Lower prices. Solar panels are a sizeable investment, but according to a recent report from the Solar Energy Industries Association, the average national price for a solar electric system is now less than $5 per watt installed. That’s a notable drop since 2009, when prices averaged $8 per watt. Ten years before that, they were about $12 per watt. A small home solar electric system might be 2 kilowatts (kw) — or 2,000 watts. At $12 per watt, the system would have cost $24,000. At $5 per watt, it’s more like $10,000.
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Federal incentive. You can receive a large federal tax credit for purchasing a home solar electric system. This tax credit — which is available through 2016 — is 30 percent of the price of the system, with no upper limit. So for that same 2-kw, $10,000 system, the cost would now be down to $7,000. (For more information, visit Energy Star.)