Lower Cost of Solar Panels in Wisconsin: Solar Incentives, Tax Credits, Rebates

Georgette Kilgore headshot, wearing 8 Billion Trees shirt with forest in the background.Written by Georgette Kilgore

Solar Panels | April 4, 2024

Woman with a solar panel used Wisconsin solar incentives to lower the cost of solar panels in Wisconsin with solar tax credit (itc) and net metering after learning about Wisconsin solar plants.

Wisconsin solar incentives have been of great help in reducing the cost of solar panels in Wisconsin, and that is more than enough reason to convince many people to unplug fro the grid and to convert to renewable energy.

You may be worried that it is a huge investment, but what if you found out that it is actually way more cost-effective in comparison to grid power?

Wisconsin may be well known as the country’s dairy land, but it also has a great solar potential, thanks to the number of sunlight hours each day.

This complete guide explains exactly how you can lower the cost of solar panels in Wisconsin using Wisconsin solar incentives, that include tax credits, rebates, and other options that will combine to reduce your energy costs and the charge they have on the environment. 

Solar Energy in Wisconsin (Solar Roof: Wisconsin Solar Farms)

Therefore, why have a solar roof in Wisconsin? You may ask.

There are several reasons why many of your neighbors are turning to solar. Did you know that the Wisconsin energy bills are more than 10% of the rate at the national level?

Did you also know that the price of solar panels in the state has dropped by 11% over the last half-decade?4

All these do nothing but show just how much solar power is welcome news for the Wisconsinites and that you will be making the right choice by converting.

Besides, if legislation is anything to go by, Wisconsin is supposed to have a 100% transition to clean energy, that is by the year 2050.

That, coupled with the ever-fluctuating energy costs and the Wisconsin solar incentives, the state is coming in at number 13 in the whole entire nation in terms of solar installations.6

Map showing locations of solar plants in Wisconsin using yellow markers and Wisconsin solar panels with a US cut out showing the location of the state of Wisconsin.

Commercial solar Wisconsin is not left behind either and you can tell by how the utilities are pairing up with solar companies for more large-scale solar power production. There’s more good news for the people because there are over 20 solar farms in Wisconsin that provide solar at large-scale levels and they are all in the range of 1-5 MW.

Imagine a 1MW station is able to power up about 190 Wisconsin homes, which means that more and more people will greatly benefit from these projects.

Why Install Solar Panels for Home in Wisconsin?

Wisconsin may not really be the first state that comes to mind when you talk about solar, as you can tell by the increased number of home solar system installations.

Although there are only 188 sunny days in the state, which is slightly below the national average of 205, there is still a lot of potential for solar power to become a hit, and the following are some of the reasons why.

1. Energy Costs

Wisconsinites paid roughly $17.33 cents for every kilowatt hour,14 that is in May 2023.

If the trends in the country are to go by, it is more than likely that this rate will only keep going up, so what to do? Install solar power.

The minute you set up your panels and stop paying for traditional utilities, you immediately start saving money, and who wouldn’t want that?

The best part is that the higher your energy bills, the more money you will actually save.

2. Eco-Friendliness

If you pride yourself as eco-conscious and want to reduce your carbon footprint as much as possible, then there is no better way to start than by going solar. More than 70% of the power in Wisconsin comes from natural gas and coal, but that can easily change when more people embrace solar.

You know that the carbon footprint solar panels create is way lower, and even after their service life, the panels are safely recycled by various recycling companies around the state.

3. Home Value

One of the upsides of installing solar power is the fact that it has the effect of increasing the value of your home. But, how much does solar increase home value?

By a whopping over 4%, or even more, that is if you live in areas like Milwaukee and Madison.1

How Does Solar Panel Cost Calculator Wisconsin Work?

If this is your first time installing solar panels and are a bit overwhelmed, not knowing where to start, you can go online to find a cost calculator. This is an elaborate software tool that is designed perfectly for you to give you rough estimates of how many panels you actually need and how much money you are supposed to spend on your installation.

You will likely bump into so many of these calculators and each is designed differently. But all in all, they are all programmed to use your information to generate the results that you need.

For example, the system may ask you about your location and previous or average monthly bills and use that to estimate just how many panels will be enough and how much you will likely spend on the system installation in accordance with where you live.

