How much does solar cost?

Less than utility power.

The price of solar varies greatly from customer to customer. This is because the number of solar panels you need is directly related to how much power your family uses. After all, a different family living in your exact same home may have a dramatically different power bill than you do. They may prefer cooler temperatures, or have more family members that are home at different times of the day that yours. Whatever your unique situation, what we can tell you is that our pricing will be LESS than your current electric bill, especially over the long run. When we provide a quote, we evaluate all the variables, including your family’s unique electrical usage patterns, roof configuration, shading, and local utility pricing. We then customize a system to produce enough electricity to completely offset your usage, or partly offset your most expensive electricity during peak time.

We also offer a portfolio of ways to purchase your solar system, including as low as $0 down with financing options.

Our consultations are free, with a mission to educate. Contact us to arrange a free solar assessment with pricing and information specific to you.

What size solar electric system do I need?

A solar electric system may partially be based on square footage however, electricity usage is predominantly the determining factor. Numerous variables exist, including the number of people living in the home, quantity and type of electrical appliances, and most importantly, your own family’s unique usage habits. Think of it this way – another family living in your exact same home will have drastically different electricity requirements. They may have more family members, or they may like the average temperature cooler or warmer than you do. The right system size is the one that’s sized specifically for you.

Each system is custom engineered. We analyze your unique electricity consumption patterns, as well as your individual roof structure and potential shading issues. Depending on your budget and available roof space, we’ll design a system that produces as much electricity as possible.

When is the best time to install?

While there is no wrong time to install solar, waiting for a specific season may have a few disadvantages. First, as temperatures start to rise, so does the rush to install solar. This high seasonal demand can sometimes make installation lead times longer. This is because it could take longer for involved entities to approve permitting and interconnection with your utility company.

What if my homeowner’s association (HOA) won’t allow me to put solar panels up?

By Wisconsin statute a homeowner’s association must allow a solar installation.

Regulatory policy:

Wis. Stat. § 66.0401, local governments — counties, towns, cities and villages — may not place any restriction on the installation or use of solar or wind energy systems unless the restriction:

  • serves to preserve or protect public health or safety
  • does not significantly increase system cost or efficiency
  • allows for an alternative system of comparable cost and efficiency

This law effectively prohibits unreasonable public land use controls covering solar and wind energy systems by defining a fairly narrow set of “reasonable” conditions. The law subsequently allows for a local permitting procedure for guaranteeing unobstructed access to wind or solar resources. A permit will not be granted if obstruction already exists or if the construction of such an obstruction is already well into the planning stages. The effect of the permit is similar to a private solar easement agreement, except it does not require the consent of a neighboring property owner. It is important to note that system owners are not required to obtain a permit under this subsection prior to installing a solar or wind energy system. If a permit is necessary as the result of a local zoning ordinance, the permitting burden may not deviate from Wis. Stat. § 66.0401 as described above.

Limitations on private land use restrictions

A separate law, Wis. Stat. § 236.292, voids all restrictions on platted land that prevent or unduly restrict the construction or operation of solar and wind energy systems. This law effectively prohibits private land use controls (e.g., deed restrictions, homeowner association regulations, easements, etc.) from preventing the installation and operation of wind and solar energy systems. In the case of both access laws – public and private – solar energy systems are defined broadly to include both thermal and electrical technologies.

When concerns arise, Arch Electric makes every attempt to minimize the visibility of your solar arrays and design the most efficient solutions possible. We will work with your HOA to help them understand the law, and we’ll be sensitive to their guidelines every step of the way.

Right to sun and wind

Other sections of Wisconsin law address a solar or wind system owner’s right to retain unobstructed access to the wind or sun. Wis. Stat. § 700.41 effectively freezes the permitted building envelope of properties adjacent to a solar or wind system to whatever it was at the time the system was constructed. This allows the system owner to construct a system based on existing zoning regulations and be certain that future zoning amendments and development will not render the system ineffective. Separately, Wis. Stat. § 844.22 states that any structure or vegetative growth that occurs after the installation of a solar or wind energy system and interferes with its function is considered to be a private nuisance. The purpose of this law is to provide system owners with a remedy to prevent interference with their systems in a situation where none of the other statutory protections can be applied. The right to unobstructed resource access can only be applied to actions that take place after a system is constructed.

