Mama said shop around, and NREL agrees.
In a recent study, the National Renewable Energy Laboratory (NREL) found that people interested in switching to solar energy could “benefit from obtaining more quotes before making a decision.”
In general, smart buyers do comparison shopping before they buy cars and plane tickets. You can’t afford to be hasty, especially with a big purchase like the best rooftop solar panels and installation.
NREL’s report says that savings might not come from where you’d expect. Here’s what they found.
1. Big Solar Companies Might Not Be the Best for Your Wallet
Larger solar installers, companies that install 1,000 or more systems every year, might not give the cheaper quote. This is counter to what we see in most industries, where bigger companies can offer lower prices. They typically do this by buying product in bulk and selling it for less, while still making a profit.
However, it’s different with the cost of solar panel companies and installers.
- Larger installers might have more market power, so they don’t have to be as price-competitive. People might go with a more recognizable brand simply because it’s familiar.
- Larger installers might have more overhead costs like customer acquisition and marketing than smaller/more local installers, who rely on word-of-mouth and customer referrals.
Sometimes, going with your local solar panel installers will be less expensive than going with that shiny, well-branded solar company.
In fact, NREL found that large companies were 10 percent more expensive on average. The difference between larger companies (installing 1,000+ solar panel systems a year) and non-large companies (installing fewer than 1,000 a year) is about $0.33/Watt.
Figure ES-1 in NREL's April 2017 study finds non-large installers are $0.33/Watt less on average than large installers.
2. Solar Panel Installation Cost Might Not Be the Bottom Line
So why not go with the cheapest option?
- Larger installers might be able to offer other things, such as longer warranties and inverter updates.
- Larger installers might also make customers feel more secure. A larger company might seem less likely to go out of business before any warranties expire. Learn more about solar company bankaiblity in our previous post!
3. Top Solar Companies Vying for Your Business Is Better for Your Budget
Smaller installers might be able to offer more competitive pricing, depending on your location and the current market. They might even be able to offer those other incentives that bigger companies do, too. You won’t know if you don’t ask.
- Getting multiple quotes to consider your unique situation is the best way to ensure you’re getting the best solar panel cost and installation.
The more you know, the better able you are to make an informed decision.
4. The Best Solar Companies Make Solar Better for Everyone
One major takeaway from the report was that more price transparency and competition in the solar market is a good way to promote lower prices overall.
“Third-party quote platforms that connect customers with more installers could create competitive pressure for lower quotes from all installers.”
Pick My Solar is one such third-party platform. You can get multiple quotes today from multiple solar companies, both large and small, to make sure you’re getting the best price for exactly what you need in a solar system.
Plus, we don't share your contact information to any of the solar companies who provide quotes - only to the single company you decide to pick. We respect your privacy and your ability to make the best decision for your home, at your own pace.
Reach out to one of our knowledgeable solar experts today to get started.