Best Solar Panel Installation Companies in Tampa – CNET

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Florida is known for its warm weather, sandy beaches, and lots of sun — so it should be no surprise that the Sunshine State ranks third in the nation in solar. Despite a lack of incentives for residential solar at the state level, Florida’s solar industry is projected as the third fastest-growing in any state over the next five years. 

“I can think of very few instances where I would not recommend solar,” said Raina Greenfest, a civil engineer and Florida Solar Energy Industries Association board member who works in commercial sales for solar manufacturer Tigo Energy. “It’s a great financial investment, and it’s a great investment in your home, in your community and for the planet.”

Installing solar panels can also slash utility bills and add resale value to your home. Plus, Tampa residents can take advantage of tax credits offered by the federal government and earn credits through net metering with several state utilities. Sales and property tax exemptions also mean you won’t have to worry about shelling out more money for your clean energy additions to your home come tax season.

Here’s a breakdown of solar costs, incentives and the best installers to keep in mind in the Tampa area. 

Best national solar panel companies in Tampa

Palmetto Solar

Best overall

Solar panels are typically low maintenance equipment, but they’re also unfamiliar. If you want to reap the benefits of solar but will have a bit more peace of mind if someone else is making sure it’s working, Palmetto might be a good fit for you. Just remember to add the cost of Palmetto’s monitoring service in to your payback period calculations.

SunPower Solar

Best solar panels

If you’re looking for top-of-the-line solar panels, SunPower is your best choice. But don’t write it off if you’re looking for a less flashy installation that will get the job done. This year it started installing Qcells panels, which should make an installation from the longest-tenured company on our list available to more people.

Freedom Forever

Best for cash customers

Include Freedom Forever in your search if you want the backing of a national company that installs a wide variety of the most popular solar equipment available. Freedom Forever also extends a couple of products that take some of the pain and risk out of going solar, like a production guarantee and an escrow option with cash purchases. Online reviews say customer satisfaction has been low of late, though the company says that’s changing.

Tesla Solar

Most affordable

Tesla’s solar branch seems to be the least loved of Elon Musk’s ventures. Even Tesla’s Solar Roof seems to get more love.

If price is the thing you won’t budge on, consider Tesla. By all accounts, Tesla installs quality panels and makes the closest thing there is to a household name in solar storage: the Powerwall.

Where you might miss out is customer service. Discussion online seems to suggest Tesla’s service is a bit of a gamble.

Momentum Solar

All in-house installers

Momentum installs in 11 states without using subcontractors. While using in-house installers doesn’t guarantee a better experience, it does suggest you’re likely to get a more uniform experience from Momentum. The fact that Momentum backs its installations with a 25-year workmanship warranty hints at a strong belief in its crews’ ability. If Momentum is part of your search, consider the warranties against leaks that other companies offer. Momentum’s is five years, which isn’t the best.

Local solar panel installers in Tampa

Transform Solar provides turnkey solar solutions to households in Tampa and the surrounding areas. The company says its goal is to support homeowners in implementing a comprehensive energy conservation program to reduce costs and make homes more efficient. Transform Solar has an A+ rating from the Better Business Bureau and membership in FlaSEIA.

How to determine which solar company is best for me

As with any contractor, it’s a good idea to get quotes from several solar panel installers before making your choice. In addition to asking friends and neighbors for recommendations, looking at Google reviews and checking BBB ratings, you can check to see if installers are members of FlaSEIA. 

Consider the salesperson’s approach as well as cost, and be sure to ask about add-ons like batteries that can raise the price tag. A reputable installer will answer your questions and address any concerns you may have around factors like shade, the condition or your roof and incentive programs. 

Be wary of red flags like inflated utility savings estimates, offers of “free solar” and warnings that incentives like the federal tax credit will soon disappear. Take your time, evaluate your options and look into claims made by installers that sound too good to be true.

