Purchasing a new household item, such as a car, a washing machine, or investing in a renovation, is a challenging and thought-provoking task for any homeowner. The reason is that these decisions are expensive and bring major lifestyle changes. A rooftop solar plant comes under this category as it benefits you for the next 25 years by taking care of your daily electricity requirement.
These life decisions are based on cost-benefit analyses. As a consumer, you look for the best output from the product/service for the money invested. For example, when you decide to invest in a solar plant, you need to consider multiple factors and unlike other common household products, a rooftop solar plant is rare and unique. Rare, because it is still a growing industry and even though you’ve seen it on an odd building, you may not know anyone who has the first-hand experience of going solar to ask for advice. Unique, because each rooftop solar is different; installed as per the particular rooftop’s conditions and customer requirements.
Hence, the first thing you do to gain knowledge is to conduct preliminary research on the internet. You read about the types of rooftop solar plants, equipment brands, utility grid guidelines and finally reach a point where you want an expert’s opinion. This is where a solar vendor comes in. There are at least 50+ solar installation companies, just in Bengaluru, each offering slightly different products, prices, and services. This could make your decision more difficult and hence, delay your purchase. Here are a few criteria that will help you choose the best solar installer:
Step 1: Reviews and References
The best way to understand a company’s reputation is through their online reviews. Reading through the reviews rather than glancing at the company’s rating will provide better insight as a higher rating could have been given by the vendor’s known associates. Pay special attention to reviews with a detailed explanation as these are usually genuine ones. Here are a couple of customer reviews for reference (the company name is retracted to avoid bias):
As the project planning moves forward with a site survey, design, proposals, etc., connecting with the company’s existing customers will be highly beneficial. These references will be able to provide a clear picture of the post-sales support like installation, BESCOM paperwork, and annual maintenance. Furthermore, visiting the site and seeing the installation work will provide a better understanding of the equipment and installation standards.
Step 2: Deciphering Sales Calls
This is an important criterion because every vendor’s main agenda is to sell you their solar system. Hence, some might quote a low system cost that is so attractive that the client decides to purchase the solar system without considering other important factors like equipment brands, delivery time, installation quality, etc. On the other hand, some companies genuinely try to understand your specific requirements and guide you towards the most suitable solar system. Your initial online research will prove to be handy at this point as it will give you an idea of whether a vendor is trying to oversell. This is something you can sense during follow-up calls as well when the vendor tries to nudge you to buy the system.
Step 3: Equipment Brands
With the steady growth of the solar industry, the development of solar panels, inverters, and batteries has also improved. Hence, it is important to do your research and know the brand of each component in the system proposed by the vendor. Each component varies based on performance, efficiency, aesthetics, warranty period, and cost. These details will be available in the equipment technical datasheet which should be provided in the proposal or can be easily availed online. Based on the Remote Monitoring System (RMS) data of Solarify’s existing customers, systems with quality/premium equipment brands show better performance with the least maintenance.
Step 4: Post Installation Services
Solar installers guarantee that a rooftop solar system will work well for 25 years. But electrical equipment requires regular maintenance service or it could go faulty. Hence, it is vital to have timely assistance to rectify any issue. Your solar vendor, being your first point of contact, must be able to provide you with the necessary support. Whether they do or not, can be researched while you follow STEP 1. By connecting with the company’s existing customers, you will get an idea about the promptness and quality of service. Therefore, it is important to confirm the post-installation services at the time of purchase
Step 5: Solar System Cost
This is the most important and delicate criterion as it is easy to lure in a client with low system cost and someone who does not know the above-mentioned criteria could get trapped. As the system type varies based on site conditions and customer requirements, exact pricing can only be provided once a site survey is conducted. Hence, it is best to keep the costing aside while researching the company and analyzing the first proposal. Also, it will be useful to get different quotations based on equipment brands. This will give you an understanding of the price range based on the quality of the system you are planning to install. Combining criteria 3 and 5 we can summarise that systems with high-quality/premium equipment brands may cost more but show better performance with the least maintenance.
You may find the process of choosing the right installer tedious. But, with a little effort and the right guidance, you can get the perfect solar plant installed: A 25-year investment that you can boast about.