How To Get The Most Out Of Your Meeting With A Solar Installer
Are you gearing up to select the right solar installer for your rooftop system?
While the process of switching to solar can seem complicated, we have some helpful tips that will simplify your transition. In this guide, you'll find everything you need to be confident and prepared when you meet with a solar expert.
Who to Contact
The first and most crucial step is choosing the right professionals to make it easier. You want to make sure you're choosing someone who's qualified, certified and experienced. Look for a certified PV Installation Professional who's endorsed by the North American Board of Certified Energy Practitioners. Another good rule of thumb is to work with a solar expert who has three or more years of experience and the testimonials to prove it.
How to Prepare
We’ll help you get prepared and equipped with the right information so you can confidently meet with several companies. Here's a checklist of what you should have in order to make the most of any meeting with a solar installer:
Electric bills: You'll need to have printed or digital copies of your electricity bills from the last year to share. These documents provide valuable insights into your household's energy consumption patterns, allowing the solar installer to assess your energy needs accurately and provide the most suitable solar system size.
Roof Information: To limit any surprises, familiarize yourself with your roof's key details. Note its age, orientation (south-facing roofs typically receive the most sunlight), and any shading factors (such as nearby trees or buildings) that may affect solar panel placement. This information will help the installer determine the optimal design and placement of the solar panels. The solar installer will also assess your roof, so don't worry too much if you're not sure about all of this.
Energy Goals: Consider your energy goals and expectations. Are you looking to eliminate your electricity bill entirely or reduce it significantly? Do you want to prioritize environmental sustainability or financial savings? Having a clear understanding of your objectives will help the solar installer customize a solution that aligns with your needs.
Budget and Financing Options: Determine your budget and explore potential financing options beforehand. Solar installations come with upfront costs, but they can result in long-term savings. Talk to your neighbors who have gone solar, or search on the internet for available incentives, rebates, and financing programs so you're prepared with questions.
Questions to Ask
The solar installer is an expert in their field, so now is the time to pick their brain. By asking practical questions, you'll gain valuable insights to help you make your decision. So, grab a pen and get ready to ask your solar expert these questions:
- What's the solar potential of my home? How much electricity will the solar panels on my roof be able to generate?
- How many panels do I need to completely power my home and finally say goodbye to those high electricity bills?
- Tell me more about the installation process. How long does it take, and will there be any disruptions to my daily routine?
- What happens on cloudy days? What do I need to know about energy storage and backup options?
- Is there a warranty, and if so, what's covered and for how long?
- Maintenance-wise, what should I know? How often should I clean my panels, and are there any special care instructions to keep them operating at peak efficiency?
- How can I keep track of my system's performance? Is there a monitoring system that will let me see my energy savings and electricity generation?
- What are your financing options? Are there any incentives, rebates, or financing programs? How do they impact me if I want to sell my home?
Terms to Know
When you ask good questions, you’re going to get a lot of information. Understanding certain solar terms is key to selecting the right installer for your needs. There may be some terms you’re not familiar with, so check out our list below.
Performance: This refers to how effectively your solar system generates electricity. Think of it as the power of your panels. When solar installers talk about performance, they often mean the expected energy output of your system based on factors like sunlight, panel efficiency, and other variables. Then based on these factors, your solar installer will give you an estimate of what percentage of your electricity bill can be replaced by your solar panels.
Performance Guarantee: This is a promise from the solar installer that your system will meet certain performance standards over a specific period. Solar panels typically come with two types of warranties: performance and equipment. Performance warranties for solar panels usually guarantee 90% production at 10 years and 80% at 25 years.
Efficiency: This term refers to how well your solar panels convert sunlight into electricity. Think of it as the panels' ability to catch as many rays as possible. Higher efficiency means more power from the same amount of sunlight.
Kilowatt-Hour (kWh): This is a unit of measurement for electricity. It represents the amount of energy consumed or produced over time. When evaluating solar systems, you'll often see energy production numbers expressed in kWh to help you understand how much power your panels can generate.
Net Metering: Net metering is like an energy exchange program. It allows you to send excess solar energy back to the grid, earning credits. The credits can then offset the electricity you draw from the grid when your panels don't produce enough power, ensuring you pay only for the "net" energy you use. Different states have different net metering policies.
Payback Period: This is the amount of time it takes for your solar investment to pay for itself through energy savings. This is where you start to see your return on investment. A shorter payback period means you'll start reaping financial benefits sooner. Typically, the average payback period is six to 10 years.
If you don't understand something, don't hesitate to ask your solar installer to elaborate and explain in more detail. They should be happy to provide clear explanations to help you make the best choice for your home and budget.
Things to Watch Out For
We've already recommended you check an installer's credentials, experience, and customer reviews. However, there are a few more things to look out for when meeting with a solar expert:
Transparent Pricing: Keep an eye out for transparent pricing. A reliable installer will provide a clear breakdown of costs, including equipment, installation, permits, and any additional expenses. After the meeting, you should know exactly what you're paying for!
Energy-Efficient Equipment: Look for an installer who offers high-quality solar panels, inverters, and other components. Advanced technology can make a big difference in energy production and system longevity. You want equipment that can withstand the test of time and keep those solar savings rolling in!
Flexible Financing: Keep an open mind and explore financing options. A trustworthy installer will provide information on different financing programs, incentives, and rebates available to make solar more affordable for you.
Clear Communication: Communication is key! A professional installer will take the time to answer your questions, explain the process, and keep you informed throughout the solar journey. Look for clear and open communication from start to finish, and don't be pressured to sign a contract you haven't read.
Solid Warranties: Check the warranties offered on the equipment and installation. A dependable installer will stand by their workmanship and provide comprehensive warranties to protect your investment.
Support: When it comes to rooftop solar, you want to think long-term! Look for an installer who offers ongoing support and maintenance services to ensure your system stays in tip-top shape through the years.
Preparation can pave the way for a seamless transition to rooftop solar, saving you from any potential bumps along the road. By familiarizing yourself with your energy needs, understanding your home's solar potential, and researching reputable solar installers, you're setting yourself up for a bright future with a greener, more cost-effective energy source!