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How to Choose a Solar Panel Installer in California
Interested in installing solar panels on your Southern California home? Solar panels are a long-term investment, so make sure to thoroughly vet nearby solar providers and find one you can trust to do the job well and that will perfectly fit your needs.
First, let’s take a look at the most important qualities you should expect from a trusted solar panel installer.
Expertise in the community
Proper licenses and insurance
Quality solar equipment and materials
Comprehensive warranty & guarantee
Financing and maintenance options
Excellent customer service and communication
How do you figure out your options and pick a company with all these characteristics? Keep reading for our step-by-step guide on how to choose a solar panel installer the right way.
Have questions about installing solar panels in Southern California?
Find the answers you need on our FAQ page.
Step 1: Compile a list of local Southern California solar providers
Do a Google search or look on Yelp for solar installers near you and make a list of 3-5 solar companies who are local to Southern California.
Why go with a local company? While national installers will likely be larger and more well-known, choosing the right local company allows for a more personalized and overall better experience. Plus, remember that experience is always more important than company size.
There are many benefits to working with a local solar panel company. For one, a local company will closely understand California’s rebate options and necessary county permitting requirements. Additionally, because community reputation is a huge part of a small business’ success, a local installer will have a more vested interest in providing excellent service.
There’s some very important information you need to confirm, including:
California solar contractor license
Bonded and insured workers
How long they’ve been in business
Number of solar panels installed
Types of roofs they work with
Look for this information on the company’s website. However, don’t be afraid to call and ask them directly!
Step 3: Read reviews, ask for referrals
Beyond the details provided by the company, you should also find out what past clients are saying. Afterall, all those certifications won’t mean anything if the company doesn’t provide a great customer experience.
The best way to find out the company’s reputation in the community is to read reviews. Here are a few of the best places to look for this information:
If you’d like further verification, you can also ask the company to provide referrals.
Step 4: Understand the company’s financing options
Solar panels are an investment, so you may need to consider financing options – many people do! Reputable solar companies will always provide financing options, so find out what they are and compare!
The best solar financing options include:
No out-of-pocket money
Low interest rates
Easy qualification, even for those with bad credit
Overall competitive pricing (willing to price match or even beat competitor pricing)
Many companies will offer the option to either lease or buy your solar panels. It’s always better to buy vs. lease your solar panels. When you buy your solar panels, you’ll save more in the long-term and be eligible for tax credits.
Step 5: Learn the materials used and warranty offered
Let’s face it, quality materials last longer – and this is particularly true when it comes to solar panels. A few questions to ask about a company’s solar panel options include:
Where are the solar panels are made?
Do you offer custom-designed solar panel systems or a one-size-fits-all approach?
Will you cater your installation equipment based on the needs of my home?
Do your solar panel systems come with a manufacturer’s warranty of up to 25 years?
What kind of maintenance is required on this solar panel system? Do you offer maintenance options?
A trusted company will also provide a labor warranty to cover the quality of their work. These types of warranties vary, but the best ones will last up to 10 years.
Step 6: Gauge the length of the installation process
Get a feel for the turnaround time the solar company can provide so you know what to expect.
Thanks to the popularity of solar panels in California, many installers are very busy and scheduled out months in advance. Find out the timeframe you’d be looking at to ensure the installer fits with your deadline.
You should also gauge how long the installation process will take, start to finish. Often, it can take around 30 days since the city will have to perform a final inspection and you’ll also need to coordinate bringing the system online with your utility company.
Step 7: Request a quote
At this point, you’ll probably have narrowed your list down to 2 or 3 choices. Now is the time to request a quote.
If the company gives you a price over the phone, beware. In order to give an accurate cost estimate, an installer will need to come out to your home and evaluate your space. This estimate should always be free!
During this interaction, make a note of the following:
How well the installer communicates
Level of customer service
Once you’ve received quotes from your top choices, it’s time to choose your installer! Don’t be afraid to ask for a price match. In fact, the best solar installers will be happy to meet or even beat a competitor’s pricing.
Ready to choose a solar installer?
Here at Inter Faith Electric & Solar, we have over 20 years of professional experience and have installed thousands of solar panel systems throughout Southern California!
How do we stand up to the competition? View a summary of our services below or give us a call to learn more. We’d be happy to provide more information and help you take back the power.