Solar panels are an investment and some have compared it to purchasing a car. Like a car, you want to shop around and find the best match.

But unlike a car, going solar is an investment that pays for itself and more.

A solar system will increase your home’s value and can hedge against raising energy rates. It can pay you back in eight to 15 years and then put money in your pocket ever after. As an added environmental bonus, your system will reduce emissions that would normally be burnt to provide your grid-fed power.

Much like cars, the solar market assures you will get the latest and greatest technology offered. Locations and installers are not all created equally, however, and this is where window shopping can really pay off!

Solar panels are like your own mini-utility, but if your roof is not aligned with the sun or gets shaded from trees and other buildings, then your mini-utility won’t be very effective. How can you know? The answer is simple! When shopping for your system, ask your installer for a solar profile with your estimate. The profile will tell you how much sun you can take advantage of, so you’re able to generate enough power for your consumption and any sell any excess back to the utility. The timeframe for the next 25 years should be clearly shown in any profile, and then you can see the point that your system will start earning money for you.

The window shopping process can tell you a lot about the installer. Here’s what to look for:

  • Are their proposals sufficiently detailed and cover the unexpected? You don’t want to get hit with surprise costs.
  • Does the installer have a solid safety record and is safety obvious in your discussions and planning? You don’t want an accident taking place or damage to your property due to inexperience or rushed workmanship.
  • Is the installer a member of any professional organizations?
  • How long has the installer been in business?
  • Does the installer provide background information to help you understand rooftop solar power at your own pace?

These are just some of the things to consider while you shop around. It is not uncommon for customers to look at solar panels for a year or more before committing to purchase. I highly recommend finding an installer whose reputation is stellar, who takes the time to explain their approach and who keeps safety in the forefront in their minds. Be sure to get detailed information (not promises, but real numbers) about your roof and system and – happy shopping!