By Tim Henderson
Installing solar panels to generate power is an important investment and a big step forward. Although there are many potential advantages, it’s worth taking the time to consider your options as thoroughly as possible. Instead of just obtaining competing prices, you need to know how to compare solar system quotes in the appropriate context.
As with any purchase, however, picking the best home solar systems is easier said than done. Here are ten tips for shedding light on your decision-making process so that you can finally take advantage of the power that the sun’s been providing for free all along.
Every region receives usable sunlight for a certain average length of time each day. Quotes that overstate your capacity seem like they offer a chance to generate more energy, but in our experience, San Francisco Bay Area properties typically receive a maximum of 5.6 sun hours.
To get a better understanding of your solar capacity, check out the following map from the National Renewable Energy Laboratory.
It depicts how much power you can potentially generate per meter each day, so it’s a vital companion to any quote.
Utility rates escalate over time. Quotes that inflate this growth amount may give the misleading appearance of heightened savings. Installers who stick to conservative rates around 4 percent offer more accurate portrayals of your solar power profits.
Each solar module has an efficiency rating, typically between 17-20%, that represents how much of the sun’s incoming rays it converts to usable power. If you can’t decide between two similarly priced options, just remember that the more efficient solar panel system will produce superior returns.
Warranty protection terms and periods vary widely. Always look for
Since inverters can be an expensive to replace, it is advisable to look for inverters that offer a 12 year warranty, or an extended warranty option. Individual component warranties may also help you maintain your solar rebate program eligibility.
Inverters convert the DC electricity that solar modules generate into AC voltages that the power grid and your outlets can use. Some quotes include micro-inverters that perform this task at the per-module level, which works well for systems that receive partial shade or roofs that have many distinct angles.
Micro-inverters permit fine-grained performance tracking, and they’re relatively straightforward to install. Nonetheless, they’ll cost you more than power optimizers that provide similar advantages. So, if you want to save money, yet still have a module monitoring granularity, we recommend going with optimizers.
One-stop shopping isn’t just convenient. In the realm of solar power, it’s a hallmark of success. Firms that design, procure, install, troubleshoot and handle all other aspects of solar power systems are more invested in their work and likely to take responsibility for the results.
Supporting the American solar panel industry helps make solar power generation more sustainable for all. If you can’t buy domestic, there are other excellent choices available. Consider the manufacturing company – are they bankable and known for high quality products? It is always best to choose options known for their reliability rather than their inexpensive price tags.
Anyone who works on your property should be bonded and insured. Insurance covers costly mishaps like worker accidents, and bonding protects you from contractors that fall short of their promises. Both are essential parts of reliable solar power quotes.
The North American Board of Certified Energy Practitioners, or NABCEP, sets the standards for renewable energy practices and professional credentialing. As the solar industry’s most widely acknowledged mark of excellence, NABCEP certification signifies an installer’s trustworthiness, reliability and adherence to accepted professional methodologies.
Those who choose solar energy quotes that incorporate financing pay more than mere interest. Instead of just considering the bottom line, always look at the per-kW-hour expense. Zero-down products and leases typically cost far more per kWh in the long run.
Now that you understand how to compare solar quotes, all you have to do is find reputable providers. Sandbar Solar & Electric takes pride in equipping you with the insights that you need to make a smarter decision about your Santa Cruz, Monterey, San Jose or Bay Area property’s solar-powered future. Discover how our dedication to environmental stewardship and passion for quality work can change your life by getting your free solar quote today.
Tim has worked in the solar industry since 2008. He has a Master's Degree in Energy Resources Engineering from Stanford University. His years of experience include working on solar energy projects for both homes and commercial properties. Tim enjoys sharing his knowledge of this evolving industry and making a difference in his community.
October 26, 2019: How to Get Off the Grid
SB901 Explained: What Is it and Why Should You Care?
When Will the Solar Tax Credit Expire?
What Are Microgrids and How do They Work?
California PGE Rolling Blackouts: What you Need to Know
4 Things to Know About the Federal Solar Tax Credit in 2019
The PG&E Rate Increase of 2019: What you Need to Know
How Does Solar Energy Work? A Step by Step Guide