The solar power system is one of the most expensive investments you’ll make for your home. So, it makes sense to find a reliable local solar company to work with. But with a vast selection of providers in the market, it can be a little confusing knowing which one to settle with. This article will break down the entire process to make it easier for you to identify the most reliable provider near you.
Local solar company vs. national companies
In your quest to find the most reliable local solar company online, you’ll notice that some companies operate within Arizona while others do so nationally. National providers install solar panels in various locations and states.
They are well-known thanks to their massive advertising efforts and an extensive network of clients. Local providers, on the other hand, only serve a specific area – like Scottsdale, Tempe, Mesa, etc. This gives them an edge in essential local expertise and building code knowledge.
With everything that national companies offer, it may seem counterintuitive to work with smaller solar companies. But a local solar company offers plenty of benefits that are much more suitable for your home’s solar power project. These include:
- More savings. According to NREL, local solar installation costs about 10% lower than national installation.
- Fewer communication hurdles to jump over. There are no intermediaries when you have the same team handling your work start to finish (and service). Working with a local company also fosters stronger customer-to-company relationships.
- It’s a partnership instead of a transaction. The best local providers don’t go with the “set it and forget it” approach. They depend on word-of-mouth referrals for business growth. In most cases, they will be just as invested in the project as you are.
- Accountability: Reliable contractors hire full-time employees and subcontractors who report directly to the company owner. This creates an accountability level that may miss in bigger national companies.
- Knowledge of the area and architecture: Since a local company serves your specific area, the team will have a better understanding of the conditions and how to get the most out of solar panels and installation services.
But you cannot just settle for a solar company by virtue of it being local alone. You need to find the best one to fulfill your needs. Here is a quick guide on how to identify the right local solar company for you.
Where to look
At this point, your only intention should be to identify at least four to six options and choose a local solar company that stands out. You can do this by:
Walking by the streets
Local businesses are always within reach. So, if you don’t mind the struggle, you can take the time to walk around town to find a reputable local solar company.
Asking for referrals
Ask your friends, family, neighbors, or colleagues for referrals. Anyone within your circles that has had solar panels installed recently can be a great resource.
Using sites and apps to find local solar companies
You can also use sites and apps to find local solar companies. The good thing about using apps and sites is that you can access more information with a click of a button. These platforms have vast information, including pictures, reviews, operational hours, testimonials, and will give you broad insights into the companies. Google My Business, Whitepages, Yelp, Yahoo Local, Google Maps, HomeAdvisor, etc., are good examples of such apps and sites.
What to look for
Now that you’ve identified a couple of prospects, your next step should be to compare them head to head. Here are a few questions to ask yourself when analyzing a local solar company you plan to hire.
Does the local solar company have a valid license and insurance?
What better way to tell a reliable company apart from the rest than to look at certification? Certifications and licenses show that a company adheres to industry standards and regulations. It also shows that the company qualifies to render the solar solutions that it claims to offer.
The Interstate Renewable Energy Council has a page that lists licensing requirements for all states. The State of Arizona requires anyone repairing or installing a solar panel be certified as a solar contractor. However, it doesn’t specify a particular certifying agency. So, you’ll just ask the company for their license number and verify it online.
In addition to licenses and certification, a reliable company will be insured. Insurance protects you against any liability should any damages or accidents happen on your site. But don’t just focus on the business alone.
It’s equally important to ensure that the team is also certified and insured. Typical business licenses for solar installers include electrician, contracting, and home improvement licenses. And at a minimum, installers should hold general liability insurance.
Do the contractors have the necessary expertise for the job?
When accessing the different solar power companies in Arizona, check if the prospects will offer a free evaluation. Free evaluation is a good sign that a company doesn’t just offer installation, but expertise on the matter as well. The company in question should provide an assessment and options for the right type of solar panel based on your needs. They will base their decision on aspects like amount of space, your roof structure, the surroundings, consumption rate, etc., to recommend the best home solar panels.
But don’t forget to ask for their portfolio and references. If you don’t mind putting in a little work, go ahead and call up their previous clients for a firsthand account of their experience working with the company. You can also double-check how long the company in question has been in operation – usually, the longer, the better. Other critical pointers include latest technology and NABCEP certification.
Reviews and testimonials
Most companies will blow their trumpets and speak highly of their services. They’ll tell you how qualified they are and why you should work (or buy) with them. But you don’t want to take their word for it – because it could be lies to lure you in. Instead, you want to check out reviews from reputable third-party sites like Better Business Bureau.
Pay attention to the complaints and whether or not the company in question resolved them. A resolved complaint should be less of a concern. It’s also worth checking out other sites – but read the reviews with a grain of salt. Some reviews – especially those on sites with the pay-to-play reputation, are easily manipulated and are a less reliable indicator of quality. Google reviews tend to be a little more trustworthy than sites with a history of pay-for-placement.
Solar panels and solar systems can be quite pricey. So, it’s best to err on the side of caution and ensure that your investment is protected with a warranty. A reliable company will provide a warranty of system components (usually from manufacturer) as well as workmanship.
Most local solar companies will have to bring in subcontractors at some point along the installation process. But reliable ones will tell you why and when they use sub-contractors and whether they oversee the sub-contractors. It’s a good idea to find out how long a provider has been working with the sub-contractor in question.
There’s a cause for concern if they keep changing sub-contractors within a short timeframe. That could be an indication of bad management or lack of trust. The same applies to a company that subcontracts all work or hands you a contract with a different company name.
Cost is an important aspect but shouldn’t be used to determine the reliability of a local solar company. We recommend considering all the aspects that we’ve discussed in this article first before looking at the cost. The rule of thumb is to ensure that the company meets the above criteria first.
Finding a reliable local solar company
A legitimate and reliable local solar company must have many positive attributes. It has a good reputation in the solar community, is dedicated to only using the top solar panels and products, and has proper certifications. But what sets the best solar power company apart from the good ones is the personal attention that a company provides you.