Tips for Choosing a Solar Installer
As solar energy gains popularity among residential and commercial users, the number of of installation companies has also soared in response to the demand. But of course, solar installers are not all created equal when it comes to workmanship, expertise and customer service.
Here are suggestions to help you hire a good solar installation company:
Personal Referrals 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. Online reviews are also good to read, but make sure 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.
Don’t request for a free quote only from one company in your area; instead, call several. 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. Besides comparing prices, a quote request can tell you how responsive an installer is, and may give you a hint of how hiring them will likely proceed Apart from comparing prices, a quote request can show you how responsive a solar company is, and may provide indicators of how a project with them will probably turn 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 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.
Solar panels’ power output or performance warranty generally lasts from 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.
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).
Level of Commitment
The consultation process is your best chance to assess the installer’s expertise, sincerity, professionalism, responsiveness and ability to communicate with you in terms you understand. All of these give you a picture of the quality of treatment you will receive from them after you have signed the contract.
Because of the high upfront cost of a solar installation, various financing options have been made available to both residential and commercial consumers. 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. A reputable solar company will be glad to explain all financing options you have in any case.
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