SOLAR BUYER GUIDE FOR SOUTHERN CA HOMEOWNERS
Are you ready to make your solar purchase? Electricare’s Solar Buyer Guide will provide you with the most important info you need to know before choosing an installer. Spotting sales tricks & gimmicks can be difficult when buying solar, but it won’t be if you follow the advice in this article.
Solar Purchase vs. Solar Lease
We refer to solar leasing as a “wolf in sheep’s clothing”. There are very few scenarios where solar leasing gives the home or business owner a real advantage. The big ploy with solar leasing is that you will save money starting day one on your power bill.
However, if you are in the position where you won’t be able to claim a tax credit (retired, low income, etc.), leasing a solar system may be the best option for you. (We highly recommend consulting with your tax adviser).
When leasing a system, you won’t receive your federal tax credit. Instead, the company who is leasing the system enjoys the tax benefit. This is a significant bonus that is passed on as savings to the consumer that chooses to buy instead of lease.
In contrast, when you purchase to own your own solar system and you have a tax appetite, you’ll get the benefit of the Federal Incentive Tax Credit (ITC). By getting a loan, you’ll be able to secure fix payment towards the loan replacing your energy bill payment; this way you will hedge against any increase in your electricity rate, this is how you increase your profit over time.
VIDEO: 5 Essential Solar Tips
The Big 30% Tax Credit Drops to 26%
The 30% federal tax credit has droped to 26% and will soon drop again, so now is the best time to get solar before the rebates run out. This rebate will shave thousands of dollars off your overall system cost and should not be missed. We will continue to update this solar buyer guide as changes happen.
Compare Multiple Bids Before You Make Your Purchase
Consumers should make sure they compare as many solar options as possible. You want to make sure you aren’t paying an inflated price from a popular installer in the solar industry. Research and talk to people who have purchased from companies in your area. Consider working with a local contractor, as many of them have much more experience installing in your area and usually offer a much lower price. Click here to request a custom quote for your rooftop.
The Solar Buyer Guide – Things to Consider When Hiring a Contractor
License is in Good Standing
– with a minimum of 5-10 year experience in solar installations (ElectriCare is going on 21 years!);
Reputation & Reviews
– check Yelp and other reviews websites for good, solid reviews
– minimum 10 years, try to choose a company offering a 20 or 25 warranty;
Aesthetics in Installation
– cleaning up the job site, paint conduit, etc. Ask for pictures!
BEWARE OF FAST TALKING SALES PEOPLE
Like shopping for a new car, be wary of over-exuberance on the sales person’s part. In some instances, this may be genuine passion, but in most, the sales rep won’t understand what they are selling; instead focusing on hype to get you to sign on the dotted line – and boost their commission.
If a question hasn’t been answered properly or has been deflected, pursue a satisfactory response. In some cases, you may be better off just walking away and finding a company that will answer your questions – the first time, clearly. At Electricare, we make answering your questions a priority. This is one of the reasons we created this solar buyer guide.
VIDEO CASE STUDY: 5 year solar payback
Your Solar Payback Period Should be Between 5-7 Years
As California’s solar prices continue to fall, the big utility companies have consistently increased their rates. This means that payback periods of 5 years or less are now possible. More typical solar payback periods fall between 5-7 years.
How Much You Pay For Electricity Will Determine Your System Size
This seems like a no brainer that your electricity bills are a significant factor for people when considering solar but many people only look at their home’s size and not their actual electrical usage. Your electricity bill and consumtion (and not the size of your home) will determine your solar system’s size and your overall savings. Additionally, 2018 and 2019 marked the biggest electrical rate hikes in CA History and it’s only gonna’ get worse. Utility companies such as PG&E and SoCal Edison boosted rates by as much as 80% for residential customers in 2018. Yes, 80%!
The Solar Buyer Guide – High Pressure Sales Tactics
Many companies use terms like “deal ending soon”, “hurry before stocks run out” ,“we purchased a large quantity of modules at a discounted price”– these are just the accepted language of marketing. Some companies may even state the offer they are touting is ending the same day – even when that isn’t noted on any of their literature or web site.
Ethical sales people will not place you under this type of pressure given the size of the investment. Especially if this is an initial enquiry or they’ve established you’re not overly familiar with solar power concept or still have further questions.
Demand time to think things over and research if you decide to sign on the dotted line. Better yet, if you find yourself under this sort of pressure, see it as an indication of what the company is like and avoid them altogether.
Gimmicks, Gadgets and Bonuses
Everyone loves a bonus, but when too much emphasis is placed on a bonus rather than the core product, the solar power system itself, this is cause for concern. Be especially wary of offers of free appliances such as big screen TV’s. Bear in mind that most gadgets and bonuses included with solar power packages have cost the vendor far less than the retail value they give them. Unless the bonus is directly related to the solar power system, you’ll be better off forsaking the bonus and negotiating a cheaper price on the system.
Avoid Warranty Issues
The best solar panels come with a minimum 25 year warranty, but the warranty will be of little value if the company disappears and solar PV manufacturers disappear often; sometimes to re-emerge under another name, but without assuming the responsibility associated with its previous products. Make sure your installer uses a manufacturer that has been around for longer than 5 years or one that will provide a third party warranty in case they are no longer around. We install Sunpower solar panels, which come with Sunpower’s “Complete Confidence” warranty. This warranty is the only solar warranty to cover your whole system (not just the panels). Sunpower is also the only company that’s been manufacturing solar panels for over 30 years. On topof all this, they hold the most pattents when it comes to solar module manufacturing and production.
A BIGGER SOLAR COMPANY ISN’T ALWAYS A BETTER SOLAR COMPANY
Don’t get fooled by big and flashy companies that sell solar panels. Considering all the options is essential. Larger companies spend a significant amounts of money in advertising just to get in front of you, but generally have much less experience in the industry, especially installing locally in your area. In general, large installers will cost more than smaller solar companies, so if you have an offer from one of these bigger companies, compare it with the quote from a local installer.
We’re local, contact us today!
We hope you found most of your answers in this solar buyer guide. Otherwise, we’re standing by for additional questions or assistance.
You are about to save a considerable amount on your electricity bill and increase the value of your home and you deserve the peace of mind in knowing you chose the most qualified installer.
We are based in Murrietta and have been installing solar in this area for over 20 years. Contact us today at 877-454-4786 or request a custom bid by filling out our form below.