When it comes to going solar, knowing what to avoid and how to avoid it, can save you tons of headache and issues in the future.
1) Ignore Uninvited Solar Offers
The typical solar system costs more than $20,000. An investment of that size isn’t a quick decision. It requires research, education and price comparisons. So, if the numbers seem off, chances are good that something isn’t right about it.
As you shop, beware of someone knocking on your door or sending mail with offers like:
- The One-Call Close – “You and your partner need to both be present for this presentation so you can act on it quickly”
- Creative Financing Offers – “Through our special program we can get you a below-market interest rate (aka hidden finance fees)” or, “We have a special lease or PPA programs to help you qualify”
- Too Good to Be True – “This is a limited time special deal and we can only offer a small number of them”
Solution: Vet your Contractor [aka “check out” your Contractor’s dirty laundry (BBB, CSLB, online reviews]. Look for highly rated solar companies who have experience in the industry and customers who love them.
2) Select a Solar Provider Based on Their Experience and Business Practices
Going solar is a long-term investment. You need a company who will be around to monitor, service and repair your system for the 20+ year warranty period.
Beware of companies who exhibit these 5 traits:
They compete on price and tout long warranties but haven’t been around long enough to prove themselves
They offer only “their” one-size fits all brand of equipment without customization options or quality reviews
They preach a single technology path without taking into account the specific needs of your home and energy needs
They never talk about solar technology. Focusing only on savings and how you can get it with $0/down. Or they talk about the number of panels needed while remaining silent about the equipment manufacturer or quality
They lack critical mass as a business to both install, service, and maintain current and legacy clients
Solution: Education and information are your best defense against this Pitfall. Ask critical questions about the business, customer satisfaction, panel upkeep, and technology options.
3) Ask the right questions during the sale process
You wouldn’t buy a car without asking questions about how it operates, the maintenance schedule, service requirements, and more. The same should be true of your solar system.
The better questions you ask before you sign the contract, the better informed you are about how your long-term investment will work for you.
Solution: Be prepared to ask lots of questions and expect the sales rep to have answers readily available.
Some basic questions you should ask are:
- What is your process for sealing my roof to avoid leaks and potential damage?
- At YES we utilize a three-course waterproofing method to seal every roof penetration and guarantee no leaking.
- How do you determine the size and production needs for my system so we know it will produce enough for my home?
- At YES we do a complete Electrical Engineering plan for every solar installation. Including design, load calculations, system modularity/flexibility and safety.
- Do you have a service department and what happens when I have a problem and need help?
- At YES we have a full service and maintenance department that supports existing systems and keeps them running efficiently.
- How do you make sure the system is installed and runs correctly after installation?
- At YES we utilize a multistep Quality Assurance Plan. It includes Project Checklists, Sales follow-up, Operations follow-up, Client Surveys, Proactive system monitoring from our staff, and we track Service responsiveness.
4) Choose a Solar Provider with Proactive Customer Service
The key to long-term solar production is an efficient system. Without monitoring, ignorance is bliss. You will never know if, when or how well your system is working without a comprehensive monitoring system. The more data your system provides, the better satisfaction you have in knowing your investment is paying off.
Solution: Ask how you can personally monitor system production and what processes are in place for your solar installer to notify you when the system has issues or needs service
5) Think Long Term About Your Solar System
Your solar system is designed to produce power for the next 20+ years.
Many companies will promote their 1-2 day install as a key benefit. Any company can install the system quickly. But you’re not buying it based upon the installer’s speed. You’re buying based on energy production. Moving too fast during installation begins to circumvent attention to detail and promotes “corner cutting” which can lead to long-term installation challenges.
The panel type and manufacturer directly impact the efficiency of your solar system long term. Often, the salesperson does not fully understand the product they are promoting and the buyer has no objective source to reference the salesperson’s claim. Check out the claims the salesperson is making to ensure they hold up and the system meets your needs.
Solution: Next to your home, solar is the longest-term investment you will ever make. Do your own research, from multiple sources, to ensure what is being offered and what you are receiving meets your needs and accomplishes your long-term goals.