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:
Personal Referrals and Reviews
A smart way to begin looking is by asking for personal recommendations from relatives and friends, neighbors and colleagues who can tell you about their experiences 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 posted by actual clients (references provided by the installer) are another good way of determining which installers are worth considering 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 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 for central inverters can cover from five to ten years, while microinverters can have warranties lasting up to 25 years.
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 the consultation process, gauge the company’s knowledge, helpfulness, ability to speak in layman’s terms, professionalism and responsiveness. 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. 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.