Solar panel systems are excluded by law from the assessed value of residential property, so solar panels will not increase residential property taxes.

HB 277 in the 2013 Legislative Session added Section 193.624, Florida Statutes to read:

Florida provides a property tax exemption for residential photovoltaic systems, wind energy systems, solar water heaters, and geothermal heat pumps installed on or after January 1, 2013. For the purpose of assessing property taxes for a home, an increase in the just value of the property attributable to the installation of this equipment should be ignored. The exemption applies to the following types of equipment used as part of a solar, wind or geothermal system:

  • Solar energy collectors, photovoltaic modules, and inverters.
  • Storage tanks and other storage systems, excluding swimming pools used as storage tanks.
  • Rockbeds.
  • Thermostats and other control devices.
  • Heat exchange devices.
  • Pumps and fans.
  • Roof ponds.
  • Freestanding thermal containers.
  • Pipes, ducts, refrigerant handling systems, and other equipment used to interconnect such systems; however, such equipment does not include conventional backup systems of any type
  • Windmills and wind turbines.
  • Wind-driven generators.
  • Power conditioning and storage devices that use wind energy to generate electricity or mechanical forms of energy.
  • Pipes and other equipment used to transmit hot geothermal water to a dwelling or structure from a geothermal deposit.

This exemption applies to assessments beginning January 1, 2014, and for equipment installed on or after January 1, 2013.

There is no property tax exclusion in law for commercial property, but in practice solar panels are not included by county property appraisers in the assessed value of the property. In 2014 a bill to match the residential exclusion for commercial properties was squashed by Rep. Ritch Workman, R-Melbourne. There is a bill proposed in the 2015 session that would grant this exclusion by law, and it is promising that it will pass.

Solar pool heating, solar electric (photovoltaic), and solar water heating systems with all associated components are exempt from sales tax in the State of Florida.
Tenants in Florida can’t get the advantages of solar power unless the electric bill is in your name and your landlord is nice enough to install solar panels for you. There are many places advertising plug-and-play solar panels and other temporary solar solutions that you can take with you when you move. They are all either illegal or ineffective. Solar panels connected to a structure’s electrical system must be permanently installed in accordance with strict building and electrical codes for safety reasons. You can have temporary solar panels with batteries that power devices around your home, but you cannot connect it to your home’s electrical system, or sell excess power to the utility company. The Holy Grail of solar regulation would be something called Virtual Net Metering, whereby you can install at another location, even at a property you don’t own (with permission, of course), and use the energy produced to offset your electric bill. This regulatory framework would be very hard to get utility companies to agree upon, and is not on the near horizon, especially in Florida.
Solar electric panels are about four times less efficient than solar pool heating panels when it comes to absorbing energy from the sun, and the cost and complexity of heating pools with solar electricity is usually prohibitive. Click here to learn more about this important topic.
At night, solar electric panels go “to sleep.” No energy is produced. Unless you have a battery backup system, you must get your power from some other source like the utility company. That’s okay, because most solar energy systems installed today are what’s called grid-interactive. Solar panels produce energy during the day, and any excess energy is sent back to the utility grid and put “in the bank” for later use. When you need electricity, the utility delivers saved up energy to you seamlessly, and you are billed only for the net amount you use each month in a process called Net Metering. During cloudy weather, your solar panels will produce less power, and you may need the utility company to make up the difference. This all occurs without user interaction, and you will never know the difference. What’s important is how much energy you produce and how much you consume over time (months and years, not seconds and minutes). The instantaneous power requirements of your home are not relevant. Therefore, you always have a reliable source of power and are only billed for the amount of energy you use in excess of what your solar panels produce over time.
Solar electric (photovoltaic) property placed into service one or before December 31, 2016 is eligible for a 30% tax credit. That is a direct credit. For example, if you have paid $3,000 in income tax during a year and you install $10,000 worth of solar panels, you will be eligible for a $3,000 refund! Unused credits can usually be carried forward to future years. It is highly advisable that you contact your tax professional for advice on how solar energy purchases may affect you since tax situations can be very complex. Florida’s legislature has recognized that solar energy systems offset fossil fuel and electrical usage, and has provided a sales tax exemption for solar pool heating systems. In addition, solar electric panels will not raise the assessed value of your home, so your property taxes will not go up despite the fact that you are adding value to your home.
It has been our experience that solar pool heating panels permanently installed on your home are considered part of the structure and are fully covered from damage under homeowners insurance policies. Because solar panels are structurally attached to your home, permitted, and inspected, they are essentially part of the home and receive coverage like any other appurtenance. It is always advisable that you contact your insurance agent to be sure. I have heard of only one instance from a customer where there was a specific exclusion for solar panel coverage, and only one instance where an agent recommended that the homeowner obtain a rider to be safe. It is my understanding that the cost was minimal.
Solar electric panels are very tough, made from tempered glass, aluminum, and a durable backsheet. There have been very rare occurrences where animals chewed on a wire and damaged it. In my personal experience, this has happened on only one or two panels out of thousands of systems installed. In these cases, the individual wire is simply spliced or replaced, returning the system to working order. The cost of repairs is under $100, and your local installer will gladly perform this service for you. As far as physical damage due to animals walking on panels, it is a non-issue. Human installers routinely step on panels frames during installation and service. They are very durable and can easily withstand the weight and abrasion from animals. Panels are typically rated for 50 pounds per square inch of wind force. It is no more likely that animals will damage your solar electric system than any other electrical appliance or device in or around your home.