What once was a small handful of companies you could choose from to get quotes to have solar installed on your house has now exploded into a giant industry of dozens of companies that want to be your solar installer of choice.
Countless companies are all promising to help you save money on electricity. And that’s good for you.
As with any industry though, when there is a boom in the number of available options, the quality of the options available differs greatly.
How do you choose the right solar installer for your need?
There are three primary types of solar companies:
Large national companies focused on quantity, not quality.
Contractors, like roofers, that are jumping on the solar train by offering installation as another service.
Smaller, local engineering firms that solely focus on solar. Everything is done in house.
The more solar, the better.
Solar has the potential to eliminate our dependence on fossil fuels. With that goal in mind, every company that is installing solar makes a positive difference.
On a personal level, the installer you choose makes a HUGE difference in terms of how much solar benefits you from the savings to the quality of the equipment on your roof.
That’s the focus of this article:
How to choose a solar provider best suited for your home and your goals.
You get what you pay for
Solar is a long-term investment. If you focus solely on the short-term, you’ll surely get a bad deal. A car salesperson, for example, will focus entirely on the monthly payment rather than the total you will pay over time.
Let’s use investing in the stock market as another example:
Billy chooses an investment advisor who charges very little for his expertise, plus Billy won’t have to pay any extra fees when he invests! Billy is excited by such a cheap way to start investing. Billy meets with the advisor, chooses a few stocks and invests. Billy is happy that he didn’t spend that much money to get started. Outcome: Over 20 years, the stocks recommended by his advisor either go down or increase very little. Sure Billy saved money in the short-term, but Billy didn’t make a smart investment and so his money grew very little if at all.
Billy requests some advice from a very sought after advisor, who charges a large amount for his expertise. Plus, anyone that wants to invest with him has to pay a certain fee every time they buy. Billy is hesitant because the initial cost is higher, but he takes the chance. Outcome: Over 20 years, the money Billy invested multiplies four times over. While Billy spent more initially, twenty years later when he retires he has a large sum to live on. This is because he decided to go with an experienced and trusted advisor.
The same is true about solar. A company might offer you a much cheaper deal… but you need to question why it’s less expensive.
Where is the equipment manufactured? What are the loan details? Do they have a guarantee? What is the predicted ROI? How long is the Payback Period? How experienced are the actual people who will install your system? Does the company employ engineers or just “solar design specialists”?
Below are a few aspects to focus on when choosing who to choose to partner with on your solar installation:
You wouldn’t hire a plumber to re-do your roof or an electrician to do your gardening. Why would you hire a roofer or carpenter to install a power plant on your home?
Solar requires a specific process: design, engineering, permitting, building codes, fire codes etc…
When you choose a company that focuses on solar, you are getting years of experience in a challenging industry. You are paying for the expertise now, so you don’t have any problems down the road.
Does the company have experienced install team on staff or do they subcontract the installation to another company? Are they local to you, so if there are any questions or issues that occur after the install, you can easily get in touch with them and get them back out to your home to remedy the situation
How your solar system is designed makes a HUGE difference.
Roof tilt, azimuth, shade, tree growth, inverters, and electrical connections are all variables that need to be considered when designing a roof-top solar system.
A solar company with an experienced in-house design and engineering team can be expected to use the best technical approach and equipment for your home. Every home is different and a high-quality solar design should address site-specific details.
Some companies try to apply a cookie-cutter approach (quantity over quality), or they out-source the design to another company or another country.
The equipment you choose is one of the most important factors in how many kilowatt-hours your system will produce.
If you choose cheaply manufactured solar panels, don’t be surprised when their expected production drops drastically and the efficiency ratings don’t live up to advertisements. You want to choose a reliably made solar module. Brands that are reputable, guaranteed and have a proven track record over decades of business are the brands the most reputable solar installers will recommend for your project.
Some installers won’t even tell you the brand or source of the equipment they are installing! This is a red flag.
Nobody likes talking to a robot on the phone or having their call sent to India for a simple question.
By choosing a local company, you know you’ll speak to a human being. The engineering team, design team, install team, and the sales team are all working together to ensure that clients get the best experience possible throughout the entire process. Even more, the best companies realize the sale doesn’t stop after the installation is complete.
Your ideal solar provider will be available to speak with you anytime you need them.
Do the research and do your homework. Solar is a long-term investment and you are trusting your chosen installer with your most valuable asset; your home.
That’s why making the right decision is so important. You can use a variety of websites to review installers, including Yelp! And Google Reviews.
Once you’ve chosen a few to look into, ask them where they are located, what equipment they use, about their financing options, how their warranties work, how long they’ve been in business, and so on.
Most importantly, ask them for testimonials and past clients that you can contact. The best indication of how a potential solar project will work out on your home is to ask a past customer how well the company did the job and treated them on their project.
NOTE: We’ve got a great free resource for you that details specific questions you should ask a solar installer when you interview them to see if they are the right fit for your solar project. To get this FREE download immediately, CLICK HERE.
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