Unless you're an electrician or an experienced DIYer, if you want to switch to solar you're not just going to buy solar panels for your roof. You're going to choose a solar installation company for your home that you can trust.
It's crucial that you pick the right solar installation contractor to install your solar system so you can start saving money on your electric bill. To help, SunPower created this downloadable guide: "How to Find the Right Solar Installer for Your Home." Here are some of the top tips from our new guide.
Choosing a Home Solar Installer
The right installer will customize a solar system that meets your family's electricity needs. The best way to pick the right home solar installer is to ask lots of questions. Those questions should start by focusing on the installer's experience. For instance, is it a locally based company? A local installer will understand your climate and will have experience with your local building and electrical codes and will have strong relationships with your local permitting offices and inspectors. If not, your home solar project could face potentially costly delays.
Once you find a local company you like, make sure it is licensed and bonded and ask pointed questions about the experience of everyone on the crew. You want to make sure they're up to the job and that they won't make rookie cost-cutting mistakes, such as using a templated solar array configuration when a customized one would ensure your system is capturing the maximum amount of sunlight to save you the most money possible.
Next, ask about the equipment. Don't fall for anyone who tells you one brand of solar panel is more or less as good as the other. Not all solar is alike. Factors such as durability in extreme weather conditions, degradation rates and solar panel efficiency matter if you want to make the most possible energy over time. (Learn how SunPower® solar panels are different by visiting our solar technology page.)
A good installer will customize your solar system by taking your house and its surroundings in mind. Is there a lot of shade or a lot of sun? What's the contour of the roof like? What aesthetics do you have in mind? We know curb appeal is important. The most attractive solar panels will not have visible parts and wiring. Your installer shouldl be looking at these and other factors and letting you know upfront how they'll impact the equipment needed.
SunPower solar installation contractors use a great digital solar design app that allows homeowners to see in real time what their array will look like on the roof, how much power it will make and how much it will cost, all right at the kitchen table. You can even make changes to the design if, say, you want to generate more or less power or choose a different style and wattage of solar panel.
Finding the Best Solar Warranty and Finance Options
It's important to ask your solar installer about the warranty. A best-in-industry warranty should cover the panels and their power output for 25 years. Also, the warranty should cover the whole system, not just the panels.
While some solar panel providers piece together their systems from multiple vendors, SunPower's Equinox™ solar system is designed, engineered and manufactured by one company, so we offer one warranty for the entire system. Some solar companies offer shorter warranty terms for key parts, and then refer you to another company if something goes wrong. So, if something does go wrong in 10 or 15 years, it may be difficult to sort out who's responsible for fixing it.
A good installation company will also let you know all your solar financing options. Depending on your location, those options may include cash purchases, loans or leasing. The solar company also needs to be transparent about who's financing or underwriting your loan or lease.
And, as with the solar company itself, look for a finance company that has experience with solar. They're the ones most likely to understand how to get you the most favorable terms. All of this hinges on receiving a detailed proposal from the solar company that spells out how much you can save on energy over the entire life of solar system.