This article is a continuation of What Questions Should I Ask My Solar Company (part 1).
As a homeowner, you may have many questions about going solar and it is very important that all of them are answered so that you feel confident that switching to solar is right for your home. Here are some more common questions you should ask your solar company and some basic first hand information about each:
How Much Experience Do You Have in Solar?
Residential solar is a rather new industry and it wasn’t until the last decade that it really started taking off. It wasn’t until recently that solar was affordable for everyone. Due to that, you’ll rarely find companies that have been at this for twenty or thirty years. However, there is a difference between a company that just started and one that’s been doing this for 5-10 years.
And, because the solar industry is growing at a very fast rate, there will be many new companies starting up and trying to help homeowners with their solar installations, offering competitive pricing and so on. It would be very unfair to deny these new startups a chance at your business just because they are “new”.
If you’re a business owner or a part-owner, you most likely know that managing a startup in a highly competitive industry can be challenging. Just because a solar installation company is new it doesn’t mean that they are going to do a poor job or that they use bad equipment, in fact many startups are people who saw faults in a previous company and wanted to start their own company to solve the common problems.
That’s why we have several questions you should ask and not just this one.
Another way around this question is to ask how many solar installations the company has completed and in what time period. This will give you an idea of how experienced they are and, of course, more experience the better the work quality will be.
Is My Roof Able to Handle a Solar Installation?
To start with, if your roof has leaks, is old, or has signs of damage, this is something you should address prior to installing solar panels. After all, solar panels are going to be attached to your roof and uninstalling them and re-installing the solar panels when you get your roof replaced or repaired can be time consuming and expensive.
Any solar installer worth their weight is going to ask you about your roof and before installation they will inspect your roof to ensure it’s in good shape and can have solar panels installed on it.
If your roof is not new or needs repair or replacement, do not get discouraged!
Many solar companies partner with roofing companies to both repair or replace your roof and install solar panels at the same time. Doing both projects at the same time has many benefits, including possible tax credits and incentives that can be applied to the entire project.
What If My Solar System Does Not Produce as Much Solar Power as Predicted?
This question isn’t always completely fair because solar panels depend on the sun for their energy and no solar installer will be able to fully predict the sun’s behavior, rain patterns, cloudy days, and so on over the course of the next 12 months.
However, there is a lot of information and there are plenty of calculations for solar companies to predict how many solar panels your home will need and how much energy they should predict, and if they will be able to offset your energy needs 100% or not.
This being said, I have seen solar companies become optimistic in how much solar power can be produced by a solar installation because removing a panel or two they can also reduce the price.
While price is important, it’s also important that you buy a big enough solar power system so that all your energy needs are covered as this will pay off in the long run.
For example at Expert Solar, we use a specific formula that overcompensates energy production by just enough so that the solar power systems that we design produce enough energy to cover client needs.
Nevertheless, ask your solar company what happens if the system doesn’t produce the amount of power predicted. For example, many companies will offer to install an additional solar panel.
While we are talking about what-ifs, this next question is probably one of the most important questions to ask:
What Warranties and Guarantees Does My Solar Installation Come With?
For many homeowners, installing solar is still a new thing! Many homeowners have many questions and many still have their doubts as to if solar is right for their home or not, financing being one of the main concerns.
All solar power systems come with both equipment warranties and quality guarantees. Solar installation companies also guarantee their work for a certain number of years. While solar panels don’t actually need a lot of maintenance, also ask if the warranties require a service to be done every so often in order to keep your installation warranty from becoming void.
Ask as many questions about this as possible and read the paperwork if you can to ensure that the work done and the equipment installed have good warranties and proper guarantees.
What Happens To My Solar Installation If My Situation Changes?
This may not seem like an important question but it is. For example, at Expert Solar we ask many questions to try and predict any future changes in your lifestyle that will impact or change your energy use patterns.
Expanding your family or welcoming a new family member will increase your energy use, while your kid turning 18 and moving out of the house will decrease energy use. Adding an additional room to your house or renting one of the rooms out will also increase your energy use and so on.
Taking these changes into account will help your solar company properly plan out your solar power system and give you an accurate description of how much you will be paying monthly as well as how much money you will be saving.
However, what if you have plans to change your lifestyle in some way, or what if your lifestyle changes due to something you did not predict? After all, this is life and things happen. Ask your solar installer how they handle such situations and are they able to add panels at relatively affordable costs, and so on.
There may be 101 questions you should ask your solar company when looking at going solar. While solar is an important investment, done right it can also bring you many benefits including reduced energy costs. The key is to ask as many questions as you need in order to feel comfortable with the solar plan made for your home.
Ricardo Del Sol
Editor, Expert Solar