How to find the best local solar installers near you

Published on 27 Aug, 2018 by Andrew Sendy

4 minutes read

Categories: Solar 101, Solar panels, Solar power


How to find the best local solar installers near you

Now that you've run some numbers on solar and decided it's a good investment, the next step is to find a local solar installer who can build your array and to determine what type of solar panels and inverter to buy. (If you haven't run solar numbers for your house through an online solar panel savings calculator then you might like to do this first).

The idea of finding an installer and the best brand of solar panels can be intimidating. 

How are you supposed to know who is reputable, honorable and good at their job? And what way is there to know which companies will be around to honor their warranties in the future?

Research over many thousands of installations shows there are good reasons to go local, and there are ways for you to find out who the best installers in your area are and find the best current solar deals in your city.

So let's dive into the questions of why you should go local and how to find the best solar deal from the best solar companies.

What are the best solar panels to buy?

There are, broadly speaking, two ways to compare solar panels. You can compare their physical characteristics such as solar panel efficiency or you can compare their reputation through solar panel reviews.

Some of the best brands of residential solar panels are Sunpower, Panasonic, LG Solar, Canadian Solar, Trina Solar, ReneSola, JA Solar and Jinko Solar.

The first three panels listed above are the premium tier 1 brands in terms of price and panel efficiency and the rest are the tier 1 Chinese solar panels that are still very good quality but cheaper.

These group of solar brands is often referred to as the tier 1 solar panels.

What are the best brands of inverters to buy?

Until recently you would have had a choice between a single string inverter (the best brands of string inverters are SMA and Fronius ), micro-inverters or a combination of power optimizers and a string inverter (usually SolarEdge). You can read about the pros and cons of micro-inverters v's string inverters.

However, new rapid shut-down requirements for solar arrays mean that now microinverters and optimizers are becoming much more popular. In this field Enphase, SolarEdge and Tigo are the leaders.

One piece of advice I always give to people new to solar is to stick to a good brand of inverters. Over the years there have been dozens of cheap brands come and go and a string of failures. If something is going to fail in a solar system it is most likely to be the inverter as they are more complex technically than the solar panels themselves.

Why should I go local?

It's certainly easy to find a national installer like Sunrun, Tesla (formerly SolarCity) or Vivint Solar But there are distinct advantages to going local, such as:

Lower prices: Without the overhead necessary to maintain its call-center sales force, local installers can offer you significantly lower prices. A national study from the National Renewable Energy Laboratory found that local installers can save you almost $2,500 over the national chains. That is not an insignificant amount of money.

Better customer service: National chains are more interested in initial sales volume than they are about long-term customer service. As long as their salespeople bring new customers in through the front door, they're not that worried about the number of dissatisfied customers leaving out the back door.

Local companies, on the other hand, have reputations to keep, and they exist in your community. They are much more interested in keeping long-term customers because they don't have the workforce to make their money on volume. Their focus is on you as the customer—and that leads to better customer service in the long run.

Workmanship: Again, when your profit margins depend on volume, you're far less likely to spend the time to do a perfect job. After all, you have another customer just down the block waiting on you to do their installation, so you'd better get the first job done and get onto the second. Time, after all, is money.

Local installers are more likely to have the time to spend doing the job properly with the proper equipment and installation. They also know that you are more willing to recommend them if the job gets done right the first time, so they are often ready to spend the extra time on workmanship.

How do I find the right local installer?

Now that you've decided to hire a local installer, how do you go about finding one? Well, there are numerous ways, but here are some of the ones we like the best:

Ask friends and neighbors. The best recommendation is from someone who has had the work done by a contractor.

They say solar is contagious. So if you're looking at getting solar installed, there's a good chance that someone in your neighborhood has already had it done. Ask them who they used and if they were satisfied.

Check local government websites. Local governments are encouraging more people to move to solar and other clean energies. As a result, they may well have a list of preferred vendors and installers with whom they recommend you work.

Find your best local installer at SolarReviews.com. With thousands of real-life reviews from real customers, SolarReviews.com is the perfect place to start your search.

Just type in your zip code and voila—the best-reviewed local installers at your fingertips.

Read the reviews yourself and determine which local firm suits your needs best. It's one of the simplest ways to find local pros that can help you go solar at a reasonable cost.

 

See live solar prices from top rated solar companies in your area

 

 

 

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Author: Andrew Sendy

As chairman of Solar Investments Inc and chairman of the largest solar panel installation company in South Australia, Andy is passionate about solar power. With his unique working background he writes on the residential solar industry in America from a unique perspective.