The Art of Choosing a Solar Company
There are a plethora of solar installation companies, and the differences in these companies can sometimes be difficult to determine. One of the major differences between competing solar companies is the different types and brands used for each aspect of the solar installation; from solar panels to inverters and kinds of backup options.
Another big difference between solar companies is the services that they offer. Two solar companies with the same product suite often provide different customer service and pre and post-installation services.
Getting the most out of the search for the best solar company means vetting the installer and their work. It also requires an apple to apple comparison of the products each company offers.
How to Compare Solar Installers
When it comes to choosing a solar installer, their previous work is a major factor. Customer ratings on trusted rating websites like the BBB or other rating outlets, such as Google and Facebook reviews, are where most customers either vent or rave about a company. Only considering the companies with the highest ratings would be easy. However, this method isn’t the most telling.
Other factors come into play when reviewing customer ratings than how many stars the company has. Knowing these factors makes finding a solar company to invest in an easy process.
The Best Solar Companies to Buy From
The best solar companies to buy from use quality solar panel installations, offer competitive bids, and continue to take care of their customers after the installation. Although most solar companies promise these things, it isn’t always the case. Knowing how to compare solar companies can solve this problem.
Comparing Solar Companies
The most common way to compare a company is through online customer reviews. What makes a review helpful is when the customer’s review is moderate instead of overly positive or negative. These people are likely the most rational and therefore trustworthy reviewers.
Navigating Negative Complaints
However, most people don’t leave a review unless they have something negative to say, which gives a polarized view of the company. Complaints don’t mean customers shouldn’t consider the company.
All companies make mistakes. However, the handling of them sets great companies apart from the competition. Reviewing some of the complaints and how the company responded to them will give a better idea of the company’s customer service.
Comparing Solar Company Ratings
Another thing to consider is how many reviews the company has. If a company has a 5-star rating and three reviews, it isn’t as telling as a company with 4.5 stars and 300 reviews.
In-person Price and Product Comparisons
After determining which solar companies look like quality companies, it is time to compare this smaller list of companies to each other. The best way to compare these companies is to set up in-person solar quotes.
One of the best questions to ask during a consultation is what solar product types and brands the company offers. Looking at the products and services and not just the price helps the customer compare apples to apples.
Looking at the Components of a Solar Array
Often people only think of solar panels when we think of residential solar, but solar arrays consist of more than just the solar panels. Mounting equipment, an inverter, wiring, a net meter, monitoring, and battery backup are all necessary parts of a solar array.
If the components of the system are high-quality, it makes a difference in the long-term durability and ROI of the solar array. While all the components in an array contribute to the array’s overall performance, some carry more weight than others.
The most vital products to consider in a solar purchase are the solar panels and the inverter. Together these two products have the most impact on the amount of energy two homes with the same setup would generate.
Solar Panel Reviews
Solar panels are the powerhouse of the array. If the solar panels are low quality or have a lower wattage per solar panel, they will produce less than a higher quality system with the same number of solar panels.
The Importance of a Quality Inverter
Inverters are the gateway from the solar panels to the home. An improperly sized inverter will be less efficient at converting direct current (DC) to alternating current (AC). Resulting in energy loss and decreased electricity provided to the home.
Although inverter brands do matter, what matters more is the type of inverter and the sizing ratio.
The most popular inverter types on the market include string inverters, microinverters, and optimized string inverters. Each has pros and cons to consider. Determining what cons are less important and which pros are necessary will help customers better determine which inverter type is best for their home’s energy needs.
Inverter Sizing Ratio
Another thing to be aware of is the sizing ratio that installers use. If the inverter is too small or too big, it can cut into the energy production and savings of the array. It’s best if inverters have as close to a 1 to 1 ratio as possible to the solar panels.
Enhancing Customer Experience with Realistic Expectations
Most homeowners choose solar because they are aware of the environmental or economic benefits. As a result, these two selling points are the focus of most residential solar advertisements.
There is less focus, however, on the process and qualifications behind a solar install. Customers who aren’t aware of the basic process behind a solar install may become unnecessarily frustrated by the company.
Preconceived notions of the solar process are often different than reality. People often misunderstand things, like qualifying for solar and the installation timetable.
What it Takes to Qualify for Solar
Once a customer is ready to get a quote, an appointment setter asks them some qualifying questions. These questions determine if the customer should get solar now or wait. They help the appointment setter determine if the customer is going to qualify for financing, whether they can take advantage of the federal tax credit, and if their home is a good fit for solar.
Quality Appointment Setters Think About the Customer
Solar isn’t as financially appealing for those that can’t meet solar requirements. As a result, honest appointment setters either advise against installing solar on the residence or suggest the customer wait until they can qualify. Trying to convince a homeowner to get a quote for a home that isn’t a good fit for solar is just poor customer service.
Solar Installation Steps
Homeowners can’t have the array installed right after they are determined to be a good fit for solar.
The solar panel installation process has six steps. Understanding the importance of these steps and how long they take improves the solar experience. Often people that have a positive solar experience also had accurate expectations either from their research or the solar installer.