By Scott Laskey
Do you want to dramatically reduce your electricity bill? Do you want to get your energy from a clean, renewable source? Do you want to be released from the uncertainty of future utility rates?
If you answered yes to these questions, you should consider installing solar panels for your home. It’s important to choose a professional solar company that’s right for you. The quality of work provided by a solar panel contractor is the most important part of any installation. This guide is designed to help you determine how to choose the ideal solar company.
It’s highly likely that you know someone who already has residential solar panels installed at their property. Ask them about the contractor they worked with and how they rate the experience. They also might be able to recommend a company perfect for your job. It is recommended that you get more than one proposal as a comparison.
If you don’t have money on hand for an installation, financing can make a big difference. An established solar company can help you explore sound financing options. While this isn’t their main role, they can advise you on different plans, guide you through the steps and make the process easier.
There are different solar panel brands available at different price points, but you shouldn’t make a decision based solely on cost. The leading brands are similar in terms of efficiency rating, performance, material quality and warranty.
Different solar panel brands are manufactured in different wattage increments. Unit costs are more accurately measured as price per watt. The final cost of your project is determined by its total wattage, not the price per panel.
Other important factors to consider are the product’s maintenance track record including any recalls and the manufacturer’s reputation. An experienced solar panel contractor is your best resource for detailed information about different systems for your home.
You want to work with a company that can document its capabilities. Ask for quality assurance certifications that back up industry expertise for installing all types of solar panels as well as similar energy systems.
Read testimonials on the company’s website, and check out independent online reviews. An established track record is crucial to making sure you get the highest level of service. The company should be happy to discuss all the details outlining solar power systems they’ve installed for previous clients.
Business licenses and insurance policies protect both you and the company. Requirements vary by state and local jurisdiction, so make sure you understand how they apply to your area. At a minimum, the company you choose should have general liability insurance.
A workmanship warranty is an important part of any solar panel installation. Average warranties cover design and construction of a solar energy system for 1 to 10 years.
You can purchase an operation and maintenance contract separately from the installation process. However, it’s much easier and more reliable to deal with a company that backs its projects with in-house workmanship warranties.
Some circumstances call for a solar company to use subcontractors for specific tasks. The best companies are always transparent about why and how they use subcontractors who bring specific skill sets to the job.
It’s important to know who’s going to take care of your home solar panel installation, so ask about subcontractors. Be very cautious with a company that subcontracts the entire project. This kind of arrangement should always be red-flagged. If possible, choose a company that not only sells but also installs and has experienced crews on staff.
The best solar company gives you advice and guidance on the right solar panel system for your home or business. You want a strong, working relationship based on trust, so expect open lines of communication and a commitment to keeping you posted as the project progresses.
Larger companies usually have excellent track records for success, and that keeps them bankable. If a small contractor goes bankrupt, that can stall an ongoing installation or void workmanship warranties on a finished job. An established solar panel company is your best choice for long-term project security.
Asking the following questions gives you a better idea of how well the company can work for you:
Using this guide as inspiration, come up with questions unique to your project. Ask about specific insurance and license verification. Ask about subcontractors and why the company might use them on your job. Write down your questions, make note of the contractor’s answers, and you have everything covered.
There are so many important factors that go into selecting the right solar company for your installation. You want to know that you’re choosing honest professionals who meet all regulatory requirements and demonstrate real industry expertise. You also want solid warranties that protect your investment.
As the largest residential and commercial solar installer in Santa Cruz County, Sandbar Solar & Electric takes real pride in being locally owned for 13 years. You can count on our professional commitment to quality work, ethical solutions, community sponsorship and environmental stewardship.
We’re proud of our reputation for designing and installing the most efficient solar panels available across the Central Coast. Our work areas include Santa Cruz, Monterey and San Benito counties as well as San Jose and the Bay Area.
Contact us online, drop us an e-mail, or give us a call at 831-469-8888 for a free estimate. Our team here at Sandbar Solar & Electric look forward to helping you make the best decisions about solar panels for your home or business.
Scott is the founder of Sandbar Solar. With a Bachelor’s Degree in Economics from UC San Diego, Scott has an NABCEP certification, and has lectured on and taught many high-tech construction practices and solar PV technical concepts to education institutions, including Stanford University and state-recognized electrician apprenticeship programs. Scott enjoys sharing his knowledge of the evolving renewable energy space and making a difference in his community.
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