tips for getting the best solar quotes
In the residential solar industry in America, high pressure, in-home sales tactics are the norm. However, you can beat these tactics and get an excellent deal if you are armed with the right information.
Good information and transparency of pricing data is the key to consumers getting offered the best deal on solar.
Solar companies know that users of platforms like SolarReviews have been given access to accurate pricing information; to win your business, they will have to make you an excellent offer.
Here are the top 10 things you need to know (and do) when collecting solar quotes, to ensure you get the best deal on solar panels.
Check average solar panel costs in your area
It is important to know the average cost of installing solar panels in your area, as this figure will serve as the benchmark of what you should pay.
SolarReviews displays key cost data on our site.
Our quote platform has the largest collection of solar panel installation cost data in the US. than 350 solar companies submit estimates through this site, providing solar quotes to over 350,000 homeowners per year.
The volume of quotes generated through SolarReviews means that we have access to the most accurate and up-to-date solar panel cost data available anywhere.
Is government data as useful?
In some states, data from each installation of solar panels is reported to the government. It can be obtained from sites like:
The problem with official data sets, however, is that they include Purchase Power Agreement (PPA) jobs. PPAs are often reported at inflated by vendors to maximize their tax credit claims, which makes the cost of installing solar in these states higher than they actually are.
Elsewhere, this data is either not reported or not published by the state government.
SolarReviews, by contrast, displays data from across the United States. importantly, we only show data for residential solar panel installations, which allows for an apples-to-apples comparison of solar costs by homeowners.
See how much solar panels will cost for your home
Only consider reliable solar panel brands
To make sure you get the right solar panels, you first need to become familiar with the two main categories they belong to:
Tier 1 solar panels are high-quality modules made by large, established manufacturers. Large-scale projects such as solar farms use Tier 1 solar panels almost exclusively.
Tier 2 and Tier 3 solar panels are made by companies that are either new or small, and thus lack a proven track record. A large project will struggle to raise financing if they use one of these brands.
You should only consider quotes for Tier 1 solar panels, even though they are more expensive than Tier 2 and Tier 3 products.
The reason is simple: solar panels are built to last at least 25 years. As such, you want reliable solar panels that are unlikely to fail. over, you want a manufacturer that is highly likely to still be in operation 20 years down the line, so if there is a problem then, the company can honor the warranty claim.
Read reviews of the solar equipment
Check to see how the brands you’re looking at have been rated by other consumers.
Why? Because reading the product specifications and marketing materials only tell part of the story. To get the full picture, you want to hear what end-users have to say about the equipment’s real-world performance.
Luckily, finding consumer reviews of solar equipment is easy. SolarReviews has the largest collection of solar company reviews on the internet. You can check them out here:
The most recent reviews tend to be the most valuable, as they reflect customer experiences with the company’s most recent model.
If ‘Free’ Solar Panels Aren’t Free, Why Are Companies Telling Me They Are?
If the offer doesn’t fit in any of the above categories, it may be a scam.
What Is a Solar Lease?
A solar lease is exactly what its name suggests. The provider installs solar panels at zero upfront cost, and you sign a contract wherein you agree to rent the system during a specified period (typically 10 to 15 years).
This agreement makes sense if the solar lease is priced lower than your monthly electric bills, but you can actually lose money if the lease is priced higher.
What Is a Power Purchase Agreement (PPA)?
You may be offered a solar power purchase agreement, or PPA. In this type of agreement, the solar panels are still installed on your roof at no cost to you. However, instead of paying a fixed monthly fee like in a lease, you are charged for the electricity generated by the solar panels during the billing period.
To make the deal attractive, solar PPA providers will charge a kilowatt-hour price slightly lower than local electric tariffs. Read the agreement carefully — some PPA contracts may try to charge you more.
What Are Government Solar Programs?
Government-subsidized solar programs do exist, but they are rare and only available for low-income households. These programs are normally managed by government agencies, regulated utilities or nonprofit organizations. Private companies may participate as approved installers, but they are subject to stringent guidelines.
