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An Easy Way to Estimate Your Solar Needs

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Florida solar newbies and Florida solar enthusiasts consistently ask about the quantity of solar needed and cost of new solar installations.  They often reference the amount of square footage their home or business is hoping to get a number said right back to them about what it should cost.  They assume there is a direct relationship between the square footage of their home and the solar they’ll need. This is not the case when we break it down.

A customer’s solar needs depend largely on the customer’s energy use habits.  For instance, the type of water heater and how much hot water used can vary one’s solar needs.  Heat pump water heaters reduce power bills more than conventional electric resistance water heaters in cooling dominated climates much like Florida.  Also, a well-insulated home with few air leaks is going to factor differently into the solar needs equation vs a standard insulated home.  Pools and spas, the number of people in the home, and even the local utility all are factors that vary one’s power demand and make it difficult to precisely determine just how much solar an energy customer will need.

Therefore, the most consistent method for determining a power customer’s solar needs is based off of the past energy bills.  Florida energy rates are measured based on energy consumption over time by a unit called kilowatt-hour (kWh).  The average cost of a kWh in Florida depends on what the local utility charges for the kWh which doesn’t change without the public services commission approving a rate increase.  Rates rarely go down but tend to go up on an average of 2-4% per year.  Currently in 2019, kWh rates are overall $0.10 to $0.14 per kWh depending on utility and associated charges with kWh’s consumed.  Net-metering is a relationship where the energy customer connects with the grid with solar and a grid-tied inverter and feeds back the grid with energy produced from solar that credits the energy customer with kWh that can be used for consuming when the sun is not shining on the solar array.  Most of the time utilities net meter at a retail credit rate.  That means that the utility credits the energy customer at the same price as the utility sells the kWh.  Therefore, with solar customers getting the lions share of a sunny day with little shade interference and the utility net metering at a retail rate we can determine that solar probably falls within a range of 180 to 220 times the average monthly bill (12 months) to an energy customer before Federal Investment tax credits and any financing needed.  Many other factors including financing, roof pitch, roof type, obstructions on the roof, engineering costs, and array type were purposefully left out to simplify matters.

Federal investment tax credits are available to tax payers who purchase photovoltaic solar installations.  Currently 30% of the purchase price is available back to the solar customer in the form of a rebate.  With the tax credit available the cost of reducing your power bill through solar falls to 125 to 155 times the average cost (12 months) of your power bill without financing.

Taking into account that the cost of electricity will go up 2-4% every year that shifts the payback for going solar lower to 7.5-10 years projected before any financing.  The savings from going solar will certainly be beneficial after it has paid itself off.  Modules typically come with 25-year warranties and mounting components are made of aluminum and stainless steel.  A good-quality solar system could last a lifetime and give you great performance plus the enjoyment of having the longest-lasting, quiet electrical generator that is available to Floridians.  Don’t rent your power when you can own it today!