When it comes to making a decision to go solar,choosing the best solar panel installer can be a challenging process.Choosing among the dozens of solar companies in most regions can be a confusing and complex process. In this step-by-step guide, we have gathered information on how to choose the right solar company.
There are many companies that install solar panels and every one of them is different in terms of quality and the services that they provide. Because of that, there are important options to weigh before deciding on the solar installer that matches your needs.
First and foremost your solar installer needs the right knowledge and expertise in order to make sure that solar panels are installed correctly. North American Board of Certified Energy Practitioners (NABCEP) is a recognized national certification organization for renewable energy professionals that certifies solar PV installation contractors and solar technicians. Installers become NABCEP certified after passing the written test and having at least one to two years of extensive training and hands-on experience installing solar energy systems.
Of course, the certificate does not guarantee good workmanship, yet you can be sure that the company possesses a certain level of knowledge and expertise. In addition, it is important to know that many states require this certification so that you can be eligible for government solar incentives and credits.
TIP: Your State Electrical Board can tell you whether a solar contractor has a valid electrician’s license.
Solar installation is considered a type of electrical construction project that must align with local city codes and policies. Before you hire a solar installer you have to make sure that the company has all the necessary business licenses and insurance policies.
Those requirements vary by state, but the typical business licenses for a solar company are:
In addition, good solar installers should also have general liability insurance.
TIP: Choosing between a local solar installer and a big national company has its advantages and disadvantages. Solar installers in your area might be more familiar with local building codes and permitting while on the other hand, national companies can offer better payment options or maintenance services.
There are some installers that work with a template design approach and do not offer customized designs for your roof. A good solar installer will always take into consideration your needs, make a personal visit to your home, inspect the roof, and then recommend the right solar panel equipment that best fits not only your budget but your lifestyle and aesthetic requirements.
We suggest you choose an installer that customizes the solar panel system so it works best for your property. As a result, you will maximize your solar system output. Higher output means more utility savings, therefore recovering the cost of installation years earlier.
Installing solar is a type of an electrical construction project and since companies use various solar equipment we strongly suggest you protect yourself with a warranty. Different types of equipment come with different warranties.
You should make a difference between solar product warranties vs. workmanship warranties. While product warranties protect you against equipment issues, workmanship warranties protect you from labor-related problems that might occur from the actual installation process.
At first, it may appear that most warranties are the same. However, it’s very important that you pay attention and fully read the “fine print” of the warranty. You should prefer a warranty that covers all of the solar system installation, not just the solar panels. If your system is built with equipment from various companies make sure that each part is covered by a manufacturer warranty. Your solar panel system should be expected to last for at least 25 years, so the warranty should as well.
TIP: Read the “fine print” of the warranty and ask a solar installer WHAT IS NOT INCLUDED in the warranty.
Solar energy is a fast-growing industry so it’s very important to know the reputation of the solar installer you are choosing. Here are some tips to start your search for a reputable installer:
In most cases, a solar installer’s experience is more important than the size of the company.
Financing your solar panels depends on many factors like your lifestyle, income, savings or personal preferences. You can go solar by paying cash, taking a loan, leasing , PACE program or entering a power purchase agreement (PPA). One of the ways to set your financial expectations is to ask the installer for a proposal that includes how much you can save with solar in a period of 5, 10 or 20 years. In addition, a trustworthy solar installer should not push you toward a specific type of financing such as solar lease or a solar loan especially if that’s not suitable to your needs. Furthermore, a good solar installer should be able to guide you through the process on how to take advantage of solar rebates and incentives for homeowners.
TIP: Quality solar installers will offer several financing options for your solar panels. It’s very important to know what will happen in the unlikely event that a solar provider goes out of business.
Going solar isn’t just installing solar panels. If you are thinking of long-term savings you should choose an installer that offers additional services and smart technologies. For example, you can consider integrating solar with battery storage.
To get the best out of your solar system, you can purchase tracking devices, and performance monitoring programs. The right solar company provides 24 hour service upon demand, offering cleaning and maintenance for your solar panels. Also, annual service check-ups should be provided.
Misleading practices, unfortunately, can be found even in the solar industry. Shady practices are easy to identify because they are usually characterized by outrageous claims. For example, if a potential solar installer says that you can get solar panels for free or that you can break even in a short period of time (2 or 3 years), that’s a big red flag.
So, beware of solar companies that are:
Solar panel installation is not a product you can buy quickly online, however requesting free online quotes is a great way to initially compare prices and solar panel installers. Apart from that, you can learn about each company’s customer service by seeing how responsive they are to your inquiries.
To learn more about the best options in your area, you can use our free solar quote tool, and receive multiple quotes from our pre-screened solar installers.
Confirm the following details before you sign an agreement with an installer:
Choosing the right solar installer is the most important step in going solar. A good solar company will make an installation process run smoothly by offering the right equipment, financial methods to additional services that will match your needs. Last but not least, the right solar installer will be transparent about warranties and guarantees, work practices and products they use in their installation process.
Interested in getting exact prices for the cost solar for your home? Get competitive solar quotes from qualified, trusted installers in your area. To see an estimate for how much you could expect to save and how much a solar system would cost, try our solar calculator.