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, 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:
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. Online reviews are also good to read, but make sure your sources are credible. There are now a lot of reviews, specifically those found in marketing websites, which are manufactured and deceptive. 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. Such quotes will usually be based on your present electricity usage and local electricity rates, which help you decide how much energy you should 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 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.
The usual solar panel power output or performance warranty is around 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 for central inverters can cover from five to ten years, while microinverters can have warranties lasting up to 25 years.
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. 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 your first meeting with the installer, try to assess their sincerity, professionalism, responsiveness, expert knowledge and ability to connect with you. All of these give you a picture of the quality of treatment you will receive from them after you have signed the contract.
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. In any case, a good solar installer will always be happy to present all options that are available to you.