Solar is a Home Improvement, Not a Commodity

If you’re a homeowner considering a kitchen remodel or other major home improvement, is cost your only consideration? Of course it isn’t. Most homeowners also consider the quality of workmanship and materials, and the track record and reputation of the contractor.

There has been a trend in the residential solar industry to treat solar as if it were a commodity. All solar is not the same. Every home is unique. What may be perfect for one home and one family will not be the best solution for the house next door. Be suspect of anyone who offers pricing before they’ve visited your home. Be suspect of a company that sells solar, but doesn’t install it themselves. What would you think of someone who gave you pricing for a kitchen remodel without ever setting foot in your kitchen?

How to Shop for Solar

Solar is a home improvement that affects your roof, your home electrical system, and the aesthetics of your home — not just your future electric costs. Make sure you choose a contractor who’s experienced, and who isn’t using the cheapest roof attachments, wire management, etc. Make sure you’re only considering options that will work with your actual site conditions. And to make sure your solar is sized properly, you’ll want to work with a consultant who understands how to estimate your future electric usage, and your future solar production. Finally, pay attention to the aesthetics of your solar system design, so that you’re not embarrassed to show it off to your neighbors.

Here are just some variables an experienced solar contractor will consider in the design and pricing of your solar system:

  1. Roof:  material, age, condition, dimensions, orientation, pitch, location of vents, spacing of rafters, shading, etc.
  2. Main electric panel:  location, brand, amperage of busbar, amperage of main breaker, available breaker space, compatibility with SDG&E’s renewable meter adapter, etc.
  3. Electric usage:  historical monthly usage, daily usage patterns, opportunities for energy savings, expected increases or decreases in future electric usage, etc.
  4. Aesthetics:  is the solar layout based on actual roof and shading conditions?  will there be gaps left in the solar array for vents?  will the solar panels line up?  will the conduit be hidden in the attic?  will any exposed conduit be painted to blend in?  where will the inverter (or combiner box) be located?

Don’t be fooled into thinking that all solar contractors are the same — they’re not! Would you like to speak with a qualified solar professional who can explain the logic behind their equipment choices, and the reasoning behind the solar system size and design? An established San Diego solar contractor who offers quality materials and workmanship at a fair price? Then contact San Diego County Solar for a free consultation.