How to Find the Right Solar Company
Mar 20, 2015
by EmPower Solar
Hiring a solar contractor can be a challenge, especially when limited time after work is spent on accomplishing more pressing tasks.
You want to make sure you’re making a profitable long-term investment with a solar company that will provide the best services and solar panels available.
There are many different companies out there offering solar now, often with free installation options.
Here’s what you need to ask your solar installer before making your decision:
How long has the company been in business? How many systems has it installed? Are clients satisfied with their level of customer service?
Solar is the beginning of a 20-30 year relationship with your solar installer. They will be the ones to maintain, service, and monitor your system for its lifetime. It makes a tremendous difference to be able to pick up the phone and speak with a representative immediately when you are undergoing a problem or have a question. Perhaps even more importantly, the company still has to exist 20 years down the road! Research a company by looking at their long-term goals to make sure they’re scaling wisely. Websites like Facebook, Angie’s List, and Yelp are great places to see what real customers think about a company’s customer service.
Are there trained engineers and architects on the design team? What about the installation team? Are they NABCEP certified? Is the company a NYSERDA-certified installer?
Welcome to the world of solar acronyms! NABCEP is a national accreditation for builders and contractors, and certification indicates the highest education in the industry. NABCEP-certified Photovoltaic (PV) Installers undergo rigorous training to ensure the highest quality design and installation of rooftop solar.
NYSERDA is the regulatory body that coordinates New York States energy services. They work with utilities to offer solar rebates and certify solar installers. NYSERDA installers are reviewed for experience, training, and expertise.
Who manufactures the panels that will go on my roof? Are the manufacturers financially secure? What is the contractor’s relationship to the manufacturer?
No matter what anybody tells you, know that not all panels are made the same! Solar panels are a sophisticated technology, and their design can be the difference between a fax machine and a smart phone.
Compare how the brand of solar panels used for your roof compares with others, and see how they stand up to industry efficiency standards.
Whether you’re leasing or buying solar, you’re making an investment in your home. The next owner will most likely want to know the quality of the install before considering purchasing your home. It’s important to be educated about the quality and longevity of your system, for both your own peace of mind, and the ease of selling your home in the future.
How is my system performance projected? How accurate are the company’s predictions? Will I be able to monitor my system in the future?
Let’s be honest – solar installers are looking to install as much solar as possible. You want to find a company that will look out for your best interest and be forthright about your estimated solar production. Thorough roof assessments, accurate shade reports, and detailed home visits ensure that a company is investing the time and resources to deliver what they promise. Many panel manufacturers offer monitoring systems that measure the amount of energy produced by your system’s panels, as well as the amount of energy your home is consuming. However, consumption monitoring is not offered by all solar installers, so ask in advance.
With a lease or PPA, what are the monthly solar payments? Will they change over time?
A lease and a power purchase agreement (PPA) are two installation options that can include free installation. However, they have very different structures. With most solar leases, solar payments are fixed for the terms of the lease and will not change over time. With a PPA , solar payments vary each month based on the home’s usage, and increase each year with an escalating payment.
It’s important to know ahead of time if you can anticipate increasing solar costs, or if the cost of solar energy will be constant over time – it’s certainly something you don’t want to find out later!