Over the past decade, rapid advances in
solar energy technology, falling costs of clean energy systems and government-sponsored incentives have driven the popularity of installing solar panels to a record level. For readers wondering, “who is the best solar installer near me?” here’s the good news: To capitalize on the projected growth of solar power, a large number of new solar installers and electricians are opening up shop across the country, which creates healthy competition for your business.
The growing number of competing solar installers presents both challenges and opportunities for a customer. One one hand, having more options may make for a more difficult decision. But on the other, savvy investors can use competition between local installers to their advantage. The competition between solar companies can lower the
cost of solar panels, saving you thousands of dollars.
To make sure you’re getting the best bang for your buck, we recommend getting free quotes from a few certified solar installers near you. You can get connected with
top solar companies in your area by filling out the 30-second form below.
So, How Do I Find the Best Solar Installer Near Me?
To get a concrete understanding of the cost and process of installing a solar panel system on your home, it’s best to contact a solar installer near you. Typically, most solar installers will offer a free consultation during which they analyze your current energy use, roof layout, budget, product availability and energy goals. Then, they’ll offer a proposal customized to your specific needs.
To ensure they’re securing the best possible value from their investment in renewable energy, savvy customers will get proposals from several companies and compare costs and warranties. Companies frequently run specials and promotions on solar products or energy efficiency packages, so be sure to ask about those when reaching out for quotes.
When choosing the best solar installer for your job, look for a company that provides homeowners with assistance when applying for the
federal solar tax credit as well as any applicable local rebates and solar tax incentives. If applicable, installers will also help you get connected to the net metering program offered by your utility company, and most will walk you through solar financing options if you’re unable to pay cash for your system.
It’s a good idea to be familiar with financial incentives and financing options prior to your consultation to ensure an installer covers everything available. If an installer doesn’t have a thorough knowledge of local programs or doesn’t offer help with applying for rebates or
solar loans, it may not be the best company to do business with.
Here are some other things to consider when looking for the best solar installers near you:
Licenses and certifications: Legitimate installers hold state-mandated electrical licenses as well as North American Board of Certified Energy Practitioners (NABCEP) certifications.
Customer reviews: Checking a company’s Better Business Bureau rating and reviews from customers around the web can give you a better sense of an installer’s service.
Additional services offered: Some installers have tree removal, roof repair, solar battery installation and energy monitoring services. If you need these or other solutions to complete your installation, look for a full-service installer.
Financing options: Whether you’re paying in cash, taking out a loan or wanting to lease solar panels, make sure the installers you’re considering have the financing options you need.
How Do I Read a Solar Proposal?
Choosing a few top solar installers near you and booking consultations is the easy part. Once you get proposals from each company, however, things may get a bit more confusing. Reading and understanding those proposals is one of the most important steps in choosing a solar installer. Here are a few items to look out for in a proposal:
Solar Proposal Element
What to Look for from Solar Installers Near You
The size of a solar energy system is measured in kilowatts, which is abbreviated to
kW. A kW is a common unit of energy measuring power generation — or consumption.
The size of your system will be based on how much energy you use in your home and will determine
how many solar panels you need to purchase. For example, if you need a 5kW system and are purchasing panels with a 340-watt output, you’ll need 15 panels. (5kW / 340W = 14.7 panels)
Estimated annual solar production
Your estimated annual solar production is a measure of how much
energy your system is expected to produce in one year. You can compare this figure with the usage shown on your utility bills to calculate how much energy your system will offset.
Estimated energy burden
When creating a proposal, a solar installer will ask how much electricity your home uses each year. They use this to calculate your estimated energy burden, which reflects
how much money you could expect to spend on energy without a solar system.
Watch out for number inflation here, as installers will often factor in rising utility rates over time. If an installer estimates a high energy burden, it makes it easier for them to calculate high estimated lifetime savings. If you get multiple proposals and one reflects a much higher estimated energy burden than the others, the installer may be using shady sales tactics.
Estimated lifetime savings
By comparing your energy burden with your estimated annual solar production, solar installers can estimate the
lifetime energy savings generated by a system.
Compare this key figure to other proposals to evaluate which company may offer the best return on investment (ROI).
What Should I Expect from My Solar Panel Installation?
So, you’ve compared your proposals and picked a winner. A trustworthy solar installer will walk you through the process from beginning to end, but here’s a good idea of what to expect when installing solar panels:
Solar Installation Step
What to Expect from Solar Installers Near You
Sign contract and submit paperwork
Customers should be prepared to provide a copy of a utility bill, a down payment (depending on their chosen financing) and a signature for their net metering agreement if applicable.
Obtain permits and approvals
Similar to some other home improvements, an approved permit from the presiding city or county is required for solar projects in most areas. The solar installer will handle the permitting, but this process can take a few days to weeks depending on the efficiency of the area.
Most energy providers also require approval for solar installations in their network. This can come in the form of a net metering agreement or interconnection agreement.
Once all the permits and approvals are secured, the company will schedule a day to install the solar panels, inverters and other equipment.
The timing will vary depending on the complexity of the installation, but most are completed in less than one day.
Both the presiding permitting office and utility company need to inspect the installation before it can be turned on. The solar installer will handle the inspection logistics, but scheduling and completing an inspection can take a few weeks.
Obtain PTO and turn system on
Once your utility provider approves the inspection and processes the necessary paperwork, it issues permission to operate (PTO). Obtaining PTO is the final step before a system can be turned on.
After this happens, your solar installer will notify you and walk you through the steps of turning the system on or come and do it for you if necessary.
FAQ: Solar Installers Near Me
Who is the best solar panel provider?
Though we can recommend some
top solar companies that operate across the U.S., the best solar panel provider and installer for you will depend on where you live. We encourage readers to compare quotes from local companies, read reviews and talk to neighbors who have installed solar panels. Referrals are also a popular method for finding a trusted installer.
What is the average cost of installing a solar system?
The cost of installing solar will vary greatly depending on the size of the system, your location and the
type of solar panels and other products you choose. On average for a modest system, one can expect to pay between $15,000, and $20,000 after the tax credit is applied.
Is installing solar panels worth it?
Unless you deal with a shady property, a rainy climate or an unfit roof, solar panels are one of the most reliable investments you can make. Most solar panel installations pay for themselves in energy savings within five to 10 years and last an expected lifetime of 25 years. Even if you intend to move, solar panels
add to property value, so your investment is protected.
How much will solar help me save on my electric bill?
Energy savings depend on a variety of factors such as monthly energy usage, the size of the system and the size and shape of the roof exposed to sunlight. The best way to calculate estimated savings on your electric bill is to consult a solar installer near you.
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