The state of Wisconsin doesn’t rank well in comparison to other states in terms of solar panel system installations, but that’s beginning to change — the Badger State is the 12th fastest growing state in terms of solar installation and adoption, according to the Solar Energy Industries Association.
This rapid increase in adoption is likely happening in part because of federal and local incentives encouraging solar installation. The biggest recent federal incentive is a major tax credit included within the Inflation Reduction Act, offering a 30% rebate on the cost of any clean energy additions to a household.
Wisconsin residents can take advantage of strong local policies, too. Net metering policies let you send excess energy produced by your rooftop solar system to the grid, accrediting you to pull energy from the grid when your system doesn’t produce enough to power your household. The Badger State also provides a flat rebate to ease the cost of your rooftop solar system.
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Before you make the switch to clean energy, you need to do the proper research and understand your installation options. Here are the best national solar installation companies operating within Wisconsin.
Best national solar companies in Wisconsin
According to the Solar Energy Industries Association, 182 solar companies operate in Wisconsin, including 73 solar installers. Below, we’ll highlight five of the companies working in the state, including companies featured on CNET’s solar company best list.
Finding a trustworthy solar installer that fits your budget, can meet your timeline and offers the products you want is crucial. It’s also important to read customer reviews and get several quotes from different installers. We’ve compiled a list of solar panel installers that stand out in the market, but be sure to do your own research before signing a contract.
Local solar companies in Wisconsin
Want something smaller than a whole-home solar system? See our picks for the best portable solar panels and solar generators.
Cost of solar panels in Wisconsin
Here’s a look at the average cash price for a typical solar panel system in Wisconsin before factoring in tax credits and incentives, according to data from FindEnergy.com. Your installation will become more expensive if you choose to include solar batteries or additional equipment in your purchase.
Average cost of solar panels in Wisconsin
|Typical system size (kW)
|Price per watt
|Total installed cost
|Cost after 30% federal tax credit
The following map provides a visualization of the average total price, cost per watt and system size for rooftop solar systems in different states, according to data from FindEnergy.com. The prices shown do not represent fluctuations 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.
Wisconsin solar panel incentives and rebates
While solar panel costs have decreased over the last decade, they still cost thousands of dollars to own. Wisconsin residents can take advantage of the federal solar tax credits and state incentives to reduce the initial cost of solar. You can deduct 30% of the cost of a solar system from your federal income taxes through the federal Residential Clean Energy Credit (previously available under the Investment Tax Credit). This credit applies to systems of all sizes installed between 2022 through 2032. The credit decreases to 26% in 2033, 22% in 2034 and ends in 2035.
You can claim the Clean Energy Credit by completing and submitting form 5695 (PDF) to the IRS. Read through the IRS instructions on how to fill out this form. Once the IRS signs off on your paperwork, you will receive your solar savings in credit when you file your federal tax return for the year.
Apart from the Clean Energy Credit, Wisconsin provides several incentives to encourage the development of the residential solar sector.
|Net metering lets you send your excess solar generation to the power grid and lower your next utility bill by receiving a credit. The state’s Public Service Commission mandates that utilities provide retail rate net metering credits equivalent to a solar customer’s monthly power consumption.
|Focus on Energy rebates
|All qualified homeowners in Wisconsin can receive a flat, one-time $500 solar rebate when buying and installing new solar panels on their rooftops, regardless of system size. It’s essential to check the Focus on Energy’s site to confirm whether your utility takes part in this program.
|State solar sales tax and property tax incentives
|Wisconsin provides sales and property tax exemptions on solar equipment. Thanks to these incentives, you won’t pay taxes on the added home value from your solar system. You can claim these exemptions when you file your state tax returns.
Important installation factors
|Condition and angle of your roof
|Your roof’s pitch can add to how much a solar project will cost. Find out if your roof has the right angle to make the most of solar generation. According to the US Department of Energy‘s estimates, an angle between 15 and 40 degrees is optimal for solar panel efficiency. It’s also essential to hire an experienced solar installer who can advise you on your roof’s condition and whether it needs replacing before installing solar panels.
|Investment vs. time
|Think about the length of time you will live in your home before taking on a solar loan or entering a long-term PPA or leasing. All these options are long-term commitments. If you move several years after getting solar panels, a solar investment may not be worth the effort and expense. The average payback period for solar ranges between six to nine years.
|Including a solar system in your homeowner’s insurance policy is a good idea as it can offer more protection for your solar equipment. Consult with your insurance company about your policy’s coverage of a solar system.
|HOA and neighborhood rules
|Wisconsin’s solar access rights allow homeowners unlimited access to the sun. It means that homeowners’ associations and neighbors won’t prevent you from installing solar panels on your property in Wisconsin.
How to pay for solar panels in Wisconsin
Purchase the system in cash
This option requires you to have the cash available to pay for the system. You can avoid financing costs and use a high-yield savings account to save up
Finance the system with a solar loan:
Solar loans are often offered by the solar installer, usually in partnership with a financial institution. This option might be quicker to access than other types of financing, but you should make sure you’re getting the best deal.
Other types of financing
Home equity loans and lines of credit are often used to pay for home improvements, and may have better rates than solar loans. They’re secured by your home, so make sure you can pay them back or you risk foreclosure. Personal loans are generally unsecured, but often come with higher rates and shorter terms.
Solar lease or power purchase agreement
If you sign a solar lease or PPA, you won’t own the solar panel system. This means you won’t qualify for incentives or tax credits and your long-term savings will be lower. However, solar leases and PPAs are more affordable than purchasing the system outright.