Choosing a Solar Panel Installer
Going solar is an investment, and it’s important to do some research to find a solar installer who truly knows what they are doing with solar design and installation. A trusted solar installer will be transparent and helpful in honestly answering your questions. Solar energy is a rapidly growing industry, with new companies popping up and claiming to be “the best”. Many are following the opportunity of solar increasing in popularity, without solid background and experience or without prioritizing a foundation in customer care. It takes time and effort to build relationships and trust with each customer; design a system unique to their situation and needs; follow through with quality installation and follow up with any warranty work, questions, or concerns a customer may have with their solar system. In short, some companies excel at all of this more than others for various reasons. So how do you, as the customer, sift through the options to find the right installer? The following considerations will guide you as you make this crucial decision.
Do they have certifications?
Finding a reputable solar installer begins with finding someone in your area that holds a current NABCEP certification. NABCEP, or the North American Board of Certified Energy Practitioners, is the gold-standard certifying organization for the solar industry. An installer with certification with NABCEP will generally provide sound knowledge and ethical practices. A PVIP (Photovoltaic Installation Professional) certification is the highest certification offered by NABCEP. This certification is rigorous to achieve and keep up to date. You can read more about NABCEP and the organization’s certifications in this blog post or by visiting the NABCEP website. Since you are here on our website, we’ll throw in a plug for our company. Patrick Villines, the owner of New Farm Solar, is one of only five individuals with a PVIP NABCEP certification in the state of Arkansas.
It’s important to note that some states have zero or minimal requirements for solar installers. Currently, Arkansas requires a commercial or residential contractor’s license as well as an electrician’s license. Missouri does not even require a contractor’s license, and Oklahoma does not have any special requirements for photovoltaic systems, though contractors must have their electrician’s license. Therefore, doing your research before choosing a company to outfit your home or business with solar is even more important. The specific up-to-date requirements for solar installers for each state can be found here on the Interstate Renewable Energy Council’s National Solar Licensing Database.
Investigate customer reviews
Another easy initial step to take is to look over each local company’s Google reviews, and reviews on Facebook, or even post comments on recent social media posts. Do they have a proven track record of positive customer feedback online? If there are negative reviews or comments, it may be something to consider. This could also be a red flag if they are a newer company and don’t have many reviews. Is the company so large or busy that they struggle to provide good customer service? This customer service track record can usually be found in post comments and online reviews.
Other places to find reviews and information online about solar companies include the Better Business Bureau website and Solarreviews.com.
At this point, you may be able to make a list of 3 to 5 potential installers you’d like to get a quote from.
Do they employ pushy sales tactics?
Legit solar companies will take more pride in educating the customer and putting the decision respectfully in the customer’s hands, rather than being pushy and trying to make a quick sale. This will become apparent to you as you begin a conversation about a quote. Do you feel pressured? If you don’t like the initial contact with the company, this could be a red flag to remove them from your list.
Ask friends or neighbors about their solar system
If a neighbor, friend, or family member has a solar system on their home, reach out to them and ask them about the company that installed their system. They will be able to tell you if they recommend that installer and about their experience through the process of going solar. Did they have a good experience with the company that installed their system?
Review the proposal
Shop around and get several quotes so you can compare each company’s price. Does the proposal include a breakdown of what is included or do give you a random price with little information otherwise? In our opinion, a proposal should include comprehensive information about each component of the system, system size, energy offset, annual savings, and return on investment. Comparing prices from several companies and asking questions about the proposal is a good way to avoid solar scammers.
Go into it knowing a little bit
It’s important to do your research while being mindful of the source of the information. You may be able to read and come up with an idea of what you want and need. For example, a very basic first consideration would be whether you want to be tied to the grid to offset your electricity bill, or if you want to be off-grid. Or you may be considering being grid-tied with battery backup during outages. Some dependable sources of information on solar are:
The Office of Energy Efficiency and Renewable Energy
Know the warranties offered
Be sure to find out what the warranty is after the system has been installed. What will they include in the workmanship warranty? What kinds of warranties come with the components of the system? What will be covered if a component is damaged or something goes wrong? The support provided after your solar system is up and running is just as important as the customer service before and during installation.
Hopefully, these suggestions will guide you in choosing the best solar installer for your home or business. We get customers of other solar companies coming to us to repair work from another installer. In summary, customer service and follow-up support are super important to look for in a solar installer! If you’d like a quote from New Farm Solar, hop over to this form to answer a few questions. We’ll be in touch soon!