If you are environmentally conscious and want to positively impact the environment as an individual, then one of the top things on your sustainability list should be going solar. However, while going solar is undoubtedly a wise investment, it is also one of the largest purchases that you could ever make in your lifetime. That’s why in this article I will discuss the 10 questions to ask a solar company beforehand and why!
Before making the decision to go solar and signing any contract with a solar installer or company, you should first do your research and gather all the necessary information to help you understand if solar is truly the right choice for your home and your circumstances.
This is true also if are pursuing sustainable business practices and considering a solar installation to improve the ESG (environmental, social, and governance) score as part of the environmental responsibility commitments of your company.
Now, let’s dive deeper into the 10 important questions that you should ask the solar company you are looking to reach out to beforehand; questions that will help you make the best decision for your home.
Table Of Contents
Question 1: What Solar Products Do You Offer?
Contrary to what most people think, solar companies do not only deal with solar panels; they also offer other alternative sustainable solutions. For example, some companies offer traditional solar panels while others can offer solar shingles as an alternative.
Therefore, before getting your solar installation done, you would do well to ask the company which solar products they offer and which would be best for your home.
Also, note that there are different types of solar panels, with each type offering its unique properties. For example, while monocrystalline panels are highly efficient, they tend to be very costly. On the other hand, polycrystalline solar panels are less costly, but have lower efficiency ratings than others. Hence, getting to know the different types of solar panels that the company offers will help you ensure that you get the best choice for your budget.
Question 2: How Much Power Will the Panels generate?
Of course, you want your solar panels to generate enough electrical power that can get you through the normal day-to-day activities. On average, most American single family homes use about 29 kWh every day, which amounts to 900 kWh every month and 10,000 kWh every year. As for individual solar panels, these tend to produce 300 watts of electrical power per hour on an ideal, sunny day.
Knowing how much power you will need will help you determine the total number of solar panels that should be installed in your home. Also, note that the number of panels you install should be able to account for rainy days, cloudy days and nighttime.
Question 3: How Long Will the Installation Process Take?
Usually, solar panel installations take from 1-3 days to complete. However, note that each solar company is different. Therefore, is important that you ask the company to provide a specific timeline for the installation project, from the moment you sign the contract to when they turn on the completed solar energy system.
Still, even though the duration of the installation process varies from company to company, you should never settle for a company that takes two months or longer. The installation project should take a reasonable time to finish and not become one that keeps weighing on your mind for a long time.
Question 4: Which Grid installation Options Does Your Company Offer?
There are three different ways in which solar panels can work with the power grid:
- On-grid systems – Solar panels that work with the power grid (or grid-tied solar panels) usually send back electricity to the grid when the panels generate excessive energy. This helps to save on electricity and cut back on energy costs. However, in case of a power outage, you will not be able to use the electricity generated by the solar panels.
- Off-grid generator systems – These solar panels do not connect to the grid. Hence, if you don’t have any other source of power, they should be enough to provide electricity for your home and store it for the night. Those solar panels, solar charge controller, inverter, and battery solutions can make your RV or house self-sustainable, without the need for an external power source such as a classic generator.
- Grid systems that have a battery backup – Besides being connected to the power grid, these solar panels also come with a battery-backup that will keep your electricity going even during a power outage.
Before you hire a solar company, be sure to know which grid connectivity options they offer.
Question 5: Who Will Do the Installation?
When it comes to solar panel installation, the last thing you want is to have just anyone climbing on your roof and doing the installation. Roofs are such expensive investments, and you don’t want to risk someone damaging these. Therefore, get to know more about who will do the installation process before hiring the solar company.
For example, is the installer a full-time employee of the company or just a contracted personnel? How long have they been in this line of work? How many solar panel installations have they done so far? What certifications do they have? Ensure that you get a professional installer who will provide you with quality, lifelong service.
Question 6: What Types of Inverter Do You Offer?
Electricity generated by solar energy is usually in the form of DC (direct current). However, most home appliances use electricity in the form of AC (alternating current). Therefore, when you install solar panels in your home, you will need an inverter that can convert the electrical current from DC to AC.
However, different solar companies provide different types of inverters. For example, there are string inverters that connect multiple solar panels to a single inverter, which in turn converts DC to AC electricity. On the other hand, microinverters do not require a string inverter to convert DC to AC. Also, there are power optimizers that are designed to work with strong inverters in order to convert DC electricity to AC energy. So if you are to make the best choice for your home, get to know the pros and cons of all the different types of inverters that the company offers.
Question 7: Where Will You Place the Solar Panels?
Most solar companies install the panels in such a way that they face southwards. They also arrange them at an angle of 30-40 degrees. Such strategic positioning ensures that the solar panels get the most sunlight throughout the year.
However, it is important to note that some houses have a different slope that might not be the best for the southward positioning. For example, some houses may have a flat rooftop or be too steep. Therefore, it is a good idea to always consult with the solar company beforehand on where they will place the solar panels as per your roof type.
Question 8: How Much Will the Solar Installation Project Cost?
Just because going solar is a smart investment decision does not mean that you should empty your pocket, or splurge all the money you’ve got… unless you have the money to do so. To make sure that you don’t go beyond your budget or fall into unnecessary debt, make sure to ask the solar company to give you a quote.
The average cost of solar installation usually goes between $20,000 to $40,000. The total quote your company provided will depend on the size of your house, the type of solar panels you choose, and your average energy usage. Before installing solar panels, it is advisable that you get quotes from several companies and compare the prices.
As an alternative, you can also do the solar installation DIY. This will be a bit more tricky than on an RV, but it is doable and you could save some money.
Question 9: Who Will Do the Paperwork?
There is a lot of paperwork involved with the installation of solar panels. For example, you will need to acquire permits, grants, credits for solar energy, and other incentives. The amount of paperwork usually varies from one country to another.
Before signing the contract with the solar company of your choice, ask about who will do the paperwork. Will the company take care of all the paperwork or will you have to handle it on your own? If you are the sort that doesn’t prefer dealing with bureaucracy, you could consider hiring a full-service installer for solar panels to do all the paperwork for you.
Question 10: Do You Have Any Testimonials to Provide?
Each solar company promises to offer the best quality service. Yet, not all of these meet their claims or offer the top-notch service that they brag to provide. Therefore, do not just trust what you hear from the company that you are looking to work with. Rather, ask them to provide testimonials or proven works that clearly demonstrate their quality of service.
For example, you can ask them to provide their customer list, after which you can call random customers and ask about their honest experience with the company. If the solar company refuses this offer, it could be a warning sign or a red flag to work with it. Also, do some background checks about the company and search for their ratings on reputable customer review sites, such as the Better Business Bureau.
Solar panel installation is a big project for your house or business, and you want to do it perfectly. Especially if the project is for your business, as it can help to improve its triple bottom line and ESG metrics, as well as reduce operational costs.
So before you let any solar company start drilling into your roof, make sure you gather every information you need about this green tech and the company’s track record. Finally, review the questions to ask a solar company before signing a contract.
This will help you to rest assured that the solar company of your choice can provide excellent service.
The above 10 questions to ask a solar company before signing a contract will help you choose the best installer for your solar panels. In turn, you will ensure quality solar panel installation that will not only save you a lot of cash in the long run, but also help you achieve environmental sustainability and make a positive contribution to the planet.