* Cost data based on quotes for fully-installed solar panel systems submitted on our platform. Prices are shown after applying the 26% federal tax credit.
While Wisconsin may have less-than-average sun exposure and a weak renewable portfolio standard (RPS), the combination of net metering, the 26% federal solar tax credit, expensive retail energy rates, and state incentives make going solar in Wisconsin a great investment.
In 2013, the state met its renewable portfolio standard goal of deriving 10% of their energy from renewable sources. Having already met their target, there are no regulations pushing utilities to offer incentives that would expand solar generation, which makes it all the more interesting that Wisconsin has a decent solar rebate program.
With the incentive situation so tenuous, it’s a good idea to go solar in Wisconsin now while there are incentives still available!
The average cost for an installed residential solar system in Wisconsin is currently $11,557 after claiming the 26% federal solar tax credit. This is $2.60 per watt. However, there is some variance in solar prices in different parts of the state. The graph below shows the average cost of installed solar systems in your part of the state.
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Prices based on a 6.1kW system, after 26% federal tax credit
Solar panels have fallen in price by more than 80% in the last ten years. In 2020 they also remain subsidized by the 26% federal tax credit and the net metering law, making them an excellent investment. They offer a return well above the long term average return from both the share market and also property investment.
Another way to look at this question is the levelized amount you will pay for each kWh of power you will use over the next 25 years with and without solar panels. As you can see below the savings are significant.
(forecast avg Wisconsin electric rates over the next 25 years)
The most significant incentive to install solar panels for homes and businesses is the federal solar tax credit. At the end of 2020, the amount of the credit will decrease from 26% to 22% of the cost of the solar installation. Because home and business owners want to get the largest incentive amount possible, solar panel installation companies will likely be flooded with new projects before year’s end. In order to maximize your savings potential, the best time to go solar in Wisconsin is now.
Wisconsin’s net metering policy requires investor-owned and municipal utilities to provide a credit for each excess kilowatt-hour (kWh) of energy that a solar system produces. The value of the net metering credits varies from utility to utility.
Madison Electric and Gas provides net metering credits that are equal to the full retail value of electricity. With Wisconsin’s high electricity prices, getting credit for the full retail rate for an excess generation will create the potential for great savings on your electric bills.
However, some utilities only credit you at the avoided cost rate, which is significantly lower than the retail rate.
When a solar system is installed on a home, the value of the property goes up, and so do the property taxes. Wisconsin law exempts 100% of the assessed solar system cost from being added to your property taxes.
Also thanks to Wisconsin policy, the state’s sales and use tax cannot be added to the sale of solar energy equipment. In some cases, sales tax can accumulate to over $1,000, so the exemption provides more savings than you think!
(After tax credit)
(After tax credit)
You will save most money by buying your solar system rather than leasing it. Read more about the pros and cons of leasing vs buying solar.
Minimum of 25 years but generally 30 or more
Solar panels power your house when they can but your home uses the utility company for power at other times. In 2021 "solar systems with battery storage" are becoming more popular. These are known as hybrid systems.
A grid-tied system is the most common type of solar system. It has no solar battery for backup power and utilizes net metering to maximize savings. Solar panels are mounted on your roof then wired together, and the power generated flows into an inverter where direct current (DC) electricity is converted into alternating current (AC) electricity. This electricity is either used by your home or is exported to the utility grid.
In hybrid solar systems, rooftop solar panels are connected to both a solar battery and the electric grid. The solar electricity generated by your panels that your home does not use is stored in the battery instead of being sent to the grid, which reduces your reliance on the utility while also providing backup power when needed. Battery storage is still expensive but you may be able to reduce costs by using state incentives.
Off-grid solar systems are not connected to the grid at all, so all of your energy needs must be met by the sun. There is no utility to fall back on. The solar installation needs to power your home not only during the day, but after dark as well, so many solar panels and a large battery system are required. These systems are often expensive and don’t make sense for homes that have access to the grid.
Read more about types of home solar systems.
No, but cleaning them can improve power generation if they are dirty.
Given this environment, and the effect of import tariffs placed on solar panels by the Trump administration during 2018, it is hard to see that solar power system prices in Wisconsin will fall during 2021.
Depending on the location, solar panels will generate different amounts of electricity.
A solar system that is installed on a south-facing 25-degree pitch roof Wisconsin will generate 1,550kWh of peak DC (direct current) capacity per year per 1kW in Wisconsin.
Enter your details into the solar panel calculator to see how your location, roof tilt, and roof direction impacts solar panel production.
The advantage of installing solar panels for your home in Wisconsin is that there is a state-mandated net metering law, which is key to making solar a worthwhile investment. Pair that with high electric rates and the available state incentives and you have the potential for great savings when you go solar in Wisconsin.
The disadvantage of installing solar panels for your home in Wisconsin is that there is less overall sunshine in the state per year. This means that a system produces less here than it would in sunnier states, like Arizona. Also, the state’s net metering policy does not have any specific rules, so guidelines vary widely between utilities. You are also not guaranteed to receive the full retail amount for excess generation your system produces.
Despite this, there are still plenty of ways to save that make going solar an excellent choice in Wisconsin.
This solar calculator requires you to input your address, utility company, your average monthly power spend - it tells you:
If you want to see all of the above but also see live pricing, the three best solar deals available in your city and get binding quotes from each of these solar companies then use this Wisconsin solar panels calculator. This calculator requires you to also input your name and contact details because most of our 200+ installer partners will only authorize the sharing of their live solar pricing where we have validated that you are a real homeowner with a home in their service area. We respect the privacy of your data and only share your contact details with the solar companies you ask us to get binding quotes from.
Note: Please keep in mind that the best source of up-to-date information on incentives are the solar installers who specialize in your area.
Some solar installers use inflated estimates of utility price growth to make it seem like savings will be higher than they likely will. It’s time to stop.