7 Steps to Solar Panels in Florida

Florida currently ranks third in the country for solar adoption, according to the Solar Energy Industries Association (SEIA). This isn’t too surprising, seeing as the Sunshine State sees mostly sunny days and is listed as the tenth sunniest state in the nation.1


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Going solar is usually a great financial investment in Florida, saving solar adopters hundreds of dollars on energy bills year after year. While the typical solar photovoltaic (PV) equipment is around $29,095 before incentives, federal and Florida state solar perks and rebate programs can bring that number down to $20,367 or lower.

Additionally, the net metering policy in FL alone can help eliminate your power bill altogether. With this program, your panels will pay for themselves in an average of 12 years and continue to provide you with savings thereafter.

Plus, the high energy consumption and below-average cost of a solar panel system in Florida leads to a lifetime savings of over $21,000, on average.2

We’ll discuss the solar conversion process from start to finish below, but you can use the following links to jump to a specific section for more information.

Step 1: What to consider when Buying Solar Panels

Step 2: Getting a Quote from a Solar Provider

Step 3: Signing a Solar Contract

Step 4: What to Expect on Solar Panel Installation Day

Step 5: Final Inspection for Installed Solar Panels

Step 6: Permission to Operate (PTO)

Step 7: Set Back and Enjoy Your Solar Energy

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Step 1: What to Consider When Buying Solar Panels in Florida

Spending upwards of $20,000 on a solar array is a big decision, and there are quite a few things we recommend considering before you do so. We’ll explain some important things to research and think about before you convert to renewable energy below.

Research If Solar Panels Are a Good Fit For You in Florida

With such a large potential investment ahead of you, your first step should always be to figure out if solar panels are worth it in FL in general. Luckily, the state’s outstanding incentive programs, abundant sun exposure and below-average cost for PV equipment make it one of the best places to adopt solar.

However, the general viability of solar in Florida doesn’t mean installing panels will be beneficial to you, specifically. We recommend exploring the following factors at play for your specific property.

Is the Weather Good For Solar?

First off, look at local weather patterns. Some cities in the Sunshine State see more cloudy days than others, and since panels produce less energy under cloud coverage, you may need to consider if your roof will get enough sunlight. This shouldn’t be an issue for the majority of Floridians, but if your roof gets an ample amount of shade, you may need to consider if solar is worth it.

Are Solar Panels a Good Investment For Me?

Second, consider what your solar system will cost. This requires that you know how many solar panels you’ll need to offset your energy bills.

To get an estimate of the system size required, you can use our free solar calculator. Or, can multiply the kilowatts (kW) you need by the average cost of PV panels in the state — $2.53 — and multiply that number by 1,000 (to convert to watts) for a total cost estimate.

In most states, you’ll need to do an analysis of the net energy metering policy available to you, which can dictate how likely it is that you’ll be able to offset your electric bills entirely.

Thankfully, the net energy metering policy in FL is outstanding, with the Public Utilities Commission (PUC) mandating the program for all utility companies — Florida Power & Light Company (FPL), Duke Energy, Florida Public Utilities Company (FPUC), Gulf Power and Tampa Electric Company (TECO). It also mandates the retail rate for all energy credits.

This is the best-case scenario and means eliminating your utility bills is not only possible but probable, provided your system is appropriately sized.

The table below includes some important statistics for solar conversions in Florida, plus a quick look at how they compare to the same stats throughout the country. These should highlight how beneficial solar is in your area compared to other states.

Florida State Average United States National Average
Solar Power System Size Required 11.5 kW 9 kW
Typical Cost Per Watt to Install Photovoltaic (PV) Equipment $2.53 $2.66
Average Total System Cost Before Federal Solar Income Tax Credit $29,095 $23,940
Average Federal Credit Value $8,729 $7,182
Average Total System Cost After Federal Credit $20,367 $16,758
Average Panel Payback Period 12 years 12 years
Average Lifetime Savings of Converting to Solar $21,632 $22,379

Research How to Finance Solar Panels

Once you’re sure solar panels will be a good investment, you can start figuring out how you’re going to afford them.

At this point, if you haven’t already, you should use our solar calculator to figure out how many panels you need to power your home. The average solar panel cost for a system in FL is around $29,095 before any incentives, but your numbers may vary based on the size of the system you need. You can use your estimated system size to approximate your total cost.

Once you know about how much your PV system will total, you can start figuring out which solar financing options make sense for you. We’ll list the four main options below, along with a brief description of each.

