According to a recent report, around 4% of American homes are currently powered by solar energy. By 2030, that number is expected to more than triple, reaching 13%.
Have you been considering making the transition to solar power? This is an important move that can help you conserve energy, lower your utility bills, and embrace a more eco-friendly lifestyle.
However, it’s important to make sure you’re choosing the right team. Today, we’re sharing how to assess solar panel installers and choose the company that best fits your needs.
1. Ensure Legitimacy
The solar energy landscape is rapidly changing. Today, there are more businesses than ever that claim to have the tools and knowledge required to help homeowners embrace this alternative power source.
On the exterior, most of these companies may appear the same. They have slick marketing, polished websites, and employees that appear professional, friendly, and knowledgable.
The only issue? Because this is such a grey area for many homeowners, it can be difficult to tell if you’re talking to an actual solar panel professional. There’s a chance you could hire inexperienced teams that simply want to cash in on the green energy trend.
Before you take another step in this journey, ask the company to tell you how long they’ve been in this industry. They should have at least two years of hands-on experience installing solar panels to be considered experts. In addition, area managers should also be accredited and certified by the North American Board of Certified Energy Practitioners (NABCEP).
The NABCEP is a non-profit certification organization that’s highly regarded in the field of renewable energy. If a company is NABCEP-certified, then you can rest assured that they’ve met rigorous standards for quality and professionalism.
2. Distinguish Business Type
There are many different types of solar companies on the market, and not all of them are created equal. You want to make sure you’re reaching out and connecting with the right team. Here are the most common ones.
Solar Product Manufacturers
These are the companies that make the physical solar energy products that will power your home. This includes the solar photovoltaic (PV) panels and any other necessary accessories. While some manufacturers will offer installation services, not all of them do.
Solar Power Installers
These are the teams directly responsible for installing solar PV panels on your home. They will purchase all of the requisite equipment from solar product manufacturers. These experts will assess your property to determine the number and size of panels that you need, as well as their ideal placement.
A solar company like Blue Raven fits this description. Their transparent installation process helps customers understand exactly how the process works, as well as the solar benefits they can expect once they make the switch.
This is where it can get a little tricky. Solar dealers are teams that are specially authorized by solar product manufacturers to sell their items. While you can usually schedule an installation through your dealer, ask whether it will be performed through an in-house team or an outsourced third party.
Solar Financing Teams
Switching to solar can carry a significant upfront cost. Over time, you should be able to recoup this money (and then some) with the savings you’ll see on your monthly utility bill.
For many homeowners, this expense can be prohibitive. That’s why solar financing companies exist. They can help you secure the necessary funds to install solar panels at your home or business.
Full-Service Solar Providers
Finally, there are full-service companies that will take care of everything for you. They have the ability to procure the equipment you need, professionally install it, and help you navigate the financing process.
Make sure you understand who you’re speaking to as you begin to reach out to solar companies. Some teams, such as solar dealers, are more interested in landing a sale than others and may try to persuade you with strategic marketing tactics.
3. Read Online Reviews
Studies show that 84% of people now trust online reviews as much as personal recommendations from friends and family members. You can use these insights to your advantage as you look for a solar panel installer.
Once you have a short list of viable options, take the time to check them out online. A quick Google search will bring up their online business profile. There, you should see a list of reviews and testimonials from past clients.
Sometimes, installers will post this information on their website. Either way, at least scan the notes to gauge how your experience might go. Understand that each person’s experience is unique, but use this information to help assess the public perception of each installer.
4. Request Copies of Licenses and Insurance
There are certain documents that any reputable solar installer should be able to supply. This includes a C-10 license that all general electric contractors must hold. If a company is advertising the ability to provide solar installations that generate, transmit, transform or use electrical energy, then they must have this license in place.
Though solar panels absorb energy from the sun, they aren’t freestanding units. Rather the panels require a network of wires and other components. It’s important for the installers to be licensed to perform that degree of electrical work. Other licenses that a solar installer may hold include:
- General contracting
- Home improvement
- Home performance contracting
You’re also within your rights to request a copy of the license to clarify and confirm its existence. You can also request a copy of the company’s general liability insurance policy. This is an important document that ensures they will pay for any property damages or personal injuries that may occur during the installation.
5. Compare Prices
When reviewing solar companies, you may be tempted to go with the lowest-priced offer. Yet, consider what you’re trading for that dollar amount. You don’t want to go through the process of switching to solar only to find that your system is inefficient and inoperable.
At the same time, you also don’t want to break the bank. Thankfully, there are many different solar incentives that can help make the price more palatable. You can learn more about these incentives, including the federal solar tax credit, on the U.S. Department of Energy’s website.
6. Consider Technician Personalities
While it might not be the top consideration on your list, it’s important to consider whether the team’s personalities mesh with your own. These are people who will be visiting your residential or commercial property, and it’s important that you can get along with them.
If you feel like you’re constantly being ignored or it’s difficult to reach a representative, then this can breed feelings of resentment and discontent. Each team member you interact with should be respectful, courteous, and willing to answer all of your questions. If you get any type of negative vibe from the business, then consider this a red flag and continue your search elsewhere.
7. Ask About Warranties
What would happen if the installation was poorly handled? Would you be responsible for correcting the failed equipment or seeking out a replacement?
A valid solar installer will cover their work with some type of warranty. For example, they may offer a one-year warranty that covers all of their workmanship and materials. This way, if something breaks down or isn’t working as it should, they will return to your property and fix it at no additional cost.
While it’s common for companies to promise hefty warranties, not all of them are willing to deliver on those promises. Request a copy of all warranty terms in writing and keep them in your records.
8. Check References
Any reliable and experienced solar installer will be eager to show you references and examples of their past work. This might include pictures and videos of before and after scenes, or addresses where you can physically visit to see the panels in action.
In either case, take them up on the offer. While written testimonials are great, nothing beats physical evidence of a company’s work. If they supply you with a telephone list of past clients, don’t hesitate to reach out to them. It can help to hear all about their real-life experience before you move forward with yours.
Choose the Best Solar Panel Installers
Switching from electric to solar power can usher in many benefits for your home or business. Not only will you save money on your utility bill, but you’ll also make your property more energy-efficient and eco-conscious.
The success of your project hinges on the solar panel installers that you hire. Instead of rushing this decision, take the time to assess the aptitude of each client. Then, you can move forward in confidence and enjoy your new solar setup!
Looking for more advice to spruce up your home and life? Check out our Lifestyle section for other informative guides!