7 tips when comparing solar panel costs and Solar Quotes.
7 tips when comparing solar panel costs and Solar Quotes.

7 Tips When Comparing Solar Panel Costs and Solar Quotes

With our background helping customers repair their solar energy system, we have seen a lot of instances where people have gotten solar for their homes only to regret it. We've compiled 7 (seven) tips to help homeowners compare solar quotes and costs to ensure you have a great experience going solar. All while maximizing your ROI.

Tip 1: Don't Get too Hung Up on Solar Panel Brands

Way too often, we see that people get too hung up on the equipment, which is not their fault. Other solar companies treat the selling of a solar energy system like a car. Where it is all about the flashy brand and the extra bells and whistles. While brand names and looks are important to some extent, what you want in a solar energy system is a workhorse. Not a racecar.

As a company specializing in solar repair, we find that the most significant impact on a homeowner's ROI is service. We see that the equipment is rarely the cause of failure, just poor installation practices. In 2020, we preformed over 2,000 service calls. Only 2 of those calls for solar repair were to replace a broken solar panel.

Tip 2: Microinverters vs. String-Inverters

Inverters, micro or otherwise, tend to have more issues. That being said, the whole inverter+optimizer versus microinverter debate is already a closed chapter for our solar company. Microinverters have proven to be far easier to install, troubleshoot, and replace than any inverter+optimizer setup we have ever done.

enphase logo

Of the solar companies that focus on microinverters, Enphase stands out. Enphase tech support is fast and knowledgeable, and their monitoring platform is the best we've seen to date. Any time we have done a warranty replacement with Enphase, it arrives within less than two weeks.

Other companies can take up to 2 months to ship their replacement parts. From a sales perspective, the inverter versus microinverter choice is purely financial. With microinverters costing an average of 10-15% more. Solar sales guys make the most money when they sell you the cheapest equipment at the highest price. So when you are told that switching from an inverter+optimizer setup to a microinverter structure costs the same. It usually means they were over-charging for the cheaper installation from the start.

Tip 3: Size Matters More Than You Think

One of the biggest dissatisfactions we hear is that their solar energy system is too small to offset their overall usage. This is why a well-designed system should be your primary goal. And should meet at least 110% of your annual electricity needs. Oversizing your solar energy system is important because because it can: 

  1. Hedge against system loss of efficiency
  2. Buffer against increased usage - People use more electricity not less
  3. Avoid a costly true-up bill at the end of the billing period

Tip 4: Not Checking Your Roof Before Going Solar

skylight roof repair

Roofs are typically one of your home's most neglected parts. Not only does it protect your home, it is the most crucial part of your home for installing solar. If a roof has less than ten years to go, you may want to consider replacing your roof. Despite the initial cost, it will be well worth it in the long run. Many companies will overlook the fact that the roof may need replacing in the near term. Many would ratherinstall solar to capture revenue today at the consumer's expense.

Breakdown of Potential Roofing Costs

To any roofing related costs, you need to break down costs into three general categories:

  • Materials: Everything from comp shingles, rock & tar, underlayment, to protective coatings, etc. 
  • Labor: Skilled workers who tear off the old roof and install your new roof
  • Disposal Costs:  Recycling and throwing away the old roof material

Common Issues That Could Add Cost to Solar Install

There are unforeseen issues that could unexpectedly add more costs to a typical reroof. In older homes, we see common problems that stem from:

  • Skip Sheathing Roof –  We have to put all new plywood over the roof area. The labor is challenging because the removal has to be done with caution. Skip sheating also creates much more trash.
  • Dry-Rot / Termite Damage – This is typically where the roofer will have to first cut out the cancerous piece of wood. And then, replace it with a new wood piece.
  • Relocating Plumbing Vents – For the most part, every plumbing fixture has a vent pipe associated with it. These vents are typically interconnected. And need to be moved to ensure that you maximize your system size.

If you upgrade your roof at the same time you install solar, you should save on labor and disposal costs. More importantly, you should enjoy your solar energy systems for the entire duration of your solar PV warranty.

Tip 5: Not Using Optimal Available Rooftop Space 

How your solar panels are designed on your roof can make a significant impact on the overall performance of your solar energy system. A well-designed solar energy system allows for maximum production while using the fewest amount of panels. This reduces the system cost by not adding extra equipment, providing you the lowest price per watt. 


Tip 6: Lowest Price Does Not Equal the Best Deal

When you first evaluate solar quotes, the number that is most important is the total cost of the project. Keep your project cost in check by understanding what you are being charged for from start to finish. The lowest solar panel cost doesn't necessarily mean the best deal. On all solar deals, make sure you know the following: 

  • System Size
    • What is the total wattage of my system? 
  • System Output and Offset
    • How many kWh am I getting per year? 
    • Do I have at least a 110% offset? 

Tip 7: Additional Surprise Costs? What are Adders?

Most homes and businesses always want to ensure that the price they see is the price that they pay. With homes being so different, there are a few instances where additional costs need to be added to helping prepare a home go solar. Besides the price of the system, what adds cost to my solar project? 

  • Roof Type (composition shingle, concrete tile, clay tile, wood shake)
  • Main Electrical Panel (Does it need to be upgraded or moved?)
  • Solar Equipment (Do you want the Toyota or the BMW?) You want a vehicle meant to go the distance, not a racecar. 

Evaluating the Best Solar Installation Companies Quotes

If you are looking for the best solar companies to work with in California? Consider getting a solar quote comparison evaluation from Forme Solar. We will evaluate your solar quotes, and see if there is a better package that makes more sense. We install and provide solar services quickly and effectively, every time. Contact Forme Solar or call us today at 714-694-2262!