Deciding what solar company is right for you can be a difficult decision. The best way to make your decision is to compare bids from each solar contractor. Here are some key items to look for within a solar bid.
Price Per Watt
The best common denominator to use when comparing bids is the price per watt. If it’s not explicitly written in your proposal, you can determine this number easily on your own. Divide the total system cost by the system size to determine the price per kilowatt. Determining price per watt can help you determine which bid price is ultimately a better value.
There are a lot of product manufacturers in the solar industry. Not all equipment is made equally. Look for products from top panel manufacturers such as LG, QCells, CertainTeed, Panasonic and SunPower. Most reputable contractors have access to all of these brands, so it’s a good idea to ask what’s available and see how it impacts the system price.
The system offset is determined by dividing the amount of energy produced by the amount of energy consumed. This ultimately means how much of your utility usage the solar system can cover. The best financial savings are realized at 85-100 percent offset. More is not always better; exceeding 100 percent offset can reduce your overall savings because it may require a larger solar system than necessary.
There are two warranties you should pay attention to: manufacturer and installer. While the equipment warranty is important, they are mostly the same across the board with top manufacturers. When comparing solar bids, you should focus on the coverage of workmanship and roof leaks offered by the installer and see how they compare.
It always costs money to borrow money and borrowing money to finance your solar system is no different. If you are not paying cash, it’s important to know what fees are associated with your loan. Other options include leases and power purchase agreements. These typically do not have fees, but they may have other drawbacks. A loan may have fees attached but will come in at a fixed monthly payment for the entire term.
Consider the above items when comparing bids from various solar contractors, but don’t forget to factor in your gut feeling about each specific company and the team members you are working with. When you go solar, as with any home improvement project, you are inviting people to work on, in or around your home, so it’s important that you are comfortable with the company you hire.