How to Choose a Solar Installation Company
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:
Recommendations and Reviews
A good way to start searching is by asking relatives, friends, and colleagues about any experience they may have with local installers. Online reviews are also good to read, but make sure your sources 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 not just a single company but several companies in your area for a free quote. 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. 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 should listen carefully as you tell them your solar needs and concerns, before recommending the solution that best suits your taste, budget, lifestyle, and target 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.
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. Count the relatively new and consumer-powered Pre-Screened Solar Pro and good old Better Business Bureau (BBB).
The consultation process is your best chance to assess the installer’s expertise, sincerity, professionalism, responsiveness and ability to communicate with you in terms you understand. 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. 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, you can expect a good solar installer to explain each option, depending on what are available to you.