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How do I choose a solar power company?
Choosing the right solar power company could be the most challenging part of your solar buying process. And it is essential to evaluate a solar installer thoroughly, to find the right one for your needs. But how would you choose from hundreds of solar providers in your country? First, let's figure out what are the different types of solar companies that you might encounter during your "going solar" journey.
7 Steps to Choosing a Solar Power Company
Your solar installer choice matters! There are lots of solar power companies out there with well-trained and experienced staff. If you're feeling bewildered by your choices or aren't sure where to start, this helpful step-by-step guide can help. Let us serve as a guide to help you find the right solar energy provider for your needs.
Step 1: Identify the Solar Company Type
Types of Solar Companies You May Encounter
Solar Panel Equipment Manufacturers
Solar panel equipment manufacturers are the ones that produce solar equipment that can be used to install a solar PV system on your home or business. These equipment manufactures are the companies who make the physical solar photovoltaic (PV) panels and other solar equipment. These parts are essential for installers to sell to individual solar shoppers.
Solar Panel Installation Companies
Solar installation companies are the ones you will interact with the most as you're going solar. These companies purchase solar panels and other essential components required for installing your panels from solar equipment manufacturers. Their team of specialized experts will install the equipment on your home's rooftop or business. They are also the ones who set up the photovoltaic panels created by the manufacturers. Before installing your solar panels, solar installers will first conduct a site evaluation. This is to examine your roof and take any necessary measurements. Throughout the site visits, installers will also determine if your installation requires any special considerations.
Solar Financing Companies
Solar financing company strictly focuses on providing financing options needed to help both homes and businesses get financing to go solar. They typically partner with solar dealers and solar installation companies.
Solar Lead Generation Companies
Solar lead generation companies emphasize generating leads and sales for other types of companies within the solar power industry. They are the ones who put together contacts or solar sales appointments that are then sold to installers, dealers, and full-service providers.
Solar Panel Dealers
Solar dealers are the ones who received permission to sell specific manufacturer's solar products. They typically focus on the creation, development and sale of equipment. Some solar panel and solar equipment dealers them have an in-house installation team. While others will only outsource installations to third parties.
Full-Service Solar Providers
Full-service solar providers are companies that do everything to get you set up with the solar, outside of manufacturing the equipment. They sell panels and other necessary equipment, provide financing, and also perform the installation. They take care of every single aspect of your solar process. From manufacturing the panels to installing them on your roof.
Step 2: Get Multiple Quotes from Solar Companies
Different solar energy contractors charge different rates for solar installations. Some are more competitive than others. We have seen every billing structure that you can imagine, but the most usual and most straightforward approach is cost-per-watt. Your solar installer should charge you a flat rate depending on the size of your system. By getting multiple quotes, you can get a better sense for price and a baseline to compare the best solar companies.
Most solar companies will schedule an appointment to see your home so they can accurately calculate prices. During this time, you can ask any questions still left unanswered, including the following.
- Do you have the permits that my city and state require?
- Have you installed solar on a home near me?
- Based on my energy usage how many panels do I need?
- Do you offer a warranty, if so, what's covered?
You should contact as many solar installers as possible and gather multiple solar quotes to make sure the rate you get is competitive. You will be surprised at the difference between their solar bids. By doing this could save you a few thousand dollars on your solar panel installation.
Going solar is a meaningful investment in your home, and you should have a solid, strong relationship with your solar installer. A lot of work can occur after the solar panels are installed. And finding a reputable solar company that ensures a great experience post the solar installation process is critical. So it's essential to find a solar company that you can trust to give you a piece of accurate and thorough information to pick the best solar panel, inverter, and size of your system, The best installers will work with you to understand how solar fits within the solar energy system of your home or business.
Step 3: Choose a Solar Company with Expertise
Your installer should be an expert in installing your solar energy systems. The best way to know your companies standard is if they pass the test of NABCEP and at least have 2 years of hands-on experience in solar or a related field.
NABCEP is the best national standard certification program going right now, and the best solar installers are certified by the North American Board of Certified Energy Practitioners (NABCEP). You can also check solar company reviews, especially for those without the certification coming from NABCEP.
The sales consultant will usually not be NABCEP certified, but it is a great standard to have at least one full NABCEP certified technician on staff. But if the NABCEP certification isn't present, then go with experience. In certain situations, the NABCEP certification isn't needed nor necessary.
Step 4: Check if the Solar Company is Licensed and Insured
Solar installation companies should have all the needed business licenses and insurance policies or at least hold a C-10 license, a general electrical contractor's license. Be certain that they're licensed to handle the wiring and electrical components of your system.
Standard licenses for solar installers include general contracting, electrician, home improvement, or home performance contracting licenses. Moreover, installers should also have general liability insurance and be OSHA certified.
Step 5: Check their Track Record and Experience
Solar power is a growing industry that draws a lot of professionals from diverse backgrounds. And finding a solar panel installer with a lot of experience and steady work history can be a little tricky but comes with a great advantage. You want to be sure that your solar company won't drop on your project before it's finished. And more importantly, one that will help even after the project is finished. What matters most for a great solar panel installation experience isn't the solar installation. But the post solar panel installation service. Also, a solar provider should be able to give and show you systems installed from previous clients.
Step 6: Investigate their Reputation and Credibility
The best way to check a solar company's reputation is based on speaking with previous customers or seeing their historical work. Places like Yelp, BBB, Google, Solar Reviews, and Energysage are all places that can provide a glimpse into the reputation and credibility of your solar installer. If that isn't possible, looking online at places where you can trust solar reviews is essential. Solar company reviews from their past customers are an excellent way of evaluating installers. Customers that give ratings and reviews can be a representational relevant to you. Ratings and reviews can give you a heads-up about the bad behavior of your installer. If you saw a pattern of customer complaints, it is probably an indication that you should work with a different installer.
Step 7: Check their Solar Warranties and Maintenance Skills
A workmanship warranty covers all the problems that will arise because of a wrong installation. If a panel comes loose the workmanship warranty will cover the repairs.
Contractors offer a wide range on these warranties, anywhere between 1 and 25 years of coverage.
Be careful of new unestablished companies offering you extended warranties. They may promise a 10 or 25-year warranty to close a sale. But there is no guarantee that they will stick around long enough to follow through on it.
If a company offers an extended warranty, you need first to be confident that they have a verifiable history of doing business in the solar industry. You should feel confident they will still be around 20 years from now to honor that warranty.
If you did your homework correctly and went through these 7 steps to help you select a solar panel installation company. You should have a great sense as to what type of solar company you want to interact with, the price, and ways to narrow down your selection. You should never feel pressured to go solar. If it truly was that great of a solution, why do they need to be so aggressive? By finding a solar installer who is helpful in answering your question is a great sign. This shows that you've gone through the process well, and should feel confident about who is going to be installing solar panels on your roof. With these 7 step guidelines in mind, you'll be able to find a great solar company that provides both low cost and a high quality solar installation experience.
Your Preferred Solar Installer, at a Competitive Price
If you’re considering going solar, Forme Solarcan definitely help! In our effort to empower homeowners in their shift to renewable energy sources and reduce their energy costs, we have put together a solar decision guide. See if going solar makes sense.
Contact us today! Oe of our amazing team of energy solutions specialists can help you figure out if solar panels are the right option for you and your house.