There has been a renewable energy boom in the United States. Solar panels have become more affordable, federal government and state government incentives provide tax advantages for installing solar for both residential and commercial solar installations, and the idea that solar panels on a house are ugly is starting to disappear as solar panels on rooftops becomes more and more popular. With this big boom Utah has seen an influx of solar companies and Utah home owners have been bombarded with solar sales people at their doors. I have received a wide variety of solar sales pitches myself and many very creative solutions to fitting enough solar on my particular roof to try to solve my personal solar desires. Some of these solutions can seem quite annoying, they range from cutting down my 15 year old trees that are shading my house from the west sun to installing a ground mount solar system on my side yard which is perfect for southern exposure (despite the obvious amount of work my husband and I have put into transforming our south and west yard in order to have a more kid friendly property. So many sales pitches sound like a desperate cry to me saying “Please listen to my presentation, please buy solar from me even if my proposal is not in your best interest.” Give me a break. I am writing this post because I have a feeling so many others feel the same way. The truth is, I really do want solar on my roof. I really do want to own my power and lock in my cost of energy now and not have to deal with rising energy costs. But, for my current home and situation, right now is not the right time to go solar. Is it the right time for you?
With so many solar companies to choose from in Utah, what should you look for? Are all Utah solar companies created equal? Is what they are offering the right fit for you or are they just talking fancy to try to lock you in? Here are some things I would look for in a solar company.
1. Licensing and certification
In Utah installers of solar energy systems are required to be licensed contractors. General electrical contractors with S200 or S201 licenses can install solar photovoltaic systems, there is also a solar-specific license classification such as Solar Photovoltaic Contractor and Solar Thermal Systems Contractor. There are many different certification programs for solar installers, the most reputable being NABCEP, North American Board of Certified Energy Practitioners, Home Advisor, Pre-screened Solar Pro, and the BBB, Better Business Bureau.
2. How long have they been in business
With solar being a new trend there are many new solar companies. One big concern with new companies is whether they can stick around. In Utah we are already seeing some solar companies moving on as Utah reduces their tax credit incentive and Rocky Mountain Power threatens to raise net-metering rates. Some companies are looking to Idaho and Oregon as they haven’t been affected yet. Larger Utah companies that have been around for a while are proud to say they aren’t going anywhere and have a track record you can trust. There are however many new installers that have been in the electrical industry prior to installing solar. Integrated Solar Solutions has been working in electrical construction for 14 years and started offering solar to expand our services to our customers
3. Size of the Company
A good solar company isn’t always the biggest solar company. Some smaller solar companies, such as Integrated Solar Solutions are dedicated to be more interested in continuing to offer quality solar system equipment for honest prices and by so doing maintain customer relationships even after installation and are less interested in just making the sale and more interested in offering continued customer support.
4. Financing options
There are as many various financing and sells gimmicks as there are solar companies. Some companies throw in a lot of extras for “free” to draw you in but really that freebie is going to be absorbed in your cost. Most companies offer similar financing options such as 0 down for 12 months or some have offered to pay your first 6 months of your power bills while you build up net metering credits with the power company. They offer this in early spring because they know during your summer months you will have produced enough power to have it all equal out. So really, they aren’t offering you anything you weren’t going to break even on anyway. Because everyone offers various financing options, you need to find the best option that fits your own needs and helps you have the greater return on investment.
Most solar companies offer 25 year warranties. This is an easy thing to offer as most solar system equipment comes with a standard 25 year warranty, this includes solar panels, solar mounting and racking equipment, and micro inverters. With solar energy systems guaranteed to last so long it is important to be sure your roof will also last that long.
6. Customer service
It is easy to get the solar panels installed and mounted to your roof but what next? With online energy production monitoring you can track how well your system is producing energy. When something goes wrong and you aren’t seeing the results you know you should have who will be available to help you? Integrated Solar Solutions is always available 24/7. Our team responds to customers promptly to fix any issues that may arise.
7. Options offered
Some solar companies are teamed up with certain solar panel manufacturers and offer only their solar panels. This is not so much a benefit to the customer. It reduces your options. It might look good on marketing for that company to be affiliated with a branded solar panel but in the end you deserve more options. Every roof has different obstacles, with this you want a solar company that can analyze your particular situation and desired results and give you the best quality equipment for the best price to help you maximize your return on investment.
There are many great places to find customer reviews for solar companies. Some of the most trusted places for reviews are Google Reviews, Yelp.com, SolarReviews.com, BBB ratings, and social media such as Facebook. Check out some of Integrated Solar Solutions reviews from our customers. Do beware however, when looking at rankings of solar contractors on websites. Solar company rankings are highly dependent on whether the company has paid to be affiliated with that website as well as how many customer reviews they were able to point toward that website.
With so many solar companies to choose from, compare 3 to 5 companies before making your decision. Meet with each one and get a solar analysis. Remember that not all Utah solar companies are created equal and you need to choose the company that is right for you.