As solar energy becomes increasingly popular among residential and business consumers, about and about installation companies have also cropped up to satisfy the demand. However, as expected solar installers do not provide the same level of expertise, and quality of workmanship and customer service.
Here are some tips to help you find a competent and reliable solar installer:
Recommendations and Reviews
A wise way to begin your search is by seeking personal referrals from people you know – family, friends, coworkers, etc.- who may have something to say about local installers they’ve hired. 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 by actual customers – through references provided by the company – are another great way to see which companies have created satisfactory experiences for their clients, and which have received complaints.
Ask not just a single company but several companies in your area for a free quote. 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 company should be able to tell you the various brands of solar panels they install, and explain the advantages and disadvantages of each. 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.
The usual solar panel power output or performance warranty is around 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 may last from five and 10 to 25 years, depending on whether they are central inverters or microinverters.
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). Count the relatively new and consumer-powered Pre-Screened Solar Pro and good old Better Business Bureau (BBB).
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.
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.