Top 3 questions to ask your solar consultant when you’re in a consultation
A lot of people ask me what they should ask when sitting with a solar consultant. Solar is not a typical purchase that others have bought before. People have bought cars, homes, phones, clothes etc. so they know what to look for and ask. Since solar is still relatively new, not a lot of people know what they should be looking at when comparing multiple companies. This post will address those concerns and give you the questions to ask along with the knowledge to head into a solar consultation. You will see me mention the contract quite a bit, because that is the most important. Let’s dive into it.
#1 Trust the solar consultant.
You have instincts, trust them. If the consultant seems sketchy or untrustworthy, leave that consultation. When you sign up for solar you will be committed to that company for 20+ years. You want to make sure you can trust that company as well as their consultants. I’ve been apart of companies gal at teach their consultants to go through the consultation as fast as possible so hopefully the consumer won’t ask questions. They didn’t want you to be educated and question them or their products. Turn and run from them.
#2 You get what you pay for.
When they are going over the numbers and showing you the system, ask them what it covers. They should give you;
Production guarantee: Guaranteed production of the panels. If they say you will produce 12,000 kWh annually, they should guarantee the system will produce at least 90% of that power. If you don’t produce at least 90%, then they should either give you either a credit of lost production or pay you back for lost production
Solar and inverter warranty for the term of the contract: Most panels will give you a 25 year warranty. Some inverters are only 10–12 years. A good company will give you a contract length warranty. So say the warranty on the inverter is 10 years but your contract for a PPA is 25 years, the company will extend the inverter warranty for an additional 15 years. Why is that important? It demonstrates that the company feels as if they will be around for at least 25 years. Companies who don’t extend the warranty are probably not hopeful of being around.
Company warranty, not just manufacture warranty: Best thing to get is a company warranty on parts and labor. Why? Because if they give you a manufacturer warranty on Trina Solar panels and that panel company goes out of business, you warranty is now voided. If something happens to your panels, there is no warranty to cover it. With a company warranty, it doesn’t matter if the panel company goes out of business because the solar company will replace it with another maker. Also, what is covered under the warranty. Just manufacturing defects or does it cover ball strikes, vandalism, tree falling, earthquake etc.
Roof warranty: At least a warranty of 5 years should be on your roof. That way if there are any leaks due to their workmanship, they will repair the damage. Also, will they replace anything that gets damage from the leak. So if the water leaks down onto a tv, they should replace that tv because it was damaged by the leak from their workmanship.
What happens to your system if the solar company goes out of business: What happens to your warranty, who do you pay, who do you call with issues? These are big concerns with homeowners because if they sign a 25 year contract, they want to be sure they are covered regardless of the company that sold them. Most companies use big banks and solar financiers to finance the systems. Clean power finance, Sunrun, HERO, Bank of America, Morgan Stanley etc. These financiers should resume your lease and warranty if the company who sold you goes out of business.
Paid fees: If there is an HOA or permit fee, who pays it. You or the company? Some companies will sell you at $6+ per watt ( way too high ) and then make you pay for HOA fees. That’s crazy. The company should pay for everything. Make sure you know before you sign.
#3 READ THE CONTRACT
When you sign a commitment with a solar company, you need to know what your getting yourself into. Everything the consultant tells you needs to be show you where in the contract it is. If they say you get a production guarantee, how much and where is it. If they don’t want to show you or say that they do cover it and not to worry. Worry. Don’t sign unless they show you. That is where a lot of people make mistakes is they take a consultant for their word and then get. into something they can’t get out of. This is the most important piece of advice I can give. If it’s not in the contract, it’s not real.
Thanks for reading and I hope you got something out of it. If you have additional questions, you can always contact me.
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