You've done your homework when it comes to connecting with reputable solar panel installers, or you teamed up with EnergyBillCruncher for assistance in that regard, and you now have a few solar quotes to compare. It's vital to have a line-by-line breakdown of each quote so that you can accurately compare items, so be sure to request this from each provider you're speaking with.
With your breakdown costs in hand, where should you start when it comes to comparing these quotes? Solar quotes include a multitude of information and we've provided some insight when it comes to zeroing in on Here, we'll help you zero in on the main things you should be comparing before choosing a provider.
Cost Per Watt
Cost per watt is an important factor if you are purchasing your system, not leasing it. To be honest, solar panels themselves don't differ much. Each solar module has a rating, typically between 17% and 20%, which reflects how much of the sun's incoming rays it converts to usable power. So yes, you'll pay slightly more for panels with higher efficiency but it's not necessarily vital to maximize efficiency unless you're working with very limited roof space.
A better way to compare solar panels is to review the cost per watt, which is the closest we can get to comparing apples-to-apples.
Let’s look at an example. Company A quotes you $20,000 for 20 panels at 350 watts each, while company B quotes you $15,000 for 15 panels at 250 watts. How do you start to compare these seemingly incomparable quotes? By breaking down the cost per watt:
As you can see, when you break these numbers down, you get a better understanding of the total watt system you're paying for, as well as the cost per watt.
Next, check out the inverters that the installers plan on using, as this can also impact your quote. The inverter is the device that is responsible for converting the sun ray's into power that your home can use, and there are three main types:
1. String inverters: Traditionally the most affordable of the three because a string inverter doesn't let you monitor each panel's performance. This type of inverter is great if you have a roof that gets sun rays all day.
2. Power Optimizers: Usually seen as a compromise between the standard string inverter and the microinverter. Ideal for roofs dealing with shade or if panels need to be facing different directions.
3. Microinverters: Similar to power optimizers but tend to be more expensive. These inverters allow you to monitor the performance of each solar panel.
If your quote includes microinverters and you're looking for a lower price, try having the company adjust the quote for power optimizers or string inverters wherever possible.
Don't skip over warranty information, especially when comparing two very similar quotes! You'll want to make sure you're thoroughly reviewing the warranty on the panels themselves, workmanship warranties, and warranties on the inverters used.
People tend to think that they want a long warranty on the panels themselves, and care less about the warranties on the inverters, when in fact, panels tend to last many years with relatively few problems. Should an inverter need replacing, that's where costs can add up, as they're not cheap to replace. See if your provider can offer a competitive inverter warranty and be sure to ask about any extended warranty options that are available.
All Quotes Are Not Created Equal
It's easy to fall into the trap of, "This quote is lower, so I'll go with it." A lower quote doesn't always translate to more savings in the long run, so make sure you're carefully evaluating all the line items of each offer, especially when it comes to cost per watt, the type of inverters that will be used, and the warranties that are included.
Remember, solar panels are an investment, and you want to make sure you're choosing the option that will help you save costs over time!