Solar FAQ Sunline Energy

Solar energy has been a part of Sunline Energy’s business since 2011 and we have witnessed many things. We install within SDG&E and parts of Southern California Edison territory. We thought we would make a list of frequently asked questions that homeowners should be asking during their solar consultation with Sunline Energy or any other company:

    1. Is the solar company in good standing with CSLB? If they aren’t, then they might be sub-contracting their solar installations to a different contractor. We have noticed, there has been a lot of “solar companies” that don’t install solar and hire subcontractors. This would mean that in case of any issues they have no liability for the work that was done. This doesn’t do any favors to the solar consumer. You can check any California contractors at the CSLB website here.
    2. How long has the company been in business? Solar is a very competitive industry, and most don’t survive past five years. As a solar consumer, it’s a good idea to hire a solar contractor that is well established. The information can be verified by searching here.
    3. Are their online presence positive and how far do they go? We suggest searching for the companies such as Yelp, Google, Better Business Bureau (BBB), Angie’s List, or Best Company.
    4. How long has the salesperson been in the solar industry? Having a salesperson that has been in the solar industry is important. Avoid any company that is prone to hire a seasonal solar consultant.
    5. How financially viable is the solar company? Can they turn a profit? Are they in debt? Knowing who manufactures solar panels and inverters is equally important.
    6. What financial options are they providing? Contractors will frequently increase your contract price to accommodate “contractor” or “dealer” fees they pay to finance companies to offer a special loan product. Loans that sound too good to be true mean you’re will probably be paying more elsewhere. Make sure to ask the lender to explain any additional costs and steps if you choose to go with a PACE loan. Many homeowners prefer an equity loan or a loan from a credit union.
    7. Is the solar consultant educating or pressuring to close the deal? Has the consultant explained Net Energy Metering (NEM), True Up cycle, and time-of-use (TOU) electric rates and schedules? Is there a specific layout of solar panels that will be installed on your roof, along with an estimate of production based on your actual roof orientation and shading conditions? Have they discussed with you your expected future electric consumption, and given you options for choosing system sizes? And who will be your point of contact after you sign the solar contract?
    8. Are you able to ask the solar company to provide you with previous installations that were done in your area? If you get a chance talk with the previous customers and ask them all the questions you may have. Also, look at the aesthetic of the installation and how they line up, etc.
    9. How firm is the price on the proposal? The price of solar panels is rarely changed after a contract is signed, but change orders are used almost exclusively by some companies. Can the price of solar panels change for any reason? Does your main electric panel have adequate capacity, and is there enough space on your roof?
    10. What type of solar panels and equipment are they using? Is the solar energy system design to last for 25+ years? Even when exposed to harsh elements? Have they inspected your roof to make sure the solar panel will hold up? What type of cabling are they using?
    11. Is there a written guarantee or warranty accompanying the verbal one? What is covered by the installation warranty? Will full replacement be covered by equipment warranties from manufacturers or just partial replacement? Will labor be covered? How long do production guarantees last? Clarifying what is covered is extremely important.
    12. Do they push power purchase agreements (PPAs) or leases? Leases and PPAs have many downsides: #1 they are vastly more expensive than purchasing solar, and #2 they are a liability if you sell your home instead of an asset (speak to your Realtor). Some homeowners may be interested in the lease/PPA model, but be wary of salespeople who emphasize the pros rather than the cons. Check out online reviews of the leasing/PPA provider as well.
    13. Does the company offer an endless amount of discounts? Get $1000 in cash back if you sign up before the end of the month! You will no longer have to worry about utility bills as long as your solar is installed! Pay $0 now to get solar installed today! For some companies, these constant promotions are simply built into their pricing. For others, it might be a sign that the company is struggling.
    14. Is the company offering new incentives? Is solar really free? In reality, solar companies contend that incentive programs are available from the government or the utility, but that’s a common sales tactic used by disreputable solar companies. In some cases, door knockers and telemarketers pose as representatives of utilities to lend credibility to their claims.
    15. Last but not least, we recommend to please consider choosing a local solar company over an installer who works across multiple regions or is nationwide. The higher buying power of large companies can indeed result in some cost savings, but it is insufficient to offset the added bureaucratic costs. Residential solar installers have seen their market share decline dramatically in recent years due to many going bankrupt. Also, when choosing local you are helping your local economy.

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