When installing a solar energy system, the most crucial part of the process is meeting with a contractor's solar consultant. It is in this meeting that you learn the most about the contractor, their services and values. We at SunPower by Green Convergence have compiled a list of six vital questions to ask your solar consultant.
1. Ask if going solar makes sense for you. The answer to this question is often a complex one. It's dependent upon many physical factors, such as how much your current energy bill is or how much shade your roof gets. But there are also less technical factors that contribute to whether or not you should go solar that are important for consultants to know, such as why you want solar? If it is for the financial benefits, make sure the panels your contractor plans to install are built to last so your investment does not fall short of your long term expectations. If you want to go solar for the environmental benefits, make sure the panels you install are made by a manufacturer who is committed to following strict environmental, health, and safety guidelines. For example, SunPower panels just received Cradle to Cradle Silver Certification for their good environmental manufacturing practices.
Learn more about Chinese panels and pollution here
Learn more about SunPower and Cradle to Cradle here
2. Ask about the benefits of going with a local solar contractor over a national brand and vice versa. While a big company's initial costs might be lower than those of a local company, you truly get what you pay. Typically, installers at the big companies don't have years of roofing experience or the proper licensing to execute roofing work safely. At a local company like Green Convergence, our installers not only know their solar but also their roofs. That's why we can guarantee leak-free solar installations.
3. Ask what kind of panels your solar contractor plans to install. Not all panels are the same. Some are more efficient and more durable than others. According to SunPower's website, SunPower panels produce "75% more energy over the first 25 years" than a conventional panel. Always request or research the panels through a third party source to be sure your panels will last.
4. Ask if there is any room for expanding your solar energy system in the future. As America becomes less dependent on fossil fuels to power our vehicles, it is important for consumers to know if they can create a larger system in the future to accommodate the power needed to charge an electric car—or two.
5. Ask if you can see their Design Center or their office of operations. Don't just let them meet you at your home. Anyone can buy a truck! It is another thing to have an established business with, at least, a few hundred installations under its belt.
6. Ask what their financing options are—Can you benefit from a 30% tax credit? Do they have competitive loan and a lease options? Many companies push the Power Purchase Agreement. This will basically make your solar contractor your electric company. You will not own your system and you will pay for all the power it produces for your home. But, the solar contractor could decide to raise your rates. This is why another type of loan or leasing program with $0 down and a $0 increase guarantee is more beneficial for most consumers.
Solar is an investment in your future. Ensure it by asking the right questions so you can choose the right contractor for you.