Do All Contractors Offer The Same Loans
No, they dont offer all the same financing options. Contractors work with different solar financing companies. While most have the same loan options, some offer exclusive programs. Unless youre paying cash, financing considerations are critical to your solar investment. Take a look at the possible benefits and concerns with financing and tax credits in our Solar Financing Guide.
Choose A Solar Company With Expertise
Your installer should be an expert in installing your solar energy systems. The best way to know your companies standard is if they pass the test of NABCEP and at least have 2 years of hands-on experience in solar or a related field.
NABCEP is the best national standard certification program going right now, and the best solar installers are certified by the North American Board of Certified Energy Practitioners . You can also check solar company reviews, especially for those without the certification coming from NABCEP.
The sales consultant will usually not be NABCEP certified, but it is a great standard to have at least one full NABCEP certified technician on staff. But if the NABCEP certification isnt present, then go with experience. In certain situations, the NABCEP certification isnt needed nor necessary.
Talk With People You Trust
Its highly likely that you know someone who already has residential solar panels installed at their property.
Ask them about the contractor they worked with and how they rate the experience. They also might be able to recommend a company perfect for your job.
It is recommended that you get more than one proposal as a comparison.
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Request References And Reviews
Every solar panel installation company will try to convince you theyre the best team for the job. Dont take their word for it. Instead, ask for references and reviews.
Speak with at least three of their recent clients. Check for reviews on their Google My Business and Better Business Bureau listing, too.
Choose a company with a strong reputation.
Get Multiple Quotes Compare And Save
We suggest that you get quotes from at least 3 companies. Youll be able to compare prices, products, contracts, and people. Not to mention, you typically save money getting multiple quotes, they compete for your business. Be transparent with them, tell each solar company that youre getting multiple quotes. You dont have to mention the names of the other solar installers.
However, do not let cost be the only factor for choosing an installer for your home. If something sounds inexpensive and too good to be true, it probably is. Installers offering significantly cheaper options might be using low-quality products that will turn out to be costlier in the long run. Try to compare the bids based on similar metrics to make the decision easier for yourself.
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Solar Conduit Is An Important Factor
One of the differentiating factors of a quality installer is how they run the conduit. High-quality installers will run the conduit through the attic if possible. On the exterior, they meticulously run the exposed conduit to minimize its visibility. They use black rails and keep the panels very low to the roof. This is why you need to drive by installations or review pictures of contractors work. You can easily spot sloppy conduit runs. Be sure an ugly installation does not ruin your home. Look at solar installs everywhere you go, and you will start to see the difference.
Comparison Of The Top Solar Companies
|Vivint Solar||Best Overall||AZ, CA, CO, CT, DE, FL, HI, IL, MD, MA, NV, NH, NJ, NM, NY, PA, RI, SC, TX, UT, VT, VA, plus Washington D.C.||Solar panel and battery back-up installation||N/A|
|AK, FL, GA, KS, LA, MO, MA, NM, NC, OK, SC, TN, TX||Solar panel and battery back-up installation||LG|
|Nationwide||Solar panel and battery sales and installation||Tesla|
|Sunrun||Best Financing Options||AZ, CA, CO, CT, FL, HI, IL, MD, MA, NV, NH, NJ, NM, NY, PA, RI, SC, TX, UT, VT, WI, plus Puerto Rico and Washington D.C.||Solar panel and battery back-up installation||LG|
|Palmetto Solar||Best Customer Service||AZ, CA, CO, CT, FL, HI, IL, MD, MA, NV, NJ, NC, PA, RI, SC, TX||Solar panel and battery back-up installation||LG, Silfab, Yingli|
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Compare The Financing Options Offered
A solar energy system installation can be financed differently: through cash payment, loans, leases, and PPAs. Check if the contractors you have chosen propose the preferred payment method or select the ones who offer a number of ways to pay for the installation.
It is up to you which financial scheme to pick, but we strongly recommend you not to fall for leasing or power purchase agreement. Some large solar companies will try to encourage you to choose one of these programs because they are more profitable for them. However, your RoI will be reduced, if you give in. The main con of such options is an escalator clause increasing the cost of power for you .
What Are The Top Things Consumers Look For In A Solar Panel Installer
A recent study of nearly 3000 residential solar customers indicated the top things consumers look for in a solar installer are:
Those three things came ahead of lower prices, which says something about the value of locally-owned and run solar installation companies.
