently announced a long term commitment to solar, so it’s very like to be renewed or extended. There is no maximum amount that can be claimed.”
Source: Federal Solar Tax Credits
(Just keep in mind that the solar system should be bought in cash or by a solar-loan.)
Florida Solar Rebates and Tax Credits
When it comes to your solar system, you can be assured that the benefits will outweigh any tax consequences.
Thanks to Florida’s Property Tax Exclusion for Residential Renewable Energy Properties, this doesn’t mean a thing on tax day as no extra costs are incurred from installing a renewable energy property.
Your house is subject to extra taxes when an upgrade is installed – you can generally expect an increase taxation – not so when adding solar panels!
Florida solar sales tax exemption
With the Solar and CHP Sales Tax Exemption you will not have to pay sales tax when buying your new system.
What are solar buy-back rates in Florida?
The Sunshine State is one of 47 states that allow you to sell back your unused electricity generated by solar power.
Florida’s policy was initiated in 2007 under former Governor Jeb Bush, who encouraged the use of renewable energy sources as an economic driver for the state and a way to save money through clean energy initiatives.
As an example, let’s take a look at the buy-back program run by FPL, a company supplying electricity across most localities in Florida:
The FPL net metering program is designed to compensate customers for the energy they produce.
You’re credited at your retail rate, so if you have a system that uses less that 1,000 kWh in power each month then 10.8 cents will be applied per kWh consumed by your household..
How long before solar panels pay for themselves in Florida?
A home owner in Florida can save a substantial amount each month on utility bills by using solar power.
When you invest in solar panels, average Florida solar payback time is between 9 to 12 years – after that you’re home free, with no electricity bills!
How long does it take for solar panels to pay themselves off in Tampa, Florida?
We can calculate this if we divide solar panel installation cost (minus credits and rebates) by how much is saved in electricity each year.
Discover your solar saving potential
The amount of sunshine or irradiance falling on your solar panel arrays is probably the most important factor when working out how much power a system is going to generate. Global Solar Atlas is a site that gives historical data for your exact location
Are solar panels worth it in Tampa, Florida?
Calculate Solar Panels Payback Time For A 5kW Solar System In Tampa, Florida (2021)
- City: Tampa, Florida
- What solar system power: 5kW
- Cost of solar panels Florida 2021 = $2.64/watt
- Solar installation capital cost = $13200 – 26% federal tax credit = $9768
- Irradiance at Tampa, Fl = 1901 Peak Sun Hours
- Power produced by solar panels = 1901 x 5kw = 9505 kWhrs (kilowatt-hours)
- Tampa residential electricity cost per kW = 11.65 cents/kWh
- Savings each year= solar production x elec cost = 9505 x 0.1165 = $1107
- Solar payback time Tampa, Florida = solar cost/yearly savings = 9768/1107 = 8.8 years
Disclaimer: Professional installers are great at estimating power generation rates and payback time in years for your exact location based on irradiance and other operating parameters.
The previous payback calculation didn’t take into account the rising cost of residential electricity, which is rising at around 2.9% year.
Do solar panels decrease the value of your home in Florida?
Their are still good rates of return for solar installations in Florida, particularly as competition is driving down installation cost and solar panels are becoming cheaper.
A Zillow survey found that, while the average increase in home value in Florida after having solar installed was 4%, it increased for city area. In Tampa, Fl for example, it is almost 4.6%.
There are so many benefits for installing solar and very few reasons not to, it seems. As well as enjoying cheaper electricity over the long term, you also stand to make a bigger profit when you sell your home.
Factors affecting the performance of solar panels in Florida
There are quite a few negative influences affect solar electricity generation.
Some of them we can directly influence, like the angle at which the solar panel array sits in relation to the sun, which way it’s facing (orientation), and to make sure the panels are clear of trees or other obstruction that will cast shade.
- Irradiance. This is a measure of the sun’s energy in kWh/m2/year (Peak Sun Hours)
- Shading. This can significantly reduce output – can be minimized using micro-inverters.)
- Maintenance. Solar panels should be cleaned twice a year to reduce losses of 10% or more.
- Most installers fit the best quality solar panels which have a high efficiency.
- Orientation. Due South is always optimum (in the Northern Hemisphere).
