With literally hundreds of solar companies eager to make your home their next project – selecting the right partner can seem overwhelming. After all, how can any solar rookie confidently wade through a sea of seemingly similar providers? Once you understand that all solar companies are NOT the same, you can begin to whittle down your available options to choose the one company that’s right for you.
Re-Seller vs. Full-Service
Licensed, full-service solar providers like Crius Solar have a lot more control over the quality and scheduling of your solar system installation. Why? Unlike solar re-sellers – essentially “hired guns” that get paid to generate leads for more established solar companies – full-service providers have in-house installation expertise and are extremely hands-on when it comes to managing these complex home improvement projects. They oversee (and often operate) solar system installation crews directly to help ensure that their customers have the best possible experience and the shortest possible wait time.
“There is significant variability in solar system installation times,” explained Frank Smith, Vice President, Field Operations for Crius Solar. “We’ve seen some providers take six months or more to install solar energy systems while others have been known to install in as little as eight weeks. There are multiple examples detailing the consequences of substandard solar panel installations. Working with an experienced, fully insured and licensed solar energy provider will help ensure your installation is done right the first time. The faster your solar system is installed and operating, the sooner you can experience that shockingly lower first utility bill.”
Show Me Your License and Accreditation
Checking your potential solar system installer’s accreditations, registrations and / or licenses should be one of your top priorities before signing that contract. Your solar energy provider should be licensed to handle solar panel installations in your particular state – this is in addition to any voluntary certifications that your contractor may hold.
Third-party websites like EnergySage can put this information for 300 accredited solar providers at your fingertips, helping you comparison shop more easily. While every state has different guidelines for installers; licensed or accredited providers will follow proper procedure to ensure that your home’s solar power system meets state guidelines and is eligible for rebates and incentives.
Do They Stand Behind the Quality of Their Workmanship?
The quality of the solar panels and equipment that your solar energy solutions provider uses is of the utmost importance, so it’s imperative that you speak with them beforehand and understand the devices they will install. The inverter—which transforms the direct current generated by the solar panels to the alternating current required for your home—as well as all necessary wiring and conduit should be of the highest quality in order to protect your equipment from overload and damage, and also to ensure that your solar panels perform as they should.
If a solar company can’t speak knowledgeably about the type of equipment they will install, it could be a red flag. Most reputable solar energy solution providers work with manufacturers that offer a decades-long warranty on solar panels, while a 5-year guarantee on inverters is the norm. But you’ll want to be comfortable that your chosen solar system installer will promptly address any related issues that may arise on the roof or the ground of your property.
You should also feel confident that your solar energy provider is financially secure and has ample capital to fulfill their promises for decades to come. Well-funded, publicly-traded companies are usually the least risky and can provide peace-of-mind.
Timing Is Everything
While the actual installation of solar panels on a home typically takes just 1-2 days, it’s the tasks leading up to it – such as obtaining permits and scheduling a crew – that tend to impact consumer wait times the most. In addition, post-installation requirements such as inspections and solar system interconnection to the utility grid can create further delays. This is why, once again, it’s critically important to work with an organized, licensed contractor who knows which permits to pull, the information needed for permit approval and the required steps for system go-live after solar panels are on your roof.
Still, even the most skilled, full-service solar providers may not be able to impact the time needed for your local government to approve permits. This varies by region – some localities can get them done in minutes, while others may take several weeks to stamp a seal on it, and that’s assuming there’s no reason to deny the permit! This unknown variability explains why choosing an experienced energy solutions provider may be the best option.
An experienced, holistic solutions provider like Crius Solar leverages energy-industry know-how, along with existing relationships to help you get the most value out of your solar system. For example, established relationships with most local utilities can mean the difference between a speedy interconnection and a solar system that is on your roof but not producing.
In addition, only a solar company aligned with licensed retail energy suppliers can help make even a short wait for solar power that much more tolerable. In a growing number of markets, Crius Solar offers an innovative “bridge” product available exclusively to its customers that delivers 100% renewable energy at a low, locked-in electricity supply rate before solar panels are even on your roof! Not every solar company can offer options like these so be sure to ask all your prospective providers how quickly you will start to see all the benefits of going solar. Although solar power continues to grow in popularity, you as the homeowner are definitely in the driver’s seat when it comes to choosing the right provider. Do your homework, choose wisely and then sit back and enjoy that first, shockingly lower electricity bill.