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Workmanship Warranties: What’s Covered And For How Long
In the unlikely event theres an issue with your solar panel system, its important to know who to call if something goes wrong. There are multiple different warranties that come with your solar energy system, from manufacturer warranties for different components to workmanship warranties from your installer.
The workmanship warranty is specific to the work the installer performs, and is typically somewhere between 1 and 10 years. Be sure to check with your installer to see whats included in the warranty, if there are any exclusions, and if theres any cost to you in the event they have to come out and check on or replace some equipment.
How To Choose Your Solar Company
When you are thinking about adding a solar system to your home, there is a lot to know. Most importantly is choosing the best solar company to guide you. Here are some guidelines for learning about your solar needs and selecting the best solar company to work with. These tips and questions will help you identify the solar company with the experience, quality products, trained personnel, and the financial strength you need. The quality of the solar installer and equipment you select will directly affect your long-term savings and the systems reliability. The right combination will set you up for decades of solar energy.
Do Your Research
Find out how much energy you currently use by checking your electric bills. Determine if there are additions you will want to make in the near future that will increase your usage. Do you want to add more air conditioning or an EV? Youll want to plan for the future, but not to pay for more energy than youll need.
Is the position of your home right for solar is there too much shade or do the roof lines face away from the sun most of the day? A professional installer may be able to mitigate these issues, but the production of your system depends on the location of the panels.
Compare solar companies to make sure youre getting the best equipment and service from a trusted company with financial strength who will be there for you in the future.
Dont Be Pressured into a Sale
Find a Qualified, Trusted Solar Contractor
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Questions To Ask Solar Installers
At least 3 years or more installing solar is a good rule of thumb. This can be checked on the BBB and CSLB.
Its like being a board-certified surgeon and is a voluntary certification.
Ask for proof, and check the California State Licensing Board.
Many solar companies use subcontractors for roofing, electrical upgrades, and even solar installation. Check that the subcontractors are properly licensed
Contracts are legally binding and should be read carefully. Make sure you understand what you are receiving from the solar company and how much you are paying. Look for warranty details and production guarantees and remedies for shortfalls.
Solar systems are covered by multiple warranties for the equipment, the roof, the production, and the installation. Terms and conditions vary widely. Get all warranty terms in writing.
You Want To Make Sure The Company Has Good Customer Service
If youre looking to purchase that perfect gift for your parents, you might want to check out customer reviews on that company.
You should also check out the warranties of the company, find out how long it will take to receive your money back if your system isnt producing power as expected.
Reviews are a great way to learn about companies that warrant their products. If the company has a good reputation, you can feel more confident in your purchase.
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Do Not Compare By Price Only
Price comparison websites may be perfect for hotel reservation or car rent, but they are of no use when you are looking for solar companies. The main drawback of such resources is that they compare the offers based on their pricing, while underestimating the rest of parameters.
Installing solar is a complicated process, it includes getting permissions from local bodies. Good solar contractors will do most of this work for you. Those companies whose service is priced considerably lower compared to counterparts should make you cautious because you may encounter hidden pitfalls. However, the most expensive quotes do not mean the best either.
Many installers claim they can prepare a quotation based on satellite pictures of your house. Special software is really helpful in terms of estimating how your roof is pitched and oriented as well as which objects will cast shadows on your panels. This allows calculating the expected power output of the PV array. However, no satellite photo can provide the full picture.
A diligent installer will come to your place to inspect the site in order to estimate the state of your rooftop , the capacity of your electric board that will be loaded by several additional kilowatts of energy produced by PV modules, the surrounding plants that are likely to grow and cast shadows in future, and so on.
Choose Sandbar Solar & Electric
When you pick a solar installer for your project, you want to know that youre choosing honest professionals who meet all regulatory requirements and demonstrate real industry expertise. You also want solid warranties that protect your investment.
Here at Sandbar Solar & Electric, systems are designed, engineered, and stamped by our in-house electrical engineer.
Certified electricians then install the systems and trained professional installers. Sandbar offers ongoing maintenance and service options throughout the lifespan of your system.
If youd like to request a free solar consultation, contact our friendly experts today.
About the Author
Scott is the founder of Sandbar Solar & Electric. With a Bachelors Degree in Economics from UC San Diego, Scott has an NABCEP certification, and has lectured on and taught many high-tech construction practices and solar PV technical concepts to education institutions, including Stanford University and state-recognized electrician apprenticeship programs. Scott enjoys sharing his knowledge of the evolving renewable energy space and making a difference in his community.
