Jessica PirroDecember 16, 20193730
When getting a solar panel installation, all of the information you are given can be a bit overwhelming. To ensure that you are getting the best deal possible on your solar-powered system, you are going to want to make sure that you are comparing quotes from solar installers.
Comparing quotes is going to be one of the most vital parts of ensuring that you’re getting a good deal on a solar-powered system. Here are a few ways that you can compare solar panel installations quotes:
Compare Solar Installers
Solar panels are a big purchase, that is installed (most of the time) on your rooftop. You are going to want to make sure that you will be working as a reputable solar installer.
How do you find a reputable solar installer? References. Get references from friends, neighbors and online resources! Check and see if the solar installer has been in business for a while. You should also pay attention to the vibe each solar installer sends out. Listen to your gut if it feels wrong!
Compare Cash Prices
Comparing prices is going to be fairly easy, regardless if you are choosing to buy or get a lease for solar panels.
When leasing a car, a good approach is to determine what the best cash price would be, then you would find a good deal on your lease based on that information. This tactic is also going to work for solar panels. The way you would compare these quotes on the cost of solar is to look at dollars per watt.
If you’re quoted a price of $20,000 before solar incentives (which is going to be the same no matter who you go with). If the quote is 20 solar panels at 250 watts, this means it’s a 500-watt solar-powered system. So at $20,000, the price comes to $4 per watt.
Compare Solar Power Equipment and Services
Solar panels themselves aren’t going to vary that much. Yes, you are going to pay more of solar panels with high efficiency, but you aren’t going to need to maximize efficiency unless your roof space is limited.
What you are going to want to focus on is going to be the solar power inverter. The solar power inverter is what converts the sun’s rays into solar power. You will have three kinds of solar power inverters to choose from:
- String solar power inverters have traditionally been the cheapest, but the prices are now leveling out. These are not going to be as shade-tolerant and aren’t going to let you monitor each of the solar panel's performance, so it will be best if your roof receives sun all day.
- Microinverters are going to be a good option if your rooftop receives any shading. If one or two of the solar panels receive shade at any time, the rest of the solar panels are still going to produce solar power. Most of the microinverters will allow panel-level monitoring.
- Optimizers function a lot like microinverters are will sometimes be cheaper.
You should always check your solar panels and solar power inverter's warranties. String solar power inverters are the only item in the solar-powered system that will most likely need to be replaced at one point or another. When it comes to maintenance and solar-powered systems, it tends to be very low, but a lot of companies are going to offer a service for repairs and maintenance, just in case it is needed.
Compare Financing for Solar
Financing for solar has come a long way. You will have the option to choose from the options listed below:
- Cash Purchase: this is going to be the cheapest over time if you have the cash - it will also be the simplest and fastest way to finance your solar-powered system.
- Loans for Solar: These days there’s going to be all different kinds of loans for solar: home equity loans, PACE loans, regular bank loans, loans from solar installers. Things to compare are terms, interest rates, and origination fees - and watch for any escalation rates or prepayment charges. Because of financing charges, you’re going to pay a little bit more for a loan for solar over time, than for a cash purchase, but you are going to end up owning your solar-powered in the end.
- Solar Lease or Power Purchase Agreement: This option is going to end up costing you the most in the end, but you are going to end up saving on your electric bill from Day 1, most of the time with no money down. Solar leases and PPAs can be hard to compare because many variables are baked into the numbers. To find the best cash deal, then you can decide whether or not to lease your solar-powered system.
The Solar-Powered Systems Performance?
Because the solar panels aren’t going to differ much, solar-powered systems that are similar in size will have a very similar performance. How much solar power a solar panel installation will generate will be based on a lot of assumptions that are made by the solar installer.
Because of that, what you don’t want to compare is projections for the performance of a solar-powered system - or how much electricity and money your solar-powered system is expected to save you. Unless the solar-powered systems are different sizes, you can expect to save the amount from different solar-powered systems.
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