As more and more people make the switch to solar and more companies pop up that seem to offer a full spectrum of services, we’ve come across some interesting solar nightmares over the past few years.
Faulty and unreliable equipment
Inexperienced installers and DIYers are often tempted to use equipment that may be cheaper or less reliable to save on costs. The fact is, we’ve seen a huge (very huge!) divide in the quality of panels, inverters, mounting systems and fasteners, wiring and electrical components, and batteries that make up your solar photovoltaic system. Many of the components being used by less experienced installers are not time-tested or backed by reliable manufacturers. Sometimes they don’t even come with warranties. One of the benefits of being in business since 2009 and completing tens of thousands of installations over the years is we know very well which equipment works best, lasts the longest, and has the best warranty ratings and customer satisfaction. Our scale and ongoing training also allows us to keep an eye on much of the new equipment coming out, monitoring the reliability, ratings, and the aesthetics of it, knowing that it could prove to become the next big thing in solar and part of our standard equipment.
Misguided math and wrong-sized systems
Shady solar installers looking to make a quick sale may be tempted to exaggerate the savings that solar panels provide. Sometimes even a small miscalculation or a misplaced decimal can set you on a bad path with an overpriced solar system. Any experienced installer will do their due diligence to investigate your past energy use and help design a system that works for how you consume energy. If you happen to have extremely low energy bills (maybe you are not home a lot or don’t have a lot of appliances) and purchase an over-sized system, it’s possible your new monthly cost with solar could end up being far more than you were previously paying without solar. Conversely, if your system is under-sized, you will end up paying a higher rate per panel (due to additional equipment and installation costs) and your system won’t be big enough to offset most of your energy needs.
Timelines play a big part in the success of your solar project. There’s a lot that can go off the rails when you’re dealing with permits, inspections, sign-offs, potential seasonality, incentives and rebates that come and go, and managing workloads. We’ve heard horror stories of installers that promise the world, but then miss every deadline they’ve set. This can be more problematic than just delaying your switchover to clean energy. Many incentives and rebates have very specific deadlines for purchasing or installing equipment, and missing those deadlines can sometimes cost you thousands of dollars.
Every installation is unique and has its own unique set of problems, whether it’s working on an older home, knowing how to work on a steeply pitched roof, or dealing with a delayed equipment delivery due to a supply chain issue. What matters is how that problem is dealt with. Problems can be anticipated, planned for, and planned around. Having the ability to quickly troubleshoot a system that is not 100% online or the ability to pinpoint the exact location and reason for a problem is of the greatest benefits of working with a knowledgeable installer.
Experience comes into play
Thankfully experienced installers are aware of all of these problems and many more. They are accustomed to problem-solving, looking for red flags, and being diligent to prevent anything that keeps you having the most efficient and cost efficient install possible. Be sure to shop around for reputable solar installers, check their history and read their reviews.