Going solar is one of the wisest, most intelligent long-term investments you can make, which is why it is so important to thoroughly vet potential solar providers in order to find the right company for you. But how does one choose from the dozens, perhaps hundreds of solar companies out there? If you are feeling overwhelmed by the options, and are not sure where to begin – you are not alone. For your convenience I have listed my top 8 things to look for when comparing solar providers. Hopefully this will help in your journey to find a solar company that is right for you!
First of all and I cannot stress enough that when talking Solar the cheapest solar company absolutely does not translate into the best solar company!!
Since a solar installation is such a critical investment for your future it is smart business to seek a solar partner that has made a firm commitment to be around for a long time to come. You want a company who has recruited the best minds in the industry, pays their people well and has a large national footprint – In short, you want to partner with a solar company that has made the capital investments both financial and human which are necessary for longevity within the industry. At Unconquered Sun for instance, we pick up maintenance contracts daily on solar systems orphaned by companies which have gone out of business a year after the initial installation… It should be said that any solar company which has made the proper investments for longevity will not be engaged in any race to the bottom on sticker price! You should understand that in the solar industry quality and customer service carry a premium well worth the money!!
While there are many solar companies out there, there are really only a handful that will satisfy my top 8 critical criteria listed below;
You may be surprised that I am not overemphasising warranty items in this article. This is simply because a warranty is not worth the paper it’s printed on if it is not issued by a healthy, reputable company who can demonstrate a historical longevity within the solar industry..
That being said, some warranty basics should include – 2 x year’s labor, 5 years workmanship, a performance guarantee that includes free lifetime component replacement on panels. And the installation should not void any existing roofing or shingle warranties..
Now onto the really important stuff;
2) Company experience and their history in the solar industry
In most cases when speaking about the solar industry, experience is more important and generally trumps a company’s size. Comb through solar company websites to find out how long each solar provider has been in business. See which ones advertise the amount of solar panel systems they’ve installed, and consider the types of clients and installations each company has worked with and successfully completed in the past.
*Important* You really do need to research how long has a company been in business and how many residential and commercial installations they have completed! You want to partner with a company that has as many solar installations under their belt as possible… For the most part you can measure a company’s experience based on the total number of their completed installations. For example at Unconquered Sun Solar Technologies Inc. our installed solar systems are on pace to produce almost 17 GigaWatt hours of electricity and generate 70 MIllion dollars CAD in either revenue or savings for our clientele!…. Thats alot of residential and commercial solar installations!!
The best analogy I can think of in this regard would be – If you were considering someone to perform a major surgery on your body, you would presumably choose a doctor with the most successful experience based on that particular procedure. For certain you would not choose a doctor who just started his practice and had never actually completed that specific procedure successfully!
Also, make sure the company’s experience and success have been 100% within the solar industry, and not elsewhere. For example; some roofing companies have been around for thirty to even fifty years and that is great if you’re looking to replace your roof! But what you really need to find out is how long they have been installing solar systems specifically…. So you see, even though a company may have roofing experience you will want to exclude them from your list if they have not completed very many solar installations.
3) Solar credentials
Along with experience, note each company’s credentials in your comparison. Most companies advertise certifications online, but you can call the company to ask about credentials if you can’t find anything on the company website. Beyond the standard required licensing, look for companies that are members in good standing of the Canadian Solar Industries Association, (or CANSIA for short).
In addition look for solar companies who maintain a high standard when it comes to personnel training. A solar company which commits to high level of training and safety standards has obviously made significant investments in its employees and human capital (with an eye for the long haul). And this generally translates to a solar company that will be around for a long, long time to come.
Some key personnel courses and certifications to look for from solar installers;
- WHMIS (Workplace Hazardous Materials Information Systems)
- OS (Occupational Health & Safety Act)
- Standard First Aid / CPR
- Lock-out / Tag-out
- Hazard Identification
- Certified Fall Arrest and Protection
4) Get creepy with your potential solar provider on google and facebook!
All the certifications and experience in the world don’t matter much if a company doesn’t treat its customers well. From attaining the correct permits to choosing the size of your solar array to applying for federal or provincial rebates and tax credits, going solar is complicated! You want to work with a company that is approachable and helpful.
A good starting point when choosing a solar company, is to check out their online reviews..
