The Best Solar Companies in One Place
Home solar power systems can save thousands of dollars during their service life. Renewable energy is no longer expensive, and it can now compete with the electricity tariffs of power companies. There are now many brands of cheap solar panels that offer high quality and durability.
To achieve the best results, efficient solar panels and professional installation services are very important. If you take your time to find the best solar companies of 2019, it will pay off in the long run. Knowing the pros and cons of solar power for homes is also important:
- Solar panels produce electricity only when they are exposed to sunshine. Unless you use energy storage, you will continue using the local power grid at night and on cloudy days.
- The panels continue delivering electricity even when your home is not using it. This electricity is sent to the local grid, unless you have batteries. Power companies normally use net metering to keep track and give you credit.
Compared with other energy generation systems, solar panels are much less dependent on maintenance. If their surface is kept clean and they are protected from damage, panels can produce electricity for over 20 years. This is among one of the main reasons why solar paneled homes have become so common.
Keep in mind that the panels are only one part of a residential solar power system. First of all, they must be mounted on suitable racking to ensure a safe installation. The panels also need a special type of wire that tolerates outdoor use. Finally, a solar inverter conditions their power output for home appliances, and they use circuit breakers for protection like any electrical device.
Have You Ever Searched Google for Solar Providers Near Me?
If you use Google to search for solar installers near you, a long list can be expected. With so many options available, finding the best solar panels for home use may seem challenging. However, if you ask the right questions, finding the top solar companies is simpler. You should look for solar panel installers near you that offer a high-quality product. Solid warranties are also important to protect your investment.
A very important decision is how you will pay for a solar installation. The following are the most common options to go solar for homes:
- A direct purchase, which can be paid with your own funds or with a loan.
- Leasing a solar system for home use.
- Solar Power Purchase Agreements, where you pay for the energy produced instead of the installation itself.
Local solar companies may offer more than one purchasing option, or they may propose a mix. For example, you may be offered a lease with the option of purchasing the system before the end of the contract.
Find the Best Solar Installers in Your Area
Working with solar providers near you has several advantages. They can deliver solar energy systems faster, and will be around to provide maintenance. If any of your panels or another component suffers a malfunction, a local contractor can offer a quick replacement.
The leading solar manufacturers offer excellent warranties with global coverage. However, filing a warranty claim on your own can be difficult, and solar contractors are much more experienced. This is another advantage of working with a solar company near you.
4 Types of Solar Power Companies
The solar industry has grown significantly over the last decade, and solar energy is now among the fastest growing electricity sources in the world. Different business models have been developed around the technology, giving rise to several types of solar companies.
Solar Panel Manufacturers
The largest of all solar companies, the top solar panel manufacturers supply their products to the majority of all other industry companies. The global market is dominated by a few large brands like Jinko Solar, Canadian Solar, and First Solar. Manufacturers distribute their panels through wholesalers and contractors, but often sell them directly to large industrial clients and utility companies. These companies normally offer a 10-year warranty against manufacturing defects, and a 25-year warranty for energy production above 80% of the rated capacity.
Bloomberg New Energy Finance developed the Tier 1 list for solar manufacturers, which includes companies with high-quality solar modules and financial stability. Solar power projects with Tier 1 panels can get better loan conditions from banks and other financial institutions. Keep this in mind for solar panel comparisons.
Reading the solar panel information provided by manufacturers is strongly recommended. However, purchasing directly from them can be complex for a small project, and the best recommendation is getting in touch with a qualified solar energy contractor. This way, the project becomes simpler: you don’t have to negotiate with two different companies when installing solar panels.
In great part, affordable solar energy has been possible thanks to these companies. They have invested heavily in research and development to reduce the cost of solar technology.
Solar Installation Companies or Solar Contractors
These companies deliver most residential and commercial installations. They normally have partnerships with major manufacturers, which means you can get high-quality panels without contacting the brand directly. A solar quote normally includes all materials and their installation, and may include maintenance services for the first years of operation.
Top residential solar companies can answer many common questions about home solar solutions, such as the following:
- How much do solar panels cost?
- How many solar panels do you need to power a house?
- Which are the solar energy pros and cons?
- Do you recommend any solar panel finance options?
If you have access to favorable loan terms from a bank, solar financing can be a smart decision. In a place with abundant sunshine or expensive electricity, the solar savings will likely be higher than the loan payments. Some installers have partnerships with banks, and include solar financing terms with their offers.
There are many solar calculator apps that give a general idea of the the savings you can expect. However, only a qualified contractor can provide an accurate calculation.
Solar Lease Companies
They offer solar panel systems for rent, which is not very different from renting a vehicle or apartment. Solar leasing companies carry out the installation at zero upfront cost, and you sign a contract where you agree to rent the system for a specified term, which is typically 10 years or more.
The main advantage of a lease is not having to worry about maintenance and component replacements. These are included in the contract. You can use the energy savings to cover the solar panel lease cost, achieving net savings from the first month.
Solar Power Purchase Agreement (PPA) Companies
They have a business model similar to leasing. However, the company charges for the solar energy produced by panels instead of a fixed monthly fee. The electricity price in a solar PPA is set lower than local utility tariffs, and you can save money from the start. Just like in a lease, the provider is responsible for maintenance and component replacements.
To avoid paying the full price of a rooftop solar power system upfront, you can choose between a loan, lease and PPA.
- The advantage of a solar loan is that you own the system, even if the purchase was made with the bank’s money. Many solar incentive programs and tax benefits only apply if you own the installation directly.
- With a solar lease or PPA, the provider owns the installation. The advantage is that they are fully responsible for maintenance and component replacements. However, they also get ownership benefits such as tax credits.
