Starting with Solar

INTERESTED IN SOLAR? The first step is to improve the energy efficiency of your home or business as much as you can at the time. Why? Because solar costs money and you don’t want to install more than you need. “Nega-watts” are usually the cheapest watts that you can buy.

A reputable solar installer can help with many questions. We get frequent requests for a list of installers working in Howard County. We are happy to provide the following information but cannot guarantee that the list is complete.

Perry Novak Electric is a business sponsor of the Howard County Energy District.  They can be reached at:  563-382-2179 or

Other installers that work in northeast Iowa are (in alphabetical order):

  • Blake Electric (Waukon)
  • Blue Sky Solar (Dubuque)
  • Bob’s Electric (Cresco)
  • Decorah Electric (Decorah)
  • Eagle Point Solar (Dubuque)
  • GWA Solar (Altoona)
  • Ken’s Electric (Oelwein)
  • Massman Construction & Solar (Decorah)
  • Simpleray Solar (Fairfield)

Just a reminder:  The Iowa solar tax credit for residential projects is no longer in effect, but the federal solar tax credit for residential projects has been increased and extended:

202120222023 — 2032203320342035 onwards
Federal Residential Solar Tax Credits

Choosing a Solar Contractor (information courtesy of Winneshiek Energy District at

  1. Learn as much as you can about solar, talk to home or business owners that have been through the process, and always do EFFICIENCY FIRST! Efficiency and renewables should be part of every integrated energy analysis and plan.
  2. Start LOCAL, but get at least two, possibly more, bids for your project so you can compare quotes, recommendations, and ask for clarifications.
  3. Ask each installer to include in their bid/report:
    • Site assessment regarding shade, roof, mounting, and interconnection issues
    • Identification information on brand/models of hardware, including panels, inverter, racking, etc.
    • Warranty information on hardware components, labor, maintenance (and what happens if the manufacturer goes out of business?)
    • Itemized quote including panels, inverter, other hardware, permitting/connection, fencing, and labor
    • Proposed system size in kilowatts DC, and estimated annual production in kilowatt-hours AC
    • All-inclusive price per DC Watt installed cost to you  – this is the bottom line figure for comparison, you’ll want to know any caveats, and how “firm” the price is, NOT counting incentives
    • Financial/economic summary showing how available incentives will likely impact your final outlay IF you’re able to take advantage of them, and what your final simple payback MAY be
  4. Ask your installer if they are NABCEP certified– (North American Board of Certified Energy Practitioners). If they aren’t certified, you may want to ask for references from other clients to verify the quality of their work.