Tourists visiting Orlando are increasingly seeing a sight other than just cartoon mice: solar panels stacked on rooftops.
The Central Florida city has set a goal of 100% clean and renewable energy sources by 2050. Meanwhile there are many clean energy initiatives, including private companies moving toward increased solar usage.
Going solar is an appealing choice in the aptly named Sunshine State: Florida ranks fourth overall for solar energy potential, while the average electricity cost was $167.55 in October 2023.
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“Orlando is one of the most concentrated areas for solar in general,” said Raina Greenfest, a civil engineer and Florida Solar Energy Industries Association board member who runs a solar consultancy called Raina or Shine.
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Greenfest encourages thorough vetting of potential contractors and asking many questions before you move forward with installation.
“They should compare apples to apples and who is actually performing the work,” Greenfest said. “If a homeowner has a question they are going to want to have the ability to talk to somebody and get answers. It is really important they are working with a reputable contractor. Being in Orlando they should have no problem.”
How much do solar panels cost in Orlando
A major decision whether to go solar is the cost. The average cost for solar panels in Florida is $28,890, or $3.21 per watt, for a 9kW system, according to data from FindEnergy.com. Your total cost will depend on how many solar panels you get: You will want a system large enough that you’ll eventually save money.
Throughout the state of Florida, solar costs have come down 42% over the past 10 years, according to the Solar Energy Industries Association.
“The prices have gone down,” Greenfest said. “The market is saturated with product at the moment, which wasn’t the case awhile back. You have installers ready to go and interest rates are dropping so that combination makes it a very viable option.”
Other cost factors include the type of panel selected for the installation and if there are complexities to the roof such as chimneys. Anyone with a roof 20 years or older may want to consider replacing the roof first before going solar, Greenfest said.
“If your roof is in good shape, especially if you are in Orlando, I would contact multiple installers and do a quote comparison,” she said.
You might also want to take a look at home appliances to make sure they are energy efficient and reduce your consumption before adding solar panels, Greenfest said. That could lead to you needing fewer panels — and saving money.
Florida solar panel costs
|Median system size (kW)
|Price per watt
|Total installed cost (before incentives)
|Cost after 30% federal solar tax credit
Orlando solar panels incentives and rebates
The biggest financial incentive for going solar in Orlando is the federal solar tax credit, known as the residential clean energy credit, which will pay you back for up to 30% of the installation costs.
The state of Florida doesn’t offer tax credits or rebates for installation, but there are net metering programs and both property tax and solar sales tax exemptions.
Florida solar panel incentives
|Residential clean energy credit
|This federal tax credit provides up to 30% of the cost of a solar panel installation back on your taxes the following year.
|Net metering allows you to sell the energy generated by your solar panels but not used at your home back to the grid for credits on your power bill.
|Property tax exemption
|The value of a solar panel installation is exempt from property tax assessments.
|Sales tax exemption
|Solar panels and certain equipment are exempt from Florida’s sales tax.
How to pay for solar panels in Orlando
Cash: While the initial installation costs can be prohibitive, if you have the funds available to do a straightforward purchase, which eliminates interest and fees associated with a potential loan and the cost savings will start right away.
Solar loan: Generally offered by the installer, there are solar-specific loans available if you want to finance the installation over time.
Home equity loan: Home equity loans or HELOCs are another option for you and because they are tied into collateral (your home), you might be able to get a good interest rate. But they can come with a lengthy appraisal process, and if you fail to repay the loan, you could lose your home.
Personal loan: A personal loan through a financial institution is another route, but they tend to come with higher interest rates.
Solar lease: If you have a solar lease, you make a monthly payment to a solar panel company to have the panels on your home, but you do not own them. In this case, you aren’t eligible for the federal tax credits and you don’t actually own the system.
Other installation factors to keep in mind
Renting vs. owning your home: If you’re renting a house and hope to purchase a home relatively soon, the costs of installing solar panels may not be worth the investment. Also, the choice to get solar panels would ultimately be up to the homeowner — your landlord.
Insurance coverage: Solar panels can be damaged by extreme weather or other outside forces. You should review your homeowner’s insurance policy to determine if the panels would be covered and contact your insurance company to notify them.
Homeowners association regulations: While Florida has laws limiting how homeowners associations can restrict solar panels, you should check your HOA’s regulations to see what their rules are.