9 Solar Contract Tips
You’ve decided to go solar, you’re about to start interviewing solar companies and sooner than you know it, it’s time to sign a contract on the dotted line. Here are nine solar contract tips to help you make sure you’re going to get exactly what you want, when you want it and at the right price!
1.) Do Your Research.
Get an estimate from at least three solar companies, preferably by referral. There are many companies that will do quick or instant solar estimates and i-quotes online without ever coming to your property, but we believe a personal visit to study the exact variables of your situation is vital to the best pricing and system design for prospective solar customers. With each solar evaluation you receive, be sure that you are given the total cost of purchasing and installing solar panels in order to truly compare the proposals you’re going to be looking at. This includes the cost of installation, the hardware and components, any taxes you’ll be paying, any connection or permitting fees as well as warranties. You should also see specific information about the size and technical design details of the system you’ll get as well as where your panels will be located and even the tilt (angle) they will be installed at.
2.) Your Contract Isn’t Just About Price.
Study it closely and look for discrepancies or things that simply don’t feel right. And then look again. Does your contract include a list of the type as well as brand of solar components for your system? Are you getting high quality, proven solar products and the exact model numbers? How about comprehensive warranty information? Is there a clear description of the work to be performed as well as valid license # on the contract itself? Has the company specified anything about change orders or exclusions? Do you see costs and/or payments clearly spelled out for the term of the contract? Are there hidden costs? What about the time installation will take or definite start and finish dates?
3.) Ask Solar Companies You’re Interviewing About Tax Credits, Rebates and Incentives.
This includes inquiring about state and federal government possibilities. Pre-educate yourself by studying up at DSIREUSA.org where consumers can find a wealth of up-to-the-minute information on state and local as well as federal solar incentives.
4.) Got Electric Bills? Grab the Last 12 Months.
Ask each company in the running to give you an estimate that includes both the size of solar system you will need, and how much money you will save in the long run on utility bills.
5.) Base Your Decision On a Company’s Reputation and the Value of a System.
Don’t ever base your decision on the least expensive estimate you receive. Use the instant license check on the Contractor’s State License Board, check out company reviews, the number of years in business and be sure to double check the Better Business Bureau to make sure no complaints were registered against the companies you’re looking at. Take a little time to research who you’ll be working with… Remember, the company you hire will be with you for the life of your system which means you’ll be dealing with them for the next 20-25 years at least. Saving a few dollars may not be worth the hassle of working with a sub-par contractor.
6.) Before You Sign, Develop a List of Questions to Ask Including the Following:
- Will solar panels work on the section of my roof that is shaded with trees?
- How long will my solar system actually last?
- What is the length of the warranty? Who provides the warranty?
- If maintenance or repairs are needed, who do I call? Who will take care of maintenance and cleaning?
7.) Make Sure All Guarantees In Your Contract Are Clear.
You need to be certain you are going to receive top dollar performance. Professional and reputable solar companies will almost always offer both power and production guarantees for the entire length of your contract which will guarantee a certain amount of kilowatt hours annually. Should your system fail to meet the minimum yearly kilowatt-hours standards, many solar companies will offer a refund to cover the difference.
8.) Get It All In Writing.
Make sure any emails you received or specifics and specials your estimator discussed with you personally are clearly written in black and white. Verbal promises won’t cut it here. If your contract is poorly written or confusing, move on to another installer. Your contract is gold and you should treat it as such. Don’t settle for anything less than the best when it comes to a solar installation contract and by all means, if you have questions, raise that hand and ask before you sign!
9.) Think You Might Sell Your Home?
If you’re leasing your solar system and think you may move at some point during the term of your contract (leases are generally between 15-20 years), then make sure your contract clearly states the options available to you if one day you decide to call up a realtor and sell. In most cases, a solar lease will be set up to transfer to the new owner or the company you’re leasing from may offer to remove and reinstall your system at your new home. The bottom line? Know your options and have a plan in place even if you don’t think you’ll sell. You just never know what the future holds.
If you’re going solar, like it or not, a contract will be part of the deal. Protect yourself and protect your property by getting it all in writing and learning it backwards and forwards before you sign. It’s ultimately your responsibility to know what you’re getting into with the company you hire and reading and completely understanding your contract is the first and probably most important step in your journey to solar power.
Cover all of your bases, ask questions first and by all means, keep a copy of that contract for your records.
We would love the opportunity to discuss solar for your home or business today. Give us a call at 1-831-384-3900 or 1-800-SOLAR-POWER and get ready to make the switch to solar with Scudder! To learn more about our company, please visit our company profile page.