Nationwide, more homeowners install solar every three weeks than in the entire year of 2008. In Jacksonville, the growth of solar has been exponential. Because of increased demand, there is more competition than ever for your dollars. Companies from out of state are vying for jobs, and roofing firms are trying to figure out how to get into the solar business. Anyone with a contractor’s license and a panel van can claim they are in the industry, and at some point, they will come knocking on your door. It’s important to choose the right company.
Going solar is one of the single best investments a family can make, with the average homeowner saving well over thirty thousand dollars over the life of a system. It’s not only good for the planet, but it’s also a prudent financial decision. Not all companies are created equal, and the return on your investment is directly tied to which company you decide to go with. Shoddy workmanship and misleading numbers can undermine your project and leave you fuming.
What to look for
- Integrity: Look up the contractor’s reviews online. Check out Angie’s List and SolarReviews.com. Both of these sites allow consumers to leave honest reviews. What do other homeowners say about the company you are considering? If there are few reviews, this should be a warning flag.
- Professionalism: Ask to see some pictures of installs that the company has performed. What sort of trucks do they use? How many installs have they done over the last few years? Is the company NABCEP certified? Have they performed successful government and commercial installs? Consider taking a tour at the offices of more than one company if you are on the fence, which will provide an excellent window of the professionalism of the respective contractors.
- Language: Listen carefully to what the sales consultant is promising. If he or she insists that you will “never have an electric bill again,” ask them to leave. Net-metering means that your credits roll over from month to month, but there will be some charges from the utility. Your consumption varies, with large electric bills resulting from high usage months during the summertime. Your solar array will produce kilowatts, which the utility will credit you for in the form of kilowatt hours, the measure of the energy you consume. If your consultant isn’t looking at your actual usage, the he is not going to provide you with accurate numbers. We sell based on kilowatt hours, and the equations our engineers use provide a conservative estimate of your annual production.
- Under-promise, Over-deliver: This is the consistent mantra of successful companies that have repeat customers and sizable referral bases. Fly-by-nights and business who are invested in you only for the short term boast the opposite philosophy. Ask for a layout and production analysis from your contractor.
- Value: The best price is seldom the best value. It’s simple to reduce price by cutting corners, a common practice in the home-improvement industry. From the materials used to secure your panels to your roof, to the panels themselves, and the experience level and professionalism of the installers and electricians, cutting corners on the front end invariably leads to headaches down the road. Solar is a long-term investment, which, when done right, yields amazing results. It’s important to know that the company you choose will stand behind the product they’ve sold you. Will the contractor still be in business five years from now? If (God forbid) you have an issue with a leaking roof, will you be able to contact the contractor, and will they make it right? The value of your solar is directly tied the company you choose.
We welcome competition in the marketplace, as this is good for consumers. Competition is the heart of capitalism, creating jobs, leading to innovation, and providing the best overall value for homeowners. Solar will continue to grow and thrive in sunny Florida.
The economic benefits of solar have never been better.