If you’ve done your homework and selected a few reputable solar installers to provide you an estimate, you should be in a position to evaluate the best fit for your situation and property. However, occasionally there are elements of an estimate that are confusing or unclear. Here are three tips to help you discern between subtle differences and obvious red flags.
1. Projected savings
It’s crucial to look closely at the financial assumptions that each installer is making to provide you with projected savings over your system’s life. For example, it is unlikely that the electric rates provided by your utility will stay the same year-over-year for the next 20 years. Make sure the assumptions made by each provider are grounded in reality, and you're not being provided with unrealistic expectations.
2. System size and layout
Every solar estimate should outline the size of the system (the number of panels and their estimated production) and provide a layout plan for the arrangement of those panels. If the system’s size is significantly different from proposal to proposal, you’ll want to understand why. Some installers may adjust the size of the system or the location and placement of panels to avoid obstructions that might restrict your system’s effectiveness or cause an issue during installation. Don’t be afraid to ask your rep to clarify any discrepancies between their proposal and the others.
3. Lack of specification
If a proposal lacks component specifications, this might be a red flag. Be sure to ask your solar rep to provide you with more clarification as to what components they used to calculate your estimate. If the specific product names have been left off the proposal, but the rep can tell you what panels and inverter will be used, ask them to provide you this information in writing.
However, if the installer is unable to identify the specific components, this may signify that the installer is trying to time the market and hoping to select whatever components are at the lowest price when it comes time for your installation. A well-established and reputable provider should be able to explain their equipment options, availability, and potential for any future changes to equipment, but your project specifications should not be open ended and offer only generic equipment information.
For more information on how to find the absolute best installer to accomplish your solar installation, download our eBook, Comparing Solar Estimates.
Download our eBook, Comparing Solar Estimates, to discover more about how to properly vet solar installers and choose the right partner for your energy needs.