To summarize, “free” solar panel offers are not always scams, but they are misleading. Many companies are more transparent in their sales pitch: They will clearly state that the upfront payment is zero, but you must sign a solar lease or PPA and make ongoing payments to the solar company.
Can You Get Free Solar Panels From the Government?
Generally speaking, you can’t get free solar panels from the government. Some government agencies have created programs that subsidize solar panels, but they are only available for low-income households that meet certain requirements.
The agency in charge of the program will filter applications by income level and hire qualified contractors to install solar energy systems. Other government programs may offer you a discount on your energy bills.
The Disadvantaged Communities Single-Family Solar Homes Program (DAC-SASH) in California is one example of a government program that offers an incentive of 3 per watt of solar capacity. According to the Center for Sustainable Energy. the average price of home solar installations in the U.S. is 3 to 5 per watt, which means this program could potentially cover 100% of system costs.
How To Reduce the Upfront Cost of Solar
There are many ways to reduce the upfront cost of a rooftop solar system without having to sign a lease or PPA contract. The financial incentives available for solar panels in the U.S. include:
- State and federal tax credits
- Sales tax and property tax exemptions
- Solar rebate programs
- Solar renewable energy certificates (SRECs)
These solar incentives can be combined, making your photovoltaic (PV) system much more affordable. When you get a solar lease or PPA, all of these benefits are claimed by the company offering you the service, as they are the legal owner of the system. So, as the homeowner, you aren’t able to cash in on these incentives.
The solar investment tax credit (ITC) has been a major incentive for U.S. solar installations since 2006. This incentive is also known as the federal solar tax credit, and it gives you back 30% of project costs as a tax deduction.
Depending on where your home is located, additional tax credits may be available from your state government, and you can capitalize on both incentives. For example, New York offers a 25% solar tax credit for homeowners. up to a maximum amount of 5,000. This incentive can be stacked with the federal ITC to save you even more on your system.
Some states also offer tax exemptions, which are slightly different from tax credits. In this case, solar panels are exempt from taxes that would normally apply to other assets.
- You may get a sales tax exemption, which represents an immediate discount when purchasing solar panels. It ensures you won’t pay your local sales tax on solar panels and mounting equipment.
- Local governments may also offer property tax exemptions for solar panels, mandating the increase in home value resulting from the installation is not taxed. For example, a 500,000 home that gets a 25,000 solar panel system will still be taxed based on its 500,000 value.
Solar rebates are direct cash incentives for installing photovoltaic systems. These programs are normally managed by government agencies or local utility companies. Solar rebates and tax credits can be combined, but you must subtract the rebate first and then calculate the tax credit based on the net system cost.
Australian Solar Rebate. 2023 Guide
Other Ways To Reduce the Cost of Solar
Solar renewable energy certificates (SRECs) are performance-based bonuses. They don’t reduce the cost of your solar energy system, but they offer additional cash flow beyond utility bill savings.
Each state has its own regulations surrounding SRECs, so depending on where you live, you may not be eligible to earn them.
In states that have SRECs, homeowners typically earn one SREC for every 1,000 kWh of solar energy their system produces. These certificates can be sold through a specific marketplace to energy companies and other organizations with a legal requirement to support the renewable energy transition in their state.
All of these incentives lower the cost of a home solar system. You can also use a low-interest solar loan to cover net costs after subtracting incentives. With this strategy, you can go solar at a small upfront cost without being bound to a lease or PPA.
How To Choose a Reputable Solar Company
There are many solar providers and installation companies on the market, and choosing the best option can be a challenge. Ideally, you should look for a solar company that offers both high-quality products and professional workmanship. Getting a solid warranty is also an important consideration, as it protects your investment: Any components that fail during the warranty period are replaced for free, ensuring your monthly power bill savings.
SunPower is one of the leading solar companies in the U.S. The company’s proprietary modules are among the most efficient in the industry, and they are covered by a 25-year product warranty. You can also get a 25-year workmanship warranty if your home solar system is installed by SunPower’s approved contractors.
How to Save Money on Solar Panel Cost with Local Rebates
Plenty of utility companies and local governments offer their own rebates and other incentives — including net metering — to encourage more homeowners to go solar.
