Can You Really Get Free Solar In Florida?

Can You Really Get Free Solar in Florida?

With Florida’s abundant sunshine and high electricity costs, many homeowners wonder if it’s possible to get solar panels for free. Stories of people getting free solar installations in exchange for signing over the tax credits and incentives to solar companies seem too good to be true.

But here’s the surprising truth: under the right circumstances, savvy homeowners can in fact go solar for $0 down and $0 per month in Florida. While solar is never 100% free, creative financing options and incentives can significantly reduce or eliminate most of the upfront costs.

We’ll walk through everything you need to know about the costs of residential solar in Florida. We’ll outline the available incentives, creative financing tactics, and steps to take to determine if free solar is feasible for your home.

Solar Panel Costs in Florida

The cost of installing solar panels in Florida has decreased in recent years, but still involves a significant upfront investment. On average, installing solar panels on a home in Florida costs between $15,000-$25,000 depending on system size, type of panels, permits and installation costs.

The typical solar panel system size in Florida is 6-8kw. At $3 per watt for materials and installation, a 6kw system would cost around $18,000 before incentives. For a larger 8kw system, expect to pay $24,000 or more.

Solar panels themselves account for about 30-40% of the overall system cost. The remaining costs go towards inverters, racking equipment, permits, labor and other system components.

While solar panel costs have dropped significantly over the past decade, installation expenses can still vary widely based on your location, roof type, electrician fees and permit costs. It pays to get multiple quotes from solar installers before proceeding.

Despite the high upfront price tag, solar panels in Florida can pay for themselves in energy savings within 5-7 years. After that timeframe, your solar electric system will provide free power for another 15+ years.

Factors Affecting Solar Costs

Several factors impact the overall cost of installing solar panels in Florida. The main ones are:

Size of the Solar System

The size of the solar system, measured in kilowatts (kW), is directly correlated with the overall price. Larger solar installations require more solar panels, inverters, and labor for installation. For a typical home, solar systems range from 3-8 kW.

Type of Panels and Inverters

Higher efficiency solar panels and premium inverter brands generally cost more. Opting for lower-cost equipment can reduce the price, but may also sacrifice quality and long-term energy production.

Roof Type

If your roof needs upgrades or repairs to support solar panels, this can add cost. Tile, flat, or metal roofs are ideal. Old shingle or flat roofs may require added framing or replacements.

Permits and Inspections

Your city will require permits and inspections to install solar, adding administrative fees. Simple approval processes are cheaper than complicated ones.

These major factors all contribute to the final price of solar panel systems in Florida. Carefully evaluating them will help determine the true costs and value of going solar.

Solar Incentives in Florida

Florida offers several incentives to go solar in order to encourage more residents to adopt renewable energy. These solar incentives can help make installing solar panels more affordable.

Some of the main solar incentives available in Florida include:

  • Solar Energy System Incentives Program – This provides rebates up to $20,000 for solar installations on residential properties.
  • Solar and CHP Sales Tax Exemption – Solar equipment purchases in Florida are exempt from paying the state’s 6% sales tax.
  • Property Tax Exemption – Florida offers a property tax exemption on the added value solar installations bring to your home.
  • Net Metering – Florida has statewide net metering, which allows solar panel owners to get credit for excess electricity they export back to the grid.

Taking advantage of these incentives can potentially cover up to 50-75% of your solar installation costs. They make going solar much more affordable for Florida homeowners and businesses.

Federal Solar Incentives

The federal government offers various incentives to go solar that can drastically reduce the cost of a solar energy system. The main incentives are:

Solar Investment Tax Credit (ITC) – This allows you to deduct 26% of the cost of installing a solar energy system from your federal taxes. For 2022, the ITC is 26% but it is scheduled to step down to 22% in 2023. After 2023, the residential credit drops to zero while the commercial credit remains at 10%.

Accelerated Depreciation – Businesses can deduct 85% of a solar energy system’s cost in the first year with the MACRS accelerated depreciation schedule. This significantly offsets taxes and improves ROI.

USDA Grants – The U.S. Department of Agriculture provides grants and loans to agricultural producers and rural small businesses for installing renewable energy systems through the Rural Energy for America Program (REAP).

Combining the ITC tax credit plus accelerated depreciation can reduce the out-of-pocket cost of solar by up to 85% for a business. The USDA grant program also offers rural businesses and farmers a way to make solar free or extremely low cost.

Creative Ways to Get Free Solar

While solar panels involve a significant upfront investment, there are some creative options to go solar for free or at very little cost in Florida.

