When I head just how (comparatively) cheaply you can get solar panels installed in Austin, Texas, I was pretty jealous. The real short version is that a $20,000+, 3 kWh system can be yours for around $6,000 thanks to local and federal tax breaks. And considering the amount of sunshine that Austin gets, this is a real deal.

I head these numbers while hovering around the Lighthouse Solar booth at the Austin Alt Car expo this weekend. The company can add the aforementioned solar panels to your roof or build an entire carport out of the way cool panels. To give you an idea, the carport in this picture is a 1.7 kW size. Depending on the location, it might even make sense to use the special double-sided solar panels. Light-colored concrete and pools, for example, reflect a lot of light upwards and the collectors on the bottom of the glass can suck up the energy just as well as the ones on top.

There are about a half-dozen companies in the Austin area that can install solar panels, and the tax credits would apply no matter who you choose. Even with this many companies offering solar services, Lighthouse has done around 50-60 this year, which I think speaks volumes to the potential of solar energy if it's made affordable.

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