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, 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 check out online reviews as well, but do make sure that your sources 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 not just a single company but several companies in your area for a free quote. 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 installer must tell you what brands of solar panels they work with, as well as the strengths and weaknesses of each one. 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.
A typical power output or performance warranty for solar panels is good for 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.
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). Two others are the relatively new and consumer-driven Pre-Screened Solar Pro, and of course, The Better Business Bureau (BBB).
Level of Commitment
During your first meeting with the installer, try to assess their sincerity, professionalism, responsiveness, expert knowledge and ability to connect with you. All of these may be signs of how they will treat you or how your business relationship with them will progress as soon as you they have won your business.
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, you can expect a good solar installer to explain each option, depending on what are available to you.