FOX 35 INVESTIGATES: Are solar panels worth the investment?

Many people install solar panels to cut costs off their utility bills, but for some, the panels come with a financial responsibility they didn't expect. 

Angel Rodriquez says he regrets putting solar panels on his Clermont home. 

"A dream that became a nightmare," Rodriguez said. "From expecting it to be a benefit to me, it became a horror. It became a burden of having this. That every day you wish not to have them."

Rodriguez says the system, panels and installation cost him around $20,000 and that the monthly payments felt like another mortgage. He also said having the system made selling his home difficult. 
"If you're going to sell your home, it takes an act of God," Rodriguez said.

Since Rodriguez did not have the solar panels paid off when he put his home on the market, not only would potential buyers need to be approved for the mortgage, but would also need to qualify to take over the loan for the solar system. 
"Well, there’s the problem, right? If they can’t pay the loan, and most people aren’t willing to buy it outright cash, they got extra money that didn’t factor into their payoff," said Rodriguez's realtor, Milton James. 

James says this is an issue, especially with first-time homebuyers. 
"They’re saving up 3.5% to put down on a house and a lot of times they’re trying to get closing cost assistance. There’s no way they can afford to buy the house and take over the payments, or just buy it outright. It creates a huge liability issue," James said. 

There are benefits to having a solar system. The Department of Energy says having solar panels can lower your utility bill, increase your home's value and help to reduce greenhouse gas emissions. 
According to EnergySage, on average in Florida, it costs about $13,000 to install a 5KWh system. It will take about 11 years to recover a solar energy investment, but over 20 years, the consumer can save about $23,000 on utility bills. 

James says the investment can be financially beneficial over time if the consumer is going to sell their home down the line and the panels are paid off. 
"It’s some positive, some negative. Sometimes it’s a benefit, like a value add to the house," James said. "If you’re going to keep the house long-term, and you’re going to save long-term with the solar panels, it could be good for the environment and your electricity bill."