There are 2 types of solar power: thermal solar (which uses the heat from your roof to warm up your pool or fill your hot water tan), and photovoltaic solar (which uses photons from the sun to generate electricity).
Below are some of the most frequently asked questions about solar that we hear from homeowners or business owners.
How much does photovoltaic solar cost?
This depends upon 2 factors: the square footage of your roof and the power needs (daily kilowatt usage) of your home. A smaller photovoltaic array might cost as low as $8,000 after the federal tax credit. An $8,000 system would eliminate $110 per month in energy costs, and the monthly payment on that system with a 4% loan is $78 per month. Instead of paying $110 per month to the electric company the customer would pay $78 per month to pay off the loan on their solar array. If financed, solar is always less expensive than paying the electric company, and solar adds to the value of your home.
How much do solar pool heaters cost?
The pricing on solar pool heaters depends upon the volume of water in your pool, as well as the type of roof on your home. Prices vary from $3,500 and up based on these factors. The other variable here is the room available on your roof, solar pool heating panels are 4 feet wide and vary from 8 to 12 feet in length. Our sales consultants will measure your roof dimensions on Google Maps before the appointment to give you a more accurate price.
How much will photovoltaic solar add to the value of my home?
Several different studies demonstrate that solar increases the resale of a home from 3% to 5%, in a non-recessionary housing market. This means that a standard solar array on a $300,000 home will increase the market value from $9,000 to $15,000. The rooftop solar arrays sold by Tampa Bay Solar typically last 30 to 40 years, and the payoff (ROI) on a standard system is 7 to 8 years. As plug in electric cars become more common the value of homes with photovoltaic solar will increase because electric car owners will be able to charge their vehicles at home without paying a high electric bill.
How does the Federal Tax Credit on solar work?
The credit can be used for solar hot waters heaters for the home, solar pool pumps and any photovoltaic array. The tax credit is 26% until 2022, 22% in 2023. This is a TAX CREDIT, so you can’t use it unless you pay taxes to the federal government. If your annual household income is below $30,000 per year it might take you several years to use your tax credit. For instance, if you only pay $3,000 per year in federal taxes and you get a solar tax credit for $9,000 it will have to carry forward three years for you to recoup the full $9,000. The solar tax credit is dollar for dollar, if you own a business and pay taxes at the end of the year you can use the tax credit instead of writing a check to Uncle Sam.
How does my grid-tied solar array work at night?
It doesn’t. A solar array in Florida will generate power (even on a cloudy day) from just after sunrise until sunset. Most of the systems we install are net metered to the power grid; during the day the system generates more than you need and these extra kilowatts are pushed back to the grid via a bi-directional meter installed by the electric company. These banked kilowatts are like rollover minutes on a cell phone, during the winter (when your air condition needs are lower) your solar array will produce excess kilowatts which are pushed back to the utility and credited to your bill. When the hot summer months begin that bank of kilowatts will be used as a credit toward your increased energy usage.
What about during a power outage?
If you install an SMA inverter with Secure Power Supply (SPS) you will have some daytime limited power from your solar, even if the electric company goes dark.
Tampa Bay Solar also installs battery back-up systems, which can significantly increase the cost of the install, but does provide energy security like that of a back-up generator without the need to refuel a tank everyday.
Our CEO, Steve Rutherford and Tampa Bay Solar team, has extensive experience with battery back-up systems, not only during his military service but also right here in Tampa Bay. A battery back-up system requires a much greater understanding of the customer’s needs. Tampa Bay Solar works closely with customer’s to understand the need before offering a solution. Make sure to understand the limitations of the system before making the final decision to add a battery system.
What will solar do to my roof?
Properly installed photovoltaics and solar pool heaters will not damage your roof. Tampa Bay Solar has 10-year parts and labor warranty on any roof we touch. Our photovoltaic panels are mounted using the Iron Ridge flush mount system and are rated to 185 mph winds. A photovoltaic array is cross-braced to the roofing joist, which actually increases the structural integrity of your roof.
Our solar pool heating panels are rated to 120 mph. When hurricane Irma hit Tampa Bay in September of 2017 none of our existing installs incurred any damage at all.
Why choose Tampa Bay Solar over other installers in the area?
We are the ONLY Veteran-owned and operated solar installer in Tampa Bay, and very few solar installers can match our experience and longevity. When you meet with our sales consultant, they’ll give you a list of names and numbers of local clients who have put their trust in us.
100% of our installers are Tampa Bay Solar employees, we don’t subcontract work to inexperienced contractors. By keeping our installs in-house, we maintain tighter quality control and get jobs done faster with fewer mistakes.
Many of our specialist electricians and crew leaders have been with us over several hundred installs, and that cumulative experience makes a big difference on the roof.
We’re also fast and responsive in regards to any customer inquiry, whether it’s sales or service of an existing system. You can trust that Tampa Bay Solar is your go-to solar power expert.
What about maintenance on my system?
Photovoltaic panels have a 25-year warranty, so there is little to zero maintenance on a typical photovoltaic solar array. Dust and pollen might accumulate on rooftop panels, but the abundant rainfall here in Florida tends to mitigate this issue.
How about warranty coverage?