If I wait, won’t the cost of solar go down?

This is one of the most common myths that hold homeowners back from investing in solar energy. We do indeed see slow reduction in system pricing however does remain stable on an annual basis. As for performance, engineers have improved efficiency of the modern solar cell to the point where future advancements are likely to be mostly incremental.

But looking at pricing and efficiency alone is only part of the equation. Right now there are very lucrative federal tax incentives available that are scheduled to decrease in the coming years. Overlay this with the fact that local utilities are working to increase their grid access fees for new solar customers, and the question really becomes: how much money do you stand to lose while waiting for small changes in efficiency and price?

So if you’ve been considering solar it makes the most sense to take advantage of the current incentive programs and start turning the abundant resource of the sun into real savings today.

What is “net-metering?”

In WE Energies utility service territory the electricity produced by your solar system is measured separately by a dedicated (separate) solar meter.  Most other utilities have a bi-directional meter to measure and compare consumption vs solar production.

When you’re producing more electricity than you are using on a monthly basis you are credited for every kilowatt hour you produce at retail rates up the amount of kWh’s consumed during the month. In the event you sell more energy than consumed, the utility typically credits at a lessor wholesale value, however a few utilities such as Plymouth and some COOPs may be an exception. Conversely, when you need more power than your solar system is producing, you purchase as usual that needed power from the utility.

Arch Electric is fully versed on the varying plans and can explain the net metering program in your area.

Do I have to buy insurance for a solar array?

Your system is simply added to your homeowner’s insurance policy. Typically, any increase in premium is put in place to cover the replacement cost because you’ve increased the value of the home, rather than the system being viewed as any sort of liability.

Who takes care of service?

Solar panels are covered by a 10-12 year manufacturer’s hardware warranty, and a 25 year production warranty, inverters are covered for 10 years, and installation workmanship is warranted by Arch Electric. When it comes to damage caused by weather or accident, your homeowner’s insurance protection will generally cover repairs.

Aren’t there big federal and state incentives for solar?

Your purchase of a solar electric system, allows a 30% federal tax credit on the total paid which can be taken in one year or carried forward to years. (Check with your accountant for tax specifics.)

  • 30% for systems placed in service by 12/31/2019
  • 26% for systems placed in service after 12/31/2019 and before 01/01/2021
  • 22% for systems placed in service after 12/31/2020 and before 01/01/2022

The home served by the system does not have to be the taxpayer’s principal residence.

What about permits and inspections?

Arch Electric manages the necessary paperwork for permits. Throughout the process we take care of as much as possible to make things easy for you, and we’ll walk you through the entire process – as much or as little as you want to know.

What is photovoltaic, or PV?

In general conversation photovoltaic often used to refer to solar energy technology. Specifically photovoltaic is the technology which uses silicon crystals and wire conductors to generate solar power. These crystals and wire are strung together into solar panels, which are then strung together to generate the desired amount of wattage. PV is the industry acronym.

Do the panels have to be cleaned?

In most cases here in Wisconsin, it rains enough to keep the panels clean and producing at peak efficiency with little to no maintenance. Every once in a while–such as after a snow storm–you may consider sweeping them off if accessible. Reduced production due to snow cover is estimated in our estimates. You can also contact our service department to schedule a cleaning if you prefer to let our professional staff handle it for you.

Why do I have to have a high credit score?

Some companies are heavily regulated, and some require a FICO score (different than a credit score) of 700 or higher in order for you to qualify for their program.

We offer financing packages with different requirements available, so be sure to ask.

What is a FICO score?

A FICO (pronounced FY-koh) score ranges from 300 – 850 and is calculated based on information compiled from all three of the major credit bureaus’ (Experian, TransUnion and Equifax).  It is not the same as a credit score. A FICO score is the one most widely used by the nation’s largest banks to make credit and loan approval decisions.

Your FICO score is based on five key pieces of information: the timeliness of your bill payment history, your level of debt, the types of accounts you have, the length of time you’ve had credit, and the number of recent credit applications.