You’ve finally decided to chase your dream of shifting to cleaner and greener energy. After doing your homework on the basics of solar energy, you go to Maricopa Home Show, where various companies showcase the latest developments in home technology and construction. Suddenly, you have more than 30 companies to choose from and you can’t make heads or tails of them!
You ask yourself a question: How do I sort through the noise and find the right solar company for me? First, it’s important to understand that solar is a long-term investment that pays for itself and continues to pay, for 30 years or more. The “right” solar company will use quality components, do the job well, and will be there to support you and your system long into the future.
In this article, we’re going to go through the basics of what to look for when choosing the right solar company for you. You need to look at the right information and ask the relevant questions if you’re planning on shifting to solar.
Types of Solar Companies
Did you know that there is more than one type of solar company? Some companies may provide more than one type of service but some can only provide one.
- Solar Sales Organizations or Dealers: Solar sales organizations specialize in one thing – sales. They may be very good at what they do, but they will subcontract the installation of your solar system to another solar installation company, which may, or may not, be the type of contractor you would choose. You can easily find out if you’re dealing with a sales organization, or a full-service solar contract by asking if they do their installations with their employees, and if they have a contractor’s license that allows them to do solar installations. You may also be able to find the contractor’s name on the contract you sign.
- Solar Panel Installation Companies: You may encounter a solar panel installation company, but they are usually installing for other sales organizations and don’t do many direct sales. They specialize in handling the installation with you, from site evaluation to warranty support. The contractor is most important for the long-term reliability of your system. It’s good to ask them, and yourself, if your purchase price is split between a sales organization and the installer, are they paid enough to have a sustainable business 5, 10, 20, or 30 years out?
- Solar Financing Companies: These companies make sure that you can financially support your shift into solar. They work hand-in-hand with dealers and installation companies to provide you with financing options to help your project get up and running.
- Full-Service Solar Companies: These companies do it all with qualified and trained employees. They are solar equipment manufacturer certified, to ensure the value of all equipment warranties is protected for you. They have well-trained sales consultants to guide you through your purchase, and they provide the equipment, installation, and financing of the project. They are highly qualified to handle every aspect of your solar project from initial consultation, design, installing them on your roof, servicing, and handling warranty claims for the life of your system.
Other companies exist, such as manufacturers, which focus on the actual creation of solar equipment. If you need anything replaced from your current system, they’re the ones you’d likely talk to.
Canvass Your Price Point
Just like typical shopping, you can also look into the price or quotation of these solar companies. Each of these companies will have different prices, which are attributed to multiple factors – solar energy contractors, dealers, services, etc. However, if you are looking for a specific, common factor, it should be the cost-per-Watt. But, don’t let price or cost-per-Watt be the only deciding factor – it’s only a start. You should also consider where your purchase price is going. Remember, you want your contractor to be there to service your system, especially warranty claims. The quality of the products you buy, the quality of the installation work, and the sustainability of the contractor’s business are equally, or more, important.
The solar experience with any of these companies usually starts with a proposal and consultation, but that’s just a start. From there, it’s up to you to ask questions, do some research, find out what other consumers think about their purchases from the same company, and then objectively compare them.
Choose a Solar Company with Experience
Your solar company should be a certified expert. You can know this by going through the company history and delving into how long they have been in the solar technology landscape and which solar equipment manufacturers have certified them to sell, install and service their products. It’s also a very good idea to check whether they are NABCEP (North American Board of Certified Energy Practitioners) certified. Having this certification immediately implies that they have years of hands-on experience in solar design, installation, servicing, and related fields.
For a little bit of unofficial sleuthing, you may also check the solar company’s website and check the reviews. Solar consultants, whether they are NABCEP certified or not, should be able to provide some answers to you (however, due to the tough rigors of NABCEP certification, it’s recommended that there should be at least one NABCEP certified manager or consultant among the team) – you should also look out for what others are saying about the company and your consultant.
Check Their Track Record
Somewhat similar to the last section, it simply means that the solar company should have a decent amount of track record when it comes to installing solar systems. Sometimes, certifications may not cut it and if that happens you may ask the solar company regarding the work they have done in the past. You should inquire whether they did work around your neighborhood, and then speak to those neighbors about the consistency and quality of work they did. You can also check with the state registrar of contractors, the state attorney general, and the Better Business Bureau for complaints, and how they were handled. It’s very important to understand how your contractor handles complaints and other problems. All companies make mistakes and have other problems, but how they handle them to the satisfaction of their customers is most important. Don’t get burned! Do your homework and be wary of their history.
Case in point, Sunny Energy recently assisted the Robson Ranch community in shifting to clean and renewable energy. Over 100 customers in this one residential community have done their homework and ultimately chose Sunny Energy. You can read all about this project in this article.
Observations and Conclusions
Aside from the items discussed, you can also ask for other information that would indicate the quality of work you’re going to get from these solar companies. Don’t be afraid to ask questions and request information, especially the hard questions such as, “Tell me about one of your company’s worst mistakes, and how it was handled for the customer.” If they are confident with their body of work, they won’t hesitate and give you vague answers. Ask if the company is licensed and insured or perhaps you can check their solar warranties and maintenance skills. There should be some information that would jump out to you, whether good or bad, and this could be your determining factor in finding the right solar company for you.
With that, Sunny Energy guarantees excellent workmanship and the quality of your solar installations, which speaks volumes for itself. Our founders have 14 years’ worth of solar experience, each under their belts and we make sure our clients have the best experience. You can check our reviews on our website or talk to our professional solar consultants at 480-536-8700. And please, ask the hard questions, because we have great answers. If you don’t want to talk to anyone, you can also check out our instant online quote tool and get a reliable quote for your project in 5 minutes or less!