Is Solar Worth It in Florida? (2022 Homeowner's Guide)
Here’s a quick overview of solar viability in Florida:
- Florida ranks 3rd in the country for solar installations*
- The average electricity rate is 11.27 cents per kilowatt-hour (kWh)**
- The average solar payback period is 13 years***
- Homeowners are eligible for net metering and the federal solar investment tax credit (ITC)
- The average homeowner saves $21,632 over the lifetime of their solar system***
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Florida is one of the most solar-friendly states in the country — second only to Texas and California — providing homeowners with plenty of financial incentives and an abundance of direct sunlight for energy production.1 Still, residents of the Sunshine State pay an average of $29,095 for solar panels before the federal tax credit, which seems prohibitively expensive to many homeowners. There are many factors that go into deciding if solar is worth it for your home, but most Florida residents will find that solar is a worthwhile investment. Below, you’ll find an in-depth price analysis that dives into the factors that determine the value of solar in the state, incentives that can help bring down installation expenses and more. You’ll also read about the many benefits to going solar in Florida, where the sunshine is nearly unlimited and solar equipment is cheaper than in most other states.
How To Figure Out if Solar Panels are Worth It in Florida
While most Floridians will quickly find out that solar is a worthwhile investment, it’s not ideal for everyone. There are many individual factors you should take into account before committing to installing solar panels on your home. Here are some questions to consider:
What’s Your Home Electricity Consumption?
Solar panel systems are sized based on a few things, but the most important factor is your monthly energy consumption. Your energy needs will determine not only what size solar energy system you require to offset electricity rates, but also how much you stand to save on your electric bills in the long run. In most cases, solar panels are only worth it if you use at least 500 kWh per month. The typical consumption in Florida is 1,142 kWh, which means the large majority of homeowners will find solar panels worth the investment in terms of future energy savings.2 You can check your past electric bills for your monthly billing history to see if solar panels make sense for your home based on this criterion.
How Much Is It To Go Solar in Florida?
The price of solar in Florida is around $2.53 per watt, about $0.13 less per watt than the national average. Most homeowners need an 11.5-kilowatt solar power system to offset electric rates, so they pay around $29,095 for panels in Florida, or $21,530 after the federal solar tax credit is applied. While this is expensive, solar panels often pay for themselves over time, especially in areas where electricity rates and/or electricity consumption is high. Florida residents enjoy an average price for electricity, but they use far more on average than most Americans. The average energy consumption in the US is 893 kWh per month, while Florida’s average is 1,142. As such, the long-term savings will be higher in Florida than in most other states.
What’s the Payback Period for Solar in Florida?
Solar panels almost always pay for themselves over time (unless you enter into a solar lease or a power purchase agreement). The time it takes for the panels to pay for themselves and start delivering pure savings is called the solar panel payback period. Estimating your payback period can help determine long-term savings and how valuable solar panels will be for your home. If you buy your panels with a cash purchase in Florida, you’re likely to find them paying for themselves in 13 years, on average, or anywhere between 10 and 16 years. If you use a solar calculator or have a reputable solar installer estimate your payoff period and it’s higher than 16 years, your long-term savings will be lower, and your time until you start saving will be longer. For comparison, the average payoff period in the US is 12 years, and most systems pay for themselves in between 9 and 15 years.
What Are Average Buy-Back Rates in Florida?
The majority of states have some kind of net metering policy or electricity buy-back program. These programs allow you to overproduce energy and route it to the grid. In return, you’ll earn energy bill credits that can be used to offset the prices for the energy you pull from the grid. Florida’s net metering program is quite good and allows you to earn more than you pay, meaning your utility company could pay you rather than the other way around. The specific buy-back rates vary depending on your utility company, so check with yours before signing anything. If your electricity provider credits excess power at a rate lower than the retail rate, you might want to consider installing a solar battery along with your panels to increase the likelihood of eliminating your energy bills.
How Much Sun Does Your Roof Receive?
Solar panels produce energy from sunlight, which means the more sun your roof receives, the more efficient your panels will be. Florida isn’t called the Sunshine State for nothing; homeowners enjoy an impressive 237 sunny days per year, far more than the national average of 205. As such, most Florida homes will receive plenty of direct sunlight to make solar panels worth the investment. However, there are some individual factors to consider as well. Even if you live in a Florida city that gets 260+ sunny days per year, natural shading from trees or obstruction of sunlight from buildings will make your panels less efficient overall. Additionally, you should consider the direction your roof faces, as south- and west-facing roofs will receive the most direct sunlight, improving the likelihood of solar panels being a worthwhile investment.