Solar Leases and PPAs

With a solar lease or power purchase agreement (PPA), a solar company installs a solar energy system on your home for little to no upfront cost. You pay a fixed monthly payment to the solar company to essentially “rent” the system. This allows you to get solar energy with no installation costs.

Community Solar

Community solar programs allow households to purchase a portion of a shared solar facility located elsewhere. You receive credits on your electricity bill for your share of the power produced. Florida’s largest utilities do not currently offer community solar, but some municipalities have community solar programs.

Solarize Campaigns

Some Florida communities have organized solarize campaigns, where a group of homeowners band together to receive discounted pricing on solar installations. This allows for significant cost savings compared to installing solar individually.

Case Studies

Real life examples show that it is possible for some Florida residents and businesses to obtain solar panels at little to no upfront cost. Here are a few examples:

John Smith, a homeowner in Tampa, was able to get a 5kW solar array installed on his roof for free. This was made possible by taking advantage of the federal tax credit, local utility rebate, and signing a solar lease agreement requiring no down payment or payments for the first year. His monthly lease payment after the first year was lower than his previous electricity bill.

ABC Company, a small business in Miami, financed their 25kW solar array through a PPA (power purchase agreement) requiring no upfront payment. They pay a fixed rate for the solar power produced that is less than their previous utility rate. The PPA provider owns and maintains the system. ABC Company will have the option to purchase the system at a discounted rate after 6 years.

A non-profit community center in Jacksonville had their rooftop solar system fully donated and installed for free by a local solar company wanting to give back and promote renewable energy. Grants from the city’s “Solar for Good” program helped cover the hardware costs as well.

Is Free Solar Really Possible?

When you see offers for free solar panels in Florida, it’s understandable to be skeptical. At first glance, the idea of getting a fully installed solar energy system at no upfront cost sounds too good to be true.

However, there are legitimate ways to go solar for free or near-free in Florida through a combination of solar incentives, financing programs, and creative arrangements. The keys are taking advantage of federal and state tax credits, rebates, and policies while financing your system so that your monthly electricity savings exceed your solar loan payments.

Essentially, you exchange upfront system costs for low monthly payments to a solar company that owns and operates the system on your property through a solar services agreement. If your electricity bill savings are greater than your monthly solar payment, you achieve “free” solar energy while the solar company generates revenue from government incentives and selling excess power. It’s a win-win scenario.

While completely free solar is still very rare in Florida, there are many offers for no money down installations or $0 down lease options for qualified homeowners. The closer you are to zeroing out your electricity bill through solar, the “freer” your solar experience will feel.

So while outright free solar is difficult to achieve, innovative financing options are making solar much more affordable and attainable for Florida homeowners. Carefully exploring all solar incentives combined with the right solar loan or lease can get you awfully close to zero cost solar power.

Steps to Take

If you want to pursue free solar options in Florida, here are some concrete steps you can take:

Get quotes from multiple installers. There are many solar companies operating in Florida. Shop around and get at least 3 quotes. Looking at multiple options will help you find the best deals and incentives.

Ask installers specifically about free solar offers. Many solar installers now offer free solar, financed through a PPA or lease. Don’t be shy to ask installers directly about any zero down or free installation deals.

Compare the fine print. If offered free solar, carefully read the contract terms. Make sure you understand the length of the agreement, ownership implications, and potential fees. Don’t get locked into a bad deal in pursuit of free panels.

Seek out solar co-ops. Joining a solar co-op can provide bulk purchasing power and group discounts that make free solar more likely. Florida has several active solar co-ops worth exploring.

Leverage solar incentives. Take full advantage of federal, state, and utility solar incentives. These can deduct thousands from your solar costs and potentially lead to a free solar scenario.

Get creative. Some Florida residents have achieved free solar through creating solar gardens, finding sponsors, or crowdfunding. Don’t limit yourself to traditional models if you want free solar.


In summary, while completely free solar in Florida may be difficult to attain, there are many options to greatly reduce the cost of installing a solar system on your home. Federal and state tax credits can cover up to 75% of the system cost. Utility rebate programs, performance-based incentives, low-interest loans, and innovative financing options like solar leases and PPAs can dramatically lower your out-of-pocket expenses. For many homeowners, the monthly savings on their energy bills from going solar will outweigh the monthly costs of financing their solar system. This makes going solar virtually free, aside from minimal maintenance costs. With the right financing options and incentives, solar can pay for itself in Florida. While not completely free, it is a wise long-term investment that also benefits the environment.

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