Did you know that almost 4% of homes in the United States now have solar panels installed? And with the Inflation Reduction Act, experts project that figure to grow faster by 2024. They forecast the annual capacity additions to increase by five-fold.
So if you also plan to go solar soon, it’s time to learn how to choose residential solar companies. One way is to know what to ask your prospects.
In this guide, we’ve listed all the vital questions to ask residential solar companies. So, read on to discover what they are and why you should ask them.
1. Are You Local?
One of the most crucial questions to ask solar panel companies is if they have a local office and team. It’s okay if they operate nationwide, so long as they have facilities and people in your city or state.
A local base lets residential solar panel installation companies install systems faster. After all, if their office is in or near your city, they’re only a quick drive away from your home. This means shorter transportation times for their trained staff, equipment, and materials.
Local installers also have in-depth knowledge of your city’s or state’s permitting requirements. They also have more experience with local utility companies and net metering policies.
All that allows local solar companies to begin your solar installation project ASAP.
2. Do You Have NABCEP Certification?
Consumers interested in hiring residential solar companies should look for NABCEP certification. NABCEP stands for North American Board of Certified Energy Practitioners (NABCEP). It’s one of the most recognized and established organizations certifying renewable energy professionals.
NABCEP-certified solar installers have undergone stringent testing protocols. These tests prove their experience and knowledge in installing solar systems. Their work and craftsmanship also continuously get monitored by NABCEP for quality.
Also, many solar tax credits, rebates, and incentives now require hiring NABCEP-certified installers. If you don’t, it can result in you not qualifying for these money-saving programs.
3. Will You Help Me Apply for Incentives?
The best residential solar company will help you find and apply for the best incentives. This includes the federal solar tax credit, which Congress has extended. Solar installations from 2022 to 2032 may qualify for a 30% tax credit.
Several states also have separate solar incentives for their residents. Utah is one, offering a 2023 residential tax credit of up to $400 and rebates from Rocky Mountain Power. To learn more about these programs, go now to this page.
Massachusetts, New Mexico, and New York are other states with income tax credits. Maryland is another, but the incentive applies to energy storage systems.
Most states have other tax incentives in the form of property and sales tax exemptions. There are 36 states with property tax exemptions and 25 with sales tax exemptions.
Don’t forget that many local utility companies, such as California’s PG&E, offer rebates, too. Many also offer net metering, crediting you for the excess power you send to the grid.
The fact that there are so many state and city incentives is all the more reason to choose a local solar company. After all, these professionals already know what cost-saving programs you can qualify for.
4. What Type of Solar Panels Will You Install?
Choose a company installing monocrystalline panels if you want the most efficient system. Of all panel types, these have the highest energy conversion rate. This means they generate more electricity per panel.
As a result, you need fewer mono panels, making it ideal if your home has limited space.
5. What Is Your Installation Process?
This question allows you to gauge a company’s reliability and service quality.
One of the first things a reliable company should tell you is they need to conduct an on-site valuation. This is vital in confirming if your home is a good candidate for solar energy. For instance, it must get enough sun and space to meet your household’s energy-saving goals.
If someone tells you you’re a perfect candidate without seeing your property, take that as a red flag.
Your roof is another factor; it must be in good condition to support heavy solar panels. If it’s not, a reputable solar company will recommend fixing or replacing it first.
At the same time, the company will check your property to see if there’s a place apart from the roof that gets enough sun. If so, they will give you the option to have ground-mounted panels.
Only after all that does a trustworthy installation company make an actual offer. This includes the system setup, the number of solar panels, and the project’s cost.
If you agree, the solar installation company can begin by acquiring permits. From there, they install the panels and have them inspected by your local government. They also work with your utility provider to set your system up for net metering.
6. Do You Offer Solar Financing?
Solar panel installation costs an average of $12,000 after federal tax incentives. If that’s outside your budget, don’t worry; reliable companies offer financing programs. However, if you opt for this method, ensure the company issues you a solar loan, not a lease.
With a solar loan, you’d be the owner of the solar energy system. On the other hand, a lease means you’ll only rent the equipment. A solar lease will disqualify you from incentives that require solar ownership.
7. What Are Your Warranties?
The best residential solar companies offer at least a 25-year product/manufacturer’s warranty. They also back their installation with at least a decade-long craftsmanship warranty. Some even provide an additional productivity guarantee of at least two years.
Start Interviewing Residential Solar Companies Today
Now that you know what to ask residential solar companies, it’s time to create a list of prospects. Call at least three installers, and ask them all the questions we’ve discussed above. Lastly, ensure they offer free on-site assessments.
From there, pick the company you felt most comfortable with during the valuation. After that, you can sit back and relax while waiting for the pros to finish setting up your clean energy system.
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