You’ve decided to invest in solar energy to put an end to your monthly electric bills. Now it’s time to gather information and learn from others who have already installed a solar system. Use this blog to avoid some common mistakes, ensuring your install process goes smoothly and you get an efficient, long-lasting solar system.
Avoid These Mistakes When Installing Solar
Mistake 1: Making A Decision Soley Based On Price
Mistake 2: Not Getting Multiple Quotes
Mistake 3: Not Taking Advantage of Incentives
Mistake 4: Not Understanding Warranties
Mistake 5: Signing Up For A Third-Party Electric Supplier
Making A Decision Solely Based On Price
“You get what you pay for.” This saying is true in so many areas of life, and it’s no exception when you’re installing a solar system. That doesn’t mean the cheapest option is always the worst, but it does mean that you need to do your research to be sure you’re going with the best option for you.
Make sure you select an installation company that is experienced and has a proven track record of standing behind their work. We suggest looking at their online reviews and speaking to their past customers. Look for trends in those reviews and your discussions. If multiple people are saying the same things, it's likely that will be your experience as well.
In addition, spend time looking into their experience, certifications, and business structure. Are they a profitable company? Will they be around to honor the warranties they’re offering to you?
These are just a few of our tips for researching solar installers or any type of service provider. For more tips, check out our guide to selecting a solar installation company.
Not Getting Multiple Quotes
Getting multiple solar installers to quote your project is invaluable. This will help you know you’re getting the best possible system you can get. It helps assure you don’t pay too much or too little (sounds weird to say you're paying too little, but the cheapest isn’t always best. See above.) for your system.
Once you get your quotes (we suggest 2 to 3), it’s important that you compare apples to apples. Not all quotes are created equal. It’s likely the quotes will include different panel and inverter brands, the system could be a different size, and they could place the panels in different spots. Ask each company to review their quotes with you, and don’t be afraid to ask for clarification on the system design, equipment, and price.
If one of the companies can’t offer a valid explanation to your questions or they come across as annoyed, walk away… fast. There are many good solar installation companies out there. Work with one that is willing to be your educational guide.
Not Taking Advantage of Incentives
Solar is more than a reduced electric bill and environmental friendliness. Raise your hand if you would like to pay fewer taxes! With solar ownership, you can reduce your taxes with the 26% Federal Tax Credit, and if you're a business, you can capitalize on accelerated depreciation. Both benefits are tremendous tools to use for a shorter payback period and great ROI.
In addition, there are many local incentives that are available. For example, NYSERDA in New York offers a sizable grant and Maryland offers a $1,000 grant for systems up to 20kW (slightly larger than the average residential system).
It’s also important to understand how the incentives work to avoid getting burned after your system is installed. The federal tax credit is a credit, not a grant or payment from the government. You can only utilize it if you have tax liability. The credit can’t be used if no taxes are paid.
The solar installer that you decide to partner with should be aware of all available incentives in your area. They will be able to help you determine if you qualify.
Not Understanding Warranties
All solar panels and solar inverters come with warranties. These are not specific to the installation company and are available to anyone who purchases the products. Panels come with a linear performance warranty (most are 25 to 30 years) and a product warranty (12 to 25 years). Inverters come with limited warranties typically ranging from five to ten years in length.
Many solar installers will offer warranties on top of the product warranties. For example, Paradise Energy Solutions offers a Triple Ten Guarantee. This covers workmanship issues and guarantees the system will achieve the energy production that’s listed on the signed contract.
Product warranties from the manufacturer will cover product replacement, not the labor costs associated with fixing the issue. That’s why working with an installer with a workmanship warranty is important. Ask your installer to explain all available warranties before signing the contract.
Signing up for a Third-Party Electric Supplier
For most nonsolar electric consumers, contracting with a third-party electric supplier can save money. But for solar owners, switching to a third party can be costly. Using a third-party supplier with solar eliminates the ability to use Net Metering.
Net Metering allows solar owners to receive credit for extra energy produced by the system during the day. Those credits are then used at night when the system is not producing energy. Without Net Metering, you will only be offsetting your electricity costs when you use the electricity as it’s produced. This would mean wasting all the extra electricity produced by the system and then paying the retail price for the electricity used at night.
This is costly and something that all solar owners should avoid. Check out this blog to learn more about third-party energy suppliers.
Do you have additional questions or concerns about solar? Download our free Guide To Going Solar to learn everything you need to know before going solar.