How Much Are Solar Panels in Wisconsin: Cost of Solar Panels in Wisconsin

Perhaps one of the reasons why many Wisconsinites are still skeptical about going solar is the concern that the cost may be too high. But that is not exactly the case, at least not in comparison to other states and even the national average.

So, how much should you expect to pay for solar panels in the region?

Graphics of cost of solar panel installation in Wisconsin showing technicians installing a solar panel system on a house atop a cutout map of the state of Wisconsin and the average cost at the bottom amounting to $21,000.

Residents are likely to part with roughly $3.00 for each and every watt they install.10

To put it more in perspective, if people need about 7kW of panels, this means that the cost of solar panels in Wisconsin will be sitting at around $21,000, which is before any Wisconsin solar incentives have been applied.10

But, how does that look when it comes to comparing with the national average? The cost is actually slightly lower than that of the national average of $3.13.15

So, what does this mean? It goes to show that each dollar you invest in your system is likely to go a long way if you are living in Wisconsin.

Therefore, Wisconsinites can rest assured that solar power is more affordable for them, but that cannot be said for most other states and there is no better way to prove that going solar will be an excellent idea.

Factors Affecting Cost of Solar Panels in Wisconsin: Solar Panel Installation Cost Wisconsin

If you keenly study the solar installation costs of other states, you will appreciate the fact that it is cheaper if you live in Wisconsin. To better understand what it means to go solar in the state, it is best to take a look at why the cost of solar panels in Wisconsin is as is.

Low Energy Consumption

One of the main reasons why some homeowners spend more on solar than others is because they tend to have higher energy needs. The more power you need the bigger the system will get and obviously, the more money you will have to part with.

In this case, the lower energy needs of the people make the installation cost relatively low.

Pie chart showing Wisconsin renewable energy consumption including Wisconsin wind energy, biomass energy, geothermal energy, hydroelectric energy and solar energy in the state of Wisconsin for 2022.

Wisconsinites use around 690 kWh every month which, again, is lower than the national average of 893 kWh. A 7 kW system seems to cut it for most homes in the region and that is also smaller than the 9 kW that most Americans need.

Thankfully, these low energy requirements heavily contribute to the reduced cost of panels.

Low Sunlight Hours

Even though Wisconsin has lower solar power costs, they remain higher than that of some other states.

This is no thanks to the fewer sunlight hours in the region because, at 188 sunny days, it is slightly less than the nation’s average of 205.

Map of the state of Wisconsin with each county colored to show the daily peak sun hours in each Wisconsin county ranging from 3.74 to 4.06 daily hours of sunlight.

This has a consequence when it comes to how much you will spend on your solar system, but how? Simple, because you will need better quality panels and generally more efficient equipment that you are sure will deliver the best performance even with little sun.

Wisconsin Solar Incentives You Should Know About

If you take a look at some of the top solar states in the country, this stands out about them; the fact that there are several solar rebates from the government that encourage more and more people to opt for solar energy.

Every customer wants discounted prices and you should also jump at the thought of having your installation cost reduced by the local or national government.

The following are some of the Wisconsin solar incentives that are up for grabs:

Federal Solar Investment Tax Credit (ITC)

Did you know if you install your system before the year 2032, you are eligible for the federal solar investment tax credit?13 This is the biggest and most valued solar incentive not just in Wisconsin but also in the rest of the country because it is available in all other states.

So, how does it work?

If you install your panels in a new year, you are eligible for 30% off your total installation cost which is credited or deducted from the amount of taxes that you owe in that year. What does this mean?

It implies that you can get up to $6,300 back in tax credit which is based on the average cost of solar panels in Wisconsin.10 Why wouldn’t that be the first incentive that people apply for?

Net Energy Metering

Another local incentive that is a massive hit among Wisconsinites is Net Energy Metering (NEM) which has a unique way of operating. You have to work with your local utility provider for this to happen and it is also one of the most highly sought-after Wisconsin solar incentives, why?

Because it is a win-win for both parties.

What about the excessive power that your system produces? That surplus can be sent over to your local utility provider who will in turn send you billing credits that will later apply to your monthly bills.

The amount usually varies depending on just how much excess power comes from your system and how the company offers its rates and credits.

Solar Sales Tax Exemption

You know that there is a 5% sales tax on all products that you buy. Given that solar equipment is a little pricey, it will come as a reprieve to know that the state doesn’t impose a sales tax on any solar purchase that you make.

