So Many Solar Companies - How Do I Choose?
Currently, there are around 92 registered solar companies in Utah--and you can find them without even looking. They're in your mailbox, on your radio and TV, on billboards and passing cars--they're even knocking on your door! Suddenly, there are hundreds of solar companies that seem to have popped up overnight, offering the best products at the best deals, all competing for your business. With so many companies out there, how do you choose the one that's right for you, with the service that's best for your home? And how can you be sure it's a business that's here to stay? (Source: http://www.seia.org/state-solar-policy/utah-solar)
While we can't make the final decision for you, here are a few things we can offer that might help you understand what to look for in a solar company.
1) How long have they been in business? What assurance do you have that they will be around in 25 years to honor their warranties?
According to Fortune.com and Forbes.com, nine out of ten startups fail. It's not cruel; it's not unusual; it just is what it is. Generally, the cause never has anything to do with a lack of passion or personal investment. More often, the market isn't able to support the business idea, or the business simply runs out of capital. Sometimes the wrong team might be trying to execute the right idea, the idea could get outcompeted, or key individuals might abandon ship. The list of possibilities are as endless as the American entrepreneurial spirit. But let's say a company makes it past the startup phase and seems to be growing at a promising rate. Even here, American companies only have an average lifespan of about 10 years. This is not to say that companies don't beat the odds all the time--but these are the odds. (Sources: http://fortune.com/2014/09/25/why-startups-fail-according-to-their-founders/, https://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2015/04/150401132856.htm)
So, while there's no formula for determining how long a company is going to be in business, it's very easy to see how long a company has been in business. If a company has only been around for a couple of years, don't be afraid to ask questions about the company founders, owners, managers, and investors. When you make the decision to go solar, you're investing in more than some solar panels on your roof--you're investing in a company. And that company's service contracts and warranties need to come with the assurance that they will be around to honor their promises.
2) How well does the company know Utah? Is the company knowledgeable about Utah shade rates and latitudes, for example? Do they understand current Utah solar legislation, tax incentives, and utility companies? And are they invested in staying around long enough to support their Utah clients?
Many solar companies cover wide, multi-state areas, so be sure you're getting Utah-specific information because what might work in California, for example, might not work in Utah. From climate-specific electrical cabling to shade rate estimations on your solar savings calculator, not only can the products and the numbers change from state to state, but even from region to region within a state. Make sure your company knows Utah. And make sure your company is planning to stay in Utah. Because solar power is such a burgeoning business nationwide, there are also many companies who will come to a state, set up shop until the market is saturated, and then leave the area to find a new market elsewhere. Once the company or seasonal door-to-door salesperson leaves, who will service your system? Without careful research, you may be stuck with a lot of unanswered questions...and a lot of unanswered service calls.
3) What is the company's service record? Can you feel confident in the service and maintenance you'll receive down the road?
Do your research! Read company reviews and talk to as many companies as you can before deciding on the one to trust with your solar investment. Listen to the company spokespeople themselves and ask them your questions. Talk to your friends and neighbors who have solar systems. What were their experiences like? Then, search around on some unbiased, third-party review sites to hear about other customers' experiences. Some sites worth checking out: www.solarreviews.com, www.homeadvisor.com, or www.angieslist.com
4) Is the solar company using a third-party installer to put in your solar system? If you have problems or questions with your system, will the company be around to address them?
One of the most frustrating things for a homeowner is having a question and either not getting a straightforward answer, or getting no answer at all. Often, if you sign with a company who doesn't have their own in-house electricians and/or solar installation team, you might ask your installer a question about your system that they can't answer; similarly, you may ask your sales guy a technical question that they can't answer. Look for a company with their own in-house installation team to bridge this gap. This way, the same guys who come to your home to find you the right system are the same guys who return to install the system. To do this, you want more than just a team of sales guys. You want licensed electricians and certified solar installers working with you every step of the way.
5) Is this company doing their research? There are hundreds of solar panel and inverter manufacturers; are you confident you are getting the best technology at the best price for your home's very specific needs?
When you are researching solar companies and seeking price quotes, be sure to look beyond the numbers. Can you verify the quality of the equipment you're paying for? Beware of knock-off products that might look the same for an enticing price, but in the end won't have the same quality of construction, durability, or longevity. Not all solar panels and solar power inverters are created equal; if you get an unbelievable price on a solar array, it might be because you're getting an unbelievably terrible product with an equally terrible warranty. Have your solar company give you a holistic quote, including multiple price points with multiple options. Also beware of any company that might try to sell you a one-size-fits-all solution. Because just as every home is unique, so is its position to the sun, its energy production needs, and its budget. (See also: http://utahstories.com/2017/01/rocky-mountain-power-solar-proposal/
6) Will the company give you an honest assessment of the pros and cons of going solar for your specific situation? Or is the company figuratively blowing sunshine to get you to buy?
Don't fall for high-pressure sales guys telling you that you need to buy now. Take your time. Gather price quotes and customer testimonials. Ask tough questions and then ask for second and third opinions. One way to tell if a company is being upfront with you is that they will want to educate you. They will be happy to not only answer your questions, but answer questions you hadn't even anticipated. They will also provide you with upfront pricing, including a comprehensive breakdown so you can feel confident you are making a well-informed decision. Make sure that you are moving forward with a company that will do their best for you and your family. But most importantly, trust your gut. Don't ignore the feelings you have when a company representative is in your home. Do you feel like they are being upfront and honest with you? Do you feel pressured or uncomfortable? Do you feel like you understand your options and how solar will work with both your home's electrical circuits and your utility bill? Were they thorough in their measurements and assessments of your home energy needs? Even though it can seem complicated, the right company can help demystify solar for you and help you feel comfortable and confident in making the right decision.
For a First or Second Opinion--Consider Any Hour Services!
If you're interested in learning more about solar, consider contacting Any Hour Services. We would love to help answer your questions or provide you with a second opinion. A licensed electrician and certified solar expert can come to your home and give you a specialized solar power analysis--absolutely free.
We can assure you that we're a company invested in the highest level of customer service, and in making solar easy and affordable for Utahns. In 1961, Dwain Hepworth started a company called Hepworth Electric, right here in Utah. Since that time, more than 55 years ago, the company has grown and expanded to what it is today, offering electrical, plumbing, heating and air conditioning, drain and rooter, as well as solar and home automation services. We have a fleet of over 150 trucks on the road with 165 employees, including certified and licensed, drug-free technicians. We are still a locally-owned and family operated company, big enough to be able to maintain every system in your home, but small enough to stay in touch with our Utah market and our local Utah story.
We've been in business for over 55 years and you can be assured we will be around for another 55 years--and beyond. Try us out and see if Any Hour Services is the solar company for you. When you meet with one of our solar experts, if you would like additional recommendations we can also give you our list of Utah solar companies we admire.
Feb 15th 2019