Cost of solar panels in Tampa

Cost is one of the biggest factors in deciding to go solar. The average cost of solar panels in Florida is $28,890 for a typical solar panel system, or $3.21 per watt, according to Figures from the Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory put the cost per watt for solar panels in Florida at $3.90 per watt, or $19,500 for a 5kW system. You’ll want to install a large enough system so that when it’s up and running, you’ll get significant savings on your monthly energy bill.  

The cost of solar panels in Tampa, or anywhere else, is determined by a few different factors. The material your panels are made of is a big one, with more efficient monocrystalline panels costing up to 50% more than the less efficient — but more budget-friendly — polycrystalline panels. Another is your home’s location and layout, including the size of your roof, the direction it faces and any obstacles like vents or chimneys. 

“If you have a complex roof with multiple planes and pitches or shading or obstructions, you will want an installer that offers smaller footprint modules and module level optimization for increased production.” said Greenfest. “Ask for ‘selective deployment,’ so you can maximize your [return on investment] while strategically optimizing production. There is no one-size-fits-all when it comes to solarizing your home.”

Other factors to consider as you’re pricing solar panel installers in Tampa are the costs of other parts of the system, like inverters, which convert the DC energy generated by solar panels into AC energy that can be used by the grid. A solar battery you can use in case of a power outage will add to the cost as well. If your roof is older or in need of repair, you’ll want to get that work done before panels are installed, adding to overall costs. That’s why it’s important to get an on-site inspection from any installers you’re considering rather than relying on free estimates online.

Here’s a look at the average cash price for a typical solar panel system in Florida before factoring in tax credits and incentives, according to data from

Average cost of solar panels in Tampa

Typical system size (kW) Price per watt Total installed cost Cost after 30% federal tax credit
Florida 9 $3.21 $28,890 $20,223
National average 8.6 $3.67 $31,558 $22,091

The following interactive map provides the average total price, cost per watt and system size for solar panel systems in across the US, according to data from The prices shown do not represent potential savings from tax credits or state solar incentives. If FindEnergy doesn’t have solar data for a particular state, it appears grayed out on the map.

Tampa solar panel incentives and rebates

While there are no state-level tax credits or rebates available to Tampa-area homeowners for installing solar panels, the state does allow customers of its investor-owned utilities to access incentives like net metering credits, state tax exemptions and the federal solar tax credit, which applies to solar battery storage as well as the cost of panels, installation and other system equipment

Tampa solar incentives

Program Description
Federal residential clean energy credit Eligible solar customers can claim a tax credit for up to 30% of eligible costs for solar systems installed through 2032.
Net metering Customers of Florida’s investor-owned utilities can receive credits for power sent back to the grid
Property tax exemption State law exempts residential renewable energy property from property taxes
Sales and use tax exemption Solar energy systems are exempt from Florida’s sales and use tax

How to pay for solar panels in Tampa

If you’re excited about going solar, the choice can seem like a no-brainer — you’re making your home climate-friendly and cutting your energy bills at the same time. But how you’ll pay for solar installation is a big question you’ll need to answer before moving on to the next step.

 “As much as solar is good for the environment, you have to make sure that you’re making a financially responsible decision,” said Greenfest. 

Luckily, there are several options to pay for solar panels in the Tampa area. Financing options can be easier on your budget than paying cash up front, and federal tax credits and state and local incentives can offset the cost of installation. Don’t forget that you’ll also save a substantial amount in utility bills once the system is up and running.

Cash: The most affordable way to pay for solar panels is to pay up front with cash, because you won’t have to pay any interest or fees associated with taking out a loan. Without a monthly loan payment, you’ll start feeling the financial benefits of solar more quickly. 

Solar loan: You can pay for your panels with a solar-specific loan, which many installers offer. Rather than seeking financing through a bank, you may find it easier to deal with a single entity for the financing and installation of your solar panels. 

Home equity: People often use HELOCs or home equity loans to pay for improvements to their homes, and solar panels are no exception. Because these are secured with collateral, you may be able to get better interest rates than you would with a personal loan. Going this route means adding debt on top of your mortgage, and you may have to go through a lengthy appraisal process. 

