Will solar panel installation cost less in the future?
I can’t say with certainty that it will cost less to install solar panels in the future. Today in San Diego, solar panels account for about 20% of the cost of a typical residential solar installation. So considering the Federal Income Tax Credit will pay for 30% of the cost of installing solar panels on your home through 2016, the panels would need to be free from that point forward just to maintain current pricing.
The inverter accounts for approximately 10% of total system cost, so there’s potential for savings there. If the cost can be cut in half, that would knock 5% off the total.
The balance of materials is a mix of aluminum, stainless steel, copper, conduit, etc… Then there is transportation, labor, permitting, insurance, licensing, marketing, overhead and a little profit for the contractor. I don’t see prices for aluminum, steel and copper going down much if any over time. While I expect we’ll see some innovation to reduce installation costs, I believe it will have only a marginal impact on the overall cost of a residential solar panel installation.
Because solar panels begin paying for themselves as soon as you have them installed, the sooner the better. The money you’re sending to the utility company every month could be paying for your system!