For over two decades, Arizona has had one of the most successful solar energy rollouts in the United States. Today, our state ranks fifth in the nation in solar-powered electricity generation, with over 5,743 Megawatts (MW) installed, nearly 200,000 solar customers throughout and over $250 million saved on utility bills, according to both the U.S. Energy Information Administration and Solar Energy Industries Association.
Though more Arizonans are thinking about making the switch to solar power every day, jumping in without any prior knowledge can make for a challenging and complicated process if you are unsure of what to look for. When it comes to confidently going solar, doing your research and asking the right questions will help you get the best system for your needs and the most savings possible.
Use these tips to help you navigate through the solar installation process from start to finish.
1. Choose The Best Solar Company for You
Most homeowners will either make the mistake of going with the first provider they meet, or go with a big-name national installer. Finding the right solar installer will be one of the most crucial parts of your solar experience, because not all solar solutions are created equal – and neither are solar companies.
While most of the national installers are household names, they are typically more expensive and tend to subcontract their work, making the installation process more complicated. There are advantages to having your solar panels installed by a local company, such as Solar Topps. The advantages include getting lower prices on premium products, providing more “tailor-made” systems that are scalable and fit your needs, and faster response times to system issues. National installers can sometimes be inefficient and leave customers to figure things out on their own.
Here’s how to find the right provider: Look into how long they have been in business, as most reputable companies have been performing this work for close to a decade, under the same name. Recognize how they rank with the Better Business Bureau (BBB), and understand how they operate and treat their customers. Lastly, confirm if they are certified by the NABCEP (North American Board of Certified Energy Practitioners) and are committed to implementing the best practices in the solar industry.
No matter which solar company you choose, trust an installer who knows what they are doing and has the right qualifications before working on your home. Even with the highest quality solar products, if your system is installed poorly, it will end up costing you.
2. Assess Your Solar Proposals
Once you narrow down your list, start obtaining quotes from multiple solar companies in your area. Do your due diligence by taking the time to review each quote and understand what will go into your solar system and installation.
When analyzing them in detail, consider whether or not you are getting a good deal by calculating the price per watt of your system. With a fair price on a typical system being between $2 - $3 per watt, you can determine this cost by dividing the total cost of the system by your system size. When doing your research, it’s important to know how much energy you use to ensure the system size meets your needs. Be sure to ask how many kilowatt-hours (kWh) your system will generate in the first year of operation and in total over the course of 25 years.
Ask your solar provider what kind of equipment they are using and who will be installing your system. Are they an all-in-one solar company or do they subcontract their work to several people? The types of panels, inverters, energy storage devices, and installers they will be using will make a significant impact on the quality of work performed, how quickly you will get installed, and who will serve the system if things go wrong.
If you are dealing with a less than transparent team, it is okay to walk away if things don’t feel right. You have no obligation to them, and should not tolerate pushy salespeople.
3. Get The Right System Size for Your Home
Solar is not a “one-size-fits-all" solution, because every home uses a different amount of electricity. Some companies offer packages coming with a specific number of panels, but without paying close attention to detail, you may not have enough to offset your energy usage, or worse, end up paying for more panels than you really need.
Understand how much energy your home uses over the course of a year, and use this to get a better idea of how many solar panels your home needs. You can contact your utility provider to obtain this information and ask how many kWh of energy your home uses each month for a full year. By choosing the right solar system size for your home, the amount of solar energy your home generates will often make you money, helping to stop inflation and the rising costs of electricity.
4. Take Advantage of Available Tax Credits and Incentives
Many homeowners in Arizona are not aware that going solar comes with impressive benefits which all Arizonans are eligible for. The Federal Solar Tax Credit has contributed to substantially reducing the upfront cost of solar, granted rebates of up to $1,000 to exemptions on property sales taxes, and a reduction in the final price of your solar energy system by 26%.
While these benefits help provide a substantial return on your investment, the window to act on them is closing. Presently, the Federal Solar Tax Credit will drop from 26% to 22% by the end of 2022 and then be reduced to zero by the end of 2023. If acted upon early, these incentives will help you save on the initial purchase or prevent you from paying extra money in taxes in the future.
At Solar Topps, we believe in providing our customers with the resources needed to obtain these benefits and make the most of their solar system and energy needs, at no upfront cost.
5. Financing Your Solar Panel System
There are many ways that you can get solar for your home, every customer is on a different budget, and the way you choose to pay for your system matters. Despite this fact, there are also a number ways that you can invest in your solar panels and backup batteries.
You can purchase your system and take advantage of available tax credits and rebates to reduce the upfront cost. Obtaining a loan through a third-party financing company such as banks or from solar-specific financing partners we work with like GoodLeap, GreenSky, and Sunlight Financial, agreeing on monthly payments to them for the financing term.
You can also lease a system that will allow you to make a lump sum or monthly payments to the leasing company, who will be responsible for the performance and maintenance of your system, but will also be the beneficiary of any available tax credits or incentives.