Cost of solar panels in Wisconsin

How much is it to go solar in 2024?

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The average cost to install solar panels is $18,200 in Wisconsin before the federal solar investment tax credit (ITC). The price drops to $12,740 after the full ITC credit.

Going solar in the Badger State is about 24% cheaper than the national average. The out-of-pocket investment might be lower compared with other states, but Wisconsin still offers many incentives to make solar even more accessible.


Key insights

  • The average cost per watt is $3.34 in Wisconsin.
  • The average payback period is 11 years (if you pay for your solar panel system upfront).
  • Wisconsin residents with solar panels save an estimated $21,005 over 25 years.

How much do solar panels cost in Wisconsin?

Installing residential solar panels can cost between $10,000 to $30,000 or more, though individual costs vary. On average, residents of Wisconsin pay $18,200 before using the federal tax credit for their system.

The size of your system can play a big factor in how much you pay overall. Not surprisingly, the smaller your system, the less you pay. The average size of solar systems in Wisconsin is 7 kW.

Average cost by system size in Wisconsin

Source: EcoWatch

Are solar panels worth it in Wisconsin?

Solar panels can be a great investment in Wisconsin. We talked to several residents who went solar there, and most seem happy with the decision. Often, solar energy is worth it for the savings on energy bills and better energy independence.

“I wanted to save the planet and save a little money,” Nathaniel in Eau Claire told us. Now, his system is “pumping out a lot of power and it's billing us only a few bucks.”

Wisconsin receives an average of 3 to 5 peak sun hours daily.

Tim in Wauwatosa said he’s happy going solar overall. “The biggest hiccup,” he said, “was the disconnect between the local people and the corporate office.” The issue was resolved, and Tim expects the panels to pay for themselves fairly quickly.

One solar customer in Wisconsin said their solar panel system worked “pretty good” for about a year but had some problems last winter. With reliable equipment, going solar can be a worthwhile investment in Wisconsin all year round.

» STILL NOT SURE? Solar energy pros and cons

Cost factors of going solar in Wisconsin

Solar expenses include buying equipment such as panels and inverters, paying fees for permits to meet regulations and hiring labor for secure installation. Be sure to factor them all in when determining if you can afford solar.

Size of your system

You can easily determine what size system you need. First, find out the amount of electricity you used in the last year in kilowatt-hours (kWh). You’ll find this information through your electric bill’s online account dashboard.

Then divide your annual kWh by 1,200 to find the system size you need. For example, the typical Wisconsin household uses 8,280 kWh per year. Using this formula, the typical household would need a 7-kW system.

» WATT’S THE DIFFERENCE? kW vs. kWh

Solar equipment costs

Your solar equipment costs will include panels and inverters and possibly some optional equipment like solar batteries and monitoring systems. On average, solar panels are priced at around $3.34 per watt in Wisconsin. Here are some average costs you can expect for other equipment:

Solar panel installation and permit costs

When you get a solar company quote, labor is usually included in the total costs. Make sure to get an itemized quote to be sure you’re getting the best deal on labor.

Often, the cost of getting permits for the solar installation is also included in your quote, but make sure to check. You don’t want to be surprised by permit fees you weren’t expecting.

» TIPS: Getting the best solar quotes

Condition of your roof

Quality solar panels should last 25 to 30 years. Your roof needs to last just as long. Otherwise, you’ll have to pay to remove the panels, fix your roof and reinstall the panels again. A roof inspection can let you know if any problems need fixing before your solar installation.

» SHOULD YOU: Replace your roof before going solar?

How you pay

There are four typical options for financing your solar panel system. Each has its own benefits and drawbacks. You can pay upfront for the entire system, giving you full ownership and potentially lowering costs since there’s no loan interest to pay. However, you must have the savings to pay cash, which isn't feasible for everyone.

Solar loans are a common way to pay. These let you borrow the funds from a lender and pay them back over time. It costs more since you have to pay with interest, but the savings from your solar system make up for the extra cost.

The last two options are solar leasing and power purchase agreements (PPAs). Solar leasing is basically renting the equipment. You don’t end up owning your system, but you get to use one for little to no upfront cost. With a PPA, a company owns and installs the panels. You get to buy the electricity it produces, which is a greener option, but you don’t own the system.

» SOLAR PANELS: Lease vs. buy

Solar incentives, tax credits and rebates in Wisconsin

The average federal solar investment tax credit value in Wisconsin is $5,460 in 2023.

The federal solar investment tax credit (ITC) is the biggest factor in reducing the cost of going solar in Wisconsin. If you install a residential solar panel system by the end of 2032, you will receive a federal income tax credit equal to 30% of the system's total cost, including equipment, labor and permits. The credit drops to 26% in 2033 and 22% in 2034.

Wisconsin also offers several solar incentives to residents. You can get a property tax break, take out low-interest solar loans and pay no sales taxes on your new solar system.

» EXPLORE: Wisconsin solar incentives

Compare solar installation companies in Wisconsin

Compare popular solar companies available in Wisconsin below. Read our guide to find the best solar companies for more.

Do you own or rent?

FAQ

How are solar costs trending in Wisconsin?

The cost to go solar in Wisconsin has fallen 43% over the last 10 years, according to the Solar Energy Industries Association.

Can I get free solar panels in Wisconsin?

You can lease or enter a PPA with little to no upfront costs. Still, neither is totally free. Solar leases generally require a flat monthly fee; PPAs make you pay per unit of electricity.

» FREE SOLAR PANELS: Are they really free?

How much can I save with solar panels?

When you pay upfront, the average 25-year savings with solar is $21,005 in Wisconsin. It’s a common misconception that solar panels always eliminate your monthly power bill — this is not always the case.

The good news is people who still have a bill after going solar are paying significantly less than before. You can expect to offset your electricity bill by 77% to 104%, according to EnergySage.

» EXPLORE: Where solar savings go the furthest

How does net metering work in Wisconsin?

You can sell your excess solar energy to your local power company. This is called net metering. In Wisconsin, payment for net metering is a credit on your next month’s electricity bill, and the company must pay you with a check if your net excess generation (NEG) goes above $25.

» COMPARE: Best solar monitoring systems

Is it cheaper to install solar panels myself?

It’s potentially cheaper to take on a do-it-yourself solar installation. It’s also difficult and dangerous if you don’t know what you’re doing, especially for a large residential project.

» DIY solar panels: Pros and cons

Bottom line

While Wisconsin doesn’t have as many solar incentives as other states, such as New York, it does have inexpensive solar systems. They’re some of the cheapest in the country. You can also save with the ITC and net metering. Over 25 years, you could save, on average, $21,005.

» GUIDE: Solar panel installation

Solar costs: Wisconsin vs. nearby states

*Before the federal investment tax credit (ITC); **When you pay in full upfront

Article sources

ConsumerAffairs writers primarily rely on government data, industry experts and original research from other reputable publications to inform their work. Specific sources for this article include:

  1. EcoWatch, “How Much Do Solar Panels Cost in Wisconsin?” Accessed Nov. 8, 2023.
  2. Office of Energy Efficiency & Renewable Energy, “Homeowner’s Guide to the Federal Tax Credit for Solar Photovoltaics.” Accessed Nov. 8, 2023.
  3. Solar Energy Industries Association, “Wisconsin Solar.” Accessed Nov. 8, 2023.
  4. DSIRE “Wisconsin Solar Programs.” Accessed Nov. 8, 2023.
  5. EnergySage, “Wisconsin solar panels: local pricing and installation data.” Accessed Nov. 8, 2023.
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