7 Tips When Comparing Solar Panel Costs and Solar Quotes

With our experience 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 with fantastic 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 this is true to some extent, it is essential to know that 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 if you require service. We see that the equipment is rarely the cause of failure, just poor installation practices. In over 12 years of being in this industry, we have only seen the need to replace a solar panel twice out of tens of thousands installed. 

Tip 2: Microinverters vs. String-Inverters

enphase logo

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 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 and usually within a week. While these two setups’ functionality is designed to be the same, the service experience is vastly different, with microinverters being superior. But, that’s our technical perspective. From a sales perspective, the inverter+optimizer 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. 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 from individuals who have gone solar is that their 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 and the most crucial element 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. Many companies will overlook the fact that the roof may need replacing in the near term and still install solar to capture revenue today at the consumer’s expense.

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 or throwing away your older roof material after they have been removed.

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 that. The removal has to be done with caution—much more trash and more challenging labor.
  • Dry-Rot / Termite Damage – This is typically where the roofer will have to cut out the cancerous piece of wood and 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 in many instances and, at times, 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 costs and disposal costs. More importantly, you should enjoy your solar PV 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. 

commercial-solar-design

Tip 6: Lowest Price Does Not Equal the Best Deal

Keep your project cost in check by understanding what you are being charged for from start to finish. 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?)
  • 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

If you’ve evaluated numerous solar companies and still haven’t succeeded in finding the right solar company to install solar on your home, than you may want to consider getting more quotes. We recommend calling in the pros at Forme Solar. We’ll evaluate your solar quotes, and help you see if there is a better solar panel and inverter package that could make more sense for you and your home. We install and provide solar services quickly and effectively, every time. Give Forme Solar a call today!