Jason RothmanMay 30, 20184330
We know that going solar is a major financial decision.
If you are plan on installing solar for your home, a comparison-shopping approach will ensure that you get a better deal, before you commit to a solar panel installer.
By simply looking at different options, you can save a lot more than if you just pick the first or biggest solar panel installer. While you are in the exploration phase and you aren’t even sure you want to make the leap, take the time to review different solar energy quotes in detail and don’t hesitate to ask lots of questions.
When looking at systems, you need to compare apples to apples.
The best way to do that is to get the price of a system per watt. For example, if you are quoted a lump sum of $20,000 for a solar panel system (before tax rebates), to figure out how much it costs per watt, you first need to know the maximum wattage of your system.
If your system has 20 panels at 300 watts each, that means you have a 6 kW system or 6,000 watts. At $20,000, the price per watt comes out to $3.33.
It may also be helpful to ask your solar company for an itemized price list so that you can see what that $20,000 actually includes, and make sure the company doesn’t stick you with any hidden fees.
Just like you should compare the cost of solar equipment, you should also compare the cost of installation services from various installers.
You don’t want that $3 per watt price to rise to $5 or $6 dollars a watt because of hidden costs from an installer.
Though it is true that the more installers you talk to the more options you will have to compare, a good number to aim for is three to four installers. If you talk to just one installation company, especially if you let them know that you are talking to just one, you are giving that installer free reign to increase the cost of their services however high they can go, as they are not competing for business. If those solar installers are competing for your business, they will change their price, or at least differentiate why they are a better choice.
HahaSmart Tip: Keep in mind that though many companies lump the product and installation price together, you can find a more transparent price by getting the solar product quote separately from installation cost.
Don’t underestimate the importance of other, not cost-related factors when choosing an installer. Having a trustworthy, skilled professional installing your home solar system is crucial to your successful transition to solar.
There are more than 100 different solar panel brands, too many for most people to try and analyze. The good news is that solar panels are all pretty standard, with very minor variations across brands. If two panels have the same power rating, they should both function the same, regardless of the price. The biggest variations in solar panel costs have more to do with brand popularity than the actual quality of solar panels.
If you want to analyze panels brands and models in depth, you can compare them based on efficiency, durability, warranty, and visual appeal. Keep in mind that though you will pay more for higher efficiency solar panels, you only need to worry about maximizing efficiency if your roof space is limited. For a detailed look at the criteria for selecting solar panels read our blog.
HahaSmart Tip: Call a salesperson for a solar distributor such as BayWa.re or Fortune Energy and ask them about the current cheapest, mid-tier and high-end products. These are the people that sell to installers and they will give you an honest evaluation and may even refer you to a reputable local installer.
Choosing the right power inverter is crucial to the performance of your solar powered system. A good inverter can mean a difference of up to 20 percent in your system’s production. Inverters convert the DC electricity produced by solar panels to alternating current (AC) electricity, which is the type used by your home.
They convert electricity from multiple panels in a string. These have traditionally been the cheapest, but prices are now leveling out. These are not as shade-tolerant and don’t let you monitor each panel’s performance, so they’re best if your roof has full sun all day. Any problems with one panel will be felt across the entire string because string inverters essentially treat a group of panels as if they were a single large panel.
They convert electricity from one panel. This can be a great option if you have any shading. If one or two panels are shaded at any time, the rest of your panels will still keep producing. Most microinverters allow panel-level monitoring. Microinverters can be more complex and costly to install because they must be installed in tandem with individual solar panels.
Here is a more detailed guide comparing string inverters versus microinverters if you want to learn more.
At HahaSmart we encourage every homeowner to receive and compare at least 4 different quotes to find the best deal for their project. Comparing quotes allows you to maximize returns on your investment and to end up with great solar equipment at a low cost.
Check out our list of verified installers that work with HahaSmart. We have a lot of installers that we work with and we can help find a great one near you.
If you are interested in solar for your home, please visit the HahaSmart Price Checker Tool yourself. You can not only see how much a solar panel system would cost in your area, you can find get help with every aspect of your project. Enter your information and see how much you can save in the next 20 years.
Thank you for reading this blog and we hope you use this complete guide to comparing solar quotes to get the best return on your investment.
For information relating to going solar don’t forget to visit our solar blog section for more handy guides and articles.
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