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6 Characteristics to Look for in Solar Energy Companies

November 12, 2013

Re-powering your home with solar energy is a major decision and an important step in contributing to the well being of the environment and the reduction of your energy bills. One of the first steps to “green-ifying” your home’s energy source is to select the right solar energy company, and in today’s market there are a lot of them! Below are a few factors to consider when looking for solar energy companies.

Kitchen design1. Ample Experience–Make sure the solar energy companies you consider have been in business for at least one year. To find out the quality of work put in those years, ask the contractor for references. To find contractors who are guaranteed to have been in business for at least one year and maintain a 70% approval rating or higher, search PCNpro.com. Ask the provided references how their experience was with the contractor, how long their solar panels lasted, and if they had any complaints or concerns. If possible, check out a previous project completed by the company you’re interested in.

 

2. Licensing and Insurance–If the solar energy contractor you hire is fully insured and locally licensed, you won’t be held financially responsible should any accidents on the jobsite occur. PCN pre-screens all contractors before listing them on our site to make sure all Preferred Contractors are locally licensed and insured. Visit PCNpro.com to search for locally licensed and insured solar energy contractors.

3. Worthwhile Warranties–Solar panels pay for themselves, but not for 5 to 10 years after installation. Being such a long-term commitment, make sure the warranty covers at least ten years. The panels themselves can be expected to last 20-25 years, so aim for a warranty of that length. Batteries can be expected to last up to 15 years, so a 5-10 year warranty is typical. For warranties on inverters, usually the most expensive component, aim for a ten year warranty. Don’t forget to ask contractors about their installation warranty, which should be for about five years.

4. Fair Financing Contracts–Shop around for and compare competitive solar energy bids. Ask your prospective contractors whether the price bids include the costs of ongoing maintenance. Also ask about financing options. A good contractor will be able to educate you on the differences between financing through a lease, purchase and power purchase agreement.

Remember that while solar panels will help you save on energy bills, you won’t see a return on investment right away. They usually take up to ten years to start paying for themselves (which is why a warranty is so important!). When you search for contractors on PCNpro.com, you will be given bids from three contractors, allowing you to select the most competitive price from a company that you believe in.

5. Reliable Products–With the massive number of solar product manufacturers, you won’t have a hard time finding a quality product. However, its important to ask prospective contractors which brands of equipment they install and to make sure they are very familiar with those products. Once you know which types and brands of equipment each potential contractor installs, do your own online research to compare products.

6. Quality Customer Service–Did your prospective solar energy contractors answer all your questions? Did they provide you with competitive bids? Were they responsive in all manners of communication? If a contractor shows attention to detail before being hired, they most likely will care about providing excellent customer service throughout the installation process.

Its also important to consider post-installation customer service. Ask if they offer maintenance and upkeep services, even if that means simply being able to seek the advice of a project manager a few years after installation. When calling contractors’ references, ask if it was easy to get a hold of the company and to get assistance after having the solar energy system for a while. The last thing you need is to run into issues with the system or to have a panel malfunctioning a few years down the line and to not have anyone to contact. By selecting contractors who have been in business for a long time and who are locally licensed, you have a higher chance of getting quality post-installation support.

Selecting the right solar energy system installer is a big decision, but with the right advice, you can find the contractor that’s right for you. PCN’s list of solar energy companies includes only licensed, insured, trustworthy companies that come highly recommended by other homeowners. Visit PCNpro.com today to find the solar energy company you need.

RESOURCES:

How to Choose a Great Solar Supplier, The Energy Collective

Guide to Choosing the Right Solar Installer, SolarEnergy.Net

Ten Tips for Choosing the Right Solar Installer in the United States, Renewable Energy World

The True Cost of Solar, HGTVRemodels

Converting to Solar Energy? Things to Consider Before You Hop Off-Grid, Rock The Deadline (Energy & Environment)