This goes a long way to encourage more and more people to buy what they need without worrying about taxes.

If you get down to the calculations, you will realize that you will be able to save as much as $900.

Although this is technically not a rebate, it is a great way to save some cash, and the best part is that you don’t have to apply for it, it is automatically applied wherever you buy the equipment.

Property Tax Exemption

Installing solar panels increases your home’s value by more than 4% but you may be worried that it will result in a tax problem. An increase in value is usually supposed to be accompanied by an increase in property taxes but not in Wisconsin.

The 1.76% property tax that is imposed will still be based on the original value of your property.

Again, this is not exactly a rebate program but a policy to help you save on costs. You may end up saving at least $300 every year and it will even be more worth it if you live in high-cost areas like Madison or Milwaukee.

Local Solar Incentives

More great news for you because there are other local solar incentives that you can make full use of if you live in certain regions in the state. Depending on exactly where you live, the utility provider in the area, and the type of system you have installed, you are able to take advantage of the following local Wisconsin solar incentives.

  1. Milwaukee Shines:7 If you are a resident of Milwaukee, you are eligible for affordable and accessible solar loans of up to $20,000.
  2. RENEW Wisconsin: This is a non-profit that gives you an advantage if you are a resident opting to go solar by adding up to 50% of the panels that you need (equivalent to 75 panels that cost at least $15,000), just as long as your system is smaller than 75 kilowatts, which is virtually any home.
  3. Focus on Energy: This program serves the entire state and is quite famous for partnering with utilities to provide about $500 in terms of rebates for each residential installation.5 The incentive also goes further to offer as much as $17,500 for all installations that are made by new homes or owner-occupied affordable residential buildings.
  4. Greenpenny: This virtual bank also steps in to offer residents affordable and easily accessible loans for their solar projects. Apart from working in Wisconsin, it is also available for those living in other states.
    It is one of the Illinois, Iowa, and Minnesota solar incentives.
  5. Clean Energy Credit Union: This one works just like the loan program above but has a higher limit because the financing can go up to $90,000, and it’s not just for solar equipment but also for other clean energy systems.

Is There a Statewide Wisconsin Solar Tax Credit?

There are states with very strict Renewable Portfolio Standards and statewide solar tax credits that work in their favor, making them the top states for solar power.

However, Wisconsin is not one of such states, but it is not badly off because it is higher in ranking than so many other states.

Aerial shot of trees and city buildings with solar panels, overlooking the ocean in the background, during daytime.

(Image: 1201916)

But, it would be able to rise up the ranks if it has more incentives.

The current ones available are also great but unfortunately, there is no statewide solar tax credit. You can imagine just how much savings you would have made if you had the federal and state tax credits working together.

It would definitely mean more than half of the installation costs slashed and that would automatically urge more people to make the conversion to solar power.

Federal Solar Tax Credit as One of the Best Wisconsin Solar Incentives

The federal energy credits are absolutely the best Wisconsin solar incentive on offer and maybe even for the entire country. It is a huge relief that you can have as much as 30% of the installation cost slashed.

Many jump at the thought and go ahead to apply for it without even knowing how exactly it works, even if they are eligible.

The ITC has been available to the people since the year 2005, although there have been a lot of changes over the years to date. While you are now able to get 30% off, the value will reduce to 26% in 2033, then 22% in 2034, and down to 0% in 2035.

This means now is the best time to get in on it but first, how does it really work?

To put it very simply, this 30% is deducted from the amount of taxes that you owe the government in the same year that you are applying. All that you have to do is to download the IRS Form 5695, fill it out, and submit it.9

So, how does the solar tax credit work if I don’t owe taxes? Sadly, the ITC is specially designed to deduct the money from your tax liability and is not a rebate or cashback, therefore, it will not work as long as you are not a taxpaying US citizen.

You have to owe the government some money and if the amount credited is more than what you owe, the balance will carry over to the next year, at least four more times.

Also, remember that there are some more rules to follow to be eligible.

For one, you will only get the credit once the installation is complete, meaning that you will still have to find a way to fund the project before applying. Number two, the system must be brand new, not second-hand, and definitely not borrowed.

Wisconsin Net Metering

NEM is available in various parts of the country and has been quite instrumental in helping residents reduce their energy bills if not completely offset them. When you have the system installed, you basically have two options, connecting to the grid or going entirely off the grid.

