The price of Ethereum (ETH -4.35%) has been soaring lately, up more than 49% over the last three weeks.

This surge is at least partly due to developers setting a tentative date of Sept. 19 for the release of Ethereum's latest upgrade, "The Merge." This upgrade will help move the network from a proof of work (PoW) protocol to proof of stake (PoS), dramatically increasing its speed, reducing transaction costs, and improving its efficiency.

So is now the right time to invest in Ethereum? Or should you hold off? There are a few things to consider.

What's in store for Ethereum?

The Merge is good news for Ethereum, as it will significantly improve the network and help it better compete with smaller cryptocurrencies like Solana and Cardano.

Ethereum's biggest weakness right now is its sluggish transaction times and sky-high fees, which have sent developers and users flocking to other networks. Once this update is completed, though, Ethereum could potentially reach speeds of up to 100,000 transactions per second -- surpassing even Solana's impressive 65,000 transactions per second.

If this update goes well, Ethereum's price could potentially skyrocket -- making right now a smart time to buy. That said, there are no guarantees that Ethereum will thrive over the long run. Crypto in general is still a speculative investment, and nobody knows for certain how things will play out over the next decade or so.

If you're considering investing in Ethereum, it's wise to focus on its long-term potential. Ethereum's current price surge is promising, but short-term performance isn't as meaningful as an investment's long-term growth.

Right now, Ethereum is one of the strongest networks out there. It's the second-largest cryptocurrency behind Bitcoin, and it's also the most popular blockchain for decentralized applications like non-fungible token (NFT) marketplaces and decentralized finance (DeFi) projects. If it can maintain these competitive advantages, it has a better chance of sticking around for the long run.

Should you invest in Ethereum right now?

Whether you choose to invest will depend largely on your investment goals and tolerance for risk.

Crypto is not a "get rich quick" scheme, so be prepared to hold your investments for at least a few years if you choose to buy. There's a good chance Ethereum will experience more volatility in that time frame, so be ready to weather more storms as it continues to find its footing.

Also, consider how much risk you're comfortable taking. Again, Ethereum is still speculative at this point. Despite being one of the strongest cryptocurrencies, nobody can say for certain whether crypto will still be around long term. That means there's always a chance you could lose the money you invest.

If you do decide to buy, be sure you're only investing money you can comfortably afford to lose. It's also wise to double-check that the rest of your portfolio is well diversified to limit as much risk as possible.

Ethereum may be a promising investment, but it's still risky. Before you buy, consider how much volatility you're willing to tolerate, and be prepared to hold your investment for the long term. By weighing the pros and cons, it will be easier to determine whether Ethereum is the right investment for you.