Are Permits Required for Solar Panels in Florida?

The answer is yes — in most jurisdictions in Florida, permits are required for all solar panel types. And when there is a permit, there is naturally an inspection. However, there are some exceptions and the requirements differ by building department and panel type.

Your solar contractor should secure all necessary permits and schedules required inspections. You will not have to deal with the building department, and the whole process is painless. You may need to have a permit posted on your home during the process, and you may need to be home to let an inspector inside if work is being done inside — most inspections do not require that you be present, especially for solar pool heaters. Some jurisdictions require that a ladder be left for an inspector.

Florida Solar Panel Permit Application
A typical one-page solar panel trade permit application.

Solar Photovoltaic (Electric)

Most building departments require a full plan review of drawings including signed and sealed engineering drawings for at least the structural mounting of panels. Some jurisdictions are using streamlined permitting processes, but the application is still reviewed before permit issuance. I have not heard of any jurisdictions that allow the installation of solar photovoltaic panels connected to a building’s electric system without a permit. This type of permit usually takes the longest to get due to the multiple aspects of plan review required, and the complexity and uniqueness of each system.

Solar Water Heating

Solar Water Heating usually falls under a plumbing permit, as the potable water system in the home will be modified in some way. Plumbing permits are usually issued over the counter and require no detailed plan review. This trade permit process is usually quick and easy. Some jurisdictions require signed and sealed structural engineering, and some engage in a full plan review of solar water heating panel installations. For the most part, solar water heating systems are easily permitted and recognized by building departments.

Solar Pool Heating

Solar pool heaters can be a source of confusion for some building department personnel. They often confuse them with solar water heaters, and sometimes don’t know whether a permit is required. You may get different answers when speaking to different people. When you dig deeper, in almost all cases a permit is required by the building official. Some jurisdictions have a specific permit type for solar pool heaters, and some include them in the plumbing trade permit application. This is the most likely type of solar panel to not require a permit, but that distinction is largely going away as most building departments conclude that there are structural, plumbing, and sometimes electrical aspects that justify their review and/or inspection.

Exceptions

Some jurisdictions do not require permits for repairs and replacement of solar panels, but you should check to be sure. Some building departments place dollar limits on how much repair work can be performed before a permit is required. Simple repairs of leaks, annual inspections, and minor repairs do not require permits, but you should hire a licensed and insured solar contractor to make repairs regardless of the scope of work.

Permitting Tips

If your solar contractor tells you that you do not need a permit for a Florida solar panel installation, my advice is to be skeptical, especially if others tell you a permit is required. Installing solar panels without a permit could subject you to code violations (and fees) in the future, and may make it harder to sell a home where required permits are missing. The permit and inspection process protects you, the property owner, and ensures that you are dealing with a licensed and insured contractor (building departments require that contractors register their license locally and have insurance, at least at the time of registration). If your contractor asks you, the owner, to secure a building permit yourself, beware; they may not be properly licensed and insured. There is no benefit to an owner pulling a solar panel permit themselves rather than a contractor, and there are many pitfalls to owner-builder permits and hiring unlicensed contractors.

While the cost of a permit can be frustrating, and varies widely from place to place, it’s usually a small price to pay for some peace of mind.

  • Comment (19)
  • A Chaudhari says:

    It’s so frustrating now if you buy ready made battery/inverter system like EcoFlow which need simple DC inout from solar panel you won’t find installer who can do small job if u buy your own solar panels . They all wants to sell you solar panels, inverter etc,,,

    • Jason Szumlanski says:

      I don’t mean you any offense, but the EcoFlow falls into the category of consumer gadget rather than professionally installed solar energy system. It’s not something a qualified solar contractor would typically deal with. With regards to installing solar panels for one of these units, you can’t just mount them on your roof and plug them into your EcoFlow system. Building mounted solar panels in the US need to comply with rapid shutdown requirements – something the EcoFlow inverter does not do. In Florida you would need engineering and a permit to install solar panels permanently on a structure. It would make no sense to install 4 x 100W panels for example, or even one 400W panel. The cost would be prohibitive. These Portable solar generators are geared more toward portable, flexible, or fold-out solar panels that are temporarily deployed. Here is an article you may want to read: Portable Power Stations.

  • Rodel Opinaldo says:

    Hi Jason,
    Leon County here, outside City limit. I only have 300 watts SP(100Wx3) intended for portable power station. For now I just laydown the SP outside but plan to install it permanently as a ground mounted. Do I still need to get a permit for this? Thanks.

    • Jason Szumlanski says:

      Hi Rodel,

      Most jurisdictions would consider that a permanent structure and you would need a permit for it, just like a fence, shed, or any other permanently mounted structure. The idea it to protect life and safety (i.e. windborne debris) and enforce property setbacks. You should ask your local building department.

      You would not need an electrical permit since it is not connected to your home permanently.

      Jason

  • Kevin Robinson says:

    I live in polk county Florida and have ag exempt property . I contacted the building department and was told they could not permit on ag exempt property as it is against state law to do so. What are my options ?

    • Jason Szumlanski says:

      Hi Kevin,

      You will need to contact your utility company for their specific requirements for ag-exempt properties. We have only run into this once, and the utility just needed us to prove it. I can’t recall exactly how we accomplished that. Ultimately the interconnection agreement is between the property owner and the utility and the contractor is not a party to the agreement – we just facilitate the process.