Personal loan: Another option to pay for solar panels is by getting a personal loan from your bank or credit union or from an online lender. Because most personal loans are unsecured, you won’t have to put down collateral, but you may have to contend with high interest rates. Your credit score and other factors will also affect the terms of the loan. 

Solar lease: If you want the benefits of solar but don’t have cash on hand and can’t get or don’t want a loan, consider a solar lease. Instead of you owning the system, the installer retains ownership of the panels while they’re on your roof. You still benefit in the form of lower electric bills, but you’ll pay a monthly fee. Because you don’t own the panels, incentives and credits go to the installer, not to you — and they won’t add to your home’s resale value.

Installation factors to keep in mind

There are several important factors to take into account when you’re considering solar panels. Ask yourself these questions before reaching out to an installer. The orientation and condition of your roof, any shade on your property, and how you’ll pay for it are just the beginning. Think about the following before you make the decision to go solar: 

  • Whether you own or rent: If you’re a renter, it’s probably not possible for you to go through with solar panel installation. Community solar could be a feasible alternative for you.
  • The condition and age of your roof: If your roof is damaged or isn’t in a state to support the solar panel system you need to power your home, repairing the roof is going to add another chunk of change to the total bill for solar panel installation.
  • The direction your home faces and any shade cover: It’s simple to crunch the numbers and determine how much energy a solar panel system on your roof could generate in an optimal environment, but you might have tree shade or other factors that block some sunlight from your roof. Be sure to take steps to clear these obstacles or account for them according to your energy necessities.
  • How solar panels might affect your homeowner’s insurance: Solar panel systems add substantial value to your home, and while you may not have to pay property taxes on that increased value in the state of Florida, it’s possible that the solar panels affect your homeowner’s insurance. Make sure to check your policy before going through with the installation process.
  • Your household’s energy use: The amount of energy your appliance’s need to run will determine the solar panel system size you’ll need, so make sure you know what system size you’ll need and whether your roof can support that system pre-installation day.
  • Homeowners’ association regulations: Neighborhoods with HOAs may have special rules for how solar panel installation can be performed on your home. If your home falls under the supervision of an HOA, make sure to follow its policy on new installations to your home.

How we found the best solar panel companies

Our Methodology

The companies we listed above as “the best” are curated from CNET’s best solar companies list. Companies making the best list are scored on the equipment, warranties and customer service they offer. Then, we make sure these recommendations are available in your state. You can read a full breakdown of how we review solar companies here.

Companies listed under the local installers were chosen in a less rigorous way. We chose them because they offered something unique or notable to customers in the state, they seemed well-regarded by internet reviewers or because they were one of the few installers we could find information on in the state.

Whether we’ve completed a full review on a company or not, it’s always a good idea to get multiple quotes from different installers before choosing a company.

Frequently asked questions

What are the advantages of solar panels?

Solar panels are powered by the sun, a renewable resource that’s more environmentally friendly than using electricity created by burning fossil fuels like natural gas or coal. Solar panels can cut down on energy bills significantly, and with a backup battery, they can provide insurance against power outages caused by hurricanes or storms. 

How long does it take to pay off solar panels?

There’s no one-size-fits-all answer to how long solar panels take to pay off if you pursue financing to pay for them. That depends on factors like the specifics of your loan, the cost of the system and your household’s energy use and efficiency. Estimates for solar payback periods range between six and 12 years on average. 

Are solar panels worth it in Tampa?

It makes sense to go solar, especially in places with lots of year-round sun. 

“We’re in the Sunshine State. If you’re not going solar, you’re wasting all of this bountiful energy,” said Greenfest. 

You can use a solar calculator to get an idea of the costs and the benefits of going solar in Tampa before you start reaching out to installers. 

Does Tampa offer a solar tax credit?

The city of Tampa does not offer solar tax credits, but Tampa residents can take advantage of the 30% federal solar energy credit, thanks to the Inflation Reduction Act. The state of Florida also allows homeowners to earn net metering credits for energy generated by their panels that goes back into the grid if they’re customers of the state’s investor-owned utilities. Another benefit of buying solar panels in Tampa is that panels and installation are tax free. 

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