Are Solar Panels Worth it? Orlando Florida

By
Real Estate Agent with Coldwell Banker Realty SL3503488

I recently had solar panels installed on my own home. I am located in the Orlando area of Florida..  Here is my experience of the process.

Why did I decide to go Solar?  My electric bill for the months of June, July, August 2023 were  $430. $450, $480  respectively . That is an increase of $150 a month from the same time a year ago. Yes some was from increased use with the A/C running more because it was a hotter summer than last year.  Mainly it was the price that my power provider was charging now per kilowatt hour compared to a year ago. 

We met with a solar company representative at our home. He used our last 2 power bills to calculate on his solar application on his computer how many solar panels we would need on the roof to generate enough electricity to cover our highest bill.  

 

Not all Solar panels are equal..  Some Solar panels generate more electricity than others. Those panels that generate more cost more, so bear that in mind when you talk to a represenative.   

The rep can show you on their computer exactly how many panels you would need, and show you how they would be configured on your roof. Other factors that will affect how much electricity they will generate, is how much sunlight they will receive. Do you have over hanging trees that would shade the panels for a part of the day, this will have an affect on the amount of power generated. 

The Cost . There are 3 different ways you can go.  One you can out right pay cash for the system. I have a 3100 sq ft 2 story home, by the calculations I needed 36 roof top panels to cover my needs. Cash cost including install including all permits etc was $41,000 (ouch) it would take a lot of savings to recoup that out lay. 

You could choose to finance the cost by borrowing the money, of course the solar companies can help you with that. 

 

Thirdly you can choose to lease the system, which is what we chose to do. Our lease cost is $233 /month and that is forever. Now I can tell you initially that number was higher than that, we were able to negoitate that down to $233 a month, so don't be afraid to try and work it, kind of like buying a car.  The $233 a month is subject to a 2.5% increase per year, so next year the monthly will go up by $5.80. 

Other Considerations . If you pay cash or finance you own the system, and any repairs, maintenance, or replacement of panels after their warranty runs out is on you.  If you are leasing all repairs, maintenance is on the company for the duration of the lease. 

Tax Credits : you have probably heard/read about tax credits if you install solar, those Tax credits are available to you if you buy the system or finance it. If you lease it, they are not available to you. 

Another big thing to consider before you decide to install solar. How old is your roof. If you are going to have to replace your roof in the next year or 3 you probably should do that before you have solar installed.. Taking the panels down and re-installing can cost a lot ot time and money. 

From the time we met the rep and decided go solar it took about 2 months before they came to install the system. 

What was happening for that 2 months. 1 I had to get HOA approval to have the panels on my roof.  In Florida there is a Statute 163.04 that prohibits HOA's from prohibiting you from installing Solar Panels on the roof.  Look to see if there are similar things in your State. I still went ahead and receive written approval from the HOA just so there is no problem.  The solar company sent an inspector to my house to check the roof, inside the attic, my breaker box to see if itcould handle the Solar. The solar company applied for the permits etc from the local building department.

Sunpower required us to have at least $1 million of liability insurance. This is only required if you lease the system from them. This is in case during a storm a panel blows off and does damage to someone of an adjoining property since it is their equipment. If you finance it or pay cash any damage caused would be on you and what ever insurance you have.  

A couple of days ago Sunpower came and installed the 36 panels on the roof, did all the electrical upgrades etc. They were at my house for 11 hours, 5 guys working pretty much none stop. 

The next day my system was up and running generating electricity. You have an app to download, you can watch how much KW/Hour the panels are generating, how much your house is using KW/Hour all in real time. It shows you how much power you are either sending to the grid or you are using from the grid. Of course if its cloudy the panels are not producing much power and you are probably using more power than you are generating. When its sunny it shows how much the panels are generating and how much you are sending to the grid. 

It definitely makes you aware of how much power the different things consume. When the A/C , clothes dryer, pool heater come on those are the biggest consumers of energy. 

Now that its installed and generating electricity do I think I made the right decision. In the long term yes I do. The price of electricity is only going to go up as the years move on.

The potential down side is when we go to sell the house someday we would want someone to assume the lease which the company allows you to do. That could be a stumbling block to someone qualifying for a new loan. The other alternative would be to pay the system off at closing.  Only time will tell how it all works out.

Is Solar for you?  I would recommend meeting with a Rep to see if it is a fit for your house. 

 Let me know if you would like someone to call you.  Email me at   AlanBrownRealtor@gmail.com  or Text me at 970-209-8436   with your Name, email address, phone # and address of the house you would like a solar estimate on. 

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Coldwell Banker Realty Orlando                                                                                                                      AlanBrownRealtor@gmail.com 

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Comments (4)

Trish Cole
Veterans United Home Loans of Puget Sound NMLS#1907 - Puyallup, WA

There are many homes that use solar in my area.  I have wondered if it is worth while.  Many builders say it is not cost effective.  Thank you for the personal insight.

Oct 12, 2023 10:14 AM
Thomas J. Nelson, REALTOR ® e-Pro CRS RCS-D Vets
Big Block Realty 858.232.8722 - La Jolla, CA
CEO of Vision Drive Realty - Coastal San Diego

I think solar is completely worth getting out from under our power grid fees. We break even in 5.5 years and went solar before they dropped the buy-back-values in May 2023 here in CA.

Oct 12, 2023 10:21 AM
Alan Brown
Coldwell Banker Realty - Davenport, FL
32 Years of Real Estate Experience .

Its definitely something to consider whether it's cost effective. Here in Florida with all the sunshine we get its probably a different propostion than where you are in Washington State. You probably do not get as much sun a s we do.  

Some of th big national builders here put them on as standard when they build the home. I don't know wht the quality or effectiveness of their panels are. I do know that they are all leased, so when a buyer buys a new home they are assuming the solar lease.

Oct 12, 2023 10:21 AM
Charles Ross - eXp Realty LLC
eXp Realty LLC Salina Group - Salina, KS
Love To Help People

Alan, thank you for sharing such a comprehensive and candid overview of your journey with solar panel installation. Your firsthand experience provides invaluable insights, especially for those in the Orlando area considering a similar path. The fluctuating costs of electricity, particularly during peak summer months, are indeed a concern for many, and it's enlightening to see how you've tackled this with a renewable energy option

Oct 12, 2023 01:45 PM