Comparing solar companies based on service and quality
It goes without saying that you should research the company’s credentials, the quality of its products, and what guarantees it provides.
Your system will require both panels and an inverter; ask about warranties for this equipment. Warranties typically cover solar panels for 20 to 25 years, and inverters for 10 years. In addition, some solar providers offer installation warranties and production guarantees.
Certifications and Ratings.
Find out how long the company has been in business, and if it holds relevant certifications from organizations like the North American Board of Certified Energy Practitioners (NABCEP). Also look for regional credentials. Be sure to check the company’s customer service rating with the Better Business Bureau (BBB) as well. This would help you reduce the risk in investments you make with solar companies.
You may also want to consider whether the company handles solar exclusively, or offers several different services. Some homeowners prefer to contract with solar-only companies. However, finding a reliable solar company that also provides “whole-home” energy services like roofing, insulation, and efficiency upgrades can give you a leg up on other home improvements down the road.
Company Culture and Values.
You can maximize the environmental impact of going solar by choosing a company that’s also dedicated to social responsibility in its own operations.
Some companies support nonprofits through donations, sponsorships, and volunteerism. Others like use equipment made in America or hire veterans. Look for information on these types of activities on the “About Us” page of a company’s website.
Comparing solar companies based on home integration
Many solar providers now offer related services like cloud-based monitoring platforms, battery storage, and smart home integration.
At a minimum, a monitoring service will track your system’s output. Most will also record your home’s energy usage. In some cases, you’ll need to access the data over the Internet, while other companies offer mobile apps.
A battery will store the excess energy your system generates during the day, and then release it during grid outages. When the grid shuts down during a storm or high-demand event, you’ll stay up and running for hours on clean, renewable power.
A handful of companies even integrate solar power with smart home technology. These allow you to power your home with solar and automate energy management at the same time. You can set up your preferences for heating, air conditioning, lighting, and security for different times of the day, and the smart home system will automatically control those conditions. Using smart home technology can maximize your energy savings and minimize your utility bills.
Comparing solar companies based on aesthetics and home appeal
While traditional solar panels have a black-and-white “checkerboard” appearance, some manufacturers now make sleek, all-black panels designed to blend in and maintain your home’s curb appeal. A few companies have also designed low-profile mounting systems that sit nearly flush with roof surfaces. If aesthetics are important to you, check out the photos on the company’s website, or ask about the appearance of the equipment.