Your 10 Step Guide to Choosing a Solar Company in Salinas, CA

By Jeremy Pearl

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Last Updated on October 4, 2021 by Jeremy Pearl
Oct 04

Here in Salinas, energy conservation plays an important role in municipal operations.

The city’s investments are expected to lower energy costs for taxpayers by more than $22 million over the next 25 years.

Many Salinas businesses are also cashing in on projected savings by switching to solar. One local high school made solar news with solar panel installations that continue to reduce campus energy consumption.

If this has you thinking about a home solar energy system in Salinas, let us share some information on where you can start.

With so many solar providers in Salinas and the surrounding area, there are some important things you’ll want to look for.

10 Questions to Ask Before Hiring a Solar Installer

When you’re ready to choose an installer for residential roof solar panels, you want to handle the selection process with confidence.

These 10 questions can help you decide on the right solar panel company for your home.

1. Is the Business Properly Licensed and Fully Certified?

Working with a company that’s licensed and insured protects your property and your project investment. A reputable solar installer readily provides information that you can verify online.

In addition to meeting solar licensing requirements, solar technicians should be industry-certified.

This is your assurance that your job is handled by highly skilled professionals who specialize in solar panel projects.

2. Are They an Experienced Solar Provider?

Experience and longevity are very important. You want to hire a solar provider with an established reputation for successfully completing residential, commercial and municipal projects.

Visit several solar company websites. Browse their online portfolios of residential solar installations. Read their About page to confirm how they got started and how long they’ve been in business.

3. What Do Their Customers Say?

Independent review sites give you an idea of what to expect from different solar contractors.

Some of the most helpful sites include business responses to positive reviews as well as complaints. A company should always have a professional attitude when dealing with customers online.

Family and friends are often good references for the top solar companies in your area. Talk to neighbors who have solar panels on their roof. Ask them about their experience.

4. Does the Consultation Feel Personal?

When a solar company makes a good first impression, it’s a positive indicator of their attitude towards customer service.

An initial consultation should focus on what makes your project unique. It should always be done in person. Think twice about a solar business that relies only on remote image-based data to assess your home.

It’s helpful to have an initial conversation over the phone to discuss your goals for the project, but your solar assessment should include an in-person visit to your home to best determine the full scope and cost of your project.

Meeting with your Salinas solar consultant at the beginning of the project will minimize change orders and surprises later.

Use that first meeting to ask important questions. A solar contractor in Salinas with experience will readily offer answers and explanations. He or she should go into detail if needed to address any concerns you might have about the process.

5. Do They Explain Your Solar Equipment Options?

If you’re like most homeowners, you may not be familiar with solar panel equipment.

Different components affect everything from installation cost to operation and energy savings, so ask about these options.

  • Specific types of solar panels for your home
  • Number of solar panels needed for your job
  • Overall system capacity and generation expectations
  • Different types of inverters with recommendations for your system
  • Options for expanding your system in the future
  • Solar battery backup and energy storage solutions

The right solar contractor explains components, their differences and how each one affects system performance. Understanding equipment details puts you in a better position to weigh your options.

6. Do They Explain Federal Solar Tax Credits?

Most homeowners can capture savings on residential solar installations through federal tax credits.

During your initial consultation, ask about the 26% Investment Tax Credit. An experienced solar professional can explain how the tax credit works. Always consult a licensed tax professional for detailed tax questions.

The tax credit covers your investment, including labor costs for solar panel assembly, installation and connection to your home’s electric system. If the tax credit is more than your expected tax liability, you may be eligible to carry it forward to the next taxable year.

7. Do They Offer Solar Panel Warranties?

Home solar systems have a solid reputation for durability and dependability. Still, you want to be sure your investment is covered by warranty.

Ask about warranty protection available for your installation. Coverage should provide a product and performance warranty from the solar panel manufacturer.

You also want a service workmanship warranty from the solar company. This covers installation and usually remains effective for at least 10 years.

Now is a good time to contact your insurance agent and ask about residential solar system coverage available through your homeowner’s policy.

8. How Do They Develop a Quote?

It’s important to work with a solar contractor who gives you a straightforward quote. Your proposal should include total project costs, incentive amounts, and net costs after incentives.

Additionally, look for these factors:

  • Preliminary design and layout
  • Estimated total savings through 25 years
  • Estimated energy produced monthly and annually
  • Assumptions used to factor in your current annual energy use

As with many things, the lowest quote isn’t always your best choice. For example, it may not be based on installing quality equipment and subcontractors may be involved to install your equipment. Subcontractors are often under-paid and low labor costs can reflect minimum manpower, quality and time assigned to the job.

If you have any concerns about a lowball bid, ask for a clear analysis of the numbers.

9. Can the Solar Company Help with Financing?

There are a number of financing options available for homeowners who want to switch to solar. An experienced solar business is familiar with different types of financing and can often help navigate the paperwork.

Before making a final decision, share the information with your financial professional.

10. Are You Hiring a Full-Service Solar Provider?

As you compare solar companies, consider these advantages of working with a full-service provider.

  • In-house design teams develop a custom solar array plan for your home.
  • Components are sourced directly through the solar company.
  • Certified electricians and solar technicians take care of all installation work.
  • Solar professionals handle the inspection and permitting process.

As a full-service provider serving Salinas, CA, Sandbar Solar & Electric works with you from initial consultation to flipping the switch to energize your solar energy system.

You don’t have to deal with multiple contacts for labor, equipment or financing, and you always know exactly what to expect.

Do You Have More Questions About Hiring a Solar Company in Salinas, CA?

When you speak with different solar businesses, we hope this overview serves as a helpful reference.

We’re a local solar provider that services the Salinas area with more than 150 years of combined experience, and we’re always here to answer your questions.

Our last recommendation is simple:

If you feel you’re being pressured into a decision, keep looking.

When Salinas homeowners choose a solar company, they want to do business with a provider they can trust.

Here at Sandbar Solar, we look forward to providing you with that sense of confidence.

Give us a call for a free, no-obligation solar consultation today: 831-469-8888

About the Author

Jeremy has worked in the solar industry since 2006. He has a Bachelor’s Degree from UC Santa Cruz in Environmental Studies. Jeremy has spent most of his solar career in residential sales and Sales Management in both California and Hawaii. He was raised in Santa Cruz County and is passionate about helping local residents make the switch to clean and reliable renewable energy. Jeremy lives on the Westside with his wife and two boys and enjoys music, photography and hiking in his personal time.