Tips on Choosing the Best Solar Provider
The solar installation is a risky process and it must be carried out only by the experts. You must be ready to commit a significant amount of your time and resources to look for a solar provider. It may be costly if we pick a provider without any research, just in case the time constraints have been forcing you to settle with any available service provider. It is rather necessary that to take out a good amount of time and go through the best prospective around, before making the choice. Here is a compilation of the best tips to guide you through your search. While the list is not conclusive, it gives you ideas on the most important concepts that should not escape your attention.
Cast a Search Net
Set apart a given time to conduct the search, when you do not have any other committing engagements. Engaging in the search is frustrating enough without having to compete for attention with other activities. It will take a whole lot of time to look into every aspect of the available options. You may get recommendations from people around you about the providers that they have worked with successfully in the past. This enhances the credibility and trustworthiness of the providers beforehand.
Make a sweeping selection of the most potential solar installation providers around you is the first step in the right place. Draw a wide net to ensure you do not miss out excellent opportunities at the first glance. You will then conduct quick background checks on the identified providers to determine the most eligible ones. The idea is to reduce the workload so that you can make the right choice eventually.
A Valid License
Checking the license status of the identified providers will give you the impetus to filter the list. This will involve visiting the websites of the providers to check their status. Moreover, you will need to visit the authority involved in providing the licenses to ensure they are legitimate. You can also prove legitimacy by visiting some of the providers’ previous clients as per the client’s feedback list. You will then visit the different companies you have identified and schedule interviews with each of them, at different times to determine the most suited one.
Another essential factor that you must consider is the experience of the solar installation provider. The right provider should have been in the industry for a considerable time. Thus, you will choose those contractors that have already worked on given projects successfully. The experience will also determine the reputation of the provider due to the feedback from the previous and the returning clients. The overall completed projects should be high and this indicates the providers are on demand due to good service delivery. The implication is that the likelihood that they will give you the best service is high.
After establishing the legitimacy of the service providers, you will need to check the insurance status next. The job of installing solar panels involves dangerous climbing that puts the workers at risk. While this may not happen, you do not have to take chances with the lives of the workers. Therefore, you will need to know whether the company takes care of the insurance policy of the involved workers beforehand. You will get this information by interviewing the providers.
After establishing the insurance status, the next major factor is the warranty policy of the company. Although you expect the best results, you should give room for fault or malfunctioning of the system. Thus, you should establish the terms of service such that both of you are clear on the duration under which you are entitled to a refund or repair. Setting these terms of service upfront helps you to choose the company with the best warranty policy.
Next, you will need to understand the pricing conditions of the company. This will involve a description of the costs of each component that will be involved in the installation process. Moreover, you will understand the price ranges as well as the best quality products that will last longer and give you the best service. This is because the right provider should be knowledgeable about these things since he has been in the field for long. You can also ask about the labour costs at this stage.
After establishing the cost range for the filtered list of providers, you now have the potential options. You will then consider the availability of the providers on the time you have scheduled for the project. Chances are that if they are well known, you may have to book for a later date. However, you can negotiate and get the best bargain regarding this aspect. Thus, you will choose the most available provider among your best options.
Before making the choice, you may also want to consider the compatibility you had during the interview with the provider. Apparently, you are more likely to work productively with an agreeable service provider. You can determine this through the ease with which you communicated, and the responses you got during the interview. For instance, the compatible provider will let you express your preferences without imposing his desires on you. Rather, he will offer expert advice and let you make an informed decision.
Additionally, the right candidate should accept an invitation to see the location where you intend to carry out the project. This will help him offer further help on the necessities required for the job. Additionally, this initial visit will create a good rapport, and the provider will schedule the project with the idea of your home in mind.
The last aspect will be to draft a working contract that specifies the terms of services for the entire project. This includes the cost of labour, materials cost, duration of the project, and warranty policy. The provider and you will then sign the contracts in the presence of witnesses, preferably your lawyer. You will be set to work on the project at the set time as agreed upon between the two of you. Following these guidelines will make it easier to identify the right solar installation provider from the sea of available candidates.
