Tips for Choosing a Solar Installer
As solar energy becomes more popular among homeowners and businesses, an increasing number of installation companies have also surfaced to meet the demand. However, not all solar installers are the same in terms of expertise level, workmanship, and customer service.
Here are suggestions to help you choose a reputable solar installation company:
Personal Referrals 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 by actual customers – through references provided by the company – are another great way to see which companies have created satisfactory experiences for their clients, and which have received complaints.
Don’t request for a free quote only from one company in your area; instead, call several. These quotes will often be based on your local electricity rates and your current electricity consumption, which help you decide the amount of energy you would like 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 must listen closely to you as you talk about your particular needs and concerns, before suggesting the most suitable solution based on your preferences, lifestyle, budget and intended electric output.
The usual solar panel power output or performance warranty is around 25 to 35 years. A solar company may also offer a product or workmanship warranty for other components of the panel, such as laminate and backing. Inverter warranties may last from five and 10 to 25 years, depending on whether they are central inverters or microinverters.
One of America’s most highly esteemed certification bodies for solar PV and solar heating companies is the North American Board of Certified Energy Practitioners (NABCEP). Throw in Pre-Screened Solar Pro, a new consumer-powered certification program, and of course, our old trusty Better Business Bureau (BBB).
Level of Dedication
During the consultation process, gauge the company’s knowledge, helpfulness, ability to speak in layman’s terms, professionalism and responsiveness. All of these give you a picture of the quality of treatment you will receive from them after 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. For example, one can enter into a power-purchase agreement (PPA) or a solar lease agreement, get a home equity loan or apply for Property Assessed Clean Energy (PACE) financing. In any case, a good solar installer will always be happy to present all options that are available to you.