You may not have a say in which electric company powers your home, but when it comes to choosing a solar energy installer, the power is all in your hands.
The only downside?
The booming solar energy market means there are more solar companies than ever to choose from.
If you’re not sure now to compare one solar installer over another, deciding between all these companies can be overwhelming and stall your plans to take action.
Even though all those solar companies may seem similar on the surface, they’re not all created equal.
So how can you tell a good solar energy installer from a potential nightmare?
Here are 7 things to look for in a solar energy company to help you spot a winner:
1. A Long History of Service in the Solar Energy World
Though it’s not technically required for a great company to be an older company, there’s a lot to be said about experience and history when it comes to solar energy.
Your potential solar company has to estimate, install, and take care of your solar array for years to come.
So if a solar installer is not a dedicated solar company (i.e., they’re more like a construction company that installs solar systems on the side), they may lack the expertise and proper training to handle all the nuances in your mission to go solar.
If your solar system is only as good as the dependability of the company that installed it, you have to work with a company with an established history in the solar energy world.
[bctt tweet=”Your solar system is only as good as the dependability of the company that installed it.” username=”1stLightSolar”]
Many of our employees here at 1st Light Energy have been working in the solar industry since the 1990s, so you can be sure they’ve seen a thing or two.
We’ve adapted and thrived throughout many innovations, changing expectations of the industry, and government regulations since we first opened back in 2004.
Now we’re one of the most experienced solar companies in the country, selling and installing more systems than our biggest competitors combined.
And we don’t plan on stopping anytime soon.
Our team of experts knows how to take care of your entire solar system from consultation to installation and beyond because that’s the only thing we do.
2. Expert Technicians and Team Members In-House
Some solar installers will rely on subcontractors to get your installation done. They’ll outsource specific tasks to third parties that can do it cheaper even though they’re less qualified.
You may not even be aware of this contracted work when you sign on with your solar company.
So look for a solar provider that’s transparent about using outside companies for any part of the process. You have to know who’s responsible for your installation (and who’s going to stand by it should issues arise later).
Good solar companies will want to establish a relationship with you. After all, your solar system will have a lifetime of over 20 years.
It’s critical to think long term about the company you want to work with.
We don’t outsource or contract any parts of your solar installation here at 1st Light Energy. Everything is done in-house so we’re with you every step of the way.
Our crew is proud to be your one-stop-shop for all your solar energy needs now and in the future.
3. A Solid Plan to Estimate Your Energy Needs and Output
Certain solar companies have their salespeople design solar systems for their customers, but unless these employees are also expert technicians, you may not have the most efficiently designed system going this route.
When you see the factory rating for a solar panel’s electricity production, you have to keep in mind that those numbers were achieved during tests conducted in a lab under absolutely perfect conditions.
Solar panels vary in their energy output when they’re performing in the real world.
There are all sorts of factors your solar installer will need to consider, such as your roof’s pitch, angle to the sun, and other environmental issues like shady trees and typical weather patterns in your area.
An expert prediction will even account for a minor amount of degradation right off the bat.
The more skilled your solar estimator is in predicting your energy needs and output, the less revisions you’ll need to make later on and the more money you’ll ultimately save.
Design an array that’s too big and you’ll never earn a solid return on your investment. Same goes for if your system produces less energy than what you were quoted.
So during your consultation, ask your potential solar company who’s responsible for measuring your energy needs, designing the solar systems, and predicting their energy output.
You should have an estimate that not only addresses your current energy usage, but takes your future energy needs into account to maximize your return.
You’ll also want to know how your solar company plans to monitor your system’s output to make sure it’s working efficiently.
Ask if they will provide a minimum guarantee of energy production and then find out what happens if your solar system doesn’t meet this minimum quota.
We offer no obligation in-home consultations to review your current energy usage and give you a projected monthly savings amount so you’ll be able to make an informed decision about switching to solar energy.
4. Strong Relationships with Quality Vendors
When a company isn’t really in the solar game, they may not attend as many solar conferences, network with the right vendors, or have the ability to try several products before finding the ones they like best.