Types of Solar Energy Systems
The decision to use a solar panel in your home is a noble one that implies a greener approach to the use of energy. Capturing the sun’s energy for use in the various electric functions in the home saves you the cost of electricity and ensures you minimize harm to the environment, one person at a time. Moreover, it supplements the electricity power, giving you a backup plan in the unlikely event of power loss. This noble idea can be implemented in various ways according to the needs of the solar system, the position of installation, and the budget you have. Here are different systems you can choose from as you make your decision.
This is an amazing option for your solar power needs. The grid connections work in a two-way direction such that they can disperse energy as well as absorb energy through net metering. Thus, during the sunny days, the system will take in energy from the sun and feed it to the grids. The grids will also supply the stored energy to the system during the cloudy days. This reduces your frustration during the cloudy days, as you are still able to enjoy the services of your solar system. Besides, the grid-connected system is desirable because it is relatively cheaper as compared to the other systems. Additionally, the systems are a better option because they work without batteries. The installer can start with a few affordable panels, and as the need arises, they can increase the number of panels.
However, the grid-connected panels may be uneconomical in the rural areas due to the need to install costly power lines for the connections. Additionally, the connections are not functional in cases of grid failure due to events such as storms. Therefore, power interruptions affect the function of the system.
2. Off-Grid Panels
This is the best option when you have an unreliable electric power supply. This is because it works without the help of electricity, implying that it will still work when the supply is down, during blackouts, and in case of disasters. This option can get rid of your electricity bill completely if you are able to harness the solar energy efficiently. This will be a huge benefit if the energy costs in your area are particularly high.
In order to work independent of the electric supply, you will need extensive panels to supply enough energy for all your electricity needs. Unfortunately, the panels are quite costly, and this makes the installation process expensive. Besides the initial cost, you will save many energy costs to make up for the high installation amount. This is the best energy source for people in the rural areas, as they will serve their needs without depending on the unreliable electric supply. Nevertheless, the electricity must be available to supplement the solar in times of cloudy weather such as winter. In the absence of an electricity supply, the individual can use a generator as a source of backup. This is because the off-grid system is unable to save energy during the sunny periods for use later. Therefore, it depends on direct sunlight for functionality.
Additionally, the off-grid panels require batteries to save the sun’s energy and produce it when the sun is no longer in site. This increases the price further since the batteries are rather expensive. Moreover, you will be required to buy new batteries after about seven years since they have a shelf life after which they no longer function as well.
3. Hybrid Solar Panels
You can make use of both the grid and off-grid panels in a single setup to minimize the disadvantages and maximize the advantages of the panels in a hybrid system. Here, you will enjoy the benefits of the grid-connections including the backup plan due to the ability to store the excess energy in the grids and produce it later. The batteries will still be used as a further backup plan for storage of energy. This implies that you can use the solar panels when the power is down, as well as when the sun is out. Thus, it offers enhanced convenience and its usage also helps in reducing the overall costs while maximizing the benefits.
However, the installation cost is higher due to the need for both systems. Moreover, you must purchase the batteries to benefit from the off-grid system when power is out or in order to save the electricity bill.
4. Recreational Vehicles Solar Panel
These are efficient means of taking your solar energy with you when you are on the move. It enhances the adventure of touring or travelling due to the convenience of having solar power available at all times. It uses small kits, and the number you need to install is often high depending on your energy needs. These should be kept from becoming idle in seasons of inactivity as it may lead to battery failure. You can manage this challenge by connecting the panels to chargers that trickle power slowly and keep the batteries active. The RV solar panels make it possible to retreat to remote areas with no electrical connections. Moreover, it ensures you have enough food supply by stocking the refrigerator in the RV. You can also cook the food using heaters. You will need to consider the cost, as well as the season, to ensure you maximize the potential of these solar kits.
Labour Costs for Solar Providers
Despite your best intention in wanting to install solar panels, the cost of installation might be beyond your range. It would be desirable to understand the costs before saving up and preparing for the installation process. Here is a cost break down that will guide your budget for solar panel installation.
