Tips for Choosing a Solar Installer
As solar energy gains popularity among residential and commercial users, the number of of installation companies has also soared in response to the demand. However, as expected solar installers do not provide the same level of expertise, and quality of workmanship and customer service.
Here are suggestions to help you choose a reputable solar installation company:
Recommendations and Reviews
A wise way to begin your search is by seeking personal referrals from people you know – family, friends, coworkers, etc.- who may have something to say about local installers they’ve hired. You can also read online reviews, but check your sources as not all are credible. There are now so many reviews that are fake and meant to deceive readers, especially those that are published in marketing websites. Reviews written by actual customers – via references given by the company itself – are another good way of knowing which companies are worth a look or not.
Ask for a free quote not only from one company but from many in your area. These quotes will typically depend on your local electricity rates and current electricity use, which will be vital as you decide how much energy you need to offset. Besides comparing prices, a quote request can tell you how responsive an installer is, and may give you a hint of how hiring them will likely proceed Apart from comparing prices, a quote request can show you how responsive a solar company is, and may provide indicators of how a project with them will probably turn out.
Brand and Design
The solar company should be able to tell you the various brands of solar panels they install, and explain the advantages and disadvantages of each. They have to be attentive as you explain to them your needs and concerns, before suggesting solutions that are most appropriate for your budget, aesthetics, lifestyle and desired electric output.
Solar panels’ power output or performance warranty generally lasts from 25 to 35 years. A workmanship or product warranty may be offered as well, covering other parts of the panel, like glass and backing. Inverter warranties may last from five and 10 to 25 years, depending on whether they are central inverters or microinverters.
One of the most reputable solar PV and solar heating company certification systems in the U.S.is provided by the North American Board of Certified Energy Practitioners (NABCEP). Count the relatively new and consumer-powered Pre-Screened Solar Pro and good old Better Business Bureau (BBB).
During your first meeting with the installer, try to assess their sincerity, professionalism, responsiveness, expert knowledge and ability to connect with you. These are all potential indicators of the quality of the business relationship you will likely have with them once you have signed the contract.
Because of the high upfront cost of a solar installation, various financing options have been made available to both residential and commercial consumers. Examples are entering a solar lease agreement or power-purchase agreement (PPA), applying for Property Assessed Clean Energy (PACE) financing, and securing a home equity loan. A reputable solar company will be glad to explain all financing options you have in any case.