Has Solar Panel Efficiency & Cost Changed Over Time?

Jan. 13, 2020
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Residential Commercial Solar Installation

Solar panels aren’t brand new technology. The roots of photovoltaic solar panels go all the way back to 1883, and the first viable photovoltaic solar panel (strong enough to power a household appliance) was made at Bell Labs in 1954. This may have you wondering about solar panel efficiency improvements over time, and how that has affected the cost of solar panels in the 60+ years since solar power has become a viable source of clean, renewable energy. 

At Boston Solar, we have kept a close eye on the price of solar panels, and how it relates to their overall efficiency. Here’s what you should know about how solar panels and solar panel manufacturing have changed in recent decades.


Solar Panel Prices Are Dropping

In the last decade, the average price of solar has dropped by 70%, and since 1980 they have seen a 97% reduction in module costs. One reason for the drop? Government policy (according to the folks down the road at MIT). As solar has become a more competitive market, it has led to a race to find the cheapest way to manufacture solar panels. But competition isn’t the only factor…


Advances in Solar Technology and Efficiency

Early solar cells had an efficiency of just 1%. Today’s solar panels are now hitting the 25% mark and above in the highest efficiency solar panels available today. At Boston Solar, we only install the highest quality and most efficient panels on the market from LG and Trina for residential installations and JA Solar, Talesun and LG for commercial solar projects. The solar panels Boston Solar installs can generate 70% more energy in the same space over 25 years. 

Solar panels are converting more and more of the energy from the sun into electricity for a home. Think about it this way: the more energy that is converted by a single panel, the fewer panels a home will need. When we combine these two factors, what we get are smaller solar PV systems that cost less per watt to install!


How Solar Pays For Itself Over Time

Now that you know solar panels are the cheapest they have ever been, and the most efficient they have ever been, we can get into other factors that can reduce the payback period for installing a high efficiency solar PV system on your home or business. One of the most impactful ways you can reduce this payback period is by taking advantage of the Federal Solar Tax Credit. 


The Federal Solar Tax Credit in 2020

This solar incentive has been around for quite a while and still offers significant savings on the cost of a solar energy system installation and speeds up your ROI. In 2020, homeowners who invest in solar panel installation can claim 26% tax credit of their total installation costs from what they owe in federal taxes. Plus, in Massachusetts, there is an additional $1000 state solar tax credit. However, in 2021, the federal solar tax credit rate drops down to 22%, and the tax credit will no longer be available for any residential systems installed in 2022 and beyond. 


SMART Incentive Program

This lucrative incentive program actually pays you money for utilizing renewable energy from your solar panels. This comes in the form of a monthly payment based on your solar production. For those that were able to get in on the first available blocks of this program, we have seen 10kWh systems bring in up to $15,000 over ten years, which equates to an average of $125 per month in additional income just for having solar panels!


Now Is the Time for Solar

When you combine dropping prices, increased efficiency, and the lucrative incentives of solar energy, there has never been a better time to go solar here in Massachusetts. But remember, no two homes are exactly alike. A trusted solar contractor will take all of your energy needs and goals into account, and design a solar PV system catered to you. Who better to trust with your journey to solar than the number one Massachusetts based solar installers here at Boston Solar?


There has never been a better time to go solar in Needham, the North Shore, the South Shore, and Central Mass. Contact Boston Solar for your free quote by calling 617-858-1645 or get in touch here.

Has Solar Panel Efficiency & Cost Changed Over Time?

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