About 6% of American homeowners have already installed solar panels. Another 46% say they have seriously considered installing solar panels.
When you decide to go solar, you gain a sense of “belongingness” to the community. This is because you are now making a substantial contribution to the environment.
Solar technology has advanced dramatically in recent years.
Many firms are offering low-cost equipment, installation, and maintenance services, which is encouraging more individuals to be involved with solar. But how do you choose the best solar company among 13299 companies in the country?
Why Go Solar?
Solar panels are a great method to create electricity for your home, company, and the grid. You don’t have to pay big amounts to power providers or increase your environmental impact.
However, before you jump in and start the installation process, there are a few things you should think about in terms of your solar panel installer.
Appropriate assistance and direction from a solar power company team can assist you in making the best decisions possible.
Follow the tips below to choose the best solar installation company.
Choose Between a Local or National Installer
Some solar companies provide installation services countrywide. National providers are large companies that do installations anywhere in the country.
Larger companies offer more flexible payment terms and will likely provide maintenance services. Additionally, they offer better warranties than small companies.
On the other hand, a local company is more accessible. Because they service clients in fewer locations, you can book installations at a sooner date than you would with a national installer. Additionally, you can visit their offices to make inquiries before deciding.
Local companies also have more knowledge of permit regulations in your area. So you do not have to worry about compliance with state requirements.
Whether to hire a local or national installer depends on your preferences. If you are working with a short timeline, a local company is better. Go national if you feel that local installers do not have what you need.
Look at Credentials
After deciding between a local or national installer, it is time to take a closer look at prospective installers. Get in touch with each provider you consider hiring and ask them about their credentials.
Licensing is the most important credential when looking for a solar company. A licensed company has complied with all the state requirements on solar installation practices. Thus, you can be confident that the company will install the solar panels correctly.
States have varying solar licensing requirements. So before talking to solar contractors, check your state licensing requirements to know what to look out for.
American Board of Certified Energy Practitioners (NABCEP) certification is another vital credential. Installers undertake training and rigorous tests to earn NABCEP certification. Additionally, they must demonstrate certain skills and agree to adhere to the NABCEP code of ethics.
Besides licensing and certifications, solar companies should have liability insurance and OSHA certifications. Solar panel installation involves a significant risk of accidents. But if a company is insured, you can rest assured that you will not be held liable for any accidents.
Read Online Reviews
Reading customer reviews is a good way to know how a company treats its customers and the quality of its work. Besides, reviews inform you of concerns to address with companies when interviewing them.
Websites like Yelp and the Better Business Bureau (BBB) are good places to start when searching for online reviews. Check for customers’ complaints in the BBB and Yelp, and observe how the company responds to complaints.
Complaints are inevitable, especially when a company serves many customers. The most important thing is whether or not the company resolves complaints. If the company has resolved most of the complaints against it, you should have no problems hiring it.
Other sites you can search for online reviews include:
- Angie’s List
• Google+ Local
• Consumer’s Checkbook
Only consider companies that have mostly positive reviews and high ratings.
Ask About Warranties
Warranties cover you in case of solar power system malfunctions after installation. Thus, it is crucial to work with an installer that provides warranties. Usually, you get a manufacturer’s warranty and a workmanship warranty from a solar installation company.
The terms of a manufacturer’s warranty may vary for different types of solar panels. Typically, solar panels have a product warranty and a power warranty.
The product warranty covers any defects in the solar panels that result in malfunctions. Product warranty periods for solar panels and panel optimizers range between 12 to 25 years.
A power warranty guarantees the amount of power your solar panel will generate over the years. For instance, a 400-watt panel with a 25-year/92% power warranty should generate 368 watts maximum after 25 years.
A workmanship warranty covers you for malfunction resulting from installation errors. This warranty guarantees high-quality installation. In case of defects in the workmanship, the solar company does not charge you for repairs.
Generally, the longer the period for a warranty, the better. Some solar companies may not offer power warranties and workmanship warranties. Working with such a contractor puts you at a disadvantage.
Note also that the terms of workmanship warranties differ for companies. Thus before hiring a company based on a warranty, ask them what their warranty covers. Also, check what the warranty excludes and whether there are any cost implications to you in the warranty terms.
Solar power system installation is very detailed work. Thus, experience is important as it helps reduce the possibility of errors. The more experience a company has, the higher the expertise it offers.
One way to determine experience is to ask how long a company has been in business. A company with many years in the industry has worked with multiple brands. Thus, you can trust their technical expertise.
If the solar market in your area is relatively young, you can gauge a company’s experience based on the number of jobs they have done.
Ask for references to determine how many solar installation projects a company has serviced. A company with wide experience should be able to provide adequate references.
Talk to the people whose contact details companies provide for reference. Inquire about the quality of the installation and any issues they have experienced so far.
Avoid Leases and Power Purchase Sales Terms
Some solar companies may try to convince you to rent a solar panel instead of buying one. Others may convince you to buy a solar panel system on power purchase terms. These offers may seem like a good deal when trying to cut costs.
But in reality, you end up spending more money than you would have had you bought the solar panel system.
Most people install solar energy systems to cut utility costs. Leases and power purchase agreements have clauses that increase the costs you have to pay. Thus even though you no longer pay electricity bills, you do not reduce your expenditure.
Even when you do not have cash on hand, do not agree to a lease or hire purchase agreement. Instead, work with a company that offers flexible payment terms or partners with a solar financing company.
Get More Than One Quote
Get bids from many solar contractors to know the average installation costs. Knowing average costs ensures you will not work with companies that will overcharge you. A reputable company also tells you any adjustments you need to make to your home before solar installation.
Ensure all the quotes you get from companies are detailed. Every quote you get should indicate equipment costs, labor costs, and project timelines.
Solar contractors typically charge a flat rate based on the size of the solar energy system. You can also expect contractors to quote costs per watt.
Consider inviting installers to inspect your home. That way, they can include the costs for adjustments they need to make on the quote. During the home visit, ask the contractor any questions you have.
Some questions to ask a solar contractor include:
- How many solar panels do I need?
• Do I have roofing issues that need fixing before installation?
• How much energy should I expect the solar energy system to produce?
• Have you installed solar panels on similar homes?
You can tell whether a contractor is forthcoming based on how they answer your questions. Be wary of a contractor that seems to dodge your questions. Do not hire a company whose charges greatly exceed the average.
Still, do not hire the cheapest contractor. Sometimes, a contractor’s charges are cheap because they use substandard materials. However, if the brands indicated on a contractor’s quote are good quality, you may hire them despite their price.
When the best solar installer gives you their bid, they should give you time to evaluate their terms. A sketchy company may try to pressure you to accept their bid. Do not trust such a company.
Choose the Best Solar Company Near You
A solar energy system is a long-term investment. Therefore, you should hire the best solar company to do an installation job that lasts. While at it, get a contractor that offers maintenance services to preserve your solar power system’s lifespan.
Follow the above tips to get the right partner for your solar installation project.
Want more tips on choosing contractors for your home improvement projects? Visit our website today to learn more!