Solar Energy FAQs
The cost of converting a home to solar energy has dropped dramatically over the last ten years, and its popularity is surging. A photovoltaic solar panel system is a smart investment that will significantly cut your utility costs. If you are wondering if it’s right for you, read on! We’ve rounded up and answered 10 of the most common questions we hear about solar energy.
What will my utility costs look like once I’ve gone solar?
Investing in solar panels could eliminate your monthly energy costs, even if you are still connected to the grid. Solar panels can generate enough energy to completely power your home. In the evening and on cloudy days when there isn’t sunlight to power your home, you can either rely on net metering or a solar battery. Most Wisconsinites choose to keep their home connected to the power grid and benefit from net metering. When your system is connected to local power lines, extrasolar energy that your home generates is sent back to the grid. In exchange for this power, you receive credit from your utility provider. This credit is added to your account. It’s applied to cover the cost of any energy you use from the grid when your solar system isn’t producing energy (such as at night or on cloudy days). The credit that you receive is often enough to cover the difference.
Will solar paneling increase my property taxes?
No. If you live in Wisconsin, you are exempt from paying property taxes on the additional value that a solar energy system adds to your home. Thanks to WI’s property tax incentive. That isn’t the only tax incentive you’ll benefit from!
WI also has a sales tax incentive for solar energy. It excepts you from paying sales tax on solar energy equipment. Along with these state tax incentives, you will qualify for the federal solar tax credit. The Investment Tax Credit (ITC), known as the solar tax credit, allows property owners to deduct 26% of the cost of your solar equipment off of your federal taxes.
Solar paneling is a big upfront investment. When will I hit the “break-even point”?
Most homeowners considering solar energy want to know when their investment will have paid for itself in energy savings. The answer to this question varies. It depends on how much power your system generates and how much energy you use. On average, homeowners in the U.S. break even in 8 years. If you sell your home before then, you will see a return on your investment sooner! Each kilowatt (kW or 1000 watts) of solar power on your property can add an additional $5,911 or more to your home value, according to a study conducted by Berkeley National Laboratory. Having solar paneling on your home can also decrease its time on the market. Many buyers leap at the opportunity to purchase a home with solar energy capacity. You may also break-even sooner if you cut the cost of your solar energy equipment by taking advantage of WI’s rebate from Focus on Energy. If you are eligible, you can receive $300 back for every kW of solar power you install on your property (up to 5 kW). In other words, you could receive $1,500 cash back on a 5kW solar energy system.
What if my roof doesn’t face south?
Though we recommend a south-facing location for solar panels, westerly and easterly facing roofs can be viable options depending on their sun exposure.
The best place for solar panels is one that has at least 75% of full sun exposure each day. If you aren’t sure if your roof meets that requirement, don’t worry! That’s why solar experts like Burlington include a site visit with every consultation. We will let you know if your roof will work or if you should consider an alternative location.
How much roof space will I need for a solar array?
Typically, you need 75 square feet of space for every kW of solar energy. For example, a roof that’s 11 feet wide and 20 feet tall would accommodate a 3kW photovoltaic solar panel system.
What can I do if my roof doesn’t meet the qualifications for solar paneling?
Don’t give up on solar power if your roof doesn’t get enough sun exposure or isn’t large enough! There are other alternatives. Ground-mounted solar panels and community solar gardens are two of the most popular options aside from rooftop paneling. Setting up a consultation with a solar energy expert is the best way to determine the right alternative for your property.
How many panels should I budget for?
The answer depends. How many kW of energy do you want your solar energy system to produce? How much space do you have for installing solar paneling? Answering these questions, among others, will determine how many panels you should have. The best way to find out the answer is to set up a consultation with a solar specialist. On average, you should expect to install at least four panels for every kW that you’d like to produce.
Will my solar energy system work when the power grid goes down?
It depends on whether or not you are still connected to the power grid. If your system is connected to the grid, your power will go out if it goes down. It’s set up this way to prevent a surge of back-fed energy from your system that could endanger line-workers. You won’t have to worry about losing power if you have a solar-charged backup generator or are entirely off the grid.
Can I install the solar equipment on my own?
Setting up a solar energy system is complex. Along with electrical and engineering expertise, you have to know how to navigate the application, permitting, and financial process. If you want to take advantage of net metering, you will also need to coordinate with your local utility. Going it alone, setting up a DIY solar energy system isn’t recommended. Most state rebate programs even require professional installation. Professional installation is so essential the federal tax credit includes the cost of solar consulting fees and professional installer fees along with permitting services and fees and equipment costs.
When you work with a solar energy professional, you should expect them to help you navigate the entire process from applications and permitting to communicating with your utility company.
What does the average solar energy system cost?
Many different variables affect the cost of a solar energy system. On average, you can expect to pay $2.91 per watt. For the best estimate, set up an appointment with Burlington! We will come to you for an initial site visit to see your location and learn more about your goals and needs. During that meeting, we will cover the basics of solar energy from the estimated budget to the ideal location, electrical requirements, etc.