Tips for Choosing a Solar Installer
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 some tips to help you find a competent and reliable solar installer:
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. You can check out online reviews as well, but do make sure that your sources are credible. There are now a lot of reviews, specifically those found in marketing websites, which are manufactured and deceptive. Reviews written by actual customers – via references given by the company itself – are another good way of knowing which companies are worth a look or not.
Ask not just a single company but several companies in your area for a free quote. Such quotes will usually be based on your present electricity usage and local electricity rates, which help you decide how much energy you should 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 must be able to tell you the different solar panel brands they install, and explain each one’s pros and cons. 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.
A typical power output or performance warranty for solar panels is good for 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 can be good for 25 years for microinverters and 5-10 years for central inverters.
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 Dedication
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.
With the upfront cost of a solar installation being too expensive for average consumers, different financing options have been created for both residential and commercial users. For instance, one can obtain a home equity loan or apply for Property Assessed Clean Energy (PACE) financing, the rules of which vary from state to state. 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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