      Jason

  • Jason Szumlanski says:

    Roberta,

    We don’t work in Pinellas County, but the answer is yes – you need a permit for a permanent structure on your property, including solar panels. You will need signed and sealed structural drawings from a Florida licensed Professional Engineer and probably also electrical drawings to submit a permit application. Check with the County building department for details on what you need.

    Jason

  • Roberta Chamberlain says:

    I want to install a solar ground mount array in unincorporated Pinellas County. I cannot find any information on setbacks or permits. Do you know if I need a permit for a ground mount solar array in a fenced in backyard? Do I need a permit to build the array structure? This will not be connect to the grid. This is for my well pump, sprinkler, pond pumps and tools.

  • Linda says:
    Your comment is awaiting moderation. This is a preview; your comment will be visible after it has been approved.
    I’m in Orange County, FL. Is a permit required to install a solar attic fan in my roof?
  • Yuliana says:
    Your comment is awaiting moderation. This is a preview; your comment will be visible after it has been approved.
    Thank you for the great information. Someone said that in FL we can only install solar on the roof of the house. Our house is not positioned well for solar. Are we allowed to install solar panels on an outside structure over the patio? We live in Jacksonville, FL Thank you!
  • Chris says:

    If you have a license solar contractor putting in solar do you also have to have a license electrician, or is the solar contractor allowed to do all the electrical hook ups?

    • Jason Szumlanski says:

      In Florida, a solar licence type (CVC) does not allow you to do work on the inverter AC output. Therefore, you need an electrical license unless you are installing a DC only system, which would be exceedingly rare. It’s not just the “electrical hookup” but the entire inverter output. If using microinverters, that means the entire AC cabling system, including the plug and play connectors on the roof and roof mounted junction box wiring, must be performed by a licensed electrical contractor.

  • Kathy says:

    I am getting ground mounted solar panels installed and was told I need to install a fence around it. I live in Orange County and on agricultural land. They also said I need to pull a permit for this fence. Is this true? I read that if there are less than 3 structures, I don’t need a permit. I have a pole barn and the house. It’s a 16KW system. I cannot find this code.

    • Jason Szumlanski says:

      Kathy, there is a National Electrical Code requirement to guard the live conductors behind the solar panels to render them inaccessible. A fence is one way to accomplish this. There are other ways to guard the back of panels also. Some of these would be part of the solar permit.

  • Mimi says:
    Your comment is awaiting moderation. This is a preview; your comment will be visible after it has been approved.
    Permit are not required for portable solar like Jackery when you are at the beach :))) not all types of solar panels need permit.
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    Hello! Would you mind if I share your blog with my twitter group? There’s a lot of people that I think would really enjoy your content. Please let me know. Thank you
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  • Jeff G says:

    I have 40 panels on my house in Florida. Getting my roof re-done. Will i need a permit to take off and reinstall my solar ?

    • Jason Szumlanski says:
      Your comment is awaiting moderation. This is a preview; your comment will be visible after it has been approved.
      Jeff, In most Florida jurisdictions you do not need a permit to remove solar panels. You definitely need a permit to reinstall them, however. Don’t let a contractor tell you otherwise.
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  • syed H Ali says:
    Your comment is awaiting moderation. This is a preview; your comment will be visible after it has been approved.
    Who does Inspection? the municipality office sends someone or we have to hire our own, and also please tell when inspection is important?
  • Jeremy says:

    I have a solar panel system at home but it’s not connected to the house at all, it’s separate and connected a battery bank that hooks up to one outlet that I use. Does this need a permit?

    • Jason Szumlanski says:

      Generally speaking, in Florida you would not need a permit if it is not part of a structure. However, a permanently mounted solar panel (even on the ground) may require a permit. You should ask your local AHJ (authority having jurisdiction, usually the building department).

  • LEE GARNER says:
    Your comment is awaiting moderation. This is a preview; your comment will be visible after it has been approved.
    Does anyone have a sample solar panel application form that I could use for our Town as we have no provisions for solar panels in our land use plan. thank you, Lee Garner, Town Manager, Sneads sneadsmgr@sneadsfl.com
  • John Bachmeier says:

    I’m in Escambia County and I already have a system on my house. I was wondering if I need to obtain a permit to add panels to my system. I would be putting the panels on a tool shed about 20 feet from my house and tying into the existing inverter. I will hire a licensed electrician to do the electrical work. Do I need a permit? Thank you.

    • Jason Szumlanski says:

      You most definitely need a permit for this. You will need to submit signed and sealed engineering for the new structural and electrical work in accordance with the latest version of the Florida Building Code and National Electrical Code, and you may need to bring your existing installation up to the current code depending on what is being changed (i.e. you may need to meet new rapid shutdown requirements and newly installed panels will need to be installed with wind calculations according to ASCE 7-16).

  • Larry Nowell says:

    I need to know what permits are needed to install residential solar. And the cost of the permits. I have 3 houses to do would I need 3 different permits or could I use the same permit for all 3 homes

    • Jason Szumlanski says:

      Hi Larry,

      You need a separate permit for each legal parcel. If all three homes are on the same property, your jurisdiction may allow a single permit for all buildings on the same property. Some jurisdictions will still require a separate permit for each system in this case if they are connected to different utility meters.

      For each permit, it depends on the jurisdiction regarding what plan reviews and inspections are required. Most just have a structural and electrical plan review and inspection. Some have rough (interim) inspections, particularly for electrical. Every jurisdiction is different and the costs vary widely. You will need to inquire with your building department.

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