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, 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:
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. 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 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. 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 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.
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 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). 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. 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.
As the upfront cost of a solar installation is usually too high for the average consumer, different financing options have been introduced. For instance, one can obtain a home equity loan or apply for Property Assessed Clean Energy (PACE) financing, the rules of which vary from state to state. In any case, a good solar installer will always be happy to present all options that are available to you.