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How to Get the Best Deal on Your Solar System

Feb 18, 2021 | Solar 101

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If you’re in the process of getting solar quotes, you’re probably getting bombarded with sales calls from different solar companies. But how do you know which one is a good quote? In this post, we’ll go over a few tips from an industry insider on how to get the best deal on your solar system.

1. Don’t Look at the Overall Price

Instead, you should pay attention to how much they are charging you per Watt. When buying solar, many people get too caught up looking at the bottom line price just to find out later that they paid a premium for a system with inferior components.

In short, it’s important to know what your system cost per Watt and compare prices from that standpoint.

2. Know How Much You Need Your Solar System to Produce

It’s a good practice to know how big of a system you need before you actually start getting quotes. What you need your system to produce will determine how many panels your system will have, what types of components you should use, and the layout of your solar system.

You will also need to factor in the degradation of your panels over time as well as future events that may increase your usage like the purchase of an EV vehicle. Installing a system that does not produce enough will just lead to a large True-up bill in a few years.

3. Research What Type of Panels and Inverters the Company is Offering

Your panels are only as good as your inverters. When shopping for solar, it’s important to look for panels with high efficiency (>18%) and low degradation (<0.75% per year).

Read More: How to Choose Solar Inverter for Your Home

Make sure your parts come with a strong warranty and an easy claim process. Having a blanket warranty is a must because it will protect you in case the installer you used goes out of business in the future. Companies like Sunnova, Sunpower, REC, and Solaria offer workmanship warranties that blanket the installers.

4. Understand Your “Adder Costs”

Some homes may incur additional installation charges for things like an electrical panel upgrade or if the panels are being installed on a tiled roof. Many companies build these adders into the price to make it simpler and not have to worry about completing a change order later.

However, there are times where the inspection reveals that the main panel upgrade is not needed, and the cost is deducted from your price. Make sure to understand your adder cost and review the final design to ensure you get what you pay for.

5. Carefully Review Your Loan Documents before Signing

Many people get excited when they see that going solar can result in a lower monthly payment and end up overlooking the true cost of financing. Here are a few things to keep in mind when reviewing your loan documents:

  • Find out what the total cost of financing will be over the term of the loan with interest: Cost of the system + finance cost + interest
  • What does your payment jump to if you don’t pay down the Tax Credit Amount?
    Most loan programs require you to pay the amount equivalent to your tax credit (26%) by month 18 in order to keep your payments the same. If you choose not to, the loan usually re-amortize and monthly payments will increase to a predetermined amount
  • How much will your new utility bill be with solar?
    If your system is only offsetting your current electric bill by 100%, you should still expect to see monthly charges from your utility company. You will be billed by your utility company for the electricity you use during the night or when your system is not producing electricity. A higher offset will allow you to receive SREC (solar renewable energy credits) on the NEM billing plan and can offset the cost of the electricity you use at night.

We hope these few tips from an industry insider will help you get the best deal when you decide to go solar. For any homeowners at the early stage of shopping for solar panels, check out our Beginner’s Guide to Solar to get a better understanding of solar energy and how solar panels work.

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