How to Use the Solar Calculator
The best way to learn about local rebates, your home’s energy potential, and your eventual return on investment is to use our ModSun Solar Cost Calculator (see above). Enter your home address in the box, then click Check My Roof. You’ll get an instant picture of your roof’s productivity, your average energy expenses, and installation costs in your area—whether you decide to buy or loan. We’ll also provide system size recommendations and information about rebates and incentives you may be eligible for. Just select More Info under each purchasing strategy to learn more, and then connect with a solar pro.
Solar City Buying Guide for Milwaukee, Wisconsin
This buying guide is designed for Milwaukee residents considering solar power as a viable source of electricity and explains some of the steps involved with a solar project. Your decision to incorporate the free energy from the sun into your electricity needs is not only beneficial to your wallet, but also the health of our planet. After reading through the steps, you will have a clearer idea of what is involved and what you need to do prior to purchasing a system. In addition, you will find some useful resources near the bottom that may help you defray some of the costs associated with solar panel installation.
Solar Power and Milwaukee’s Climate
The main ingredient required to produce solar power is sunshine. On average, Milwaukee experiences approximately 191 days of sunshine per year. While your solar panels perform at optimum levels during sunny days, you can expect reduced performance levels when conditions conducive to solar production decrease on cloudy, foggy or rainy days. Milwaukee receives approximately 33 inches of rain and 35 inches of snowfall per year spread over 117 days with any measurable precipitation.
Hiring a Solar Contractor in Milwaukee
Much depends on the contractor or company you hire to install your solar panel system and it should be one of the first steps taken. They are responsible for sizing, designing, installing and overseeing the interconnection phase — grid connection — of the project from start to finish. Before hiring a solar contractor, you should obtain at least three, written estimates from reputable sources. Contractor license and insurance coverage verification should also be taken into consideration before entering into an agreement. A quick phone call to the applicable insurance company can verify their insurance coverage. The Wisconsin Department of Safety and Professional Services maintains a license search and verification website you can access by clicking here.
Obtaining a Solar Panel Permit in Milwaukee
Many Milwaukee home improvement projects require a building permit and solar panel installation is no exception. Often, the responsibility of obtaining a permit falls on the project contractor. Licensed solar contractors can apply for a permit through the City of Milwaukee ePermits website. Property owners who wish to apply for the permit themselves can visit The Development Center located at 809 North Broadway, First Floor, Milwaukee, WI 53202. Hours of operation are between 8:00 A.M. and 4:30 P.M. Monday thru Friday. To reach the Development Center call (414) 286-8211 or email at DevelopmentCenterInfo@milwaukee.gov.
Choosing a Solar Panel Configuration in Milwaukee
Solar panel configurations vary by size, type, and output. The type, number of panels and output should be based on recommendations from your solar contractor and your solar power needs. Common system types include grid-tie systems, grid-tie with battery backup and stand alone — no grid connection — systems.
Grid-tie configurations are the most common used in residential and small business applications. Direct current electricity produced by the panels passes through an inverter that converts it into alternating current for use in your home. Excess power you do not use may be diverted into the main power grid and sold back to the utility companies on your behalf.
Grid-tie systems with battery backup works the same as a grid-tie system with the difference being that excess electricity is used to charge a bank of batteries for later use, such as during nighttime hours when solar panels are ineffective. Once the batteries are charged, excess electricity is diverted into the main power grid.
Stand alone solar panel systems are often used in remote locations where traditional electricity is not available or cost effective. Stand alone solar panel systems include a bank of batteries for power during non-productive hours as well but do not connect to a main power grid.
Solar Water Heaters Used in Milwaukee, Wisconsin
Solar water heaters are another form of solar power that is used to produce hot water for domestic use. Direct circulation and indirect circulation systems use roof-mounted panels to collect thermal energy from the sun to heat water or transfer fluid directly as it passes through the panels. Indirect systems are more common in areas prone to freezing temperatures such as Milwaukee. These systems use pumps to circulate a non-freezing transfer fluid through collectors and heat exchangers to heat potable water.
Saving Money On Your Milwaukee Solar Panels System
Installing solar panels on your home or small business represents a significant investment. Although, the panels will recoup your out-of-pocket expense as time passes, you still need the funding upfront to get started. Local, state and federal rebate and incentive programs exist that can save you money on solar installation should you qualify. To view a comprehensive list of rebates, programs and policies by state, visit “DSIRE” Database of State Incentives for Renewables & Efficiency. In addition, federal programs such as the Residential Renewable Energy Tax Credit are also available. Since these programs are ever changing, it would be to your benefit to check on them often.
Installing solar energy in your home or business can reduce the rising costs of electricity and provide a path for reducing your overall carbon footprint that is beneficial for our environment.