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Why Go Solar Now?

You know solar is a good idea. You see the systems on your neighbors’ roofs and you may have even heard them brag about the savings on their electric bill. So why are you waiting? Now is the time to get your system installed.

The cost of solar has been dropping each year, but this doesn’t mean you should wait for it to drop more. For one thing, the equipment costs are about as low as they can get. At this point more than half of the cost to install a system cost is labor and that is not getting any cheaper.

You also need to think about the money lost while you wait. The overall cost of solar of a solar installation has dropped about 2% in the last year.  That means a $30,000 system is $600 less than it was last year. But that system will generate about $2,500 worth of electricity in a year. So, if you did not install last year, you lost $1,900 waiting for the price break. Don’t make that mistake again this year.

Another reason to stop dragging your feet is that government incentives don’t last. If there is a state or local rebate you can get, take advantage of that now. Most rebate and SREC programs are designed to end when a certain number of megawatts of solar are installed. This means the sooner you get your application in, the more likely you are to get a piece of that pie.

Even the federal tax credit is not forever. The current 30% amount is set to lower for systems installed after 12/31/19 before it ends completely in 2021. This means there is going to be a frenzy of installs next year as all the procrastinators get on board to get the full tax credit. Solar installers can only get so many installs done so it is best to call one now and beat the rush.

If you are concerned because you don’t have a big tax liability this year, you should still get your solar installed now. Take what you can of the tax credit and the remainder can roll over to future years for as long as the tax credit is in effect.

Also keep in mind, the tax credit matters even if you are planning to lease your system. When you go solar using a lease or PPA program, the lease or PPA company is taking that tax credit and factoring it into your cost, so it is still important to be mindful of the deadline on it.

Some people put off solar because they are deciding about selling their house, but this could also be an expensive mistake. A recent study done by Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory showed that adding solar to a home increases by an average of $4/watt. This is more than the cost of a typical system, especially after you factor in the 30% federal tax credit and any state or local incentives you may be able to get. So, not only will you save money every month before you put the house on the market, but studies show you will probably sell your house faster and turn a profit on your newly installed solar.

As you are running out of excuses, let’s talk about new technology. Other than small increases in efficiency, solar panels have changed very little over the several years and there aren’t any great new advances on the near horizon. The small increases in efficiency that will happen in the next few years won’t make enough difference to justify waiting for them. Chances are you can fit enough solar on your roof to offset your electric bill with the current efficiency rates, so higher efficiency panels would not do anything for you.

Close your eyes and imagine that someone taking a $5 bill out of your pocket. If you have a large house, make it a $10 bill. Now imagine it happens again the next day, and the next. Every day single day that $5 or $10 bill comes out of your pocket. Now open your eyes and realize this is actually happening. The “someone” is the electric company and solar panels make them stop. Every day you wait is costing you.

Author: Harold Tan

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