What Do Solar Companies Do?
In the simplest terms, solar companies make solar cells and solar panels that are placed on the roof to provide an alternative energy source – solar energy. Solar energy is derived directly from sunlight. Sun releases particles of light call photons and once they come into contact with a solar panel, an electric flow is created that can be converted into electrical energy. There are two types of solar energy technologies: photovoltaic cell (PV) and concentrating solar power (CSP).
Photovoltaic Cell (PV) Technology
Also known as PV, this technology uses panels to convert sunlight into electricity. PV panels contain solar cells which have semiconductor materials to capture the light. Once the sunlight reaches these cells, electrons create an electric current and generate electricity.
Concentrated Solar Power (CSP) Technology
CSP is not recommended for residential use and it is usually used in large power plants. This technology uses mirrors and reflectors to gather solar energy and then turn it into thermal energy. This thermal technology converts the sun’s heat into mechanical energy before converting it to concentrated solar power. The energy that is generated can be used to power turbines that, in turn, make electricity.
Types of Solar Companies
Not even the top solar companies are equipped to manufacture, install, and finance your solar panel system. Instead, they specialize in one of those areas. There are different types of solar companies and as a homeowner, you should be aware of how different companies function. It is very likely that you’ll deal only with installers and financing solar electric companies. But, keep in mind that you don’t have to choose the same company both for financing and installation.
When it comes to panel manufacturing solar companies, they produce solar cells and assemble solar panels. They are also the ones in charge of the research and development of solar energy. These solar electric companies frequently create their own supply chain and offer warranties on their products.
Solar installers function similarly to a car dealership. They provide you with panels from a solar panel manufacturing company or a solar panel wholesaler. The main aim of these energy companies is to install and get solar panels to work on your rooftops. So, they need to be specialized in areas that solar panel manufacturers usually are not. These companies can be large or small and they can function nationwide or only in certain regions.
Last but not least, solar financing companies help people finance their switch to solar systems. They provide loans, leases, or even power purchase agreements.
Is My Home a Good Candidate for Solar Energy?
If you struggle with high electric bills, then contacting one of the best solar companies might be the right solution for you. Here are some tips that will help you understand whether your home is a good candidate for solar energy.
The first thing you need to ask yourself is how much is your energy bill. In order to benefit from going solar, your utility bill should be at least $75 per month. If your bill is less than that, then you won’t save up much money by installing solar panels.
Then, you should pay attention to your roof. Solar electric companies install panels that can last more than 40 years, so you need to make sure that your roof can last as long as that. When installing solar panels, top solar companies use mounting hardware which works best on sturdy materials. If you think that you should replace your roof, make that your priority instead of buying solar panels.
Besides the condition of your roof, you should also take the size of your roof into consideration. In general, one solar panel produces about 1 kWh per day. The amount of your daily kWh usage determines the number of solar panels needed to meet your energy needs. Keep in mind that one solar panel is 5 ½ feet tall and 3 feet wide. So, the available space on your roof can also determine whether you can switch to solar systems.
Since solar panels require solar energy to work properly, you should know how much sun you actually get. Solar panels produce more power when they get direct sunlight. The less shade there is, the more electricity your panels will be able to produce. Solar energy companies point out that every home has unique “peak sun-hours.” These are the hours on a typical day that determine how much of the sunlight can reach your solar panels at 1,000 watts per square meter.
The majority of homes in the United States have three to five peak sun-hours per day, with less in the winter and more in the summer. In order to get the most out of your solar panels, solar electric companies recommend mounting them toward the rotation of the sun. For example, if you live in the northern hemisphere, the solar panels should be placed on a south-facing part of your roof.
Last but not least, where you live can also affect the amount of energy you need. For example, if your home is surrounded by shade produced by large trees, tall buildings, or any other obstructions, this might hamper the amount of sunlight your solar panels receive, making them less effective. In addition, the climate in your region might affect the performance of your solar panels. This specifically refers to the peak sun-hours. Peak sun-hours can be calculated by placing an insolation meter in direct sunlight. The meter will provide information about the solar power supply and light intensity in your area.
How to Choose the Best Solar Company?
Plenty of consumers make poor decisions and choose the wrong solar companies. Some overpay for the system, others purchase solar panels that are not suitable for their home, and some choose a poor quality solar company. Investing in solar power can be a great purchase, but if done wrong it can turn into a financial drain. Here are some tips that will help you choose the best solar company for your home.
1. Avoid Canvassing Companies
Many solar energy companies send crews of canvassers to neighborhoods. Tesla itself did this but stopped the practice due to reputation issues. The canvassing teams can use aggressive sales tactics and create a sense of urgency since they are compensated on commissions sales. In a way, they can “force” you to sign a contract without giving you the time to do your own research. Don’t let this happen to you! Choose the best solar company for your home based on research and find one that will fulfill all your needs.
2. Check Out Multiple Companies
Good news is that there is not only one solar panel company in your region but many of them. Take your time, shop around, and get multiple quotes. Some platforms, such as EnergySage and PickMySolar, have made this process easy and they allow you to get quotes from the comfort of your home.
3. Find Information Specific for Your Neighborhood
Switching to solar energy is a unique purchase that will last for decades. In the majority of states, there are organizations that manage solar incentives and publish local pricing data. This information can be quite helpful when you have to compare multiple quotes and decide what the best solar company for you is. For example, The California Solar Initiative offers this information; all you have to do is insert your zip code and you’ll get the most recent info.
4. Consider a Local Company
When it comes to solar electric companies, there are three best-known national installers – Solar City, Vivint, and SunRun. As of September 2016, these three solar energy companies are in charge of about 60% of the residential solar market, according to data provided by Greentech Media. The remaining 40% belongs to regional installers and their presence in the market has been gradually increasing. One great thing about local companies is that they can offer more affordable prices and high-quality solar systems at the same time, so it is definitely worth checking them out.