The price of solar panels has fallen more than 75 percent since 2009, which is great news, considering carbon emissions are at an all-time high. Despite this, however, the upfront cost of buying and installing solar panels (and their supporting parts), is still pretty steep for the average family. That’s why our team at The Simple Dollar spent weeks researching and creating a guide to help make going solar and doing your part for the environment an affordable reality.
Consider these four key factors when searching for a solar panel manufacturer:
Longevity — Solar energy is a relatively new industry, and one that is growing incredibly quickly. In a tough and competitive market, go for a manufacturer that has been around for more than just a couple of years to ensure you’re getting what you’re paying for!
Power — Roofs are pretty limited in their space, so ensuring that your panels capitalize on that space to get the job done is one surefire way to lower your installation costs! We recommend going for panels with at least a 230 watt output.
Efficiency Rating — The research team at Reviews.com recommend another metric that can determine just how many panels you really need: figure out how efficiently each panel creates energy by meansuring output in relation to the panel’s surface area. The average efficiency rating for the best panels is 16.5, so keep that number in mind during your search!
Customer Service — Fingers crossed, you probably shouldn’t have to contact your manufacturer. But if ever you need to utilize that warranty, it’s important to ensure the manufacturer you go with has a user-friendly website, with clear contact information and positive experiences from other customers.
The Next Step: Finding the Right Installer
The most efficient way to get responses (even in the growing world of online forms) is calling providers. Look out for these 5 factors when you call:
Warranty — Make sure the panels, the inverter, and the labor are under warranty. We suggest a 25-year warranty, to ensure that your upkeep costs are minimal.
Guaranteed Efficiency — If your panels don’t deliver on their promised production rate, certain installers will pay you per kilowatt/hour. Ask if this is an option, and find out how the production rate is tracked and measured so you get what you pay for!
Customer Service and Reviews — Use that phone call to judge how accessible, knowledgeable, and helpful the customer service process is. You don’t want to be stuck finding out that you’ll be on hold for an hour when you really need it! Check other customer’s reviews and experiences (with a grain of salt, of course) and keep an eye out for the factors that really matter to you.
Go Local — Choosing a local provider can offer a ton of benefits, including better rates and higher accountability than a national provider. It’s worth it to do research and find out if there is a reputable solar installer in your area.
Credentials — Make sure that your installer is certified by the North American Board of Certified Energy Practitioners (NABCEP), or has extensive work history and quality training by a different reputable organization.
To determine the best option for you, shop around for quotes and run the numbers. For more information, including your pricing options and our recommendations visit: http://www.thesimpledollar.com/best-solar-panels/