In the latter, it means that you will have to get a battery that will allow you to store power at night and other times when there are extreme weather interferences.

You will have to invest more in the battery system but the best part is that you will be independent of the grid system entirely.

However, if you are opting for linking to the grid or NEM, instead of storing the excess or letting it go to waste, you can simply “sell” the power to the grid system and in exchange get credits to offset your energy bills.

Photo of an electric meter displaying energy consumption and meter readings.

(Image: Paolo Pagaling17)

So, this power comes back to you at a lower or sometimes zero cost.

However, note that in Wisconsin, the rates are usually set by the municipalities or utilities and there are very high chances that the policies will differ according to where you live and the local utilities around you.3

You should also be very wary because nothing stops the utilities from setting lower rates than the national averages.

How Do Wisconsin Solar Rebates and Solar Incentives Reduce the Cost of Solar Panels in Wisconsin?

The best part about going solar in Wisconsin, or any other state for that matter, is the fact that there is always going to be a way to save you costs. Each of these rebates and incentives is specially designed to help and give you the best shot of saving more money, making it wise to apply for as many of these programs as possible.

Take, for instance, the Federal ITC, which saves you as much as 30% off your total installation cost. This has a unique design of working alongside your taxes and is one of the most lucrative options.

It may not be a cashback program but is very effective because the money is deducted from the taxes that you would have otherwise paid for either way.

Net metering is another major incentive that has proven to be a lifesaver.8 For one, relying on the grid means that you don’t have to invest in an expensive battery system.

You will also be saving quite a lot of money that you would have otherwise used to pay for your utility bills.

Apart from the two main Wisconsin solar incentives, there is also the sales tax exemption that reduces the overall cost of solar panels and not to forget the local rebate and loan programs available in various regions.

Which Wisconsin Solar Incentives Are the Best?

There are quite a number of Wisconsin solar incentives, and you may be overwhelmed not knowing which one to prioritize. Well, the one most people prefer to apply first is the federal solar tax credit.

It is the one that gives you a 30% relief off your solar installation, and virtually everyone would want to save that much. It also has the advantage of being pretty easy to apply for and can end up saving you more than $5,000.

The next in line is definitely NEM because it is a win-win for both you and the utility provider. Many homeowners love the fact that they can put the surplus power produced from their systems to good use, and they don’t have to worry about high energy bills.

Lastly, the Focus on Energy rebate program is a go-to for many Wisconsinites, why? Simple, because it is easy money.

Imagine being paid $500 just like that because you have installed solar panels.

Are There Free Solar Panels in Wisconsin?

Having learned exactly how much money you can expect to part with if you live in Wisconsin, you can’t help but wonder, “How to get solar panels for free?”

That will be a total game changer because you will not have to worry about how pricey the panels are or have to apply for incentives and get on straight to the installation.

Wide angle shot of apartment buildings with solar panels installed on the roof during daytime.

(Image: Daria Nepriakhina 🇺🇦18)

In as much as that would be a reprieve for countless people, especially low-income households, there is currently no program that gives you free solar panels. However, the REAP grant has been of great benefit by providing grants to agriculture-based businesses in rural areas.11

But, what about the free solar panels you heard of being offered in your neighborhood?

Those are not exactly what you think they are. Free solar panels and solar leases are not the same concept.

Well, what you may have heard about is a solar lease, a program that you sign up for to have the entire solar system installed, but you are supposed to part with a certain amount at the end of every month, not exactly free if you think about it.

Many residents battle with the decision of whether to lease or buy their solar panels. The former is definitely quite convincing because you will not have to worry about the high initial costs, but the downside is the fact that you will never be the true owner of the system; they will always belong to the company that had them installed.

You will also not be able to apply for many incentives, including the ITC, because you are not the rightful owner of the panels.2

How To Save Money on Wisconsin Solar Energy

If you are a homeowner thinking about going solar for the very first time,12 you should know that there are some tricks you can use to ensure that you get the best price when buying your solar panels. Experts will always advise you to take your time while making the cost comparisons.

There are some companies that are overpriced even when there is not really a great difference in the quality of the products they sell. You can always get a great deal if you take the time to compare various company quotations.

Secondly, many homeowners don’t know that paying upfront is actually way cheaper than solar loans and solar leases. Interest rates tend to drive up the total cost, but many buyers focus more on the low upfront cost, forgetting to calculate the total price in the long run.

