How to Use the Solar Calculator
The best way to learn about local rebates, your home’s energy potential, and your eventual return on investment is to use our ModSun Solar Cost Calculator (see above). Enter your home address in the box, then click Check My Roof. You’ll get an instant picture of your roof’s productivity, your average energy expenses, and installation costs in your area—whether you decide to buy or loan. We’ll also provide system size recommendations and information about rebates and incentives you may be eligible for. Just select More Info under each purchasing strategy to learn more, and then connect with a solar pro.
Solar Buyer’s Guide for Tallahassee, Florida
Solar panels provide a means for you to generate your own electricity while offsetting the more expensive costs and unexpected rate hikes common with traditional power companies. Local solar contractors are available in the Tallahassee area that provide services to help residents interested in installing the money saving panels on their home or business. This buying guide will focus on informing residents of the initial first steps and important considerations required for solar panel installation.
Since solar power requires plenty of sunlight to produce electricity, the capital of the sunshine state is an ideal location for the panels. Most folks consider the summer climate in Florida hot, and it is, with average temperatures in Tallahassee hovering around 91 degrees in mid July with high humidity levels on rainy days. However, the winters are mild averaging about 39.7 degrees in mid January with zero snowfall. Tallahassee receives approximately 233 days of sunshine each year, which is well above the national average of 205. With only 114 days of measurable precipitation bringing annual rainfall totals to 62.4 inches, conditions in Tallahassee are ideal for solar power.
The Basics of Solar Power in Tallahassee
Solar power is a complicated technology, but the basic principals are simple. Photovoltaic cells capture photons from the sunlight and convert them into usable electricity. Since sunlight is the key to the whole process, you want your solar panels as close to the sun as possible and unobstructed by trees.
The most common areas used for panel installation are the rooftops of buildings. If land limitations are not a concern, the panels can be installed on the ground. After the sunlight is converted into electricity, it travels from the panels to an inverter, which converts the power into AC — Alternating Current — and is used to power your home. Excess electricity not used by your home passes through a net meter and into the main electrical grid. This is where it gets really exciting: the excess power is measured by the net meter and sold back to the big utility companies, usually at retail prices! The amount of energy your system contributes to the grid shows up as a credit on your monthly utility bill. At the end of the year, if you sold more solar power to the utility company than you used from the grid, you can expect a check.
Solar Panel Pricing in Tallahassee
Although the prices for solar panel systems have fallen drastically due to technological advancements in the industry, they still require a sizable investment to purchase. Many states have enacted laws that allow third party ownership of the panels, meaning you can lease or enter into a purchase power agreement. Unfortunately, for Florida residents, the state has laws against third party ownership, thus requiring you to purchase the panels outright or obtain traditional financing, such as a credit card or a Home Equity Line of Credit (HELOC) to pay for them. The pricing for solar panel systems as well as the electricity they produce is a complicated formula. To keep it simple, the following example is an approximation and can vary significantly depending on many factors. On average, a 1500 square foot home would require a 4 to 5 KW system costing on average between $12,000 and $20,000 dollars.
Incentives are available that can lower the cost of your solar panel system. The federal government, in an effort to promote solar power, is offering taxpayers a tax credit of up to 30% of the purchase price through the end of 2016. That can bring the cost down to between $8,500 and $14,000. Many Florida power companies also offer their own rebates and incentives to entice you to switch to solar power, which could push the final price tag even lower. To find information and take advantage of all available solar power rebates and incentive programs in the State of Florida, the Database of State Incentives for Renewables & Efficiency website where you can search for available programs by zip code.
Solar power provides a great return on Investment (ROI) with an average return of 20 percent that rivals those found on Wall Street, but without the risk. Think about that for a minute, a 20 percent return for the next 20 to 25 years — solar panel life span — without risk. That is a sound investment.
Final Steps before Going Solar
The single most important step in solar panel installation is choosing the right contractor. They will be responsible for sizing the system, verifying that the roof is structurally sound, acquiring the necessary permits, and ensuring a quality installation. In addition, they should oversee the interconnection phase of the install — tying your system into the main grid — as well as testing and making any final adjustments to your solar system.
Solar energy will be a big and important player in our future energy needs by providing a clean, long-term energy source without creating the pollution associated with traditional fossil fuels.