Tesla is an interesting case in the solar industry, since they are involved in all business areas described above. Tesla solar panels are manufactured through a partnership with Panasonic, and their sister company Solar City carries out residential installations. Tesla has also developed complementary products:
- The Tesla Powerwall is a home battery that provides energy storage for nighttime or cloudy days. It can be used as part of a smart home system.
- Their company has also developed solar shingles that can be used to build solar roofs, as an alternative to normal panels.
Why It’s Important to Read Solar Company Reviews Before Buying
When you think about solar generation, the panels themselves not change much from vendor to vendor. In fact, the global market is dominated by a few solar manufacturers, and offers from different contractors will often use the same solar panel brands. Since you are dealing with a standardized product, working with a qualified solar installer is very important.
When comparing commercial solar companies, make sure you are reading the latest reviews. The solar industry is very competitive, and some companies grow while others go out of business.
- This applies for both manufacturers and solar contractors.
- Your solar power system should use panels from a top manufacturer, and they should be installed by a qualified contractor.
The best evidence of quality a solar company can provide is a track record of successful projects. Ideally, you should hire a solar contractor with experience in many projects.
5 Things to Look for in Top Solar Panel Companies
To achieve the best results, you should find a solar provider that offers quality panels and an adequate installation. You should also make sure the company will be around in the future for warranty claims or system expansions. When comparing solar companies near you, look for the following aspects:
- Partnerships with major solar manufacturers: There are many brands of panels, but only a select few make it to the Tier 1 list. Look for a solar contractor who works with one of these companies through an official partnership. Major solar manufacturers are stringent when choosing their business partners.
- Previous projects delivered: Solar companies with many projects under their belt have more expertise. It’s also safe to assume they have a solid financial condition, after several years of successful projects.
- Partnerships with banks and financial institutions: Banks don’t loan their money blindly. If a solar contractor offers a financing option from a local bank, it means the quality of their work is trusted. These loans are often backed by the solar panel systems themselves, which means the bank considers them valuable assets.
- Solar industry certifications: A solar contractor with updated knowledge has a competitive edge. The leading solar manufacturers normally offer certifications for their partners. There are also certifications from professional associations like the North American Board of Certified Energy Practitioners (NABCEP) and the Association of Energy Engineers (AEE).
- Having a fully integrated operation in-house: Some companies have a middleman business model, where they connect solar vendors, installers and financiers. Solar companies who do the job themselves normally offer a higher quality and lower price. A company that carries out the system design and installation by itself can also provide better technical support.
5 Tips for Hiring Solar Energy Companies Successfully
Working with a qualified solar company is important. However, you should also have a clear picture of the products and services offered. The following are some useful tips when comparing solar offers:
- Ask for a detailed breakdown of the solar project: An offer with a lump sum may seem simple and straightforward. However, it does not allow an item-by-item comparison. A detailed solar proposal with item prices is preferred, even if you need more time to read it.
- Make sure the solar contractor handles warranty claims: Panels and complementary equipment come with solid warranties, which protect your investment. However, someone has to file a warranty claim if any component breaks down. The top solar energy companies will assume this responsibility.
- Ask about additional warranties: Manufacturer warranties cover individual components like panels and inverters. However, a solar panel installation includes many other materials such as racking and wiring. Solar providers should provide a warranty for the overall installation as well.
- Make sure the solar offer includes any additional expenses: The price of residential solar systems does not represent the full cost of going solar. Ask the contractor to include any applicable taxes and permits, so you can compare real costs.
- Ask about complementary services: Solar panels need less maintenance than other renewable generation systems, but they must be cleaned regularly. Also, inverters last less than panels and must normally be replaced after 10 years. Since these services are not always included in the offer, you should ask for clarification. Ideally, your solar installer should provide follow up services to preserve warranties.
In a few words, solar company offers should be clear. There should be no hidden costs and misleading contract terms. In the case of a lease or PPA, the provider should be fully responsible for operation and maintenance. The best solar panel companies are characterized by transparent business practices.
5 Reasons to Invest in Solar Panels for Your Home
Are solar panels worth it? Going solar is among the best investments available for homeowners and businesses, especially in places with expensive electricity. However, there are many benefits beyond power bill savings:
- Solar incentives: Depending on where you live, there may be bonus payments for clean energy. Renewable Energy Credits are a common option, where you accumulate one REC for every 1,000 kilowatt-hours produced. These credits can then be sold as part of carbon trading programs, giving you extra cash flow beyond the power bill savings. Depending on local regulations, you may also get a tax credit for going solar.
- Increased home value: A building that can produce its own energy is more valuable. Therefore, a home with panels can be rented or sold for higher prices. This benefits real estate developers, and homeowners who plan to move eventually. Consider that panels have a service life of over 20 years.
- Helping the environment: Solar energy allows electricity production with zero emissions. For comparison, most coal power plants release more than one kilogram of carbon dioxide for every kilowatt-hour produced. If you live in a place where the grid depends on fossil fuels, going solar reduces your home emissions.
- Save money on air conditioning: The panels reduce the amount of sunshine hitting your roof directly, and they convert it to electricity instead. This is a great advantage during summer, since the workload on your air conditioner is reduced. In other words, solar panels can improve your roof insulation.
- Enabling other home improvements: The exact savings from a solar panel system vary depending on local sunshine and electricity rates. However, you can expect several hundred dollars in savings per year. Over the 25-year service life of panels, this represents several thousand dollars to use in other investments.
Solar energy can leave several thousand dollars of savings in your pocket. There may also be incentive programs available, depending on where you live. Finally, solar energy makes your home more valuable while reducing its environmental footprint.