However, if you must get a solar loan, you should opt for the one with the most flexible payment terms.

How Do You Reduce the Cost of Solar Panels in Wisconsin?

If you want to reduce the cost of solar panels in Wisconsin, you can start by comparing quotations from various companies and going for one with the most competitive price but still offering high-quality products.

Also, it is advisable to pay in cash and avoid expensive solar loans with high-interest rates.

And lastly, you want to apply for as many solar incentives as possible to increase your chances of saving more money.

Are Solar Panels Wisconsin Worth It?

As a first-time buyer of solar panels, one of your very first questions is why are solar panels so expensive?

You can tell that it is a five-figure investment that will make you part with a lot of your savings and sometimes you may even have to go for solar financing options.

You can’t help but wonder, are solar panels worth it in Wisconsin?

Wide angle shot of a house roof with solar panels during daytime.

(Image: mjmonty19)

In as much as the upfront cost tends to get pretty high, there is no doubt that going solar may be one of the best decisions that you will ever make. Think about just how much money you spend on utility bills every month; now imagine saving all that money and not paying a dime for electricity.

Solar power is also cleaner and better for the environment and with governments urging people to opt for renewable energy, you would be in a better position embracing solar energy as soon as now. Besides, if the cost is your main concern, you will be glad that there are several Wisconsin to take advantage of.

Will solar incentives increase in the future? That is not certain but one thing is clear, the fact that this is the best time to make use of them when they are still available.

Are you still on the fence, not sure whether you want to go solar or not? Is the high upfront cost a deal breaker for you and making you change your mind?

Then you will be very glad to know that it is cheaper to go solar in Wisconsin than in many other states. The rate per watt is even lower than the national average.

What’s more, is the fact that there are solar incentives available to make installation all the more affordable for the residents.

The lower cost of solar panels in Wisconsin is largely because of the fact that there are Wisconsin solar incentives available that make it an investment worth every penny.

Frequently Asked Questions About Wisconsin Solar Incentives

What Are the Available Wisconsin Solar Incentives?

There is a pretty good number of solar incentives available for Wisconsinites, including the famous federal solar tax credit available in all other states and net metering. Apart from those, there are also the solar and property tax credits, local rebates, and solar loan programs offered at the local level that you can definitely make use of.

Learn More About Wisconsin Solar Incentives


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17Photo by Paolo Pagaling (pagaling). Cropped, Resized, Changed Format. Pixabay. Retrieved April 4, 2024, from <https://pixabay.com/ru/photos/%D0%BC%D0%B5%D1%82%D1%80-%D1%87%D0%B8%D1%81%D1%82%D1%8B%D0%B9-%D0%B7%D0%B0%D0%BC%D0%B5%D1%80-%D1%8D%D0%BB%D0%B5%D0%BA%D1%82%D1%80%D0%B8%D1%87%D0%B5%D1%81%D0%BA%D0%B8%D0%B5-647187/>

18Daria Nepriakhina 🇺🇦. Unsplash. Retrieved from <https://unsplash.com/photos/NFJ-Sj8ZcHQ>

19Bayview Home Photo by mjmonty / CC BY 2.0 DEED | Attribution 2.0 Generic. Cropped, Resized, Changed Format. Flickr. Retrieved April 4, 2024, from <https://flickr.com/photos/mjmonty/1519998876/in/photolist-8dQ7Fi-aTMjNX-2m7TgLz-2m7cYbY-2hYC7Gd-2dwiwSS-h7ZD6b-2ggyfvB-boGZx4-SuaSRG-2hYzCS6-wkXiPi-3jjoHb-2jH1Lcv-aTMeJR-3jf1La-2nBz66c-2nBv2fw-aTMg7V-7zeVLk-7iNtTD-7iSo8Y-2nkcFxr-KrWVvH-e44MZN-2bnEk1U-2nBNEhr-gy35H-PgeTHa-5inxVX-pQ1th9-qPWUYZ-aTMdh6-pzE2rN-pzBvPr-2mGcAbx-pSbj5A-WLHfmw-WNYVBc-WNYVxz-oVfCx1-oViL84-pzH1UG-27d5LHW-ipmiBz-nYsmU-8U1hWJ-aTMkgp-fv8PpL-2nCkkUz>