What’s the Climate for Solar in Florida?
Florida is known for its abundant and intense sunlight, which is ideal for solar panel efficiency. However, the state is also highly prone to hurricanes and tropical storms that can put panels at risk of damage from fallen trees and limbs and blowing debris. Overall, the weather in Florida is generally conducive to solar energy, but some homeowners might want to opt for a system that comes with an extensive warranty. As far as the reception of solar energy goes, Florida is one of the most solar-friendly states in the country. Residential solar installations continue to grow in popularity, and utility-scale solar is also quite popular in the state. Florida is also home to the most solar employees in the country and ranks fifth in the nation in terms of solar industry growth.3
Benefits of Solar Energy in Florida
Installing solar panels in Florida is expensive, but for most homeowners, the benefits enjoyed far outweigh the upfront expense. Below are some of the financial and environmental benefits you’re likely to experience when you convert to solar in Florida.
Electricity Bill Savings
One of the benefits most homeowners look for is the estimated savings they’ll see on their electric bills. Floridians use more energy per month than residents in most other states and pay an enormous $128.64 per month for electricity. Electricity rates are also on the rise, so converting to solar is a viable way to lock in your energy expenses and keep them from increasing in the future. Converting to solar and taking advantage of net metering can help you eliminate your bill entirely, meaning you could pay $0 monthly instead. The average homeowner in Florida will save $21,632 in energy bills alone over the lifespan of their solar panels. If you’re serviced by Florida Power & Light or Duke Energy — which have the best net metering programs in the state — you could even get paid by your electricity provider rather than the other way around, providing even more savings.
Lower Taxes & Access to Other Incentives
Going solar is typically worth it even if you pay full price for your panels, but there are also solar incentives afforded by the federal and state governments to make conversion even more appealing. One of the most substantial solar tax incentives is the federal solar investment tax credit (ITC), which is 26% of the full price of your entire system credited to your federal income tax liability. In Florida, the ITC averages out to $7,565. Other solar incentives available in Florida include a great net metering policy, a sales tax exemption on photovoltaic (PV) equipment, a property tax exemption on the value your solar PV system adds to your property and some local incentives offered by utility companies.
Home Resale Value Increase
Many homeowners don’t realize that solar panels increase property value, and quite substantially. The average home value will jump by around 4.1% after solar panel installation, according to research done by Zillow.4 In Florida, where the typical home value is $356,349, that’s an average jump in the value by approximately $14,610! Your bump in value could be even higher in more pricey areas, like Orlando and Tampa. To add to this benefit, Florida has a statewide property tax exemption, which means your property taxes won’t go up after solar installation, even though your assessed value will.
Clean, Renewable Energy
Of course, going solar provides benefits beyond saving money. Converting to clean energy reduces your reliance on fossil fuels, which contributes to a cleaner environment and less pollution and helps counteract global warming. You also will be less dependent on your electric company, which means you won’t be subject to future electricity rate spikes.
What to Look Out For When Considering Solar in Florida
If you determine that going solar is worth it for you and your home, there are still quite a few things you’ll need to consider before you move forward with the conversion process. We’ll discuss some of the more important things to think about and be aware of below.
The upfront expense of solar panels will always be a concern, especially given the relatively high prices you’re likely to run into in Florida. Your total price will be largely determined by the size of your system, but you can bring the upfront price down by opting for more affordable solar panels and limiting any additional equipment add-ons, like solar batteries and electric vehicle chargers.
As we mentioned above, you should consider the time it will take for your solar panels to pay themselves off. The reduction in your monthly energy bills can help pay off the system, after which you’ll enjoy monthly savings on your utility bills. Most Florida homeowners average around 13 years for panel payback or between 10 and 16 years in most cases. If your estimated payback period is longer than 16 years, understand that your ROI will be lower overall, and it will take you longer than most to see actual savings.
Net Metering Policies in Florida
Florida currently mandates net metering, but it doesn’t dictate the rate at which utility companies buy back your excess energy. As such, the policy will vary from provider to provider, so be sure to check with yours before committing. If your electric company has a below-retail rate for buying back energy, you can always couple your panels with a battery storage solution to help offset electric expenses and eliminate your bills. For most Florida homeowners, the net metering policy available to them isn’t a make-or-break factor.
