At this point, you’ve likely collected three or so quotes from the best local and national installer around. Good job! That’s half the battle in your search for the best solar company. Now it’s time to evaluate these solar quotes and choose which company will win your business.
Note: If you’re still on the hunt, read about vetting solar installers here and the mistakes you should avoid here to narrow down your search!
Comparing solar quotes is tough. Namely because each solar installer may be using a different software, equipment and estimation processes for how much energy your system will produce. Here are the easiest ways to compare solar quotes!
Look at the price per watt, not the total.
To calculate this (if it’s not already on your proposal), just take the total system cost and divide it by your total system size in watts. To convert your system size to watts, move the decibel to the right three spaces, so a 10.5kW system size would become 10,500 watts for the calculation. Pricing inevitably varies (quite a bit in some cases), so this is the easiest and quickest way to calculate your quote.
This will make it easier to compare quotes that have different sized systems, which is almost always the case!
Keep in mind that not all solar companies are created equal! If there is a large difference in pricing, make sure to ask the higher-priced installers what their reasoning is. It should come down to proper estimations of the system size you need and the equipment they are using.
Make sure they've maximized your roof space...accurately.
Assuming there are no issues with your roof or shading, the south face of your roof should be maximized in regard to solar panel placement, as shown below.
You may live in a city that doesn’t require setbacks, in which case panels can go all the way to the ridge of your roof faces (woo hoo!). This is important because inaccurately placed panels in the quote process will mean changes (and potentially price changes) down the line. Changes happen, but they should be minor.
You also want to make sure there isn’t a large discrepancy between quotes when it comes to the year one production estimate. If there is a big gap, make sure to talk to your energy consultant about why their estimate is so high (or low). Typically, very high estimates are exaggerated and leave something to be desired a few months in when your energy bill arrives! You want a conservative estimate, which will leave you pleasantly surprised.
Ensure that the products and warranties are top-tier.
Panels should have a minimum warranty of 25 years, while inverters should have a warranty of 10-25 years. Batteries should have a minimum warranty of 10 years. Ideally, the workmanship warranty should be 25 years or more!
The workmanship warranty ensures that you won’t be left in the lurch if your system needs maintenance down the road and that your solar installer will be making the calls and orders, as well as doing the installation. At Sunshine, we warranty your system for 30 years with SolarInsure.
Panels should have an efficiency between 18 and 22%. You’ll pay a bit of a premium for anything 20% or higher, but it will be worth it in the long run. That being said, panels below 20% are still very effective and worth the investment if you are trying to keep within a certain budget. Here is a great article on panel comparisons if you want to do a little research!
Also keep in mind that some companies sell refurbished solar panels to decrease the bottom line. If a price looks suspiciously low, ask your energy consultant about this. While there is nothing wrong with refurbished panels, you may not want this and should definitely be made aware that this is what you’re buying!
It can be a bit mind-numbing to make sure you’re getting the best bang for your buck, but it’s worth the time spent. Now go on with your new knowledge and get the best deal out there!
Also, feel free to reach out to us for questions here. We love helping customers on the hunt for the right solar installer to match their needs! Also, click below for a no-pressure quote for your home.