Tampa Homeowners Guide to Solar

In the last decade, millions of solar panels have been installed across the U.S., as an increasing number of homeowners choose to power their daily lives with solar power.  

In Florida alone, solar panels now generate enough electricity to power 842,000 homes.  And with over 250 sunny days a year, it’s no wonder that Florida plays a massive role in today’s solar boom, as an increasing amount of Florida homes make the switch to solar. 

But Florida’s abundant sunshine isn’t the only reason that so many homeowners are installing solar panels.  Thanks to improved solar technology, the cost of solar continues to go down every single year making solar more affordable to… well… everyone. 

As one of the leading Solar Installers in Tampa Bay, in the last few years, Expert Solar has successfully installed solar panels on tens of thousands of homes across Greater Tampa.  With competitive financing solutions, we not only make it possible for Tampa homeowners to go solar, but we maximize savings.

If you live in Tampa and are considering the option of switching to solar, there is no one-size-fits-all solar solution. In this article, I will address some of the most common questions we get asked.

“The cost to install solar has dropped by more than 60% over the last decade, leading the industry to expand into new markets and deploy thousands of systems nationwide. An average-sized residential system has dropped from a pre-incentive price of $40,000 in 2010 to roughly $20,000 today.” – Solar Energy Industry Association

How Does Solar Power Work?

There are two primary technologies for harnessing the sun’s energy and converting it to electricity. The first is photovoltaics, or PV. These are the panels you’ve seen on rooftops and in fields. When the sun shines on a solar panel, photons from the sun are absorbed by the cells in the panel, creating an electric field across the layers and causing electricity to flow. Learn more about How Solar Panels Work.

The other technology, that doesn’t apply to homeowners, is concentrating solar power (CSP). It is primarily used in large power plants and is not suitable for residential use. This technology employs mirrors to reflect and concentrate sunlight onto receivers, which collect solar energy and convert it to heat.

Is Solar Right for My Home?

In Tampa, most homes are suitable for solar panels.  That is why they are so popular.  However, although solar panels are designed to work in all climates, some homes may not be suitable for solar.  For example, maybe a home’s roof is shaded by trees that cannot be removed or cut back.  Your roof’s size, shape, and slope are also important factors to consider. Solar panels typically perform best on south-facing roofs with a slope of 15 to 40 degrees, though other roofs may be suitable as well. 

Another factor to consider is the age of your roof and how long it will be before it needs to be replaced.  That is why Expert Solar provides full roofing services in case you need a new roof to support your solar panels.

If a solar professional determines that your roof is not solar-ready, or if you do not own your home, you can still benefit from solar energy. Multiple people can benefit from a single, shared solar array, which can be installed on- or off-site. The costs of purchasing and installing a solar energy system are shared by all participants, who can buy into the shared system at the level that best fits their budget.

How Do I Start the Process of Going Solar?

It’s important for homeowners to feel comfortable with solar, that’s why we encourage doing your own research online and that’s also why we provide such a vast library of educational resources. 

If you are looking for a solar installer in Tampa, a quick Google search can help find solar installers in your area.  Here we advise that you consider to main factors when searching for a solar installer.  The first is their reviews and the second is whether or not they handle all their services in-house. This is important because many solar companies just handle the sales aspect of solar, while their sub-contract the installation.  The best solution is to find a company that handles all of it under one roof as we do at Expert Solar. 

The easiest way to start the process is to contact one of our Solar Professionals.  Not only will we tailor-make a 3D design of your solar system, using AI technology to pinpoint the best spots on your roof for solar panels, but we will also provide competitive pricing and financing options.

Can I Install My Own Solar Panels?

Currently, the best way to install solar is to hire a qualified professional who is certified and works with high-quality solar panels. The North American Board of Certified Energy Practitioners bestows the industry-standard certification (NABCEP).

How Much Electricity Can My Solar Panels Generate?

When we design a solar system, we go for generating 100% of your home’s power needs through solar panels.  However, there is a fun tool that Tampa homeowners can use to calculate the energy production and energy cost of solar panels for any address on the planet.

PV Watts enables homeowners, small business owners, installers, and manufacturers to quickly estimate the performance of potential PV installations and even compare the cost of solar to utility bills. These tools are useful for getting started but consult with a solar installer for a personalized estimate of how much power your solar energy system is likely to generate.

Most utilities in Florida participate in what’s called net metering, where you can earn credits for any extra electricity that you produce but do not use. What is Net Metering?

On average, if you purchase a solar panel system that covers your energy needs for your Florida home, you could save up to $1,933.68 annually.

Will I Save Money by Going Solar?

The fast answer is yes.

The number one reason homeowners all over Florida are switching to solar is because it saves them money. And in the long run, it saves them a LOT of money.

The amount of money you can save with solar is determined by how much electricity you consume, the size of your solar energy system, whether you choose to buy or lease your system, and how much power it is capable of producing given the direction your roof faces and how much sunlight hits it. Your savings will also be determined by the electricity rates set by your utility, as well as how much the utility will compensate you for excess solar energy you send back to the grid.

Since 2009, the cost of going solar has decreased year after year, a trend that researchers expect to continue. Not only are panel prices falling, but so are installation costs such as permitting and inspection—also known as “soft costs.” This empowers us. to provide solar at extremely affordable rates. 

Tampa homeowners should also keep in mind that energy efficiency improvements economically complement solar energy. That. iswhy at Expert Solar we also do roof installations and HVAC systems.

How Do I Get Financing for Solar?

