Is it just me, or is every one else sick and tired of hearing that next year is when all the stuff will come out and the never does.. Like the one where solar panels will get cheaper when we start buying more, well we are buying a lot of them, in fact there is a shortage and a waiting list so the price has gone up. And the new thin films that were supposed to be the answer, next year.... read that as 4 years ago is not available to the public.
Steps down from the soapbox.......
Hi Joe, you are right - solar panels are not getting as cheap or available as many expected.
As a practical matter, the price has come down, but is still abou $ 5 / watt for most useful panels available to the public, plus installation. This is really not a viable price point to compete with the grid, but it is ok for other reasons sometimes.
If you want to make a serious dent in your energy bill - over insulate your attic - get it into the R 50 - 100 range plus a radiant barrier. I am just finishing this up and the change in thermal gain is nothing short of amazing.
Coming back to your panel question, the big volume of panels is naturally going to go into commercial projects, as their is more economy of scale, as well as orders large enough to chase for a sales guy.
I am pretty up on the solar market, so feel free to send me a pm if you want to discuss it further. BTW - are you going to be at Intersolar in july?
I did some looking around. There might be shortages of particular brands, but there are so many solar panels out there right now, there is not an over all shortage. In fact, solar panel production houses are laying off people for lack of sales.
Adding insulation is always a good idea and will have a short payback time in both hot and cold climates. If you are putting batts over existing insulation always remove the facing to prevent condensation problems. Blown in insulation is much more effective and usually cheaper than batts, often it is less expensive to have it blown-in than by using batts and do-it-yourself.
CAUTION: never add a radiant barrier in cold climates. The cold barrier will trap moisture as the warm moist air exits the home resulting in moisture damage. Case in point check out Eagle Shield and all the law suits awarded against them.
Radiant barriers do not work unless they have air around them so covering them with insulation renders them usless. Some like a mirror works, the surface must be exposed directly to the radiant heat to work.