Factors like tax incentives, cash rebates, and a widespread shift in attitudes that favor cleaner energy are driving up demand for residential solar. We’ve seen it coming for a long time. And as the demand for more clean energy increases, we're noticing a corresponding increase in solar installation companies cropping up left and right.
And we’ve noticed how, for a lot of homeowners, the sheer number of options available today sometimes leaves them in a state of analysis paralysis. We get it.
With so many participants in the residential solar marketplace knocking on doors, blasting social media ads, and shouting out answers anyplace they can find a forum, it can be tough for people new to the conversation to even know what the questions are. So, let's get into one of the questions we hope people are asking.
What makes a good solar installation company?
In our opinion, these are the traits that make the biggest difference.
1. In-House Installation Teams
It's fairly common in the residential solar industry for the company that sells the idea of going solar to be different from the company that does the installation. Helping customers go solar is a process that happens in a series of steps, from consultation, design, building permit, installation, inspection, grid interconnection, and finally, permission to flip the switch, power up and operate. Each one of those steps involves a process all its own. And if it's not obvious, the full, start-to-finish project involves a minimum of three separate entities—four including the homeowner.
The solar provider, municipal government, utility company, and homeowner all have a stake in making sure the process gets done well in a reasonable time and results in a reliable solar energy system built in accordance with governing structural and electrical codes to meet at least 100 percent of the users energy demand for decades to come. And the best way to end up with the desired result in the shortest time and for the lowest cost is to keep the process as simple as possible. If sales and installation are done by different companies, now you've got another party involved, which adds to the complexity and creates more opportunity for communication to lapse.
Choosing a company that combines sales, design, and installation into one seamless experience results in an installation project that gets handed back and forth between different stakeholders fewer times. And when you choose a company like Blue Raven Solar that also steps in to handle the paperwork and red tape related to building permits, inspections, interconnection, tax benefits, local solar incentive programs, and to moderate communication between the homeowner and all other parties involved, the result is a more efficient process and vastly superior customer experience.
2. Customer-Friendly Financing Options
Let’s not mince words about this one: Of all the solar options available, full solar ownership is the undisputed best deal. Owning your solar array means you pocket the tax benefits, the monthly energy savings, and the net-metering energy credits as well as the state, city, or utility company cash rebates—which are common and often lucrative. Plus, the increased home equity belongs to you and if you live in a state with a market for Renewable Energy Credits, you own those too. That is unless you sign them over to your utility company or state energy trust in exchange for more cash rebates and to help them meet their Renewable Portfolio Standards. As the owner, that's a choice you get to make.
It's understandable that not everyone is in a position to own a solar array right now. And at least with other payment options like solar leasing, you still get to power your home on clean energy. But with a solar lease, the company you lease from is the one pocketing all those benefits.
What a lot of curious homeowners we speak to don't know is that owning a rooftop solar array doesn't require a lot of cash up front. In fact, our solar financing option, BluePower Plus+, calls for $0 down. We handle the paperwork on all the tax benefits and cash rebates and apply them directly to your solar loan, so it gets paid off quicker. Meanwhile, from day one, you start enjoying benefits of having:
- All tax credits and financial benefits land straight in your pocket.
- Monthly power expenses turn into a growing asset.
- Monthly financing payments stay fixed for the life of the loan.
- Years of clean energy production for free once the loan is paid.
3. Experts at Complexity
The electric energy infrastructure in each state is made up of a unique combination of publicly-owned municipal utilities, nonprofit rural utility cooperatives, and for-profit, investor-owned utilities. The policies and regulations governing each state's energy market are a unique combination of state and local economic and political influences. That is to say, from one state to the next—even from one town to the next within the same state—the details of going solar are unique and complex. Even among utility companies within the same state, billing practices, net-metering rates, and grid interconnection policies may differ. If you're considering going solar, it's best to find a provider who can articulate the finer points of the process as simply as possible, who stays up-to-date on the laws in place that regulate the solar energy market as well as municipal, state, and federal tax incentives that help make an investment in solar energy the most equitable deal possible.
4. Production Guarantee
We hear questions like this all the time:
What happens to my solar energy production in bad weather?
Are solar panels effective in places that aren't always sunny?
The TL:DR answers to those questions are:
1. Yes, they still work in bad weather just not as efficiently.
2. No, you don't need to live in Nevada or Arizona for solar to meet your monthly energy needs.
In either case, all you need is a system designed through careful analysis and an in-person site survey to generate a reliable supply of electricity that covers 100 percent of your energy demand, year-after-year, regardless of local climate conditions.
Blue Raven Solar goes even further by offering a two-year production guarantee on top of custom design and in-person site survey. Plus, we use only the highest-quality panels and inverters, both of which come with their own manufacturer’s warranties. And just for the sake of going the extra mile to serve our customers, if any equipment we install fails because of a manufacturer's defect, we'll facilitate the warranty claim on our customer's behalf and take care of the replacement labor free of charge.
How our production guarantee works:
After one year, we check in with our customers to audit the production of their solar array. We do it again two years after installation. If any of our solar energy systems are found to produce less than 50 percent of original estimates over any three-month period or less than 85 percent of original estimates over an 18-month period, we upgrade the system with more panels free of charge.
Don't make the mistake of going with any random solar provider who comes knocking at your door pitching whatever business model makes them the most money. Get some facts, ask some questions, and do a price comparison. That way you'll have at least some information to start investigating the best payment options, installation practices, incentive programs, and customer service models.