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Solar Resources

Florida: A Guide to Residential Solar Energy

There is only one state with the perfect nickname when it comes to solar energy: Florida, the “Sunshine State.” Though in the last decade it “lagged in renewable energy use,” Scientific American recently reported, “solar is about to boom in the Sunshine State as the price of photovoltaic cells and related installation costs drop to all-time lows.” As of the end of 2018, for example, the Solar Energy Industries Association (SEIA) ranked the state eighth in the country since just about one percent of the state’s electricity came from solar energy. However, SEIA also ranks Florida second in projecting its growth over the next five years.

While initially slow, the solar panel systems and installation market in Florida has exploded since 2016. Chart via the Solar Energy Industries Association

Indeed, increased competition in the state since 2016—and the nature of the market on a national scale—means residents are primed for home value increases if they install solar panels in Florida. More specifically, researchers project the value of a home increases up to $15,000 on average, according to the Berkley Lab, one of the federal government’s national renewable energy laboratories. And that doesn’t even take into consideration the massive savings solar paneling affords homeowners—or seasonal price fluctuations that mean winter could be perfect for a solar home improvement project. Like every other state, Florida has a unique set of incentives, benefits, and challenges when it comes to investing in solar panels for houses. Read our residential guide to understand what you should know as a homeowner as you look for the best contractor to install solar roof panels under the large, wide, and perfect Florida sun.

A well-informed and reliable contractor will go over each detail of your installation with you, from expected savings to increases in home value. At Modernize, we frequently speak to homeowners about their home improvement projects. In our recent interviews, 90 percent of homeowners requested a checklist to help them find and vet contractors. Modernize now offers homeowners a free, digital Contractor Checklist as a simple, step-by-step guide to assist with your solar panel project.

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Coconut Grove, FL: Solar Energy Success Stories

Wine consultant Carol Lopez-Bethel considered her switch to solar was a “no brainer,” according to CBS Miami.

Three years after Lopez-Bethel installed solar panels in Florida’s Coconut Grove, the sun powers many utilities in her home. And while you should consider your roof when you consider a solar panel system, keep in mind hers is a 1950s-era house.

“The lights that are on right now,” she told CBS, “are free. They’re coming from the sun.  And we’re not creating any pollution. We’re not imposing ourselves (on the environment) in any negative way.”

Indeed, solar panels have a sizeable effect on utility bills. Florida residents can expect to save nearly $18,000 over 20 years.

This data serves as guidance for your journey to home improvement. Use it during your conversation with contractors in your area. Ask for this level of detail in your estimates and if jargon or complex wording seems confusing, ask for clarification. A trusted contractor will be glad for the opportunity to explain what everything means and, more importantly, what it specifically means to you.

When it comes to Florida’s solar energy, for example, existing financial incentives only make it more lucrative for you to sustainably increase your property value.

Florida Solar Panels: Incentives, Rebates, and Other Savings

There are currently 100 incentives for homeowners to increase the value of their property by installing solar panels for houses in Florida. Find details about each program at the state’s Database of State Incentives for Renewables & Efficiency (DSIRE). Solid contractors installing solar panels in Florida will be able to provide a list of applicable costs savings measures and help you navigate applying for and getting the most out of them. Learn enough to have a foundational understanding of these programs to best talk to your contractor about them once you’ve vetted and chosen one.

Property Tax Abatement for Renewable Energy Property

Installing solar paneling for homes will increase property value for homeowners who have invested in their houses, and Florida is investing right back in them. The state “provides a 100 percent property tax exemption for residential renewable energy property.” In other words, you’re not paying taxes on any of the added value of your property. And this tax exemption doesn’t just apply to solar panel systems, but also to the many components that could be required as part of the installations:

  • Solar energy collectors, photovoltaic modules, and inverters
  • Thermostats and other control devices
  • Heat exchange devices
  • Pipes, ducts, wiring, and structural supports
  • Power conditioning and storage devices that store or use solar energy

Find all the details at DSIRE’s profile for the program.

Net Metering

Since 2008, if your Florida solar panels collect more energy than you use, you can sell your excess energy back to your energy provider.

They have to credit you for it—in other words, you are selling them the energy collected by the solar panels powering your home. And the credit has to be “carried forward at the utility’s retail rate.”

Find all the details at DSIRE’s profile for the program.

Other Florida solar energy programs include city and region-specific ones:

Of course, you want to get the most out of local programs as well as federal ones, like the temporary Residential Renewable Energy Tax Credit, which applies to up to 30 percent of your installation. It is important to note that this federal credit is for systems placed in service by 12/31/2019. Solar Energy International reports that a typical five-kilowatt solar system installation in September 2018 would’ve dropped from $15,428 to $10,800 after the rebate is applied—but keep in mind its value is dropping and the credit could be completely gone by the early 2020s. Consult your contractor about this and other available credits and incentives to ensure your investment in the long-term value of your property is as easy on your current assets as possible.

That’s why you’ll want to find a contractor you can trust—a local professional who can get the job done and assist you with navigating local policy and regulation. The Modernize Contractor Checklist will help you vet a trusted contractor, so you can relax knowing your solar panel project is in good hands.

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