On average, once a homeowner has decided they want to switch to solar, they will interview at least three solar installation companies before choosing the one they will go with. Unfortunately, some homeowners make the mistake of choosing the solar installation company solely on the basis of who provides the lowest quote. This is a risky move because a lower price at the front end may lead to hidden costs down the road. With this in mind, here are eight questions homeowners should ask solar installation sales representatives to help ensure they will get the most out of their home solar system.

1- Is the solar installation company going to be responsive to you once your system is installed? This can be a tricky question because if the company is part of a huge chain, they may have sales offices or salespersons in the area but everything else is handled out of state so you might have a hard time reaching somebody there. If they are a really small company they may not have enough resources or staff to help you in a timely manner. Ask the sales representative how quickly on average they will respond to your questions or resolve any issues that may come up.

2- Will they let you contact current clients for unbiased reviews? If they won’t let you call any customer at random, you might want to ask yourself why.

3- What is their current rating on Best Company, Angie’s List, Guild Quality, Better Business Bureau and Solar Reviews?  These are all reputable, independent customer review sites.

4- Does their company’s headquarters run on solar power and will they let you see the system up close? If a solar company doesn’t run their own business on solar that could be a red flag.

5- Are the installers fully trained and certified full-time employees of the company? Or do they hire subcontractors to do the installations?   If you want to make sure you have guaranteed quality control for your installation, this is a very important question to ask.

6- What types of panels do they offer? Are they high efficiency panels or low efficiency? Can you choose from several brands or are you limited to one type? Cheaply made solar panels do not give homeowners high return on investment like high efficiency solar panels can.

7- Will the company handle all the paperwork for SRECs, grants, net metering etc. for you so you will get all your financial incentives and tax breaks – or will you be expected to navigate through all the paperwork and processes on your own? Not all solar installation companies will do this for you, so if you are someone who does not want to have to deal with the bureaucracy, make sure the solar installation company you hire is a full service solar design and installation company.

8- Will they let you purchase, lease or go solar with a PPA, or are will they limit you to only one type of financial option? Some companies don’t give homeowners a choice.

If you get the answer “yes” to all of these questions, then you have a winner.

By Laureen Peck