Solar panels decrease household carbon footprints by an average of 35,180 pounds of carbon dioxide per year. You’d have to plant 88 trees every year to get that same effect. Installing solar panels also makes good financial sense. The average American household with solar panels pays $84 less for its power bills every month. The decision to get solar panels is easy to make, but choosing the right company to install them can be much more challenging. Consider the following points to make the decision with confidence.
What Licensing Does the Company Have?
All companies completing solar installations need some kind of licensing. In many states, including Florida and South Carolina, firms must have specific solar power installation licenses, while in others a general contractor’s license is appropriate. The Interstate Renewable Energy Council has an interactive map showing the requirements for each state.
You should ensure that the company you’re considering has the appropriate license for your state. You can also look up your contractor’s license number on your state’s license board website. Every state has a website with a searchable database that will tell you more about how long the contractor has been in the business and whether his or her record is clean.
How Much Will It Cost?
The price that your solar panels cost can vary significantly depending on the company you’re hiring and the type of panels used. That’s why it pays to get at least two quotes. Getting a range of quotes, and being open about this with your potential installers, will ensure they quote you their best prices.
While you never want to pay more than you need to, don’t simply choose the cheapest option. Instead, go back to the company with a higher price and ask about the difference in cost. You may find this company works with higher quality panels, offers a longer warranty, or that it might be able to reduce its original quote to make the sale.
What’s the Warranty?
A solid warranty is your guarantee that your panels are of good quality and that the installation has been done right. Forbes suggests that your inverter should be covered for at least 10 years and the panels should have a warranty lasting between 20 and 25 years. If the solar company you’re considering offers less, this is a good sign that the panels, inverter, or workmanship could be below par.
Where Are Their Panels Made?
One of the things a company with a higher quote may tell you is that the solar panels are manufactured in the United States. This is worth a higher cost, as your warranty will still be valid even if the panel manufacturer goes out of business. That’s not to say that solar panels made overseas aren’t of high quality, but the extra protection you’ll get buying panels made in the USA is something to consider.
Who’s Doing the Work?
There’s no point vetting an installer if he or she isn’t going to be working on the project. Many solar companies actually outsource their installations, so the person you speak to might never actually spend time on site. The danger in this situation is that your solar company may have little knowledge of the contractors’ expertise. Do you want unfamiliar contractors drilling holes in your roof? Ask the person you speak with about the company’s installers, and be wary of anyone who doesn’t have a close working relationship with his or her crew.
Can They Provide Referrals?
A good solar company will be proud of the work it does and will be happy to show it off. Asking yours for referrals is a great way to ascertain whether the company does quality work. Your solar company should be able to provide the contact details of the last two or three installations it’s performed. Call these past customers and ask them whether they were happy with the work and their dealings with the company. If these customers live close by, you could even drive past the see the installed panels for yourself.
Comparing solar companies can be difficult, but by considering these points you can feel confident that you’ll hire the best company for the job.