Choosing A Quality Solar Installer
By Katrina Brickley, Communications
More people are giving their property a solar energy addition to save on electric bills, to help the environment, and to increase the value of their property potential. Solar energy has become more affordable, driven by economic incentives and lower manufacturing costs thanks to improvements in technology. A well-designed and installed solar energy system should last 20 to 30 years, or longer, so you will want to do your research for the best solar company options.
Installing solar panels takes specialized know-how beyond attaching panels to the roof and connecting the required electrical gear. The ideal solar installer will be fully insured, have at least one NABCEP1 certified technician on staff, and have a minimum of two years of hands-on solar installation experience. These credentials often lead to better pricing from their hardware distributors, knowledge of permit and utility requirements, faster installation on your property, and quality accountability with a vested interest in customer satisfaction.
Seek Out Local Connections
Ask area friends and neighbors who have solar power about their experience with their installer. They may give you some tips on questions to ask prospective solar companies. In addition, area roofing and electric contractors often have relationships with solar installers; ask them who they recommend. You may be surprised to learn how many solar installers are in your area.
Attributes of local installers include:
- Offering competitive pricing or even beating the bids of most national installation companies
- Higher-quality brands of solar panels and inverters are more often installed
- Maintenance responsiveness – as issues arise in the future, they can usually be onsite to fix the problem more quickly than a national installer
- Often quite knowledgeable of local permit and utility requirements
- Keeping money in the local economy for longer durations
Search The Internet
After visiting with locals, scan the Internet for solar company reviews, but know that many companies pay to place themselves at the top of browser search rankings. National solar companies can often provide the cheapest price, a fast install once the crew arrives on site, but this may come with lower quality products that impede system optimization.
There are reputable companies at every level, national and local. But, like any industry, there are less desirable companies. This is why it’s essential to do your research.
Solar Energy Industry Associations
With 231,000 Americans working in solar, the options are vast. Look up your state’s Solar Energy Industry Association for a list of solar company members and additional information that supports those transitioning to renewable energy.
Suppose you are seeking a diverse-owned solar company. In that case, the national Solar Energy Industry Association (SEIA) includes a list of minority, disabled person(s), service-disabled Veteran(s), LGBTQ+, and women-owned or controlled solar companies.
Place A Phone Call
Call your top solar company prospects to give you an idea of the quality of service you might receive in the future, and try to get a ballpark estimate before the representative visits. Thanks to technology, it is possible for most solar installers to measure your roof without stepping onsite.
Questions you will want to ask include:
- What is the estimated cost of the solar installation project?
- Are there energy efficiency updates that I should be doing, like installing LED lighting or an electric water heater, to reduce the size of the proposed solar system?
- Are maintenance warranties available? If so, what are the terms?
- Can I talk with a couple of people that have a similar system size and type?
- What is the expected turnaround time from signing the contract to going live?
- What is the projected reduction in my monthly electric bill after solar is installed?
- In addition to the Federal Investment Tax Credit, are there other incentives available? You will also want to consult your tax advisor.
Being A Bright Light
Once you’ve done your research and have compared several proposals line by line, you will have a great sense of which solar company you feel confident will provide a high-quality solar energy experience at a fair price. Then you’re on your way to powering your property with renewable energy!
Solar Financing Available
If you need financing, apply for pre-approval through greenpenny. A pre-approval is good for 120 days and will help you know how much you can borrow. By arranging financing now, you and your selected solar installer can schedule your project with confidence.
Solar financing is available through greenpenny for homes, businesses small and large, non-profits, and farms in Illinois, Iowa, Minnesota, Missouri, and Wisconsin. The immediate reduction in monthly electricity spending can be enough to cover all, or most, of the solar loan payment. Use greenpenny’s residential solar calculator to estimate your financing payment. Then compare your monthly electrical bill with your solar installer or utility provider to ensure an accurate comparison. Learn more about greenpenny by calling 888-GPENNY0 (888-473-6690) or emailing Info@greenpenny.com.
Greenpenny and its affiliates are not tax or legal advisors. Please consult with a qualified tax or legal professional to discuss your situation.
1 About NABCEP
NABCEP is short for North American Board of Certified Energy Practitioners. It is considered the most prestigious accreditation that a PV installation company can earn in the residential renewable energy industry.