Tips for Choosing a Solar Installer

Ready to pick your installer but don’t know where to start? Idaho Power works with all solar companies and does not partner with or recommend any specific solar company over another. However, we’ve summarized some research tips to help you evaluate your options.

  1. Compare online reviews.

Ratings:

First, check the Better Business Bureau to see if there are any comments about the company. If there are complaints, look to see how or if they were resolved. Then, perform an internet search for key phrases, such as “solar panel reviews Idaho”, and check out local reviews and ratings on sites like Google or Yelp. Before taking a company’s average score at face value, consider these other factors:

Location:

For companies that operate in multiple states, place a preference on reviews from local customers. Nevada or Utah customers’ experience with their local branch may not be reflective of an Idaho or Oregon customer’s experience.

Timing:

Recent reviews likely are more telling of the company’s current practices and customer satisfaction than reviews that were entered years ago.

Content:

Read through some of the reviews to get more detail on actual customers’ experiences. It’s great to see glowing reviews, but watch for examples where the customer’s experience wasn’t so ideal, and how the company resolved it. Reading reviews of multiple customer experiences will give you a clearer understanding of what your experience could be and may provide questions to ask the installer. You’ll notice not all the reviews will apply to your situation, like reviews from employees or former employees stating their opinions of the company as an employer. Also, consider if the review is reasonable — did the reviewer have unrealistic expectations? Some of these unrelated reviews may be driving the average score up or down.

  1. Check qualifications.

Remember, the warranties on solar equipment can last 10 to 20 years, so you’ll want a company with history and staying power. You’ll also want to know how to follow-up on warranties, in case years down the road they aren’t in business or have relocated. Outside of warranty issues, clarify the process for getting service or help if you need it after your installation. Also, do all their years of electrical experience include solar installations, or are they new to solar? New doesn’t mean bad, but you’ll want to verify they know the local electrical and building codes for solar. Just like any electrician or contractor, make sure they have the required licensing and insurance.

  1. Ask for references.

After narrowing down your search, ask the solar companies to provide references of prior customers. They should be able to put you in touch with their previous customers, who you can ask questions about their experience, satisfaction level and any other relevant tips.

  1. Get multiple quotes.

Shop around just like you would with any large purchase to ensure you’re getting the best deal to fit your needs. Check the quotes you receive against your own calculations. There are some easy and free online compound interest calculators to help you get a rough estimate of your projected long term costs of Idaho Power’s energy versus a solar investment. One factor that affects payback of a solar investment is electricity price changes. Prices fluctuate slightly year-to-year due to inflation, fuel costs and other factors. In both 2018 and 2019, Idaho Power customers experienced a decrease in electricity costs. Looking forward, Idaho Power’s most recent Integrated Resource Plan estimates relative fuel prices will increase, on average, 1.2% per year over the next 18 years.