  • Cash purchase: You pay for the system entirely upfront with cash or credit card. While obviously the most expensive option, this payment method maximizes your long-term savings and minimizes your panel payback period.
  • Solar loan: You finance the panels and pay them back, plus interest, over a predetermined loan term. The upside to this option is that the initial payment is small — sometimes $0 — but the interest drives up the cost over time and reduces your energy savings a bit.
  • Solar lease: You pay a fixed monthly fee to lease the panels and get all of the energy they generate. Leases don’t let you take the federal tax credit, and the savings are much lower than if you use cash or a loan. However, there are no initial payments in most cases.
  • Power purchase agreement (PPA): A company installs panels on your home, and you buy the energy they generate from the system owner. A PPA has no initial costs and little risk, but it comes with the lowest savings over time and doesn’t let you take the federal solar investment tax credit (ITC).

When choosing one of these financing options, we recommend weighing the pros and cons of going solar in relation to upfront and long-term costs. Generally speaking, we recommend cash purchases and loans for most customers. These options give you access to financial solar incentives and come with the shortest panel payback period, which is indicative of a more beneficial arrangement long-term.

We should also mention that Florida offers Property-Assessed Clean Energy (PACE) financing, which is an affordable financing option for low-income solar customers. This program lets you install solar at no upfront cost, and you instead get a charge on your property tax bill for the system each month.

You can read more about the Property-Assessed Clean Energy financing program in our Florida solar incentive article.

Step 2: Getting a Quote From a Solar Provider

After you’ve confirmed that you can afford solar and know which payment option you plan on using, you can move forward to getting formal estimates from installers in your area. We’ll walk you through this process below to make sure you’re prepared.

Picking a Solar Installer

First, you’ll need to choose a solar installer. This is often more challenging than it seems, as Florida is home to nearly 200 solar installation companies.3 Each company brings something different to the table, and deciding which ones are a good fit for your budget and needs is time-consuming.

We recommend considering the following when looking for a provider:

  • At least five years of experience in the industry
  • NABCEP-certified (North American Board of Certified Energy Practitioners) technicians on the installation team
  • Pricing within your budget
  • Good warranty coverage for equipment, panel performance and labor
  • Financing options that suit your needs
  • Positive customer reviews and relatively few complaints on BBB (Better Business Bureau)
  • Coverage in your area

Some of the best solar companies in Florida that also operate on a national level include:

If you’re looking for a smaller company, the local and regional installers listed below are some of the best in your area:

You can get more information on these installers by heading over to our guide to choosing a solar installer in FL.

What to Expect After Requesting a Quote

Once you provide your contact information to a Florida solar panel company, a sales representative will reach out to schedule an initial consultation. This is most often done virtually, but some companies still conduct in-person consultations.

During the appointment, the representative will gather some personal information, like your name and address, and will request a copy of your electric bill. The electricity bill is used to determine your monthly energy demands, which is necessary to determine what size solar system your household needs.

The information gathered will be passed on to the design team, which will work on designing a system that is custom fit to your property.

When you get the formal solar proposal, it should have the following information on it:

  • Solar system size information — the total kW needed to meet your energy needs
  • The brand and number of panels to be installed
  • The design and location of the panels
  • The orientation of the wiring running along your roof and down the side of your house
  • Mounting information for inverters or add-on products, like solar battery storage or electric vehicle (EV) chargers
  • The cost of your system before and after solar incentives
  • Permit fees, if applicable
  • How much energy your solar panel system is expected to generate each month and annually
  • An estimate for how long it will take your panels to pay for themselves (the panel payback period)
  • Your expected lifetime energy savings
  • Information about your warranty coverage
  • An estimate for when your system will be installed and commissioned
  • Information regarding when payments are due and to whom they will need to be paid

A representative should contact you to go over the proposal and answer any questions you may have.

Although the quoting process can take some time, we recommend going through it with at least two or three providers. Having a few quotes on hand lets you evaluate which is most beneficial for you. We suggest comparing warranty coverage, value and total cost.

Having multiple quotes can also save you money, as it can prompt some installers to price match where they otherwise wouldn’t in an effort to secure your business.

Consider Purchasing Solar Accessories

During the quoting process is a good time to consider add-on products. Each homeowner can only take the federal tax credit once, so including all the equipment you think you might want in the future is a good way to save some money. Below are some of the most common add-on products that Floridians get installed alongside their panels:

  • Solar batteries: PV batteries let you store solar energy collected by your panels for use when you need more than you’re generating live-time. Batteries provide backup power through blackouts, which are common in Florida due to the high risk of extreme weather.4
  • Solar carports: Solar carports provide additional space for panel placement if your roof cannot support the weight of the system size you need or if there simply isn’t enough space. These are prevalent in your area due to the above-average system size of 11.5 kW — which is about five more solar panels than the national average.
  • EV charging stations: Florida has the third-highest number of registered EVs in the country, so at-home EV charging stations are quite popular.5 Plus, there’s so much sunshine available in the state that powering EVs with your PV system can be quite lucrative.
  • Energy efficiency home improvements: Finally, many solar providers in the state also offer other home energy efficiency upgrades, including solar water heaters, air sealing, new insulation, new windows and doors and more. These are popular options in your area due to the extreme heat, which can cause expensive spikes in electricity charges, especially in the summer months.

