By now you have probably heard all the craze about solar panels. They help slow global warming, reduce electricity costs, add to a home's value, and help homeowners qualify for impressive tax credits.
What can be the most challenging aspect of the renewable energy process? Choosing your provider! Because of the boom in the green energy industry, many solar companies have popped up, which begs the question: How do you choose your solar panel installer?
A system can come with upfront costs, and since the panels are being attached to the roof of your home, you'll want the job done right. Here are five important questions to ask a solar company before making any decisions.
Are They Experts?
When it comes to installing products onto the roof of your home, it's imperative that you hire an expert. Like many other professions, it is possible to earn a certification in the renewable energy field.
Solar companies can earn a PV Installation Professional Board Certification from the North American Board of Certified Energy Practitioners (NABCEP), which attests to their ability to safely install solar panels. Because this certification also requires that the person in question be an expert in the areas of solar operation, design, and maintenance, this is a great place to start when vetting a potential installer.
Are They Licensed?
If they're not certified by NABCEP, the next question to ask is about their business license. That license can come in many forms, including general contracting or even home improvement. Having earned a license makes the business or installer more reputable, as there are certain standards they are held to.
You'll also want to carefully review their insurance and liability coverage so that in the rare event that the installer makes a costly mistake, you aren't the one who has to pay for it.
Speaking of insurance coverage, now is also a good time to review your homeowners insurance to ensure your solar panel system will have adequate coverage. In many cases, solar panel insurance coverage is included with a standard homeowner insurance policy, but it's best to double-check.
While the addition of solar panels doesn't typically change a homeowners insurance policy, it may mean the amount of coverage on your home will need to be increased. That in turn, may raise your premium. Make sure you have all this information beforehand so that there are no monetary surprises down the road!
What's Their Reputation?
When it comes to choosing a solar panel installer, reputation plays a major factor. Many consumers turn to online reviews when it comes to vetting a company. Reviews can be very helpful, as they can provide a glimpse of what to expect during the installation process as well as how professional the company was throughout.
Since it's wise to take online reviews with a grain of salt, word of mouth is very helpful when it comes to hiring any professional. If you know someone who recently had panels installed on their home, or maybe a friend who has met with a company, chat with them about their experiences or first impressions.
How Experienced Are They?
In addition to being certified, licensed, and having a good reputation, it's also important to ask how experienced the solar panel installer is. If the solar company isn't NABCEP certified and has just a handful of average reviews, you may want to consider someone with more experience. After all, we are talking about securing large pieces of equipment onto the roof of your home. You'll want to ensure the installer is adhering to set standards.
If the solar panel installer does have all the necessary certifications, you may feel better about hiring them even if they don't have an established positive reputation or numerous reviews. This is a situation in which you'll have to carefully weigh the pros and cons to determine a course of action that you're comfortable with.
What Are the Financing Options?
Since you can purchase, secure a loan for, or lease a solar panel system, it's important to know which you want and what financing options the company in question offers.
Purchasing is the best way to maximize your savings, especially if you plan on staying in the home for years to come. By purchasing the solar panel system, you'll get to keep any state and federal tax credits you qualify for while saving on your electricity bill right away. To get a feel for your estimated savings, check out our solar calculator.
You may also be able to secure a loan for the system. If you go that route, have a comprehensive understanding of the terms of the contract. Many consumers have found that their loan payment and reduced electricity bill is a lower amount than their electricity bill before they were using solar power, so don't automatically exclude the possibility of a loan!
When you lease the system, the solar company owns it, which means that they are the ones who get the enjoy any tax credits that are offered. However, you still get to enjoy a lower electricity bill, so don't hesitate to learn more about both the pros and cons of leasing a solar panel system.
Team up with EnergyBillCruncher for assistance with all things solar power. Get a solar panel installation quote today!
What Warranties Are Offered?
When it comes to warranties, people often fixate on coverage for the solar panels themselves. Don't forget to ask about workmanship coverage! This is the coverage that specifically applies to the design and construction of the solar panel system. Having ample warranty coverage for both the panels and the workmanship is a necessity. Workmanship warranties can offer coverage for as little as one year or up to ten or more. Be sure you understand all that the solar company is offering, as well as any extended warranty options that may be available.
We've Helped Narrow Down Your Options
The great news is that when it comes to finding professional, local solar installers, you're not on your own! EnergyBillCruncher is here to help. We can connect you with reputable businesses so that you can more easily find the installer that is right for you.
If you're not sure if purchasing or leasing is right for you, check out local solar incentives that you may be eligible for when you purchase your system.