Utilizing websites such as Energysage is a great way to get multiple estimates on a solar project. However, all the information can be overwhelming, and make it difficult to choose an installer. Luckily for homeowners, there are some key pieces of data to look for to make it easier to compare quotes.
Our series of blog posts, “How To Compare Solar Quotes” will explain each piece of data so you can feel more confident as you look at different solar proposals.
Last week’s blog post discussed what actually goes into the cost of your solar system. This week will be the final post in the blog series “How To Compare Solar Quotes”. Everything we have covered so far are important pieces of data that you should see in any quote from a solar company. However, there are a few other factors that can vary from company to company.
Design Factor and Electric Bill Coverage
Do not confuse the design factor percentage with the percent coverage of your electric bill. The design factor will only provide the estimated output of the solar array. The solar system size is dependent upon useable roof space (in available square footage and in orientation). If the annual kWh consumption is greater than what the system can produce, then only a portion of the electric bill will be offset by solar. Even covering a portion of your electric bill with solar can save money, but it is important to know the difference of what percentages you are looking at.
In Connecticut, the state incentives are decreasing at a somewhat rapid pace. Any solar salesperson should be well versed on what current incentives are available, but you can check for yourself here.
Solar Production Guarantee
Most solar companies offer a production guarantee – assurance that the system will generate some percent of the estimated annual output over a period of time as written in the purchase agreement. However, the length and conditions of the guarantee vary, so it pays to compare. It’s also good to note that this is for a cash purchase or loan only- production under a lease is covered under the company warranty.
Solar panels will last a long time – 30 to 40 years – therefore the labor warranty should be reasonably lengthy. Labor warranties vary, so it pays to compare.
Homeowners who really like their solar system and the company that installed it, like to brag about it. Ask for a referral list from potential companies that want your business. Referrals can tell you the good (lowered electric bills, great installation) and the bad (took longer than expected, lots of paperwork). A good solar company should be able to provide at least a few names in the area, because they hope to generate additional business through referrals.
A solar system is a sizable investment. Some other questions to ask when comparing solar quotes:
- Is the company a local one that understands Connecticut requirements?
- Do they do their own installations or out-source?
- How long has the company been in business?
- Are they comfortable to work with?
- Do they respond in a timely fashion?
Ultimately, you should choose whatever solar installer you are most comfortable with, and determine what factors are most important to you. These tools are simply guidelines to look out for and pay attention to when navigating through a sea of quotes. Once you know what to look for, it can take a good portion of stress out of the buying decision and you can then enjoy your solar journey.