When deciding to go solar, consumers have several financial options to choose from. In general, a purchased solar system will cost less to install than a system installed with a solar loan, lease, or power purchase agreement (PPA).

At Expert Solar, we work with the most competitive solar financing options to get you qualified and financed for your future solar installation. 

If you prefer to purchase your solar energy system, solar loans can help you save money up front. In most cases, monthly loan payments are less than a typical energy bill, allowing you to save money right away. Solar loans work similarly to home improvement loans, and some jurisdictions will provide subsidized solar energy loans with below-market interest rates, making solar even more affordable. With loans, new homeowners can include solar as part of their mortgage. Purchasing a solar energy system qualifies you for the Solar Investment Tax Credit, or ITC. Congress extended the ITC in December 2020, providing a 26% tax credit for systems installed in 2020-2022 and a 22% tax credit for systems installed in 2023. Unless Congress renews it, the tax credit will expire in 2024.

Solar leases and power purchase agreements (PPAs) enable consumers to host solar energy systems owned by solar companies and purchase the electricity generated. Customers enter into agreements that allow them to have lower electricity bills without having to make monthly loan payments. In many cases, this means paying nothing to go solar. Solar leases have fixed monthly payments based on the estimated amount of electricity produced by the system. A solar PPA requires customers to agree to buy the power generated by the system at a set price per kilowatt-hour of electricity produced. However, because you do not own the solar energy system, you are not eligible for tax benefits with either of these options.

Navigating the financing options can be difficult, that’s why we offer financing services and options to help make the entire process simple and affordable.

Does Solar Increase The Value of My Home?

Investing in a solar energy system will almost certainly increase the value of your home. According to a recent study, solar panels are viewed as upgrades, similar to a renovated kitchen or a finished basement, and home buyers across the country are willing to pay an extra $15,000 for a home with an average-sized solar array. There is also evidence that homes with solar panels sell faster than those without. Homes in California with energy-efficient features and PV sold faster than homes that consumed more energy in 2008. Keep in mind that these studies focused on solar panels owned by homeowners.

Florida Solar Incentives, Tax Credits, and Rebates

Solar panels in Florida are not expensive, costing slightly more than $2 per Watt. However, there are ways to further reduce these costs, as both federal and state incentives reduce the upfront cost of going solar in Florida.

The Federal Solar Tax Credit allows you to deduct up to 26% of the cost of your home solar installation from your federal taxes. If you owe less in taxes than 26% of the cost of your home solar system, you can carry over the remaining Federal Tax Credit for up to ten years. This equates to a $3,406 savings on a $13,100 system.

In addition, the Sunshine State implemented the Solar System Property Tax Exemption. Any value added to your property value by solar panels is not considered for property tax evaluation under this home solar incentive. Although it may not appear to be much, each kW of rooftop solar panels adds around $6,000 to the value of your property.

The state of Florida also implemented the Home Solar System Sales Tax Exemption, which exempts you from paying the 6% sales tax on your home solar system. The tax benefits would amount to $786 in an average of 5 kWh, $13,100. This sales tax exemption propels Florida solar and home solar to new heights, allowing you to save money while lowering the cost of solar panels.

Another reason to go solar is the net metering program in Florida. Under this system, any excess electricity not used during production is fed directly into the electric grid. During the night, when there is no energy production, you draw power from the grid. You could effectively offset up to 100% of your home electricity costs.

Can I Go Solar Without Changing The Look of My Home?

Yes! BIPV, or building-integrated photovoltaics, allows homeowners to customize the appearance of their solar panels to match their surroundings. SETO has supported projects that have commercialized technology that allows homeowners to add a graphical layer to their solar panels to make them blend in with the roof.

What Are Solar Batteries?

Energy storage, most commonly in the form of batteries, is referred to as storage. Installing energy storage with a solar system can help you use the power you generate when you need it the most, regardless of whether it’s sunny outside. Storage allows you to save energy and use it later in the day, such as when you turn on the heat at night, run the dishwasher after dinner, or when the power goes out.

Are Solar Panels Safe?

Yes. All solar panels meet international inspection and testing standards, and they will be installed to meet local building, fire, and electrical codes by a qualified installer. In addition, as part of the installation process, your solar energy system will be thoroughly inspected by a certified electrician.

What Are The Environmental Benefits of Solar?

Using solar energy instead of traditional energy sources reduces the amount of carbon and other pollutants emitted into the environment. Less pollution and cleaner air and water result from reducing the amount of carbon in our atmosphere.

Do Solar Panels Require Maintenance?

Cleaning and an annual inspection are the only regular maintenance requirements for your solar panels. Otherwise, as long as your panels are in good working order, they will not require any additional maintenance throughout the year.

Is Expert Solar a Trustworthy Company?

As a homeowner, one of the most important questions you can ask yourself when switching to solar is “How can I find a solar installer that I can trust to do a great job on my home?”

As one of Florida’s original solar installation companies, Expert Solar has the experience, the track record, and most importantly the commitment to answer that question.

For over 15 years Expert Solar has installed thousands of solar PV systems across Hillsborough and Pinellas County.

Driven by our pledge to build a clean energy future for a pure world, we’ve not only watched the solar industry grow and advance, but we lived it.

Continually improving our knowledge, ability, and involvement, we use the industries leading solar equipment and technology.

Today Expert Solar is proud to be one of Florida’s leading all-in-house solar companies. That means from start to finish you deal with us and only us. Never outsourcing or contracting out our work, we provide you with the confidence you need to build a brighter future through solar. Read More

Ricardo Del SolArticle by
Ricardo Del Sol
Editor, Expert Solar
(800) 340-0681