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Are There Different Types Of Solar System Installment Companies
This is by no means a “one-size-fits-all” industry. There are reputable companies at every level, national and local. There are also fly-by-night companies at every level. Some specialize in the residential market, others in the commercial. Some only use a particular product line, others are more open to their clients’ well-informed research and preferred options.
That’s why it’s so important to research the different types of solar installment companies in your area so you make the best choice for your project’s needs.
How Do I Choose The Solar Company Thats Right For Me
Hiring a reliable contractor to install your solar panel system is an important step. It guarantees that the photovoltaic panels will be placed correctly for a longer lifespan. Many homeowners find it intimidating to hire a contractor for a solar panel home installation. Finding one can be tricky, but consider these points to hire the right one:
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What Should I Look Out For
Detailed and professional quote documentation
Your quote should be detailed and include a proposed system design, expected generation, warranty terms and an itemised list of components/products.
Make sure you have a clear understanding of the warranty terms. Individual products will come with a product manufacturers warranty. In addition, Approved Solar Retailers will offer an additional warranty covering the whole of system including workmanship and installation as well as the performance and operation of the system.
Peace of mind
You should never feel pressured into a purchase. The choice to proceed with a purchase is yours and yours alone, so making sure you are comfortable with the information you have been provided is essential. Have all your questions been answered? Do you understand the installation, grid-connection and metering process? Have you been informed of any after-sale support available to you?
An accredited installer of a small-scale renewable energy system is required to physically install the system themselves or attend the site at least three times at the beginning, middle and end of the installation.
Installer accreditation ID card
The ID card is digital and should be shown to you on a phone or tablet. It will display the following information:
- a photo of the installer
- accreditation number
- expiry date
- types of accreditation held.
More useful information:
Prefer Local Companies That Have Been In Business For A Long Time
Be wary of brand new solar companies that have been in business for only a couple years. The more experience a company has, the better. You can find this out by asking the company, checking the BBB, or sometimes by looking up the company online on the state licensing board.
Experienced companies are better not only because they are more likely to be technically competent, but they are also more likely to still be in business if you need warranty service years later. Some states like California have a more mature home solar market, in which case itâll be easier to find companies with 10 years of experience or more. If you live someplace like the Midwest where the solar industry is newer, you might have to settle for companies that have been in business for only a few years.
Note: if you use EnergySage to get online quotes, they only require that their companies have 3 years of experience. In contrast, The Solar Nerd looks for companies with least 10 years of experience, if possible.
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Verify Whether They Provide Maintenance And Support
You would not want to fix the solar panel yourself if some malfunction occurs or your solar panel stops working. In such cases, youll need a professional to look at it and fix the problem. It would be best to discuss the duration of the maintenance and support and charges after that duration ends.
These are eight clever tips to find the best solar company for setting up solar panels for your home or business. Do your research, compare multiple options and make a wise decision.
Look For Reviews At Reliable Resources
Apart from being certified and licensed, a solar installer has to be helpful for the customers with every stage of going solar. A good specialist will assist a homeowner to obtain a permission, select PV panels with suitable specifications, apply for a tax credit, and so on. In order to learn the way solar companies deal with their clients, look for customer feedbacks. At least you will get to know if there are any complaints and how the installer solves the issues.
While some resources are known to be paid for posting positive or negative comments, there are more reliable websites like bbb.org or yelp.com. Google reviews also seem to be impartial, so you may check them as well.
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Make A List Of Solar Installers To Compare
In order to start comparing different companies, we recommend you listing all the solar contractors working in your area. You may either create a file on your computer or write down the firms by hand its up to your liking. The good approach is enumerating local as well as nationwide solar providers available where you live. To begin with, look for solar installers and your region name in your preferred search engine. As soon as the listing has been prepared, specify the details you will find out about each company using the following guidelines.
Choose A Certified Trained & Self
The design and installation process is technically challenging and involved. Whether you are the owner of a commercial business or a home, you will want your contractor to have direct control and oversight over the installation work performed.
It is crucial to choose a solar installer that is fully certified and has a professionally trained team of certified electricians and solar construction professionals working alongside them.
Your solar partner should have the certification they need, a proven track record and knowledge of current safety practices.
You want your installer to self-perform the installation and have direct, in-house advanced solar training and knowledge of how best to safely install solar power equipment.
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