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Oct 29, 2022

Solar Installers

Solar energy has become one of the most efficient home improvements in the world. Homeowners all over America are rushing to reap the financial and ecological benefits that solar panels bring. 

They make clean, renewable energy, are non-intrusive, and are completely quiet. Combine that with the fact that most US states offer tax breaks or benefits when purchasing and installing solar panels, and it’s easy to see why such a large jump in popularity has happened in the past few years. 

With that said, solar panels aren’t exactly cheap or easy to install. This does depend on your choice of solar panels, their sizes based on how much electricity you want to produce, and your roof status, but overall, they’ll set you back a couple of thousand dollars at the very least.

Nonetheless, these are just temporary financial setbacks. Once the system is up and running, it’ll begin saving you cash immediately. 

But, many homeowners run into a dilemma: how do they find the best solar installers in their area? There are now dozens, if not hundreds of solar installers per state so it can get difficult to choose the right ones. 

Here’s a five-step process that you should go through in order to find the ideal solar installers for your needs.

The Process of Finding Solar Installers in Your Area

Understand the costs associated with installing solar panels

The cost of solar system installation is measured in dollars/watt. In most areas in the US, you can expect to pay between $3 and $5 for each watt. A solar system of average size and low-mid electricity capabilities produces 5kW and costs between $15k and $25k, before incentives and/or taxes. 

However, because the US government has started helping citizens acquire solar systems, you can expect to pay less than that. For example, you could use federal solar tax credits to reduce the amount you’ll have to pay. 

These credits are essentially a dollar-for-dollar reduction of income tax that you’d otherwise have to pay. As an example, for a system cost of $5,000, you could claim a $1,500 federal tax credit that would reduce your federal income taxes by $1,500.


According to the US Department of Energy, “The federal residential solar energy credit can be claimed on federal income taxes for a certain percentage of the cost of a solar PV (photovoltaic) system. This system must be added to service during the given tax year and generate electric power for a home located in the United States”. 

The best solar installers will share tips and tricks regarding the financing of a solar system but not all would do that, so it’s best to come armed with knowledge. 

There are a couple of ways you could pay for the solar system including in cash, by taking out a solar loan, in installments, or by leasing the panels. It’s best to take some time to research which method would be best for you because once you decide, you’ll have to tell the installers. Not all installers accept every payment method so this is definitely something to look out for. 

Think about a DIY installation

Once you begin contacting solar installers, make sure to compare their quotes and see which ones offer the lowest $/W with some basic cycle modeling and maintenance (such as solar panel cleaning, but this is also something you could do yourself). Then, use NRELs (National Renewable Energy Laboratory’s) calculator to determine whether or not the solar installers are legit. 

If their quotes turn out too high compared to what you get from the calculator, it might be time to do some DIY work. 

Many people don’t know that a basic installation of solar panels isn’t difficult; the most difficult part is either fixing/replacing the roof and connecting the panels to the power grid. Note: If you don’t have the required electrical experience to connect your solar system to the grid, do not attempt to do it. Your solar installers will be able to do this part instead of you. 

Take a look at customer reviews

We understand that customer reviews aren’t always representative of how things stand but they’re correct more often than not. This is especially true for solar installers. People spend hundreds to thousands of dollars on paying solar installers to do their jobs; if their results aren’t satisfactory, the people will tell others and word will spread. 

You can use websites such as Yelp! and Solar Reviews to search for nearby solar installers by inputting your zip code. Reading reviews is the perfect way to gain insight into how well a solar installer company does business. 

Also, one word of advice - avoid reading reviews without any text or insight. These are worthless because you won’t be able to tell whether or not the person giving the review is honest and fully transparent. Plus, they provide no info or substance whatsoever. 

So, focus on reviews with plenty of info about the ease of installation, refund policies, financial experiences, and warranties. Lastly, keep an eye out for the company’s responses to these reviews. If they don’t exist or are rude - avoid them in a wide circle. 

Check certifications and licenses

When you’re contacting vendors and solar installer companies, make sure to ask them for a NABCEP (North American Board of Certified Energy Practitioners) certificate. This certificate is the best national certification program so if a vendor possesses this credential, they’re an expert and you can trust them. 

There are numerous uncertified installers who scam customers by charging too much or providing faulty services. Valid certifications are the only way for you to know that they’re legit and you’ll get your money’s worth. Also, if your home requires some roofing or electrical work, check for their qualifications for this as well. 

Look for guaranteed quality of work

Many installers will provide workmanship guarantees for their projects. This is often a useful tool to ensure that installers won’t take the money and split if something isn’t performing as it should. This might be particularly important for relatively new installers that don’t have a lot of independent reviews to their name.

Find out who’ll pay for additional services

Once you’ve narrowed down your choice to two or three solar installer companies, take them on an in-person tour of your house so they can give you an accurate quote and analyze the size of your space. 

The vendor you should go for should be the one that offers extra services to help finalize the work. Full-service installers also monitor your energy output, repair roofs, remove trees, and install solar batteries - all aspects that might be needed for your home. 

It’s best to go for an installer who can provide these services because dividing them across multiple companies is tedious and slow, not to mention the possible complications that may arise. 

Ask a trusted advisor 

There are plenty of experts in the field of residential solar that could provide great options for installers in your area. Explore an aggregator service like EnergySage or reach out to a financing company. Relationship driven financial companies like Atmos typically want to partner with the best and most reputable installers around to provide the very best experience to their customers. 

Summary

Installing a solar system takes plenty of time (around a week or two to finish everything, depending on the size). Usually, people aren’t equipped to install one themselves so the obvious choice would be solar installer companies. 

The process of finding the best installer for you may seem tedious, but it’s necessary because you don’t want to spend too much money while also hiring reputable companies to do the job. These few tips should help make the entire process easier. Good luck!

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