Step 3: Signing a Solar Contract in Florida

Once you’ve decided which solar installer is right for you and have compared quotes to confirm your decision, you’re ready to sign your contract. We’ll discuss some language and specifics you should look for in your contract before signing.

If you’re ever uncomfortable with anything in the contract, be sure to consult an attorney first.

How Do Solar Warranties Work in Florida?

florida solar panels guide
Credit: Jeffrey Grospe / Unsplash

Florida solar warranties come in three varieties, and each installer can offer one or more of the three options. Some of the best installation companies in Florida will provide access to all three. Below are the different types of warranty coverage you should look for:

  • Equipment warranties: As the name suggests, equipment warranties cover the actual equipment from manufacturer defects. These are usually provided by the manufacturer directly, although some installers include extended coverage for greater peace of mind. The standard for this coverage in the solar industry is 25 years.
  • Performance warranties: Performance warranties ensure that your panels’ performance won’t degrade beyond a certain amount over a given time period. You should consider both the length of this coverage and the percentage of the initial efficiency rating the warranty mentions. A good baseline to look for would be the maintenance of at least 80% efficiency for 20 to 25 years.
  • Labor warranties: A labor warranty (also called workmanship warranty) guarantees that no issues will arise due to poor installation practices or mistakes on the part of the installation team. The standard labor warranty lasts for about 10 years, but longer ones are, of course, better. We recommend you specifically look at whether or not roof leaks are included. They often aren’t, but companies that provide this protection are worth extra consideration in Florida, given the above-average amount of rainfall and the risk of heavy rain during hurricane season.6

When Can I Expect Solar Service to Go Live?

From the time you sign your contract to the time your panels are “commissioned” or turned on to provide power to your home, you’re looking at an average time frame of between two and four months. However, your solar preparation and installation timelines might be shorter or longer depending on a few factors. These include:

  • How backed up your rooftop solar contractor is: Florida ranks third in the country for solar adoption, so many installation companies are booked for weeks or months ahead of time.
  • The availability of your equipment: most panels aren’t on back order, but add-on products like Tesla Powerwalls typically are. Backordered products can add months to your installation timeline.
  • Permitting: All solar installations in Florida require building permits, and you’re at the mercy of your local building department regarding when the permits are approved and when final inspections can be completed. Permitting can add weeks to your timeline in some cases.

Thankfully, unless you’re installing your panels during hurricane season, the mostly sunny weather shouldn’t cause any major delays with solar installation in Florida.

Solar Panel Permits in Florida

florida solar panels direction tip There is no statewide law that mandates building permits for solar energy systems, but every municipality in the state independently requires permits to be filed for solar conversion.

Most municipalities will let you pull your own building permits for the solar installation, but only licensed electricians can pull the electrical permit required for connection to your home and the grid. In most cases, your installer will pull both on your behalf, so you don’t need to worry about filing any paperwork.

Solar permits in FL average around $175 total, but they can vary quite a bit depending on your county and city.

For example, the electrical permit required for solar in Orlando costs $63.67 for the first $1,000 of the job cost, plus $4.24 for every additional $1,000.7 With an average solar installation cost of $29,095, that’s $182.39 total.

In Brevard County, the fee is $75 for the first $1,000 spent on the job, plus $3.25 for every additional $1,000. Using the same average system price, that’s a total of $166.

Most solar contractors will include the permitting costs and inspection fees in your initial quote so that there are no surprise fees later on.

Solar & Utility Interconnection

“Interconnection” refers to how your home solar system is connected to the electric grid and how the power flowing between the two is monitored. Interconnection is required if you want to take advantage of the net metering program, which you absolutely should.

Interconnection requires an application, which needs to be sent to your local utility provider. For example, Florida Power and Light (FPL) has a six-page interconnection application that requires information about your system and the company that installed it.8 It notes that a representative from FPL will need to inspect the system to ensure it’s installed safely. This will extend your installation and commissioning timeline, but it’s well worth it, given the upsides of net metering.

Similarly, Duke Energy requires an interconnection agreement and an inspection carried out by an employee with the company. You can use the company’s online portal to begin the application process.9

In most cases, your solar installation company will handle your net metering application for you, so you don’t need to worry about filling out any paperwork. There is usually no fee to apply for interconnection, but your installer should include any applicable fees in your initial solar estimate.

