After months of pondering things, you’ve finally decided that 2024 is the year to go solar.
That’s a wise move, especially since installing a solar energy system now costs about 40% less than it did about a decade ago. Before, an average-sized residential setup would have had a pre-incentive price of $40,000. That has gone down to just $25,000.
But $25,000 is still a lot of money. So, to ensure you get the most bang for your buck, you must partner with the right solar energy contractor.
This guide shares tips to help you choose the right contractor when going solar, so read on.
Partner With a Full-Service Solar Energy Contractor
Before moving to solar, you must determine how many solar panels you need to support your energy use. Then, you must account for the state of your roof and if it can accommodate the system’s weight. FYI, the average 60-cell solar panel weighs about 18.3 kilograms or over 40 pounds each.
So, if you need 15 panels, your roof should be able to support the additional 600 pounds. If not, you may have to fix or replace it first.
You must then get the proper building permits. Only after you’ve obtained these documents can the installation begin.
After installation, you need to schedule an inspection from your local government. They’ll want to ensure your system’s correct and safe installation before granting it approval.
You may also have to schedule another inspection from your utility company. You need their approval, too, before you can turn your system on.
A full-service contractor will handle most of those steps on your behalf. These include:
- Performing an energy audit to determine the number of solar panels you need
- Assessing your roof to ensure it can support the weight of a solar energy system
- Confirming your electrical system can accommodate solar
- Acquiring all permits
- The actual installation
- Scheduling inspections
- Turning your solar energy system on
You can also expect a full-service contractor not to outsource any part of the process to other contractors. Therefore, they won’t have to spend time contracting with other professionals. That hastens the installation, letting you enjoy solar energy’s financial and environmental benefits sooner.
Work Only With a Certified Contractor
Certification is often voluntary for professional solar installers and contractors. However, reputable ones still obtain it to demonstrate their knowledge, experience, and credibility. It also proves their commitment to providing top-quality services and upholding standards.
That’s enough reason to partner only with a certified solar energy contractor. Look for the following accreditations:
- Roof Integrated Solar Energy (RISE)
- Association of Energy Engineers (AEE)
- North American Board of Certified Energy Practitioners (NABCEP)
- Underwriter Laboratories (UL) Solutions
Most installers and contractors have at least the NABCEP PV Installation Professional certification. So, if you find a few without this, take your business elsewhere.
Ensure the Contractor Uses High-Quality Panels
The best solar energy contractors use high-quality, high-performance, black monocrystalline (mono) panels. They typically cost the most of all solar panel types but are the most efficient.
Also, some people may find black solar panels more aesthetic than blue polycrystalline (poly) ones. After all, black usually goes well with other colors. To learn more about these panels, go to Blue Raven Solar; their site has more details about these products.
Look for Financing Options
Solar panel prices have shrunk, but their installation still costs thousands of dollars upfront. Luckily, Congress extended the federal solar investment tax credit to 2032. Even better, it brought the tax credit rating back to 30%.
Depending on your system’s size and price, that credit can cut your installation costs by thousands of dollars. However, you’d still have to pay your system’s total costs upfront. That can make paying for it in cash challenging.
Worry not, as some of the best solar energy contractors offer financing programs with zero upfront costs. If you qualify for financing, they can install your system ASAP without immediately charging you. You then just have to repay them with affordable monthly payments.
Check the Warranties
Before choosing a solar contractor, confirm the warranties they offer first. The most reputable ones typically offer four different coverages. Here’s a brief description of each.
A manufacturer warranty is from the company that made the solar panels you’ll soon have installed. At the very least, it should provide coverage for 20 years, but some even extend to 25 years. It covers the repairs or replacement of the panels if they break down due to material or factory defects.
Solar panel output production naturally degrades over the system’s lifespan. However, they only do so by around 0.5% to 1% yearly.
So, a panel that’s 100% efficient during its first year will be 99.5% to 99% efficient the following year. It then drops to 99% to 98.5% in the third, and so on. By the 10th year, it should retain 90% to 95% efficiency.
Manufacturers back that claim with a production guarantee to give consumers peace of mind. It guarantees the solar panels’ production or output for a specific timeframe.
For instance, it may guarantee the system will produce no less than 90% during its first ten years. From there, it should generate no less than 80% throughout the warranty’s remaining duration.
Craftsmanship or Service Warranty
Another warranty the best solar contractors offer is for their craftsmanship or service. It covers the installation process and the materials used aside from the panels. It provides coverage for the repairs or replacements of warrantied parts if they break down due to a problem with the installation.
Roof Penetration Warranty
Last but not least is a roof penetration warranty. It pays for the repairs or replacement of a roof that a solar panel installation damages. For example, if installing the panels causes the roof to leak, the warranty should kick in to pay to repair the problem.
Find Your Solar Contractor Today
A solar panel system can help you save on energy costs, but only if it’s correctly designed and installed. That’s why you must choose a solar energy contractor with due diligence.
So, follow our tips, as they can help you find the right solar partner.
Are you looking for more ways to save this new year? Then, check out our other financial guides for more ideas!