How Much Does A Solar System Cost In Fl?

Solar power is growing in popularity across Florida as more homeowners seek to take control of their energy costs and reduce their environmental impact. The amount of installed solar capacity in the state has risen dramatically over the last decade. While solar panel costs have declined significantly, the upfront price of installing a system remains a major consideration for most households. This article provides an overview of current solar panel system costs for a typical home installation in Florida, including a breakdown of equipment, installation labor, and other expenses.

Average System Size

The average residential solar system size in Florida is around 6-8 kW. However, system sizes can vary greatly depending on a home’s energy usage, available roof space, and local electricity rates.

Some of the main factors that affect solar system size for a home include:

  • Daily and monthly electricity usage – The more energy a household consumes, the larger the solar system needed to offset that usage.

  • Roof size and orientation – South-facing roofs with minimal shading provide the most solar production.

  • Electricity costs – High energy rates make larger solar systems more cost-effective.

  • Future energy needs – Systems may be sized up to accommodate expected electric vehicle charging or other increased electrical loads.

  • Government incentives – Larger systems can maximize federal or state tax credits.

An installer will evaluate these factors to right-size a system and maximize solar savings for each home.

Equipment Costs

The main equipment costs for a solar system include:

  • Solar panels – These make up around 50% of the total equipment cost. Prices have dropped dramatically as manufacturing has improved. Today’s panels are around 1/4 the price they were in 2010.
  • Inverters – Inverters convert the DC power from the panels to usable AC power. Inverter prices have also fallen over 30% in the last 5 years as technology advances.
  • Racking – This is the mounting system that secures the panels to the roof or ground. Aluminum is now frequently used which is cheaper than steel.
  • Wiring – Copper wiring carries current from panels to inverter. Prices fluctuate based on copper commodity markets.
  • Safety gear – This includes conduit, disconnects, breakers, etc. Costs are relatively stable.

Together, equipment costs make up around 30-40% of the total install cost, down from over 50% a decade ago. The sharp decline in solar panel and inverter prices are the main driver of this change.

Installation Costs

Installation costs vary significantly depending on system size and location in Florida. Factors that influence installation costs include:

  • Labor – Electricians charge $40-$80 per hour for solar installations. More complex systems and locations require more labor hours.
  • Permits & Inspections – Most local jurisdictions require permits and inspections for solar installations, which can cost $200-$800 depending on location.
  • Roof condition – Rooftop solar may require roof repairs or replacements, adding $2,000-$10,000 in costs.
  • Regional Differences – Installation costs tend to be higher in some regions like the Florida Keys where labor rates are higher and transportation costs increase.
  • System Size – Larger solar arrays require more labor hours to install.

As a general estimate, basic solar installation costs range from $2-$4 per watt in most parts of Florida. For a 5 kW system, that equates to $10,000-$20,000 in installation costs. Get multiple installation quotes before deciding on a solar company.

Other Costs

In addition to the upfront costs of a solar system, there are ongoing costs to factor in over the system’s lifetime:

  • Maintenance: Solar panels require very little maintenance, but it’s a good idea to keep them clean and clear of debris or snow buildup. Most solar companies offer maintenance packages for $100-150 per visit 1-2 times per year.

  • Repairs: Solar systems are very durable, but parts like inverters may need to be repaired or replaced after 10-15 years. Budget around $300-500 for an inverter replacement.

  • Insurance: Your homeowners insurance policy will cover solar equipment, but you may need to add riders for full replacement value. Expect to pay $100-300 extra per year.

  • Monitoring: Many solar installations include monitoring software so you can track system production. If not included, this costs around $100-300 per year.

Factor in around $250-500 per year for ongoing solar system costs over its 25+ year lifetime.

Federal Tax Credits

The federal solar tax credit, also known as the investment tax credit (ITC), allows homeowners to deduct 26% of the cost of installing a solar energy system from their federal taxes for systems installed in 2022. This tax credit was initially scheduled to phase down to 22% for systems installed in 2023 and then 0% for systems installed in 2024 and beyond. However, the Inflation Reduction Act passed in 2022 extended the 26% credit for systems installed before 2034.

