Any smart consumer is always looking for a good deal. This can lead homeowners interested in solar power to look for cheap solar panels. Unfortunately, just because something is cheap doesn’t mean it’s a good value.
Why is cheap solar bad? Isn’t the point of powering your home with solar energy supposed to be saving yourself money and saving the environment? This is true, but inexpensive prices can be hiding other problems. Let’s break it down.
Cost of Solar Panels
One of the major initial expenses is the cost of solar panels themselves. Depending on your house size and energy use, the average price of solar panels can be anywhere from $15,000 to $50,000. So of course, if you see someone with discounted panels, it’s very tempting. However, you really don’t want to risk the likelihood that these panels will be faulty.
To begin with, the company should be offering Tier 1 panels. This means that they have earned the trust of financial institutions, so they are more likely to be financially solid and trustworthy. While this doesn’t stop some manufacturers from having quality issues or going bankrupt, it means it’s much less likely.
Along those lines, you’ll want to make sure that you have a good warranty. Solar panels are supposed to last for decades. If you’re being offered a cheap deal, they might be cutting costs in important areas like this one. You want this long-term investment to stay strong for years, not turn out to be defective right after a meager warranty expires. Your “awesome deal” could end up costing you much more in that case.
Cost of Installation
The cost of installation has to do with more than just money. How much time do you have to spend dealing with the contractor? How many calls do you have to make to figure out what your project status is? What’s the emotional toll of arguing with customer service about fixing something that should never have been messed up in the first place?
Some companies subcontract the cheapest installers in order to save themselves money on the “great deal” they’re giving you. These installers may not have much experience, or they may not care about attention to detail. Some businesses intentionally sell cheap, low-quality equipment, and then in as little as 3-5 years when they start to get a flood of warranty claims, they simply close down and leave all those households with no one to turn to.
Additionally, check out the Terms & Conditions, starting with your quote. A company might sell you a high-quality panel at a lower price, but then install cheap substitutes. They could have roofing contractors install the systems and get an electrician to sign off on it, which can be very unsafe. The company might even include that the contractor they hire is liable for any damages or defects, so that they don’t have to assist or reimburse you if something goes wrong. Then you have to take the time to go after the contractor.
Yes, a lot of these are worst-case scenarios, but why risk your money and safety for solar energy that seems cheap in the short-term?
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Dangers of Cheap Panels and Installation
And when it comes to risks, you definitely don’t want to go for the inexpensive, less-safe option. Incorrectly-installed solar panels can have issues that will affect anything from the performance of the equipment to the danger to your house. You should be looking for value – things that are pricier can be worth the money if they’re good quality, from the equipment to the people.
While decreased performance of your solar system will lead only to lost energy and money (still a big deal, especially added up over the lifespan of your system), other installation mistakes could result in much worse. When mounting panels on your roof, the contractor will have to penetrate it in order to secure the panels and racking. If the solar company is cutting costs by hiring inexperienced or imprecise installers, your roof could be damaged and might even leak. That won’t be a fun surprise during the rainy season!
Another corner that might be cut if you choose a company with cheap solar panels is the quality of electrical components. This can lead to all sorts of problems, including fires starting. If that happens, you’ll be lucky if all that happens is losing a ton of money on your solar panels, and not losing your house in a fire.
How to Avoid These Problems
So, when you look up “solar providers near me”, the best place to buy solar panels will be a place you know you can trust. You don’t want a purchase meant to improve your life to become more of a hassle than it’s worth. What’s important to know when doing your research?
First of all, you want to know your electricity rates and usage so the solar providers can figure out the best plan for you. Make sure you’re getting quotes from at least three different companies, and pay attention to their reviews to see how they have treated their other customers. How is their customer service before, during, and after installing the solar panels? Do they use some of the best solar panels, or are they going for cheap quality? Are their customers satisfied with the amount of solar power they’re getting?
Keep in mind everything you’ve read about hiring a cheap solar provider. Get the best value for your money rather than aiming for the lowest price. This is an investment in your future, and you’ll want to make sure it’s a quality one. Plus, once you find the best contractor for your solar project, you can see what rebates, tax credits, and other incentives might apply to your chosen system. Currently there’s a residential federal tax credit that would allow you to claim 26% of installation costs if your system is installed by December 31, 2022. Things can change at any time, so make sure to look up incentives at the federal, state, and local levels when you’re ready to get involved with solar energy.
Remember, cheap solar is like cheap surgery: you might seem to be saving money in the beginning, but what other costs will you be paying for the rest of your life? The best place to buy solar panels will focus on quality, not quantity, and give you the best value for your money. They’ll work with you to create the energy lifestyle you deserve.