Solar will get more efficient and cheaper, so I should wait.

It definitely does not pay to wait.  Unlike smartphones and tablets, modern solar technology has changed little for decades.  The basic technology for panels is the same since the 1960’s.

While solar panels are getting slightly more efficient and cost are falling, the incentives that are available for solar are declining every year.  The current federal incentive is a Residential Renewable Tax Credit, which is 30% of qualified expenditures of a solar energy system.  The excess credit may be carried forward until December 31, 2016, but it is uncertain if the unused tax credit can be carried forward after then.

In the State of New Mexico, there is a 100% gross receipts tax deduction for homeowners for sale and installation of a Solar Energy PV System.  In addition, there is also a personal tax credit for homeowners.  This will cover 10% of purchase and installation costs, with the maximum amount of $9,000 and a maximum 0f 10 year carryover (until fully expended).   This personal tax credit has an expiration date of December 31, 2016.

There is more benefit to starting to save money on your electric bills now.  In fact, a solar photovoltaic system can deliver higher returns than an investment on Wall Street.  With the lifetime of the system being 25 years or more,  federal and state incentives,  little maintenance costs, and a compelling financial model for financing –  the value to installing solar is more economically beneficial the sooner you do it.

Bottom line:  do not wait for technology to improve – by waiting for solar you are giving up an opportunity to start saving money today.  The longer you wait, the more likely you will be locked in to tomorrow’s utility rates, and less likely to receive incentives.

For more info on Federal and State Renewable Energy Incentives, see the Database of State Incentives for Renewables & Efficiency.