This means homeowners in Florida who install solar in 2022 and the next several years will be eligible for a 26% tax credit. For example, if you install a $15,000 solar system, you can deduct $3,900 from your federal taxes that year. This significantly lowers the out-of-pocket costs of going solar for homeowners.

The federal ITC has been a major driver in the growth of residential solar adoption in the U.S. over the last decade. By keeping the credit at 26% for systems installed through 2033, homeowners will continue to get a substantial discount on the costs of installing solar panels on their homes.

State/Local Incentives

There are several rebates, tax exemptions, and other incentives available in Florida that can help reduce the overall cost of installing a solar system:

The Florida Solar Energy System Incentives Program provides rebates to homeowners who install a new solar system. Rebates are based on system size and the program has a total annual budget. Check with your utility company for current rebate amounts.

Some municipalities and utilities offer additional rebates or grants for residential solar, such as Jacksonville Electric Authority’s solar rebate program. Contact your local utility to ask about solar incentives in your area.

Sales tax exemptions – Solar equipment is exempt from Florida state sales tax and may also be exempt from local sales taxes in certain counties and cities.

Property tax exemptions – Solar systems in Florida may be eligible for property tax exemptions. This can reduce the property tax that homeowners pay on the value added by their solar system.

Net Metering in Florida

Net metering allows solar panel system owners to sell any excess electricity their panels generate back to the utility grid. This helps offset the cost of installing solar since system owners get credit on their utility bill for the power fed back into the grid.

Florida has mandatory net metering laws, so all major utilities are required to offer net metering programs. Most utilities in Florida use net metering at the retail electricity rate, meaning excess solar generation is valued at the same price per kWh as electricity consumed from the grid. This makes net metering very valuable for solar owners.

However, Florida utilities do limit the total capacity eligible for net metering. Once the net metered capacity reaches a certain threshold, utilities can modify their net metering programs. This is why it’s advantageous for homeowners to install solar earlier to lock in the full retail rate net metering.

When looking at solar quotes, be sure to ask installers about the specific net metering policies with your utility and get clarity on how long the full retail net metering rate is guaranteed. This will help you better calculate the return on investment from your solar panel system.

Total Cost Examples

The total cost of a solar system can vary significantly across different regions of Florida. Here are some typical total costs for average-sized residential solar systems in different parts of the state:

  • North Florida (e.g. Jacksonville area) – $15,000 to $25,000 for a 6 kW system

  • Central Florida (e.g. Orlando, Tampa areas) – $18,000 to $28,000 for a 7 kW system

  • South Florida (e.g. Miami, Fort Lauderdale areas) – $20,000 to $35,000 for an 8 kW system

Keep in mind these are just ballpark estimates. The specifics of your roof and electricity usage will impact the size and costs. Regional labor and permitting costs also cause prices to vary.

The best way to get an accurate total cost estimate is to get quotes from multiple local installers based on the details of your property. Most homeowners find they save 20-30% on electric bills with a properly sized solar system, though payback periods vary.

Getting Quotes

Getting multiple quotes is an essential part of the process when considering installing solar panels in your home. Shopping around and comparing bids from different installers can potentially save you thousands of dollars.

There are a few important things to look out for when evaluating quotes for your solar system:

  • System size – Make sure all the quotes are for similarly sized systems in terms of total kW capacity. This allows for an apples-to-apples comparison.
  • Equipment – Quotes may vary widely depending on the brands and quality of the solar panels, inverters and other equipment used. Opt for tier 1 equipment from reputable brands.
  • Warranties – Look for at least 10 years on labor and equipment. Longer warranties (20-25 years) are preferable.
  • References – Ask installers for references from past customers and follow up with them. This can give you insight into their quality of work.
  • Company reputation – Do research to ensure the companies providing quotes have good reputations and many years of solar experience.

Getting 3-5 quotes from reputable local installers and doing your due diligence will help guarantee you get quality equipment at the best price.

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