Companies that don’t specialize in solar may only offer systems they make the highest profits on, or that require the least skilled labor to maintain.
When they don’t make it a priority to negotiate with better vendors, you wind up paying more for subpar components.
1st Light Energy doesn’t mess around when it comes to quality.
We’ve built relationships with vendors that only make high quality products. And we choose each system carefully to ensure the right fit for your installation.
The integrity and durability of our solar partners is a contributing factor to our ongoing success.
We’ll keep searching and testing every new solar product to hit the market so we can say with complete confidence that we’re giving our customers the best available products out there.
5. An Understanding of Your Specific Energy Market
Your potential solar company should be familiar with the solar energy rules and regulations in your local jurisdiction.
They should have a fundamental understanding of how your solar system will work in conjunction with your current electric company. This will help them predict how much money you’ll be able to save every month with your solar production.
Solar companies should also know the building and fire codes for your area.
It’s critical that your solar system is designed with these codes in mind because if it doesn’t meet code, your local jurisdiction will not approve your solar connection to the power grid.
On top of that, you’ll have to spend more money to modify your solar array and bring it up to code.
It’s more efficient and affordable to get the job done right the first time.
We have eleven offices across the United States so we have experience working with a number of different local utilities, government safety codes, and solar energy rules and regulations.
Every time 1st Light Energy moves into a new market, we prepare by doing our research first so you don’t have to navigate this red tape on your own.
Has your potential solar company done their homework?
6. Flexible, Transparent Financing Options
Transparent pricing means you won’t get hit over the head with surprise charges and hidden fees when it’s time to sign the financial paperwork of your new solar system.
When you receive a quote for your solar array, pay attention to the price per watt of the system and the estimated cost of the actual installation itself.
You can figure out the cost per watt by dividing the gross cost of your installation by the total power rating (or wattage) of the system.
To accurately compare providers and options, check the numbers for your gross cost (before any incentives are applied), not the net cost of the system (which is the gross cost minus your incentives).
Beware as certain solar companies will try to guide you towards financing options that give them higher profits.
But we don’t work like that.
We’ll help you find a financing plan that works with your budget and helps you save money.
By offering the greatest variety and flexibility during your solar purchase, you’ll have several choices to compare before deciding the one best for you.
Check out the different financing options we offer at 1st Light Energy, including cash purchases, zero-down ownership, and solar lease options, for more information.
7. Positive Reviews and Testimonials from Residential and Commercial Customers
How many times do you check customer reviews before you purchase an item online? Or try out a new restaurant?
Reviews help establish a pattern of behavior witnessed by customers before you.
It means companies can no longer hide their poor customer service, sketchy billing practices, or other blemishes from their service history.
While you may not be able to trust every online review, a solar company should be able to show you a few positive testimonials from their happy customers.
If you notice several unhappy reviewers complaining about the same issue, you should take it as a red flag.
Your potential solar company should also be able to physically show you a few of their solar systems from their previous installations so you have a stronger idea of the work they’re capable of performing.
These reviews and testimonials are great ways to compare and evaluate installers based on traits like customer service, attention to detail, design, punctuality, etc.
We’ve worked on countless residential and commercial projects ranging in all shapes and sizes here at 1st Light Energy, but one thing’s always the same: our dedication to our customers.
No matter how large or complicated a project, we’re always excited to meet our customers’ energy needs and save them money.
That’s why we have an A+ rating from the Better Business Bureau (BBB).
Moving Forward with the Right Solar Energy Company
Trust that you’re making the right decision to go solar — and find a trustworthy solar installer you can count on.
Ask all your potential solar energy companies for an easy-to-understand breakdown of how your new solar system will work with your existing electric company to save you money every month before you sign anything.
Find out if they plan to use contracted work or keep the whole job in-house too.
[bctt tweet=”Your solar company should make you feel like you’re in the most competent hands.” username=”1stLightSolar”]
Your solar company should make you feel like you’re in the most competent hands. They should be ready to answer all your questions, give you multiple options for financing your solar system, and deliver what they promise.
As the growth of residential solar goes to show, it’s never been a better time to switch to solar energy. Now you just need to find the right partner to make your dream a reality.