Pending Policies & Changes to Incentives
The solar industry is constantly growing and improving, especially in Florida, which the SEIA estimates is the fifth state in the country in terms of solar industry expansion. As such, policies and incentives can change rapidly. While it’s not advisable to wait for better incentives, you should check for updates to policies, new tax credits and additional rebates before converting.
Weather & Climate in Florida
Solar panels work best in direct and intense sunlight, meaning states closer to the equator will see the most significant benefits of going solar. There are few places in the nation that experience more direct and abundant sunlight than Florida. While the uncommon rainstorm or cloudy day can see your panels’ efficiency drop to between 10% and 25% in Florida, the state receives plenty of sunshine to make solar conversion worth the investment for most homeowners. Rain during tropical storms and hurricanes can also serve to clean dirt and debris off of your panels, which will help maximize efficiency when the sun is shining.
Companies Pushing Solar Leases or PPAs
Finally, you should be wary of less-than-genuine solar companies, which are, unfortunately, quite prevalent in Florida due to the rising demand for panels. In many cases, the untrustworthy solar installers will advertise “free panels” that aren’t really free or push solar leases or power purchase agreements (PPAs). These options are far less beneficial to you as the homeowner. They don’t boost your home value, they don’t let you take advantage of the federal tax credit and they take far longer to pay off, resulting in far fewer savings over time. WFTV has reported on solar panel scams in Fort Lauderdale from untrustworthy solar installers that leave homeowners without promised savings and instead with massive installation bills.5 Solar United Neighbors of Florida have also received reports of phone scams from solar companies claiming to have an affiliation with local utility companies, also promising massive savings and rebates that never come to fruition.6 Make sure you only work with a reputable and vetted solar installer to ensure a positive experience.
Wrap Up: Is Solar Worth it in Florida?
With a lower-than-average price for solar equipment and a much higher energy consumption than in most states, the majority of Florida residents find that going solar is a worthwhile investment. However, that’s not the case for all homeowners in the area, so it’s important to calculate your upfront expenses and solar panel payback period and consider factors like your monthly energy consumption and the direction your roof faces to determine if converting to solar energy is right for you and your home. Once you decide that solar is worth it for you, you still need to consider your system total, how you’ll be paying for the equipment, the company you choose to handle the installation, and much more. We recommend contacting a reputable solar installer in your area to discuss what solar panels could save you and whether they’re a good fit for your home.
Frequently Asked Questions
Given the popularity of solar conversions in Florida, the EcoWatch team gets questions daily about the process of going solar and how to determine if it’s worth it. Below are some of the questions we see most frequently, along with our answers. If you have specific questions that aren’t answered here, reach out to our team of solar experts at email@example.com.
The solar panel payback period varies between solar customers, so there is no universal answer to this question. You can use a solar calculator to estimate the payback period or contact a reputable solar company to help with the calculations. The time period is based on several factors, including the size of the system you need, the net metering policy offered by your utility company, and more. With that being said, the average Floridian finds that their panels pay for themselves in about 13 years, with most homeowners paying them off with electricity savings in between 10 and 16 years.
In most cases, yes! Installing solar is expensive in Florida, averaging around $21,530 after the federal tax credit is considered. However, given the high electricity consumption in the state — averaging about 1,142 kWh per month — most homeowners still enjoy a savings of approximately $21,632 over the lifespan of their solar energy equipment. Systems acquired with a solar loan will provide slightly fewer savings, and leases and power purchase agreements (PPAs) will save far less.
Yes! According to estimates from Zillow, solar panel installation causes the average home to rise by around 4.1%, which means the typical homeowner will experience a bump in home value of around $14,610! Normally, home improvements that increase home value also cause property taxes to go up, but Florida’s property tax exemption prevents this from occurring with solar conversion.
Yes, permits are required for solar panel installation in Florida. Permitting ensures that your roof can handle the weight of your panels structurally, and it also guarantees that the system is connected to the grid safely and accurately. While permits seem unnecessary, they ultimately help keep you and your neighborhood safe. Most solar installers in Florida will handle the permitting process for you so that you don’t have to deal with your local government.
You can install your own solar panels in Florida, but DIY panel installation is not recommended. Mistakes during the process can cost you thousands of dollars in equipment damage, not to mention that the process is inherently dangerous. We recommend contacting a reputable installer to tackle your rooftop solar project for you.