Installing solar panels in your home to become energy efficient and cut down on carbon footprint is a good idea. But the entire process is indeed complicated. And with the endless installation companies offering their services, choosing the one that will meet your requirements perfectly is no mean task. But the follow-up here will probably help you to choose and make your task convenient.
Make a list of solar providers of your area
Right at the onset, you need to make a list of solar providers serving your area and note the particulars of each of these companies. The easiest way to do this is to put up a Google search and suffix the same with the name of your state or city. The list of companies should be exhaustive, including national, local and small ones.
Make your choice – small local company Vs national company?
Before you choose, let’s find out the merits and demerits of each.
The local companies know about the climate of your area, rebates of the state and permits better and work quickly as they deal with a lesser number of customers and within a specified zone. This makes your process of installation smoother and faster. The time factor is very important as it is very much linked with the federal tax credit.
National or larger businesses, on the other hand, will offer more inclusive warranties being better established. Further, they usually come up with more offers for maintenance services and payment modes.
There is no thumb rule here; just find out which one suits your needs better and keep a note.
Know More about the companies – their credentials
Now it’s time you start finding more about the companies. Experience is the keyword here. So your search should concentrate on the number of years it is doing business, the total number of panels it has installed over these years and the kind of surfaces it has worked on with aplomb. You can collect all these data from the website of the companies wherein you may also find the certifications. And if you don’t find any on their site, call them to know about their credentials.
When it comes to credentials, a state license is a must. But the ultimate seal is when the company possesses a NABCEP’s (North American Board of Certified Energy Practitioners) Solar PV Installation Professional Certification. NABCEP certification ensures that the company has achieved the epitome of success in sales and installation and its employees are not only highly qualified but also have undergone an all-embracing training.
Why reviews are important?
Why isn’t certification everything? Why do we need to look for customer reviews? Because this is where you get to see the customer’s point of view. The entire process of solar installation is quite complicated and you need the help of the company almost at every step, right from the size of the solar array to permits applications for state and federal tax credits.
And where do you get these reviews? You may search on sites like Better Business Bureau or Yelp and if no reviews are found therein just call the company for a few references and have a talk with them. Also, you may get leads from friends or neighbors. Once through this process, you will know the ones who would stand by you in the years to come.
Know about the design and brand of the Solar Panel
The installation company must explain the various brands of panels they will use and the merits and demerits of each and the brands should complement your exact needs.
Of the two varieties of solar panels available, the monocrystalline silicon (Si) variety is more efficient, expensive and difficult to manufacture than the polycrystalline (poly-Si) ones. But the efficiency gap is reducing with the improvement in technology.
Ensure company have the necessary insurance and licenses
The company should have general liability insurance and requisite business licenses like electrician, general or home performance or home improvement contracting.
Know the financing options
Each company will have its own financing options, right from taking loan to paying in cash or leasing or signing power purchase agreement (PPA) and should be able to explain each to make your choice easier. A company might offer all of these or a combination of some. If you know the finance option you want to go for choosing those companies which offer it. But if you are not sure about your own choices, it is better to select those companies which offer many finance options.
Is the company willing to visit your home?
This is very important because only when they visit your home, you can get information on topics like – whether solar panels would be apt for your home, how you can save energy and make your home energy efficient, the pricing and much more. In one word, they will be able to customize the installation according to your home and requirement assessing your property, current energy usage, and future needs.
What should be the ideal period of warranty?
The period of warranty should normally hover around something like 20 years. Many companies also offer one to ten years workmanship warranty. Solar equipment has additional warranties and other components like the inverter also have warranties. Check these out before entering into any agreement.
How about the quotation?
With all these data at your fingertip, it is time you narrow down your search to four or five companies. Now you can ask for a custom quote from each of them. At this juncture, they would usually visit your home and you get the chance to clear off any doubts you have pertaining to the number of panels required, handling of state and city permits, the procedure to be followed, other extra costs and warranty. Once you are done with the talking and gone through the quotes scrupulously (it should be all-inclusive), I believe you will know which company to go for.
But be careful in case some company is trying to hurry the deal or offering abnormal discounts. These are sale tactics that would cost you dear in the long run!