Depending on where you live in Texas, Colorado or Florida, or elsewhere in the United States, you can take advantage of the following rebates and incentives:
Saving Money With Federal Rebates
One of the best incentives to lower the costs of your solar energy system is the federal solar tax credit. You can reduce the amount you pay in taxes for your solar panel system by 30% between now and 2033.
Elon Musk on Solar
That means that if your system costs 30,000, you get a 9,000 credit on your federal taxes. And adding any local incentives listed above will help you save even more money!
Saving Money With Manufacturer Rebates
Manufacturers want to make it easy for homeowners like you to make the switch to renewable energy. SunPower periodically offers rebates up to 450,000 to offset your solar panel installation costs.
Contact Freedom Solar and one of our specialists will help you find manufacturer rebates suitable for your residence.
Saving Money With Promotions
Freedom Solar also aims to help customers save money through a variety of promotions throughout the year. Promotions vary and have deadlines, but we’ll work with you to find the best options available.
SAVING MONEY ON UTILITIES
Saving Money on Utility Bills
One of the most popular reasons to go solar is that you can drastically reduce — or even completely eliminate — your monthly utility bill. The amount you’ll save depends on how much energy your system produces as well as how much energy you consume. But the most significant benefit is the decrease in your energy bill since you’re harnessing the power of the sun, a free, inexhaustible energy source.
You’ll also avoid hefty electricity rates that are often unpredictable and increase over time. And since the amount you’ll save with solar power is usually equal to the amount you’ll avoid paying an electricity supplier, your finances won’t be affected by surging energy in the area.
When you install a solar panel system, you can lock in your energy costs at a constant rate, making your finances much more predictable.
Saving Money with Net Metering
A solar panel system is a workhorse and can often generate more electricity than you need for your daily use. This is where net metering is beneficial; it serves as a billing agreement between you and your utility provider as a solution for any excess, unused energy. You can program your solar panel system to send any unused electricity to your city’s grid, and in return you’ll receive credits on your electricity bill.
Net metering is especially useful since it’s rare that someone is at home using electricity all day and night. When you’re out of the house, your solar panels will continue to generate energy and store it as backup power in a generator or battery. Or even when you’re sleeping at night and not using electricity, you can tap into those net metering credits to offset your electricity bill.
This means that you’re not only in control of your own energy, but you’re able to give electricity back to your city, making sustainable efforts and also saving money in return. Triple win!
All the Ways You Can Save with Solar
Acquiring a solar panel system is a major home improvement project, but it’s well worth the time and financial investment. Most homeowners go solar with no money down up front thanks to local, state, and federal incentives that significantly help reduce costs.
Whether you’re utilizing local, state, or federal rebates, net metering, or perhaps seasonal promotions, you have plenty of ways to offset the costs of your solar panel equipment and installation to help you gain a lifetime of free, renewable energy. To learn more about Freedom Solar or request a free consultation and quote, call 1 (800) 504-2337 or fill out our online inquiry form.
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Current Feed-in tariff rates for retailers in VIC
Solar feed-in tariffs (FITs) are the amount you get paid by your energy retailer for the excess energy your solar system exports back into the grid. During the day, it’s typical for your solar power system to generate more power than is being used in your home. This excess means that if you have a grid-connected solar system, the energy you don’t use feeds back into the grid, and your energy retailer will pay you a fixed amount per kWh of energy that you send to them. The retailer-provided solar FITs listed here do not include any bonus feed-in tariff that may be provided by the VIC State Government.
The feed-in tariff rates you are entitled to vary depending on the energy plan you choose with the retailer. Feed-in tariff rates displayed are correct as of March 2020.
Simple guide to sizing your solar system in VIC
Choosing the right system size depends on many factors, including how much power you use during daylight hours, your roof orientation, whether shading will be an issue, and how much roof space you have at your home or business. As a rough guide, you can compare the average daily power usage on your power bill to the average daily output of common system sizes we have calculated in the table below:
Please note that the location used for above the daily output calculations is Melbourne, VIC. based on the Clean Energy Council GC Design Guidelines.
Finding the best solar panels for your home in VIC!
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