If you’re considering solar for your home or business, you’ll want to ask the installer a few questions first.
You want to go solar because you know that it will help reduce pollution, bring down the use of fossil fuels, and save the environment. However, switching over to solar doesn’t come cheap; it is a high investment move. And, if you are buying solar panels for the first time, you may have some more concerns as well.
How much money will you save? How far will your carbon footprint be reduced? What type of solar panel is best for your home or business? What does the system include? How long will it take to install? What’s the warranty? And perhaps most importantly, how much will it cost?
These are all important solar energy questions, and the ones that you must ask any solar installation company before signing the contract. There is no need for you to feel bashful about asking these questions because it is vital that you feel confident about your decision to go solar.
In this article, you will find the most important questions that you need to ask the solar company before going ahead with the purchase and installation. So, if you’re thinking about making the switch to solar energy, read on!
Questions to ask when you get the quote
The first step for you to take after the decision to go solar is to get a thorough understanding of the solar market by reading up enough material and talking to people. From this study, you should be able to shortlist 3-5 solar companies you would want to deal with.
Most solar companies offer to give you a free quote for the solar installation after inspecting your premises. The quotation is not just about the price of the equipment. It should contain more details. In case these are missing, you should approach the solar installation company for clarification.
A list of must-have information is a solar quote:
- The size of the solar power system. This is given in in kW or kilowatts
- The type of solar panels – monocrystalline, polycrystalline, or thin-film.
- The make and model of the solar panels, inverter/microinverter, and other equipment in the setup.
- The capacity of individual panels and the total number needed.
- An overhead view of the panel layout
- The annual electricity production given in kWh that you can reasonably expect from the installation
- Annual savings from the solar system (this should include future increases in the utility rates)
- Details of solar incentives and other benefits that are available to you and the system
- The cost of the system with and without incentives, given as USD/watt
- Cost of the system together with the installation cost
- Eligible solar loans and monthly EMI calculation
- Details about warranties offered on the solar system and workmanship involved in the installation
You may find these details in some solar quotes, if not ask for the same.
- The choices available to you regarding solar panels, inverters, and other accessories along with the make, models, and prices
- Comparative cost analysis of grid energy vs solar power
- The additional expense involved if a solar battery is added to the setup
- Solar monitoring apps available to monitor solar production
A solar quote from reputed solar companies will be thorough and provide you with all the details you may need to make an informed decision. In case the quote is missing any of these details, you should not hesitate to ask for the same.
It is highly recommended to get quotes from the 3-5 solar companies you have shortlisted. This will help you compare the offers and choose the best one for you.
Do remember that the cheapest or the most efficient one may not be the ideal one for you. You need to balance various aspects of the solar installation to arrive at this decision.
For this, you may need more information about the equipment and the solar company. You may not find them in the quote; you have to ask for them.
Here is a list of extra information you can ask the solar installers.
Questions to ask to gather additional information
About the solar installer
Unless they come highly recommended by a person you trust, you should do some investigation about the track record and feedback about the solar company you have shortlisted.
To ensure uniform high standards in solar installations, the North American Board of Certified Energy Practitioners (NABCEP) offers certification to installers. Choosing a NABCEP-certified solar contractor can assure you of the best workmanship.
Here are a few questions you can ask the solar company about their performance.
- How many years of experience do you have in this business?
- Please provide references of your past customers (two or three would be ideal)
- How many home or commercial solar installations have you completed?
- Are you certified by NABCEP?
- Do you possess a license to do the work? What is the license number?
- Are you insured and bonded?
- Do you have a tie-up with my utility company? If so, for how long?
- Do you depute or subcontract any of your work? If so, provide details about the subcontractors.
- What system do you have in place to ensure the subcontractors maintain the same standard of work?
If you are planning to continue the grid connection, it is vital that the solar installer can work together with your utility company. And, it is important to know who is going to do the actual work.
About the equipment
If you are choosing a well-known solar company with a good track record, they usually go in for the best brands for each of the components of the solar installation. However, it doesn’t hurt to ensure that this is the case.
The lifetime of a solar installation is anywhere between 20 and 30 years. As it is a long-term investment, you have every right to make sure that the components used are long-lasting and the best available in the market for the money you are shelling out.
You may ask these questions to know more about them.
- Have you installed solar power on your premises?
- Which makes and models have you installed?
- What are the criteria for choosing the equipment for my solar installation?
- What are the warranties available for the various components?
- Have any of your past customers faced problems with their installation?
- Did they report any issues with the warranty?
- Whom should I contact in case anything is wrong with the equipment?
- How can I claim the warranty?
- What is the additional cost involved in installing solar battery?
- What more can I do to keep the solar panels safe and secure?
If you do your homework, you may have more questions to ask about solar panels.
About the installation
With your doubts about the installer and equipment cleared, it is time to think in practical terms.
- How is the installation done? (Ask for a step-by-step answer)
- How much time is required to install the solar system?
- What happens if the installation work gets delayed?
- Do you offer any guarantee for the installation work?
- What happens if something goes wrong after the installation?
Installing a solar system is a lengthy process that may take anywhere between 2 and 6 months to complete.
About operation and maintenance
This is the most difficult and confusing part for most customers. Many things can go wrong over the next 25 years or so. How the equipment will function or the solar company will handle the situation is hard to predict. You can only try to anticipate them.
Here are some questions you can ask to make it clearer.
- How can I monitor energy production?
- What can I do if the system doesn’t generate the power it is expected to?
- How long is the present arrangement with my utility company?
- How can I get the solar panels removed to repair the roof?
- What to do in case the solar panels break?
- Is it possible to add additional panels? Or add a battery?
All these are vital questions you should find the answers to. You can do your own research and you may have more questions to ask a solar panel salesman.
About financing and benefits
A solar power system is a high investment acquisition. Naturally, you want to avail all the benefits you can manage to get.
These questions will help you get a clearer picture of the financing and other incentives eligible to you.
- Am I eligible for a state and a federal tax credit?
- What are the choices available to reduce the cost or apply for a refund?
- What are the financing choices for me?
- How will the repayment structure be?
- Are the monthly installments fixed or varied? Will it increase over the years?
- When can I expect to break even with the solar installation?
- How did you estimate the increase in the utility rates?
- Does the solar power system raise the value of my home?
Though the solar company may be able to give you some answers to these questions, it may not get you all the details that you are looking for. It is recommended to do your own research and find out more information before deciding on the financing options.
The decision to go solar is indeed a big one. It is quite understandable that you want to make the most of it. And, for this, you need to ask questions and make use of the answers to arrive at the right decision.
You need not ask all the questions listed here but you can use your discretion. Remember that you have the right to ask these questions and receive logical answers from the solar company. Besides the answers you get, the way it is given is also an indication of the commitment of the installer.
Your relationship with the solar company is going to be a long one. It makes sense to check them out from all angles.
- How to Get Out of a Solar Panel Contract?
- Problems with Solar Panels on Roofs
- Pros and Cons of Buying a House With Solar Panels
- Solar Panel Maintenance Checklist
- Why are Solar Panels Good for the Environment?
- Tips for Selling a House with Solar Panels
- The Advantages and Disadvantages of Photovoltaic Cells
- How does the Federal Solar Tax Credit Work