Solar power used to be a prohibitively expensive technology, but recently, the cost of residential solar panel systems has dropped … by a lot. And what once seemed like a futuristic option is finally taking off.
“Solar is one of very few home improvements that starts paying for itself the minute it is installed and turned on,” says Mike Newman, an outreach manager for Clean Markets, a firm in Philadelphia that works with businesses to maximize energy efficiency.
In general, he says, homeowners can recover the upfront cost in as little as three to four years—or as far out as 10 years or more—depending on local utility, state, and federal incentives, as well as the cost of electricity.
Now that China and other nations are churning out lower-cost panels, prices have dropped across the board. Improvements in technology have also driven down costs, Newman says. The Solar Energy Industries Association reported in January that prices had dropped 53% since 2010, and the National Renewable Energy Laboratory forecasts continuing double-digit declines for the next few years, although perhaps at a slower pace.
And companies offering solar leases allow homeowners to take advantage of lower prices without the upfront cost of buying the solar technology, or the cost and hassle of maintenance.
“In every market we aim to be at least 20% cheaper than what the utility offers in that market, and sometimes we can be as much as 50% cheaper,” says Dagen Olsen, national sales trainer for LGCY Power, an authorized dealer for Sunrun, which offers solar leases.
“That precipitous drop [in solar panel prices] has a bottom, and the instability of those economics opens the door for an opposite reaction of consolidation and stability,” he said. “As such, the industry is now projecting a modest decline in material pricing to the tune of only 15% over the next two years.”
So if you’re thinking of going solar, here are some things to consider.
Source: Realtor.com, 04/23/2015