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 hire a good solar installation company:
Personal Referrals and Reviews
A good way to start searching is by asking relatives, friends, and colleagues about any experience they may have with local installers. You can also read online reviews, but check your sources as not all are credible. There are now many reviews, especially those found in marketing websites, that are fabricated and misleading. 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.
Ask for a free quote not only from one company but from many in your area. 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. On top of comparing prices, a quote request can give you peek into an installer’s responsiveness and how a project with them is likely to play out.
Brand and Design
The solar company must be able to tell you the different solar panel brands they install, and explain each one’s pros and cons. 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. As well, a workmanship or product warranty may be provided by the installer for laminate, glass and other panel components. Inverter warranties can be good for 25 years for microinverters and 5-10 years for central inverters.
In the U.S., the North American Board of Certified Energy Practitioners (NABCEP) is among the most esteemed certification programs for solar PV and solar heating companies. Two others are the relatively new and consumer-driven Pre-Screened Solar Pro, and of course, The 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. These are all potential indicators of the quality of the business relationship you will likely have with them once you have signed the contract.
With the upfront cost of a solar installation being too expensive for average consumers, different financing options have been created for both residential and commercial users. 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.