As solar energy becomes more popular among homeowners and businesses, an increasing number of installation companies have also surfaced to meet the demand. However, not all solar installers are the same in terms of expertise level, workmanship, and customer service.
Here are suggestions to help you choose a reputable solar installation company:
Personal Referrals and Reviews
A good way to start searching is by asking relatives, friends, and colleagues about any experience they may have with local installers. You can also read online reviews, but check your sources as not all are credible. There are now many reviews, especially those found in marketing websites, that are fabricated and misleading. Reviews posted by actual clients (references provided by the installer) are another good way of determining which installers are worth considering or not.
Don’t request for a free quote only from one company in your area; instead, call several. 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. 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 installer must tell you what brands of solar panels they work with, as well as the strengths and weaknesses of each one. 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.
A typical power output or performance warranty for solar panels is good for 25 to 35 years. As well, a workmanship or product warranty may be provided by the installer for laminate, glass and other panel components. Inverter warranties can be good for 25 years for microinverters and 5-10 years for central inverters.
In the U.S., the North American Board of Certified Energy Practitioners (NABCEP) is among the most esteemed certification programs for solar PV and solar heating companies. Count the relatively new and consumer-powered Pre-Screened Solar Pro and good old 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.
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, a good solar installer will always be happy to present all options that are available to you.