How to Choose a Solar Installer
Solar is a long-term commitment that requires an investment in an array of equipment including photovoltaic (PV) panels, power inverter, racking and controllers, to name a few. And you will also need to decide how you will connect the system with your utility. To help you make a wise decision, here is how to choose a solar installer.
Research Online Reviews
The first thing you should do is to research the solar installers in your area. Online review sites like Yelp, Angie’s List and HomeAdvisor, for example can be very helpful. Since historic performance is indicative of future performance, make a note of those firms that have consistently received high ratings and excellent reviews from past customers. Most companies will receive a bad review every now and then. No company is perfect and mistakes can and do happen.
Ask your neighbors, co-workers and friends
Your neighbors, co-workers and friends are your most trusted resources and can provide you with a wealth of information. Not only will they be able to share their solar experience with you, they will also be able to explain why they chose a particular solar company. Add the solar installers they recommend to your list.
Check with the Better Business Bureau
Now that you have compiled a list of solar installers in your area, you will want to check with the Better Business Bureau (BBB) to determine if there are any unresolved complaints. The BBB is non-profit organization that helps consumers resolve disputes they may have with a business even if they are not a member. Solar installers that have a high rating and/or have no unresolved complaints should move to the top of your list.
Get quotes from local solar installers
Review your list and request a quote from the top 3 or 4 solar installers in your area. This will give you an ample opportunity to ask them about their installation experience, the PV panels they use, your solar coverage, power consumption and the type of system they recommend such as grid inter-tied, grid inter-tied with battery backup or off-grid. So schedule a convenient time where you can meet each solar installer at your home to discuss your installation.
Ask about the solar installation process
When receiving quotes from solar installers, be sure to ask about their solar installation process. They should be able to give you a step-by-step guide of what to expect during your installation. For instance, do you need to remove any tree branches near the roof line? Will they obtain the necessary permits from your locality? The more you understand about the solar installation process the smoother it will be.
Find out about rebates, and financing options
To help you choose the best solar installer, find out which rebates, incentives and financing options they have to offer. Even though the number of solar installations has increased more than 8 percent in the past year, according to Solar Energies Industries Association (SEIA), there are still plenty of rebates and financing options available that will reduce your out-of-pocket expenses as you enjoy lower energy bills. Also, homeowners can qualify for a 30 percent tax credit on the total cost of a solar PV system if it is installed by December 31, 2019.
Understand warranties and maintenance
Solar PV installations are considered a safe investment that will last for 20 years or more and require little maintenance. But since solar panels are installed on the roof, weather and environmental conditions could cause one or more panels to degrade. You will want to ask you solar installer about their replacement warranties and any required maintenance that will help protect your investment.
Making the selection
You have compiled your list, completed your research, received several quotes and now you have reached that critical point on the journey where you can finally make a decision. After carefully reviewing your notes, getting all the answers to your questions, you now have all the information you need to pick the solar installer that best meets your needs and budget.