Frequently Asked Questions - Solar Water Heating

Solar electricity, also known as solar photovoltaic (PV), allows you to capture energy from the sun and use it as electricity in your home or business. Solar electricity is what most people think about when they think of solar panels or solar energy. In contrast to solar thermal systems like solar pool heating and solar water heating, solar electricity can provide seamless electricity to all of your appliances and devices with power that is often cleaner and more stable than power provided by an electric utility.

Most systems installed today are what’s known as grid-interactive or grid-tied systems. That means the solar energy system works in parallel with utility electricity to provide power to a home or business in a seamless manner. With a grid-interactive system, you are not aware of the source of electricity (unless looking at a system monitor). There are no switches to worry about, and the system works without user interaction to reduce your electricity bill. When you are consuming more power than the solar energy system provides, the utility company will deliver the extra power needed. When you are producing more power than you need, the excess is delivered back to the utility grid, for which you get credit against your utility bill.

Solar Panels are excluded by law from the assess value of residential property, so solar panels will not have an effect of residential property taxes.

HB 277, which was added during 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.”

Although there is no property tax exclusion law that applies to commercial property, common practice is that solar panels are not included by county property appraisers in the assessment process. 

Solar pool heating, solar electric, and solar water heating systems with all associated components are exempt from sales tax in the state of Florida.

The short answer is, no – you cannot install them unless the electric bill is in your name and your landlord gives you permission to install them. Installation of solar panels must be done with certain compliance coding – anything else is illegal and ineffective. You can have small panels connected to household appliances, but you cannot power your home’s electrical system. You also will miss out on certain bonuses, like selling power back to the power company. 

We cover this in great detail in our solar pool heating FAQ’s. However the short answer is, no – it is not advisable. 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.

Solar electric panels are dormant during the nighttime hours. However, this does not mean that you will run out of power. Net metering is the process of exchanging energy with your utility company seamlessly over the course of the billing cycle. Minute to minute energy needs do not matter, only the raw amount of energy produced and stored through your electric panels versus what you consume. Regardless of weather conditions or the absence of the sun, your home will be powered. 

Solar electric (photovoltaic) systems are 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.

In our experience, we have never seen an issue with insurance companies covering damage to solar panels. Namely because it is considered part of the structure, therefore it is covered under the insurance policy. This does not guarantee all insurance companies are like this – but it is highly likely your policy would cover damage.

While animals have the capability to damage solar electric panels – it is extremely rare. Out of thousands of jobs, we have only encountered this a handful of times.  In the event of animal damage, we will gladly fix or repair any damage the panels may incur.