Probably the biggest barrier to more widespread use of residential solar panels is the tremendous outlay it take to get started. For the past eight or ten years, the conventional wisdom has been that it takes about twenty years to achieve payback from your solar investment, making it hard to justify. Sure, you will have lower electric bills, but you will also have that loan payment you took out to finance it, or for some, the out of pocket expense you are trying to recoup. Now, there may be hope for those that are heliotrope inclined. According to an article in Investors Business Daily, the affordability of a solar installation may be within the reach of many of us. According to the studies written about in this piece, the payback may be as little as ten years now. This is largely due to the dropping price of the panels, government subsidy programs, and rising electricity prices.
All that is great, but the 2013 price for a 600 square foot panel array, with inverter, electric company tie-in, and installation is still about $55,000. The option that makes this affordable for many now is, the availability of a 20 year lease of the system. If you can install the system, and not have to worry about maintenance or additional costs, why not go solar? Initial studies are showing that the homeowner will benefit from the net-even lease versus electric bill ratio due to the projected rising costs of purchased energy in the future. Watch for the next two or three years to make this even more affordable or even lucrative, as the price of the system components drop.