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Going Solar: How do You Choose the Right Solar Company in Idaho?

I often get asked what I think are the most important points to consider when choosing a solar company in Idaho.. When you put all the marketing and shiny objects aside, there are definitely some specific categories all new homeowners should consider before choosing a solar company. Remember, when you purchase a solar system, you will be expecting it to work well beyond 25 years.

Which questions should you ask and how do you separate fact from fiction?

After having guided hundreds of homeowners in multiple states through the maze of details, I can understand how complicated it may all seem. Imagine, when it comes to solar for your Idaho home, you will be establishing a 25+ year relationship with a company that handles the installation and all system service functions. Looking at the following list of questions, the most important thing you want to consider is true value (hint: price is just one part true value).

Main questions You Should ask when choosing an Idaho solar company

Basic Company Questions

Idaho is a newer solar market so there will be many “temporary companies” come and go in the market. The foll0wing questions are very important in measuring the company’s track record.

  1. How long has the company been in business and how many solar projects have they completed to date within the Idaho market ? Ask to see a couple actual installations.
  2. How do their customers rate them?
  3. Do they outsource any or all of their projects?
  4. How helpful and knowledgeable are their employees?
  5. Is the company debt-free?
  6. What does the company’s physical presence look like? This may seem trivial, but if you really want to see what a company is all about, request to visit their local warehouse and see it with your own eyes!

Basic Product Questions

These are basic questions but important. The company’s choice on partners is a reflection of their vision into the future. Bad partner decisions can create horror stories for customers.

  1. Where is the equipment manufactured (panels. components) manufactured? American made or other locations?  Is the equipment backward compatible? (if you want to add batteries later, will it work with your existing panels)
  2. Is the solar bid 100% inclusive? Additional costs? (hint: many companies will offer you a lower bid to get you signed up and then start adding on additional “charges”)
  3. How aesthetically pleasing are their installations? Exposed wires, unsightly conduit? Remember, 25 years is a long time to look at an ugly eye sore!
  4. Who are their company partners? Are they debt-free and profitable?

Basic Financing Questions

Purchasing solar would not even be possible for many without good financing. The idea is to help homeowners replace what they current pay their utility company (expense) with a payment into an actual asset they own (investment).

  1. Does the company finance their systems or have partner programs for financing? What are the finance terms, APR, requirements, pre-payment penalties?
  2. How will incentives (federal and local tax incentives) impact the financing program?
  3. Does the company offer any “grace period” incentives, so you can claim your tax credits before making your first loan payment?
  4. What if you find a better deal on financing later on and wish to switch to a lower APR program, are there any penalties?

Basic Warranty Questions

Most people don’t consider the warranty information on their system until they actually encounter a problem. It should be a big consideration well before you even purchase a system

  1. What is the equipment warranty, what does it include and are there any additional costs?
  2. How long is my roof guaranteed against any leaks?
  3. What kind of system monitoring in included? Do you have to pay extra for this?
  4. Is the warranty transferable to new homeowners, if I sell my home?

Video Slideshow: Auric Solar, Silfab Solar PanelsNet Metering & Actual Customer Reviews

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Here is the Deal on Solar . . .

Don’t walk away from companies with pushy sales tactics, RUN away! There is nothing wrong with good company guiding you into the right decision, if it truly in your best interest. But pushy sales should not be part of the experience. At the end of the day, do you trust the company or do you smell bad sales breath?

solarwarrantycancelledStick with a company that installs and guarantees their own service,. if so, you are already a step ahead in minimizing any potential future problems. There are TONS of nightmares with companies who outsource their service.

Ask your solar company representative just how long they have been in the solar industry, how long they have been employed by their company and why they chose their company. This point really matters because happy employees lead to a better customer experiences and a better final product!

Does the company have an acceptable rating with the Better Business Bureau or other reputable review sites? Ask your solar company to show you a list of local customers/ references. and actual verified reviews. If they refuse or cannot provide you with references, avoid the company.

Finally, as silly as it may sound, do not, under any circumstances, take advice from your utility company to avoid going solar! Remember, when you go solar, you are consciously purchasing less of their unpredictable energy because you choose to generate your own predictable clean energy. Utility companies are monopolies and you are in effect, breaking that monopoly for yourself. And why do you think utility companies are transitioning to solar themselves?

Always choose value over price. Panels and equipment costs are just one part of the equation. More important is the installation and support. It may be tempting to choose the “cheapest” company. But will that company be able to survive over the long run if they are not  currently profitable? Value includes everything and will last for years to come. Should you experience any issues with your system or roof in the future, the money you initially “saved” can quickly turn into a financial disaster.

If you stick to these basic points, you will be sure to get the solution you are looking for and reduce the likelihood of any problems years into the future.

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