If you're at all familiar with our site, you know that installing solar photovoltaic (PV) panels is a serious investment. System costs are offset considerably by a 30-percent federal renewable energy credit -- plus any rebates, credits or other incentives available in your state. Like any investment, solar energy can offer meaningful upside potential. In other words, in the right conditions, solar panels offer a reasonable payback period and a solid return on investment. In the wrong conditions, however, solar may not yet make the most financial sense. (Which doesn't necessarily mean that a project isn't worth doing. There are many legitimate non-financial reasons to get solar.) Part of what we do here at GetSolar is to help commercial and residential consumers figure out if -- and why -- solar energy makes sense for them.