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The answer would be no for most solar arrays. When the power grid goes down, the solar also stops producing. Inverters are grid excited and need a minimum voltage to start up and begin producing energy. You would need a battery back-up for your solar array to store the energy being produced and be able to release it when the power goes out. Battery back-up systems are not common in our area at this time due to their cost and lifespan. Typically a whole home generator is a better fit for the needs of our Members.

The number of panels you need will depend on how many kilowatt hours you use per month. You will also need to consider if there are times of the year where you use more energy than others such as winter heating months or grain drying months.

On average, a rural residential consumer uses roughly 15,000 kilowatt hours of electricity per year. If you installed 350-watt premium solar panels, you would need around 37 solar panels to generate enough energy to power your entire home.

How many it would take for your home? Call our Member Service Department at 800-253-5189.

So what is the whole story and is it really zero cost?

Most of the time these $0 cost statements are used to peak your interest and then your lead is sold to a third party company. With this type of deal, you end up paying more for the solar array starting out and more again over the life of the loan. Below are some tips on what to watch out for:

$0 cost usually followed by “at install” somewhere in fine print.

Pay attention to the total turnkey cost over the life of the loan, not the monthly payment.

Compare the system size against the full turnkey price to determine your price per watt. Use this to compare vendors.

Most contracts assume a 3% energy escalation rate meaning they calculated your utility rate increasing 3% year after year in order to achieve quoted payback. (WIPCO’s last rate increase was in 2017.)

What is the interest rate and what loan set up costs are baked into the monthly payment? You are paying interest for the entire loan period.

Are there any prepayment penalties?

Will you to need to pay the loan off out of pocket if you decide to sell the home? Will you be living there in 25 years?

The power of a gut check! Never sign a solar contract without having your Cooperative look at the contract along side you to make sure your payback matches your expectation.

Find out more about WIPCO's solar offerings and questions you should ask by visiting our other solar pages at

Renewable Energy | Western Iowa Power Cooperative (wipco.com)

WIPCO INSTALLS ANYWHERE IN IOWA.