The U.S. has experienced notable solar growth over the past decade, and Florida is one of the states leading the way. The Sunshine State ranks in the top 10 for installed solar capacity and number five in the country for solar jobs. It’s also home to one of the nation’s top cities for solar energy – Tampa. The Gulf Coast city has record low prices for rooftop solar in the U.S. and homeowners are starting to take notice. In this article, we’ll explain what a Tampa homeowner should expect to pay for a solar installation and how they can guarantee they will get the best deal.
How much do solar panels cost in Tampa?
As of the end of 2016 the average price for solar panels in Tampa was $3.00 per watt. Therefore, since the average system size in the U.S. is 5 kilowatts (5,000 watts), the average cost of a solar panel system in Tampa is $15,000 before any incentives or rebates.
Even in the state of Florida – home to some of the lowest regional solar prices in the nation – Tampa is one of the most affordable cities. Even so, when comparing Tampa to the rest of the nation, the price disparity is fairly significant. Check out this comparison table of U.S. and Tampa prices for solar systems seen by homeowners:
Solar pricing table: Tampa compared to U.S. average cost
|System size||National average cost (post ITC)||Tampa average cost (post ITC)|
*Note – prices in this table have the 30% Federal solar subsidy already included
The above table, which uses pricing data from solar quotes received by homeowners on the EnergySage Solar Marketplace in 2017, offers a comparison of prices nationwide and in Tampa for solar energy systems. As the data illustrates, typical solar prices in Tampa, Florida are significantly lower than the rest of the country.
When looking at the solar industry as a whole, it’s well known that Florida is one of the most affordable and logical places to install solar. But when you zero in on Tampa’s market and compare it to the rest of the country, the advantage for homeowners is even more obvious. The good news for most Tampa homeowners is that these low costs do not even incorporate the added economic benefit of net metering, which is offered throughout the Sunshine State.
Florida net metering and other solar incentives
One major reason for solar’s rampant popularity in Florida is centered around the state’s great solar incentives. Every major state utility offers net metering – a “make or break” factor for the economics of solar energy.
Net metering is a huge benefit for homeowners that are connected to the grid who have a solar system installed. These homeowners can receive credits on their utility bills whenever their solar panels send surplus energy back to the grid. In a sense, net metering allows you to use the grid to “store” your energy for free – when your solar panels don’t produce enough electricity, you can use your net metering credits instead of buying extra electricity from the utility.
This is what makes solar a truly efficient and pragmatic option: with net metering, you can cover 100 percent of your energy needs even during nighttime when your system is not generating energy. Without net metering, many homeowners will opt for another storage option like a solar battery.
How Tampa homeowners can save big with solar
Though Tampa, FL residents will see some of the cheapest solar prices in the country with continued declines in cost expected over the next five years, low prices aren’t the only selling point. When it comes to going solar, the long term ROI and savings from avoided bill payments is often the biggest deciding factor – and the figures can be staggering even in states where utility rates are reasonable. In 2016, solar quotes received by Tampa homeowners yielded 20-year savings estimates of over $31,000 on average.
And even though that number is impressive, what isn’t captured in the savings figure is the control you have as a solar shopper on the final quote you’ll receive for your solar energy system – bringing us to our…
Three tips for solar shoppers in Tampa
Homeowners who get multiple quotes save 10% or more
As with any big ticket purchase, shopping for a solar panel installation takes a lot of research and consideration, including a thorough review of the companies in your area. A recent report by the U.S. Department of Energy’s National Renewable Energy Laboratory (NREL) recommended that consumers compare as many solar options as possible to avoid paying inflated prices offered by the large installers in the solar industry.
To find the best solar contractors in Tampa that typically offer lower prices, you’ll need to use an installer network like EnergySage. You can receive free quotes from vetted installers local to you when you register your property on our Solar Marketplace – homeowners who get 3 or more quotes can expect to save $2,000 or more on their solar panel installation.
The biggest installers typically don’t offer the best price
The bigger isn’t always better mantra is one of the main reasons we strongly encourage homeowners to consider all of their solar options, not just the brands large enough to pay for the most advertising. A recent report by the U.S. government found that large installers are $2,000 to $5,000 more expensive than small solar companies. If you have offers from some of the big installers in solar, make sure you compare those bids with quotes from local installers to ensure you don’t overpay for solar.
Comparing all your equipment options is just as important
National-scale installers don’t just offer higher prices – they also tend to have fewer solar equipment options, which can have a significant impact on your system’s electricity production. By collecting a diverse array of solar bids, you can compare costs and savings based on the different equipment packages available to you.
There are multiple variables to consider when seeking out the best solar panels on the market. While certain panels will have higher efficiency ratings than others, investing in top-of-the-line solar equipment doesn’t always result in higher savings. The only way to find the “sweet spot” for your property is to evaluate quotes with varying equipment and financing offers.
For any Tampa homeowner in the early stage of shopping for solar that would just like a ballpark estimate for an installation, try our Solar Calculator that offers up front cost and long term savings estimates based on your location and roof type. For those looking to get quotes from local contractors today, check out our quote comparison platform.