JAMUL, CA (May 22, 2014) – Over the past decade, the solar industry has been booming in San Diego County, ranking year after year as one of the fastest growing industries. The financial benefits and increasing demand for solar power has made the solar industry an attractive business venture.
With a commitment to declare independence from foreign fossil fuels, the number of solar rooftops in Jamul have continued to grow, year after year. The number of solar companies is increasing exponentially as well. In San Diego County there are now more than 200 solar companies. With so many new companies saturating the solar market, it has become difficult for property owners to differentiate companies.
“Consumers are feeling inundated and overwhelmed by all the solar companies in the San Diego region,” said Daniel Sullivan, founder and president of Sullivan Solar Power, the largest integrator in the San Diego Gas and Electric Territory, according to California Solar Initiative data.
Tired of cold calls and solar companies knocking on your door without knowing their credibility? “There are a lot of fly-by-night companies that have entered the market and consumers need to do their diligence with an investment like solar energy,” said Sullivan. The entrepreneur sat down to share his insight with Jamul.com to address property owners concerns as they are evaluating solar.
“Don’t know if a solar company is established and trustworthy?”
The first thing you want to do is validate a company’s years in business on the California State License Board website. “Many companies are claiming to have been in business for decades, but only just started doing solar. A homeowner wants to do some background research to confirm a company’s integrity on the front end.” Sullivan suggests using companies that have been in business for 10 years, which is the duration most companies provide on their workmanship warranty.
Property owners can always check a company’s Better Business Bureau rating, and use firms have an A+ rating without any complaints filed against them. “The BBB serves as a watchdog for consumers, if people are escalating complaints to the organization; there have been serious issues with the company.”
Third-party review sites such as Yelp and Angie’s List will also show feedback and testimonials from other customers experience with the solar companies that you are evaluating. Another thing to look into is a company’s portfolio. If the solar firm has large businesses and government organizations that have trusted the company with their projects, best bets are that you can too. These companies will also carry larger liability and insurance coverage.
“Tired of calls, door knocks and pushy sales people?”
Be wary of pushy tactics. Credible solar companies will educate you on solar, not push you into it. There have been some companies in the market that have claimed to be with the utility, or said that they are sending someone out to a home through the state of Calfornia to evaluate and measure rooftops. Sullivan warns property owners also to not be lured by gimmicks such as free iPads, gift cards or toasters. “You want to be educated on your options, not sold.”
“Is solar the only thing the company does?”
Solar is a highly specialized field that should be installed by state-licensed electricians. Electrical contractors will carry a C-10 license. It is better to use a company that is focused on solar exclusively, and that is not trying to sell you windows, alarms, or air conditioning. “Jack of all trades – master of none,” claimed Sullivan, whose company has received several service calls for projects gone wrong.
“Is it better to lease or buy solar?”
Solar can be purchased or leased. The main difference is that with a lease option, you don’t receive a Federal tax credit since you don’t actually own the equipment. Be wary of companies not presenting all options available to you. “It is important that you are in control of the decision you are making,” said Sullivan. A reputable solar company will make the payback period, Return on Investment and tax credits clear and understandable.
“What does a solar company need to design an accurate proposal?”
At a home consultation, the company will provide you with a proposal. A proficient proposal will include details on your current electric consumption, what size system the company is suggesting (note whether they are talking in AC or DC watts, and compare apples-to-apples), detailed information on the products they are proposing and all financing options available to you. A roof inspection and shade analysis needs to happen before you sign a contract. “A quality company will get on your roof and do a full design layout for you to approve,” said Sullivan. He suggests signing off on a design layout, and making a copy of it, prior to construction to avoid surprises later down the line when a company decides to switch around what you agreed to.
As SDG&E rates continue to climb, the solar industry will continue to grow and expand. By doing some research and evaluation, you can be certain you are working with an ethically sound and secure company that will provide you with a quality solar powered system for your home or business. The bottom line – do your research so that you know the company you are doing business with is going to be around for the next 25-years that your solar panels are under warranty.