How to Find a Good Solar Installer
As solar energy gains popularity among residential and commercial users, the number of of installation companies has also soared in response to 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:
Recommendations 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 for a free quote not only from one company but from many in your area. These quotes will often be based on your local electricity rates and your current electricity consumption, which help you decide the amount of energy you would like to offset. Besides comparing prices, a quote request can tell you how responsive an installer is, and may give you a hint of how hiring them will likely proceed Apart from comparing prices, a quote request can show you how responsive a solar company is, and may provide indicators of how a project with them will probably turn 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 should listen carefully as you tell them your solar needs and concerns, before recommending the solution that best suits your taste, budget, lifestyle, and target 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). Two others are the relatively new and consumer-driven Pre-Screened Solar Pro, and of course, The Better Business Bureau (BBB).
Level of Dedication
During your first meeting with the installer, try to assess their sincerity, professionalism, responsiveness, expert knowledge and ability to connect with you. These are all potential indicators of the quality of the business relationship you will likely have with them once you have signed the contract.
As the upfront cost of a solar installation is usually too high for the average consumer, different financing options have been introduced. For example, one can enter into a power-purchase agreement (PPA) or a solar lease agreement, get a home equity loan or apply for Property Assessed Clean Energy (PACE) financing. In any case, you can expect a good solar installer to explain each option, depending on what are available to you.
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