In addition to the 25-year warranty on panels Tampa Bay Solar also has a 10-year warranty that covers labor as well as the roof we used to mount the panels. Panel failure is very rare, less than one quarter of 1% of all the panels installed. With our 10 year warranty, your photovoltaic array is fully covered for any defect in parts or the install. (The warranty does not cover “acts of God” such as a house fire or a tree branch falling on your array, which is typically covered by homeowner’s insurance).
Will my homeowners insurance go up?
We recommend that you increase the replacement value of your home by the cost of the solar array after the tax credit. For instance, if you live in a $300,000 home and the solar array was $15,000 after the tax credit you can increase the replacement coverage to $315,000. A minor change like this might cost an extra $30 per year.
My HOA is a big pain the neck, how hard is it to get approval?
Tampa Bay Solar has performed installs on hundreds of homes in HOA controlled communities, and we’ve never had an issue. Florida state law states that HOA’s have zero say in regards to solar on homes. In other words, your HOA has zero power when it comes to purchasing rooftop solar.
What about my property taxes?
Florida state law says that property taxes can NOT be increased by photovoltaics on a residence, even if that solar array has a high value.
How long does it take to get my solar installed?
Most systems are installed within 3 to 6 weeks of a signed contract.
(Some counties has a slower permit process, about 4 weeks, while Hillsborough County does same-day permits. At the time of contract, you’ll receive a timetable based on your county and the size of your system. Larger systems might take 3 to 4 days to install, smaller solar arrays and pool heaters are installed faster. All photovoltaic arrays have to go through county or city inspection, then it takes the local electric utility another 3 to 4 weeks to install the bidirectional meter.
Can I finance my system?
Tampa Bay Solar works with various lenders and programs to help our clients get a monthly payment that is lower than their current costs. Your sales consultant will walk you through these options based upon your current financial situation.
How long does it take to meet with a solar consultant?
We typically sit down with our clients for 20 to 30 minutes to look at their electric bill, answer their questions and formulate a price based on their kilowatt usage. If the appointment takes longer it means you’re asking great questions!
Our approach is to educate our clients about their options, what you do with that information is 100% up to you. We don’t want to twist anyone’s arm to sell anything because intelligent consumers who understand this technology want to buy! Our job is to present your options in a way that you feel 100% comfortable spending your green dollars with our organization.
You might buy from us this week, six months from now, or 2 years in the future. Either way we want to earn your business.
Duke Energy is my electric company, how does that work with solar on my home?
Tampa Bay Solar has installed many residential solar arrays in Duke’s local footprint across Tampa Bay. Like most electric companies in Florida, Duke Energy is a net metering utility, which means Duke customers can bank kilowatts with the utility, and use that power at a later date. This is done via a bidirectional meter that is installed by Duke (after your rooftop array has been installed and passed county inspection).
Duke charges a minimal monthly connection fee that all customers have to pay, even if 100% of your energy comes from your solar array.
The bidirectional meter is normally installed a few weeks after the solar array has passed county inspection, in some cases it has taken Duke longer than a month to install the bidirectional meter, but in 2019 they seem to have corrected this issue.
I have TECO, how do they work if I get solar on my home?
TECO is an electric utility that services a four county footprint in and around Tampa Bay.
Tampa Bay Solar has installed many residential solar arrays in TECO’s local footprint, mostly in the city and Tampa and the surrounding Hillsborough County area.
Like most electric companies in Florida TECO is a net metering utility, which means that TECO customers can bank kilowatts with the utility and use that power at a later date. This is done via a bidirectional meter that is installed by TECO after your rooftop array has been installed and passed county inspection.
TECO charges a $18 monthly connection fee that all customers have to pay, even if 100% of your energy comes from your solar array.
The bidirectional meter is normally installed a few weeks after the solar array has passed county inspection, in some cases it has taken TECO longer than a month to install the bidirectional meter, but in 2019 they seem to have corrected this issue.
How does Withlachoochee River Electric Cooperative (WREC) work with solar on my home?
Withlachoochee River Electric Cooperative (also known as WREC) is an electric company that services customers in nine Florida counties just north of Tampa.
Tampa Bay Solar has installed many residential solar arrays in the WREC footprint in Pasco, Hernando and Citrus counties.
Like most electric companies in Florida WREC is a net metering utility, which means that WREC customers can bank kilowatts with the utility and use that power at a later date. This is done via a bidirectional meter that is installed by WREC after your rooftop array has been installed and passed county inspection.
WREC charges a $32 monthly connection fee that all customers have to pay, even if 100% of your energy comes from your solar array.
The bidirectional meter is normally installed a few weeks after the solar array has passed county inspection, in some cases it has taken WREC longer than a month to install the bidirectional meter, but in 2019 they seem to have corrected this issue.
I live in Lakeland Electric’s footprint, how does solar work for me?
Lakeland Electric is a privately held utility so they do NOT have a net metering 1 for 1 policy like the other utilities in Florida. Lakeland Electric charges a different rate (demand charge) to any customer who gets a solar array. For this reason we do NOT recommend a grid-tied system for Lakeland Electric customers. The best way to mitigate this issue is to use either a battery back-up system or use off-grid systems like our Lorentz solar pool pump.