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Solar Panels in Wisconsin: Cost and Savings

Wisconsin is relatively new to solar power, but the industry is growing rapidly in the state. And it’s easy to see why, since solar power can reduce your energy costs, create energy independence, and reduce your home’s carbon footprint. Because of these factors, it can be well worth it to invest in solar power.

Wondering whether solar panels are suitable for your Wisconsin home? We’ll explain the cost of solar panels in Wisconsin and how to get started.

Cost of solar panels in Wisconsin

The cost of residential solar systems can vary significantly for Wisconsin residents. Systems cost between $3 and $5 per watt, with an average total price tag of anywhere from $15,000 to $25,000 before tax credits and other incentives.

Part of the reason that prices can vary is because of the number of options available. When you install your solar panels, you’ll have several options when it comes to the size, components, and configuration of your system. Labor and local permitting costs will also have an impact.

Solar panels setup

One factor that helps to determine the cost of your home solar system is the components included. Equipment that’s likely to be a part of your system includes:

  • Solar panels: An essential part of your solar system is the panels that capture the sunlight. Solar panels can be either monocrystalline, polycrystalline, or thin-film.
  • Solar cell: A solar cell is a piece of equipment that takes the sunlight captured by your solar panels and converts it into electricity.
  • Inverter: A solar panel inverter takes the direct current (DC) power from your system and converts it into alternating current (AC) power, which is needed to power your home’s appliances and outlets.
  • Battery: When your solar panels create energy, batteries can store it so you can use it later to power your home or even sell it back to the electricity grid.

Solar incentives and rebates in Wisconsin

Solar panels come with a hefty price tag, but plenty of tax credits and incentives are in place to help Wisconsin residents save.

  • Federal solar tax credit (ITC): First, the federal government offers a solar panel tax credit to help reduce the out-of-pocket cost of your green energy investment. The credit is 26% in 2021 but is scheduled to decrease in 2022 and go away altogether by 2024 if Congress doesn’t renew it.
  • Wisconsin tax incentives: Wisconsin offers a sales tax incentive that allows you to avoid paying taxes on your solar purchase. There’s also a property tax exemption, which means you won’t pay additional property taxes on the increased value of your home.
  • Net metering: Wisconsin has a net metering policy that allows homeowners to exchange their excess solar power for credits on their electricity bills.

Solar energy in Wisconsin may help lower your electric bills

We’ve discussed how you can save money on your solar panel purchase, but what about the money you’ll save once your panels are installed? You could expect to save $100 or more per month on electricity depending on your electricity rate.

Let’s say you spend $15,000 on your new solar panel system. You get $3,900 back, thanks to the federal government’s 26% tax credit. Then, you save $1,200 per year on your electricity bill. At that rate, it will take you less than a decade to get a full return on your investment (ROI). And solar panels often last up to 30 years, meaning you could have 20 years of pure savings.

Here’s those sample numbers in table format:

Energy independence in Wisconsin can help you

One of the greatest benefits of solar power in Wisconsin is that you can achieve energy independence, meaning you aren’t dependent on the traditional electricity grid to power your home. 

First, this means you aren’t vulnerable to price hikes. Demand for electricity is higher in the summer and winter months, making prices increase. But when you use solar energy to power your home, there’s no cost spike. Not only will you save money, but Wisconsin’s net metering program even allows you to sell your excess energy back to the grid.

Energy independence also lets you worry less about power outages. If your neighborhood loses power because of a downed power line or a storm, your power remains on due to solar energy.

How to buy solar panels in Wisconsin 

Choosing the right solar provider requires a fair amount of research. You also need to understand how solar works and whether solar panels are the right decision for your home.

You see, while solar power can be an excellent choice, it’s not necessarily right for everyone. South-facing roofs with 15-40 degree slopes make solar panels the most efficient. Additionally, you get the best results when your home gets lots of sunshine. If your home is in the shade most of the time, solar may not be the right choice.

Also, consider HOA or community rules. Some homeowners’ associations may limit the use of solar panels or require approval before installation.

But don’t let the research overwhelm you. At Choose Energy, we have compiled various resources to help you learn the pros and cons of solar power.

The future of energy is solar in Wisconsin 

Wisconsin’s first solar policy dates back to 1982, when it passed the Solar Rights Laws. The law guarantees the right of Wisconsin residents to use solar energy. That same year, the state passed its net metering program, which incentivizes solar energy. 

However, overall, Wisconsin has been relatively slow to adopt solar energy in large numbers. The state ranks in the lower 50% for solar energy generation, and it gets just 0.45% of its electricity from solar power. 

Solar energy industry growth is on the upswing in the state. Several large retailers, such as Ikea and Target, have adopted solar energy. At the same time, residential and commercial solar installations have been increasing.

Solar energy FAQs

What is the life expectancy of solar panels in Wisconsin?

Solar panels last for 25-30 years, depending on their quality and other factors. You can expect to break even on your solar panels in about a decade, which means 15+ years of pure savings.

How does solar power help the environment?

Traditional electricity generation emits harmful greenhouse gasses like carbon dioxide into the air, which pollute the air and water and contribute to climate change. As a green energy source, solar power doesn’t have those same harmful effects.

Is it better to buy or lease solar panels?

Buying solar panels creates the most significant long-term cost savings and increases the value of your home. That said, leasing solar panels is an excellent option for people who rent their home or can’t (or don’t want to) pay the upfront cost of buying solar panels.

What percent of Wisconsin energy production is solar?

Wisconsin currently gets just 0.45% of its electricity from solar energy, which is enough to power 71,572 homes.

How many solar farms are operating in Wisconsin?

Wisconsin has about 20 solar farms that are currently in operation. Most have a solar capacity of one to five megawatts of energy, meaning they can power thousands of homes.

[Steven Peutzer]/Getty Images