Should I wait to buy solar panels?

September 12, 2016

When considering solar panels for your home or business, a lot of people want to know whether they should wait to go solar until the technology improves or gets significantly cheaper. The truth is, that despite the drop in cost over the last decade, the technology for monocrystalline and multicrystalline photovoltaic solar panels (our most commonly quoted solar panels) has not changed a whole lot. The biggest change in the industry has been driven by the increased demand (thanks to government incentives and the prioritization of clean energy) of photovoltaic technologies. The increased demand has allowed economies of scale to improve the efficiency of manufacturing processes for solar panels, inverters, mounting hardware, and other miscellaneus products. This has in turn lowered the price of the equipment. In the following chart you can appreciate how much photovoltaic solar panel efficiency has changed over time. 

(Source: http://www.nrel.gov/ncpv/)

 

 

Lets focus on monocystalline and multicrystalline technologies for the sake of being practical, they are represented in the chart by the following symbols:

 


As you can see, the efficiency numbers over the last 10 years have changed very little. So if you're waiting for the technology to get better, it might be a while. A couple of percentage points in efficiency gains 10 years from now is not enough to outweigh the immediate benefits of the current efficiency rates. If you purchase and install a solar energy system this year, it would pay for itself in the next 4-8 years (depending on your state and tax situation). At that point you will have guaranteed free electricity for the following 15-20 years. Even if solar panel technology improved in 10 years to the point where it paid for itself in 2 years (assuming an optimistic trajectory for the industry), you will have waited 12 years to get fee electricity, and wasted thousand of dollars paying for the electricity you used during that time! 


Don't wait to go solar! Go solar today, there is no better time than now.

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