- Tilt angle. Maximize output by aiming for an angle of 45 to 60 degrees.
- Heat. Adequate air circulation is essential – heat is the enemy of solar panel efficiency.
Best Direction To Face Your Solar Panels in Florida?
Orientation is an important factor when choosing where to place solar panels.
If you’re unsure which way your roof should face, then we have some tips for you! The best orientation in the Northern hemisphere would be pointing South.
This will maximize sunlight and most importantly heating efficiency during those cold months of winter.
However, if this isn’t possible because your roof doesn’t slope down towards that direction or has other obstacles blocking it from being turned to point southward – don’t worry.
Installers are used to working with various orientations and finding ways around such issues, by separating solar panel arrays, for example – even if they point in slightly different directions.
Solar panels are often pointed in a specific direction (due South) to maximize the sun’s rays, but there is more than one way of doing this.
For example, if really necessary they can even point East or West!
Solar panels should not be facing North because they will get no direct sunlight for the entire day.
When thinking of solar power, it’s helpful to understand the different types of sunshine. Direct sunshine is the best source of energy to generate electricity.
Diffuse sunlight can also be harnessed and all types may used with mirrors to increase power.
What is the best tilt angle for solar panels in Florida?
Solar panels work by absorbing sunlight, so their panels are pointed to maximize exposure to the sun. This angle is typically 60 degrees.
If you have tilt angle adjustment as an integral feature of your installation feature, you’ll enjoy increased production.
The best way to maximize the efficiency of your solar panels is to change the angle they face depending on the time of year.
During summer, set them at latitude minus 15 degrees and during winter at latitude plus 15 degrees.
The table below shows the power outputs for a 12 month period for Houston, Texas when a tilt angle of 60 degrees is applied. The value is compared with the production when panels are mounted ‘flat’.
Irradiance (peak-sun-hours) over 12 months for Tampa, Florida – Watts Vs Tilt
Insolation by month for Tampa, Florida by month (kWh/m2/day – also are known as Peak-Sun-Hours)
In general, installing solar panels that are fixed in place rather than using a sun-tracking system is more cost-effective.
The price per watt installed is lower if you simply add more panels, rather than pay for a system that automatically tracks with the sun.
Air gaps between panels and roofs help reduce the heat problem, while solar panel cleaning will help maintain optimal energy production levels.
The production of solar power is more efficient in some locations than others. Even though there are other factors that affect solar power, the primary factor is the level of irradiance, or Peak-sun-hours.
The size of your panels is determined by the amount of sunlight the panels will be exposed to. The more exposure they have to sunlight, the more efficient the system will be, reducing the number of panels needed for the same power output.
How much energy do you use at home in Florida?
You don’t need to measure how much power your appliances use to determine how much energy you’re using. There are more accurate ways of doing this.
It can be tough to accurately track energy consumption for items like refrigerators and air conditioners. These appliances are hard to assess because the motors that power them cause unexpected surges of electricity when they turn on and off.
You can choose how to assess your consumption. If you have the bills from last year, you can look at them. Or, if you don’t have those records, ask the utility company for their historical records.
The installer will size your solar system based on the peak sun hours in your location and how many kilowatts an hour (kWh) of power you use.
How many solar panels do I need to power my house in Florida? Calculator
Most common solar panels typically are around 225 – 375 watts. In the following calculator, users will need to input the power in kW. So 0.275 watts would be typed as 275.
The calculator will account for the losses that occur in solar electric PV systems. These can be due to heat, inverter losses, and cable losses, etc.
The Global Solar Atlas website has a search for the irradiance (insolation) number. Enter the insolation value that corresponds to your location.
The calculator will figure out how much energy your home uses and how many solar panels you need.
Note: This is a quick assessment only. It’s not the same as getting an estimate from a professional.
Cost of installing a solar panel system in Florida
Permits & Inspections
Solar panels can be expensive to install, but it’s possible to save a lot of money if you do the installation yourself.
What happens to solar when power goes out?
In the event of a blackout the inverter disconnects from the grid. This is to ensure that electricity cannot feed back into the grid and injure any linemen working on the system. This protection is called ‘anti’ islanding’.
Are solar batteries worth it 2021?
