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Smart shopping for rooftop solar

Smart shopping for rooftop solar

From things you should ask sales representatives to catching the most common red flags, we’ve gathered tips to help you stay aware while shopping for rooftop solar.

Red flags and misinformation

In addition to misleading online ads, we too often hear about aggressive door-to-door solar sales tactics being deployed by some companies. When this happens, homeowners can feel pressured to sign a solar contract or financing agreement they don’t fully understand.

If you’re approached by a door-to-door solar salesperson, here are some common red flags to watch out for:

  • Saying that they work for SRP. Remember, SRP does not have door-to-door salespeople, so if someone knocks on your door and claims they are from SRP, they are lying.
  • Stating or implying that a special financing rate or incentive program will only be available for a short time (e.g., 48 hours) to pressure you into signing a contract on the spot.
  • Exaggerating the value of small energy efficiency upgrades to over-inflate projected return on investment.
  • Overestimating future utility rate increases to exaggerate your return on investment.
  • Offering an instant rebate on an above-market-rate system that will cost you more in the long run.
  • Stating or implying that you will no longer have a bill from SRP.
  • Saying that SRP is requiring customers to install rooftop solar.

Facebook and other social media sites have become common venues for ads promoting special “low-cost” or “no-upfront-cost” solar programs. While the idea of spending little to no money on a solar installation may sound tempting, these ads tend to make misleading claims about special government or utility programs that don’t actually exist.

5 tips for smart solar shopping

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Ask questions to ensure you understand the details of any proposals.

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Don’t feel pressured to sign a contract on the spot and take time to do your own research.

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Get competing bids from a few solar installers.

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If you sign something you later regret, by law, you have three days to cancel most door-to-door sales, according to the Federal Trade Commission.

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Lean on us to connect you with trusted installers. See our full list of Preferred Solar Installers.

Key questions to ask before entering into an agreement

In addition to getting multiple bids from solar contractors, knowing exactly what to ask salespeople is incredibly important. To help guide you, we’ve put together a cheat sheet of the best questions you can ask a sales rep when shopping for solar.

  • What is the total cost of the solar system?
  • What is the system size?
  • What incentives am I eligible for and how does this reduce my final cost of going solar?
  • How much electricity will the system generate each year? Do you guarantee a minimum amount (a production guarantee)? Are there any other guarantees? 
  • How will I be compensated for any excess energy that may go back to the grid?
  • If there is an outage on SRP’s grid, will my system still generate?
  • Can I expect to save money with this system? If so, how much? Based on what assumptions?
  • Does installing storage change how much I can save with this system? If so, how much?
  • Is the installation company the same as the sales company?
  • Is the installation company licensed and insured?
  • What will the system look like once installed? Will I receive a system design for my review and approval before installation?
  • Will I be required to make any changes to my home (e.g., roofing upgrades)?
  • Are there separate warranties for parts and labor? 
    • What do the warranties cover and what are their durations?
    • If the company goes out of business, who should I contact regarding panel and inverter warranties and replacements?
    • Are the warranties transferable?
  • What type of maintenance or cleaning is required? Are any maintenance services included?
  • Is the performance of the system monitored and if so, by whom? How can I monitor system performance? 
  • Who should I contact if I have a question about the system following the installation? What about if the system stops working?

Expert insights

Want to learn more about working with trusted providers? Watch this video to get expert tips from some of our Preferred Solar Installers.

Evaluating bids from solar installers

When comparing price estimates from different solar contractors, make sure you’re comparing the same equipment and system size, then run the numbers using our solar calculator. Some of the solar installation costs you could encounter include:

  • Materials: Cost of panels, racking and mounting, inverter, etc.
  • Permit: Ensures that installation meets electrical codes
  • Design: Placing panels for maximum access to sunlight
  • Labor: A qualified installer to provide efficiency and safety
  • SRP bill:Pay for energy when you use more than you’ve generated
  • Maintenance: Checkup and repairs to maintain peak performance
  • Pre-installation: Will your roof need to be replaced or repaired before the solar panels can be installed?