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I’ll be happy to answer questions about my experience and if you like, send in a referral for you to get a quote (there’s a referral bonus program). FYI – I have no affiliation with any solar companies – just a former customer pleased with the purchase. Now back to the article. *****
I learned a lot while investigating solar for my home. As an engineer by training, I like to do my research before a major investment like solar panels. Read on for my top 10 things learned.
Top 10 Things to Know about Going Solar on Your Home
1) Net metering is important *** and that’s what changes on Nov. 14, 2017 for Utah homeowners ***
- Basically this is how much the power company will “pay” you credits when your solar panels produce more power than your home is consuming.
- For example, a sunny day, no one is home and AC is off. Your system will probably be sending solar power to the electric grid. Then, at night or cloudy days, the power company will let you use the credits you built up to “pay” for electricity when the sun isn’t shining.
- Today, that is a 1 for 1 credit. After November 14, it starts changing and you will “sell” excess solar to the power company for less than they’ll sell power to you.
- A rough analogy, it’s like selling a used car to the car dealership one day. Then, returning the next day to buy the car back. You’ll pay more for it than what they paid you.
2) Get multiple quotes (contact me for a referral and I’ll point you to the company that I used)
- Pricing varies drastically. The most expensive quote was 54% higher than the lowest quote for me in the 7 quotes I got.
- One basic comparison is to calculate $/Watt for a quoted system. For example, if you are quoted $10,000 for a system for a 2.5 kW system (2.5 kW = 2,500 Watts), you would calculate: $10,000 / 2,500 = $4.00/W.
- I’m not going to publish the quotes I got in 2016, but I will share that info if you contact me directly (see end of article)
- Understanding this can be very helpful in comparing systems and getting the best value.
- The company I used had the lowest price for me for a good quality system and they did not have high pressure sales pitch.
3) Decide what’s important to you with solar. Some considerations:
- Technology / brands of solar panels and inverter system
- Reputation of company
- Customer service
- Basically – there are lots of choices you can make
4) Choose a reputable company
- This comes back to you for system cost, customer service, responsiveness with concerns, quality of installation, paperwork for your HUGE tax refund, etc.
5) Watch out for high pressure sales tactics
- Don’t sign on the first visit – this is a major decision and a reputable company will not pressure you into a sale.
- One company that gave me quotes used repeated high pressure tactics and told me multiple times that the current quote was the lowest they could go. Yet, their quote kept magically getting lower as I got more quotes from competitors.
- Don’t rush decision – sleep on it.
- The sales person will need to come to your home at some point.
6) Consider how long you plan to own the home
- In my opinion, if you are not going to own the home for more than 7 years, it probably doesn’t make sense to buy solar.
7) There are several technologies with pros/cons of each.
- Solar panel types (monocrystalline vs. polycrystalline)
- Look of solar panels and installation brackets
- Inverters (micro inverter vs. string inverter)
- Technology continues to develop – think about cars Model T from Henry Ford in 1908 to modern vehicles. They’ll keep improving, but sooner or later it is time to buy one even though an improved version will come out next year.
- I selected a monocrystalline panel with micro inverter system
8) Your power will not stay on when there is a blackout on the utility grid.
- Unless you get a backup battery, which in my opinion is still too expensive to be worth it.
9) Understand financing options
- Basically: pay cash or get a loan (there are some other options in some states, similar to leasing solar panels)
- Most people go with a loan – consider checking with some banks or credit unions – I found better rates there instead of through the solar company
- It’s easiest to go with the loan through the solar company if they offer it. Just be aware, you’ll be paying some costs as the lender and solar company take a cut.
10) Don’t forget the tax paperwork – it’s worth thousands of dollars!
- If you don’t get the state and federal tax credits, solar panels may not make sense – I wouldn’t have gotten them without this incentive, which refunded thousands of dollars.
- A reputable installer will provide a packet of information to help making paperwork for the tax incentive easier.
- When that tax refund comes, pay down your loan right away.
Disclosure: The partnership between TomahawkDIY and EnergySage pays a commission to TomahawkDIY for any sales of solar systems. You help support TomahawkDIY in making great videos when you sign up through our link – so thank you if you choose to do so. (It does not cost you additional money, just sends a commission from the sale price.)