Like any home improvement or construction project, solar can be a big investment. It can be a very valuable one, too – providing energy, climate benefits, utility bill savings and a boost to your home value, to name a few benefits. But as with any project, you want to make sure you’re working with top-notch contractors and making the best decisions for your needs.
And we want you to make the best decisions for you! We know that well-informed customers have the best experience going solar, and as an active company with the Missouri Solar Energy Industries Association, we want to see a strong and high quality solar industry across the state, with solar owners who are informed and getting the full benefits of solar, not receiving subpar installation work or falling victim to deceptive sales practices.
As with any industry, there are occasionally bad actors in the solar industry, as the KMOV investigative team recently reported on. We were pleased to have the opportunity to speak with the KMOV team on behalf of MOSEIA about consumer protection issues and what to look for in a solar provider. We wanted to share a few additional tips for what customers should be thinking about when considering solar.
First thing’s first – what makes a home or property good for solar? Reputable solar companies will analyze your home or property for a variety of factors to determine if solar is even feasible for you – and we’ll tell you if it doesn’t! Here’s some things we look at:
Roof age and condition: Solar energy systems last 25+ years, so if your roof needs to be replaced or repaired soon, you may want to consider doing that before you get solar. EFS Energy frequently connects our customers with roofing professionals to address any issues.
Roof orientation and space: South-facing roofs work best for harvesting the most energy with solar, but east and west-facing roofs can work well, too. We also assess how much room is available on the roof, accounting for fire code setbacks and roof obstructions.
Shade: If you’re in the middle of the forest or otherwise have a lot of shade on your roof, you may not be able to produce enough energy from solar to make it worth your investment. We model your site, trees and other shade, and use weather data to simulate energy production and shade throughout the year.
Energy usage and utility policies: We analyze your utility bill to understand how you use energy, size a solar PV system to fit your needs, and model how much of your energy costs your system could offset. We also take a look at your utility’s policies around solar to ensure we’re compliant with their rules.
Your needs and preferences: Solar is a custom solution, so it should be designed to meet your needs. Do you want the highest efficiency panels on the market? Looking to finance your solar installation? Do you expect your energy usage to increase in the coming years? Are you interested in a battery or generator to deal with frequent outages? These are the kinds of conversations we like to have up front to better understand how we can serve you.
When it comes to getting quotes, it’s always recommended that you get quotes from at least three different companies. This way, you can compare proposed systems, prices and offerings. (Yes, we want your business; we also want you to be confident in your decision and we’re confident in our quality of work and offerings!) The process of going solar should be educational and consultative, not a high-pressure sales situation. Always look for transparency; a company that’s willing to tell you if solar isn’t a good fit, answers your questions, and is clear about terms for things like warranties and financing is likely to be a great partner.
When you’re talking to various companies, you should make sure you learn about the company itself, as well as the terms of the deal you’re assessing. For example, ask about the company’s involvement with industry associations and policy groups, how long they’ve been in business, and if the company holds industry certifications (Our CEO is the President of the industry association, we’ve been in business for 12 years, and our installers + key team members hold NABCEP certifications, thanks for asking!).
It’s also great to learn about what the process looks like for going solar. Some companies handle the whole process from start to finish, like EFS, while others only do sales and partner with other companies for installation and other components.
Lastly, always make sure you’re clear on the terms of any deal, especially when you get to the stage of signing a contract or otherwise making a commitment to a company. You’ll want to understand system warranties – duration, what’s covered, and who’s responsible. You’ll also want to be clear on who is responsible for maintenance after the system is installed (at EFS we provide remote monitoring, and handle maintenance and warranty claim support). It’s especially important to be clear on contract terms and the details of any financing you’re using through a solar company – so be sure to seek clarification on anything you don’t understand!
At EFS Energy, we pride ourselves on providing a transparent and educational process for our customers, as well as high quality construction work and ongoing support services. While we expect you will get several quotes and talk with multiple companies, we’re confident that our products, services and people are top-notch. But that’s for you to see – contact us today to set up a consultation and get a free quote on solar for your home or business.