Step 4: What to Expect on Solar Panel Installation Day in Florida

When all of the permits are filed for and the plans are ready to put into action, your installation company will get you on the schedule for an installation.

On that day, they’ll typically arrive early in the morning — depending on local construction regulations — and work through the afternoon. The average solar installation timeline in Florida is between six and ten hours. Some companies may take a bit longer, especially given the large system size required in the area, and some may split work into two or more days.

Many solar customers ask, “do I need to be home for solar panel installation?” The answer is yes, you should plan on being home all day on the installation day. Your installers will need to access the interior of your home if only to make the connection with your electrical system. They’ll also need access to install any add-ons, like solar storage devices or EV chargers.

Your installer may also schedule an inspection on your installation day — usually with your power company, not the building department — to get your panels connected to the grid immediately. Solar inspections take an hour or less and can lead to same-day connection.

Step 5: Final Inspection for Installed Solar Panels in Florida

Once your PV system is installed and starts producing power for your home, a building inspector will need to come out to sign off on the work and close out your building permit.

This process usually takes just a few minutes, but you will need to be home in many cases. The inspector might need to access your home’s interior if you have PV batteries or other equipment installed inside.

Inspections usually don’t come with a cost, but if there is a fee, it should be included in your initial estimate. Also, keep in mind that you might need to pay a rescheduling fee if you’re not home at the time of the appointment.

Final inspections might seem like an unnecessary step, but they help the building department keep track of what projects are completed properly and safely. You also don’t want open permits on your home persisting, as they can complicate the sale of your property if you ever plan on moving.

After the inspection is done, you’ll be on your own to make sure your panels continue to work as intended. Many of the major panel manufacturers — like SunPower and Tesla Solar — offer a mobile app to help you keep track of production and energy consumption. You can use the software for personal solar monitoring.

Step 6: Permission to Operate (PTO) in Florida

The last step in the process is getting your permission to operate or “PTO.” This is a formal approval to activate your system, which many installers will plan on securing during the final inspection being completed by your utility company (often on the installation day).

At this point, your installer should show you the manual shutoff switch for your solar system, which is used primarily for emergencies. You can ask them to confirm when you can turn on your system or if it’s already on, which will depend on when they scheduled the inspection with your utility provider.

This is also a good time to ask about any software, app or website that’s included with your panels for personal solar monitoring, as you’d see with SunPower or Tesla products. The installation tech can often help you install the app, connect your system and explain how to use the software.

If you run into an emergency with your solar project, like an electrical fire, you’re urged to call 911 and then call your utility company’s emergency number. We’ll list the numbers below for the biggest providers in Florida.

  • Florida Power & Light: 800-468-8243
  • Duke Energy Florida: 800-228-8485
  • Florida Public Utilities Company: 800-427-7712
  • Gulf Power: 800-487-6937
  • Tampa Electric Company: 877-588-1010

Step 7: Sit Back and Enjoy Your Solar Energy in Florida

Finally, you can relax and enjoy all the benefits your connected solar system brings you. At this point, your panels should be significantly or entirely offsetting your electric bills, and your carbon footprint will be significantly reduced. We recommend you continue to monitor your production and your savings and net metering credits on your future electricity bills.

We should also mention that your panels will provide immense value even if you sell your home after installation. Going solar boosts your home value by an average of 4.1%, which means you’re likely to see a return on your investment even if you don’t live in your home for years after you convert.10

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Best Solar Providers in Boca Raton

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Best Solar Providers in Jacksonville

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Best Solar Providers in Tampa

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Downtown area in Hollywood, FL
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If you live outside of these major cities or just want a larger regional or statewide company to tackle your solar project, you can also check out our guide to the best solar panel installation companies in Florida as a whole.

FAQ: Solar Panels in Florida

Below, we’ll answer some of the most pressing questions we see from Floridians about the solar conversion process and related regulations and guidelines.

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Article author
Dan Simms is an experienced writer with a passion for renewable energy. As a solar and EV advocate, much of his work has focused on the potential of solar power and deregulated energy, but he also writes on related topics, like real estate and economics. In his free time — when he's not checking his own home's solar production — he enjoys outdoor activities like hiking, mountain biking, skiing and rock climbing.
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Expert reviewer
Kristina Zagame is a journalist, editor and content writer with expertise in solar and other energy-related topics. Before joining EcoWatch, Kristina was a TV news reporter and producer, covering a wide variety of topics including West Coast wildfires and hurricane relief efforts. Kristina’s reporting has taken her all over the U.S., as well as to Puerto Rico and Chile.

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