The major areas of focus in installing the panels are the hardware and soft prices. The former involves the cost of purchasing all the tangible materials needed for the installation. This is significantly lower, accounting for about 30% of the total costs. The soft costs include the labour and service fees you pay to get the system in place. These take up the major proportion of the costs at about 70%.
The labour costs are charged per the size of the solar panels. Therefore, for each watt, the installer will charge an average of about $3.85. This implies that the labour cost for installing a 5000 watts system will be $17, 000.
You can get a good bargain for your installation costs by choosing the local installers rather than the big names in the industry. This implies that the price range will differ from one installer to the next. Other factors influencing the price include the size and type of the solar panel. This will determine the complexity and delicacy of handling the project, as well as the time required before the installation is complete. Regardless, making the best choice by comparing the prices and the quality of delivery across providers will ensure you get the best bargain for the labour costs involved in the project.
10 Questions to ask your Solar Provider
You wish to have a good fruitful relationship working with your chosen solar installation provider. This will not happen if you do not commit to making ground rules and determining terms of service upfront. This requires scheduling appointments and conducting interviews with the provider to establish their identity and expectations. Failing to ask these questions may lead to frustrations and strained work relationship as it makes the running of affairs rougher. Here are 10 questions you can ask to determine the credibility of the provider.
1. How long have you been in the industry?
This question is essential as it helps you to determine the experience level of the solar installation provider. You will tell the credibility of the information from the way the provider responds to your questions. Nevertheless, you will need to countercheck this information from credible sources later on to avoid con artists.
2. What is the most awarding project you have ever worked on?
Once more, you hope to understand the knowledge level of the person, as well as confirm the stated experience. An expert will have several satisfied clients, and he will describe the experience with confidence and clarity since he has nothing to hide. This confidence will help you to eliminate frauds by instinct. Moreover, since you visited their office, they should provide material regarding the project for support.
3. Can you provide me with two of your most satisfied previous clients?
Once more, you are out to establish the credibility of the providers before making your choice. Talking to some of their previous clients is one way of ascertaining their credibility further. You will achieve this by possibly visiting the references to see the work of the provider before making your pick. If the provider lies about the references, you should eliminate him from the list of prospective providers.
4. Does your company have an active insurance for your workers?
The welfare of the workers that will be involved in the project will be your major responsibility if you do not ensure they have a working insurance policy cover. You need to ask the providers about their insurance policies for workers and determine what is covered in each case. This will guide you in choosing the right provider.
5. How long will this project take?
The solar installation process will affect the entire family as the works invade the home space. Therefore, you want the project to take as little time as possible for the sake of restoring convenience. It will also eliminate the anxiety of you having to wait too long for the completion of the project.
6. What are the best materials to use in the installation?
The service provider should be knowledgeable enough to give you good advice on the right materials to use for the project. This involves the durability and quality of materials as per your preferences, he should help you understand the long-term consequences of choosing certain aerials over the others. You will then have the obligation of making the right decision on the materials you need to use as per your preferences and budget according to the advice given.
7. Tell me about your warranty policy
Once you have identified the service providers, you may want to understand their warranty policy. This will ensure you do not get unpleasant surprises later on when you require their repair due to poor delivery of services and they refuse. You are paying highly for the service, and it should be your priority to ensure you will receive quality services.
8. How much will you charge for the project?
This is the most crucial question. Although you might have been really impressed with the services of a given provider, their price may be out of range. This will give you the option of bargaining to get an accommodating price or to simply let go of the provider in favour of the one with cheap prices. This decision should be regarded carefully because most often, the best provider is likely to charge higher. If the difference in prices is not significant, you should choose the slightly expensive but quality provider.
9. Are there additional unforeseen costs?
You should also be clear on the costs needed to cover the entire project. The provider should be sure to point out additional costs before starting the work in order to avoid inconveniences. Moreover, you are most likely working on a budget, and the moment the prices change, you may be unable to shoulder the additional expense.
10. Will you be available for the duration of the project?
The availability of the provider for the duration you have set to conduct the project is another important aspect. Ask this question to avoid inconveniences. You might negotiate on this aspect if your schedule is flexible.