Search the company and take a beat to check their google reviews, or scroll through their Facebook reviews….. Word of caution though, one good review trumps approx. five bad reviews online. It has been statistically proven that people tend to be more vocal when it comes to negative experiences online rather than documenting praise for their positive client experiences. Just remember that overall a mix of good and bad is okay, as long as there is a definite and strong trend towards more positive client experiences within your solar company’s reviews.
Ask for solar references from previous clientele… Ask for a few numbers of previous clients – call these people and ask what their remembrances and experiences were with your prospective solar company.. Take note of the general impressions you get from the reviews/ references you research – this will make it easy to remember which concerns you want to address with your company before proceeding.
5) Who backs your solar company?
Remember, since solar is a relatively new technology to the continent, and the magnitude of your purchase may be significant – Your quest should be all about partnering with a solid solar provider i.e. a company that will pick up the phone or answer your email 5 plus years from now!
Find out who the company is supported, backed or funded by… Who is the company’s parent corporation or is there one? Remember you want to make sure that your warranties are going to be anchored from a solid foundation! If the solar company is owned by say, a utility company or a large financial institution this would be a very good indication that your company is solid, professional, reputable and most importantly worthy of investment from a larger and reputable company..
6) Is your solar company vertically integrated?
Is your company a one trick pony performing only solar installations, or do they also have a manufacturing and research and development component?
If a solar company manufactures its own panels, or maintains a broader manufacturing portfolio which includes other creative solar products – THIS IS A GOOD SIGN. Coupled with maintaining healthy research and development this kind of activity points to a company that is heavily funded and doing well in the industry. Since solar is a long-term commitment you want to hitch your wagon to a provider that is doing well, and will more than likely be around for the long haul to maintain your system.. I mean, I’ve heard soooo many horror stories about homeowners that don’t do enough research and get stuck with non-functioning solar systems. These homeowners have given their money away to companies that are no longer in business. Don’t get caught in this situation!
7) Local solar installer or national company?
Typically speaking, larger solar companies are more established and can offer more comprehensive warranties. They generally also offer more payment options and maintenance services.
More established is definitely when talking solar.. Just make sure that any national company is familiar with all of your local rebates, incentives and permitting requirements.
Find out if your potential solar company is vertically integrated with a local presence in your area… Remember desirable solar companies with the commitment to a national presence may use subcontractors in your area and that is okay. In fact, as long as the company has good control over the quality and the workmanship of their employees this simply means that you will be well taken care of in the future by the local authorized contractors. Also, you can have your cake and eat it too in the knowledge that your money is circulating back into your local economy!
8) Your solar provider’s financing options
Stay away from leasing!!! Do you really want to lease out your own rooftop to someone else for peanuts?, and let them reap all the benefits of the electricity it produces? For years to come?? Not to mention potentially having to try and sell your home with a leasehold on the property!!
There are really only two appropriate ways to finance your solar installation either paying cash, or financing.
Ok, so here is the part when I insert plug for Unconquered Sun Solar Technologies Inc! Obviously we are heavily involved with thousands of residential clients across Canada. Our financing is,.. I believe the best in the country hands down for solar installations. With so many solar installations under our belt, Unconquered Sun commands (and all of our clientele have access to) an exclusive No Money Down, 1.9% unsecured financing option – **you can also pay this loan out at any time with no penalties.
Lastly, any solar company worth its salt should offer you a free upfront, no obligation solar analysis design and quote tailored to your property.. In Unconquered Sun’s case this equals a $250.00 value, one which we are happy to generate almost instantly once we receive the geographical details of your home!
Anyone who may be interested in a FREE solar analysis, design and quote for their property, please click here and submit your property details, Unconquered Sun’s turnaround time for this is practically instant!
Also, everyone who requests a FREE solar analysis, design and quote from USST will receive a link to pre approve themselves at USST’s exclusive rate privately and on their own time if they wish!
Check out the quick vid below;
If you are ready to Go Solar, then let’s get started!
- Request a FREE solar analysis, design and quote
- Pre approve yourself for USST’s exclusive No Money Down, 1.9% un secured financing option
Well… this concludes the Ultimate Solar Guide Solar company??, how to choose yours edition from yours truly.
Hopefully this article will serve as a valuable reference if you are considering solar in your future! Please feel free to respond with any comments or suggestions you may have!
More to come!!