What a difference five years make. Less than a decade ago, you could count the solar installers in your area on one hand.

Now, there are countless companies all promising to help homeowners save money on electricity.

And that’s good for you.

The more companies you have to choose from, the better chance you have of finding a great installer offering a quality product.

Solar companies sprouting up – It’s a buyers market!

There are three primary types of solar companies:

  1. Large national companies focused on quantity, not quality.
  2. Contractors, like roofers, that are jumping on the solar train by offering installation as another service.
  3. Smaller, engineering firms that solely focus on solar. Everything done in house.

The more solar, the better.

Solar has the potential to eliminate our dependence on fossil fuels. With that goal in mind, every company that is installing solar makes a positive difference.

On a personal level, the installer you choose makes a HUGE difference in terms of how much solar benefits you from the savings to the quality of the equipment on your roof.

That’s the focus of this article:

How to choose a provider for the best experience and savings.

You get what you pay for

Solar is a long-term investment. If you focus solely on the short-term, you’ll surely get a bad deal. A car salesperson, for example, will focus entirely on the monthly payment rather than the total you will pay over time.

Let’s use investing in the stock market as another example:

  • Billy chooses an investing advisor who charges very little for his expertise, plus Billy won’t have to pay any extra fees when he invest! Billy is excited by such a cheap way to start investing. Billy meets with the advisor, chooses a few stocks and invests. Billy is happy that he didn’t spend that much money to get started. Outcome: Over 20 years, the stocks recommended by his advisor either go down or increase very little. Sure Billy saved money in the short-term, but Billy didn’t make a smart investment and so his money grew very little if at all.
  • Billy requests some advice from a very sought after advisor, who charges a large amount for his expertise. Plus, anyone that wants to invest with him has to pay a certain fee every time they buy. Billy is hesitant because the initial cost is higher, but he takes the chance. Outcome: Over 20 years, the money Billy invested multiplies four times over. While Billy spent more initially, twenty years later when he retires he has a large sum to live on. This is because he decided to go with an experienced and trusted advisor.

The same is true about solar.

A company might offer you a much cheaper deal… but you need to question why it’s less expensive.

Where is the equipment manufactured? What are the loan details? Do they have a guarantee? ROI? Payback Period? How experienced are the actualy people who will install your system? Does the company employ engineers or just “solar design specialists”?

Below are a few aspects to focus on when choosing who to go solar with:

Workmanship

You wouldn’t hire a plumber to re-do your roof or an electrician to do your gardening. Why would you hire a roofer or carpenter to install a power plant on your home?

Solar requires a specific process: design, engineering, permiting, building codes, fire codes etc…

When you choose a company that focuses on solar, you are getting years of experience in a challenging industry. You are paying for the expertise now, so you don’t have any problems down the road.

Does the company have experienced install team on staff or do they sub-contract the installation to another company?

Design

How your solar system is designed makes a HUGE difference.

Roof tilt, azimuth, shade, tree growth, inverters, electrical connection are all variables that need to be considered when designing a roof-top solar system.

A solar company with an experienced in-house design and engineering team can be expected use the best technical approach and equipment for your home. Every home is different and a quality solar design should address site specific details.

Some companies try to apply a cookie-cutter approach (quantity over quality), or they out-source the design to another company or another country.

Equipment

What equipment you choose is one of the most important factors in how many kilowatt hours your system will produce.

If you choose cheap Chinese-made solar panels, don’t be surprised when their expected production drops drastically and the efficiency ratings don’t live up to advertisements. You want to choose reliable American-made solar modules. Brands that are reputable, guaranteed and have a proven track record over decades of business.

Some installers won’t even tell you the brand or source of the equipment they are installing!

Customer Service

Nobody likes talking to a robot on the phone or having their call sent to India for a simple question.

By choosing a local company, you know you’ll speak to a human being.

The engineering team, design team, install team, and the sales team are all working together to ensure that clients get the best experience possible throughout the entire process.

Conclusion

Do the research and do your homework. Solar is a long-term investment and you are trusting whoever you choose.

That’s why making the right decision is so important.

You can use a variety of websites to review installers:

  • Yelp
  • Google Reviews
  • Guild Quality

Once you’ve chosen a few to look into asking them what equipment they use, financing options, warranties, how long they’ve been in business, and so on.

Most importantly, ask them for testimonials and clients of theirs that you can contact. You want to know from a customer how well the company did the job and treated the client.