How to Choose a Solar Installation Company
As solar energy becomes increasingly popular among residential and business consumers, about and about installation companies have also cropped up to satisfy the demand. But of course, solar installers are not all created equal when it comes to workmanship, expertise and customer service.
Here are suggestions to help you choose a reputable solar installation company:
Personal Referrals 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 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. 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 company should be able to tell you the various brands of solar panels they install, and explain the advantages and disadvantages of each. 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 solar company may also offer a product or workmanship warranty for other components of the panel, such as laminate and backing. Inverter warranties for central inverters can cover from five to ten years, while microinverters can have warranties lasting up to 25 years.
One of the most reputable solar PV and solar heating company certification systems in the U.S.is provided by 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. 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.