An off-grid solar system is only able to generate electricity when the sun is shining. At night, or on cloudy days, it relies on batteries.
Grid-tie solar systems also have the ability to store power in batteries, such as the Tesla Powerwall. Installing a system like this is an excellent way to protect your home from power outages.
It’s possible to use a Powerwall for backup power even if you don’t have solar panels in Florida.
How does a Powerwall work?
A Powerwall is an innovative breakthrough that will redefine the way we conceive and use power.
The solar battery system stores extra electricity generated during peak hours, and then uses that power during off-peak times to light homes. This is an innovative solution for the energy crisis.
These batteries come with a 10-year warranty and allow up to 10 to be connected together for more storage power..
The device can sense when it needs to be charged, where the charge will come from (solar or grid), and whether it should switch into supply mode.
A person can control the internet-connected thermostat from their computer or remotely with their mobile phone. They can change system operating parameters without even touching it.
The Tesla Powerwall has garnered a lot of interest since Hurricane Harvey hit Texas. Many residents are looking for alternative sources of energy since the power outages were so long.
A solar power installation of 10 kilowatt-hours would be able to power a home for a little over 12 hours working with a single Powerwall. It’s possible to power your home for several days using more units connected together.
It is theoretically possible to become completely off-grid with an adequately sized solar PV system and enough Tesla Powerwalls. (Off-grid solar system.)
What do home solar systems cost in Florida?
The table following presents solar system cost per watt for Florida (from March 2021.) In Florida a typical installation will cost $2.64 per watt if using a professional installer.
Typical Energy Consumption & Solar Electric PV Statistics For Florida
Average kWh used per month
Ave kWh used per day
Solar required for 100% energy used (kW)
Installation price Per Watt ($) 2021
Is solar tracking worth it in Florida?
The process of generating electricity through photovoltaic methods is complex and challenging, and of course the strength of the sun is key to it all.
The sun moves from east to west every day. Its movement is most noticeable in the winter months when it’s path is at its shortest and in summer months, when it’s at its longest.
A solar tracker is a device that follows the sun to make sure the solar array is always exposed to maximum sunlight, so it can generate the most amount of energy possible.
Installation costs should be weighed against the cost-effectiveness of a tracking system. The benefits may not warrant the expense.
The capital costs of solar energy can be higher than the production gains. Adding just a few panels may get you as much power as an expensive tracker.
How does solar tracking work?
The sun moves constantly and changes its height through the seasons because it’s tilted at a different angle throughout Earth’s orbit. This can be split into two axes: the horizontal and the vertical.
An automatic sun-tracker ensures that solar panels are always perpendicular to the sun. This way, there’s an optimal angle of incidence at all times.
A solar power system that tracks the sun is called a single axis tracker. A dual axis tracker can track both axes; East-West and North-South.
Is solar panels worth it with or without a sun tracker? You should ask a professional installer about which type of solar cell system would work best for you. They can help you figure out the right one for your specific situation.
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Are Solar Panels Worth It In Florida?
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When is it worth getting solar panels?
Solar power can be an excellent investment when the cost of installation is paid off within a short period of time by savings in energy. This process may take about 10 years on average, depending on your location and buy-back costs for electricity.
How to work out if solar panels are worth it 2021
The amount of solar energy produced is proportional to the power rating and annual peak sun hours. Multiply solar energy produced in kWhs by the cost of electricity in kWh.
Divide the cost of the solar electric PV system by the price of electricity to find out how long it will take for you to recoup your initial investment.
Are solar batteries worth it in Florida?
A solar battery is a good investment if you want to live without a power line. You can also use them in places that suffer frequent outages.
Solar batteries are a way to store excess energy from the sun. This electricity is then available at night or whenever the power grid goes out.
Is solar worth it in Florida without net metering?
Solar energy systems that feed into the grid may not be worth it unless you have net metering, or if you have a battery to store surplus energy.
Net metering systems give credits for electricity produced at home and transmitted into the grid.
This can be at retail rates, but in Florida some companies offer higher-rate buyback incentives.
Interesting because the credits can be redeemed during times of lower solar output. This feature then reduces the amount which needs to be sourced from the electric grid in turn paving way for reduced utility bills.