Every week, we get calls from people who have had national companies install their solar energy systems. They’re having an equipment or warranty issue but are either unable to get through to a live human being or have been refused service. In this blog post, we’re going to make the case for why you should hire a local solar installer.
Before digging into the topic matter, we want to affirm that we’re not here to throw our competitors under the bus. We certainly won’t mention any other companies by name. But we care about the long-term viability as well as the reputation of the solar industry and are hoping to help people make the best possible decisions about going solar.
Here is our list of the reasons why you should strongly consider working with a local installer for your solar energy system:
- A local company will care more about your satisfaction. Think about it: the people at a national company don’t live in your community (or even in your country, sometimes), their kids don’t go to school here, and they don’t have to worry about bumping into you in the supermarket if your experience with them is unsatisfactory.
- Getting great customer service is going to be much more difficult with a large, national company. We have heard numerous nightmare stories about frustrated clients getting lost in a maddening black hole of phone extensions, chatbots, etc., and never successfully getting through to anyone to get their issue resolved.
- A system designed by a local company is much more likely to be customized to your home and needs. National installers are looking to maximize their bottom line through the use of cheaper equipment and cookie-cutter design templates. You are forced fit into their program and if you have anything out of the ordinary, they would rather not work with you. A customized system will almost always offer the customer better energy output, more pleasing aesthetics, and increased longevity.
- Some national companies will have their own branded equipment that customers must use. This is a clear signal to RUN AWAY – if your equipment fails, or if you aren’t satisfied with their service (see #1 above), you have no choice but to work with them. Even worse, you can be totally without recourse if the company leaves the state, since local solar service providers won’t be able to get parts to repair your system. We’ve seen this happen repeatedly and there is nothing we can do to help these folks.
- When you contract with a local installer, you’re investing in your own community. It fosters economic growth, enhances the tax base, and provides good-paying, full-time jobs for local workers. It’s truly a win-win-win!
- Relative to the above, when the crew is local and employed by the installer, they are naturally going to be more accountable for the workmanship and results. Many national installers rely on subcontractors who may care less about each project they work on and are gone the minute the system is turned on.
- Working with a local company – a good one – frequently becomes a personal partnership rather than just a transactional relationship. The person you worked with to finalize the contract is likely be there for the site visits, through the design stage, installation and flipping the switch. Heck, they may even be up on your roof to help construct the system!
- Finally, if you work with a small, local solar installer, you’re probably going to save money. While many national companies offer zero-down financing (free solar panels!), these arrangements often end up costing much more in the long run. Customers are often caught unawares until it’s too late (wait, free solar isn’t actually free?!?) According to a study by the National Renewable Energy Laboratory (NREL), the pricing for smaller solar installers is an average of 10% lower than large solar installers and the larger companies have higher prices 70% of the time.
It’s important to note that we don’t make much money on service calls but we feel obligated to our community and the industry to provide the best possible service to keep people’s systems operational. We want everyone who has made the decision to adopt solar to be thrilled with that decision, for the maximum life of their system. Because of this, we do attempt to provide service even for folks whose systems we did not install. It’s not easy but it’s part of our commitment to our community.
To learn more about some things you should consider before choosing a solar installer, read our blog on the subject. And you can always give us a call: 941-359-7300.