Buying Solar Panels

Buying Solar PanelsAfter you have made the decision of buying solar panels that you want to install on your home, you need to find a reliable company to buy them from and to install them. But how do you know who to choose?

Here are some tips to help you decide

Experience counts. If you are fortunate enough to live in an area where solar panel installation has been ongoing, you may be able to locate a company which has been in business for two or three decades. If so, they should be able to provide plenty of references for you to call. It will also be easy to check with the local Better Business Bureau to see if they have a clean record.

Before buying solar panels ask about the equipment they recommend

You can also do some research on the internet to find some reviews of the manufacturers. Find out what kinds of warranties the equipments come with.

Also, find out what kinds of warranties the contractor offers on labor and workmanship. It is common to find 10-year warranties on the solar panels, and 3 to 10-year warranties on pumps, inverters and controls. Workmanship should have at least a one year warranty.

Some installers have experience only in off-grid systems, and you may be concerned about them working on your system if it will be tied to the grid. It is true that there are definite differences between installing the two systems. But off grid systems are much more complex than grid tied systems An off grid installer will most likely be quite capable of connecting your system to the local power company, especially since he or she will be monitored by the local building inspectors.

Membership in a professional organization for alternative energy vendors might be another indicator of professionalism. But find out first what the requirements are to join the organization before you decide to be impressed. Memberships are voluntary, and some only require paying a fee. Other organizations (like the Solar Energies Industries Association) require continuing education and field experience in order to qualify for membership.

The best recommendation  for buying solar panels is always word of mouth from a trusted source. If you know someone who has recently had solar panels installed, ask them if they would recommend the company they used. You can also ask a local real estate agent. They usually know the trustworthy contractors in town.

Three things to consider before buying solar panels

Before There is a lot of talk about solar energy being a solution for the world’s energy problems. But wouldn’t it be wise to know if there are any dangers or hidden negative issues before starting a large project? Here are 3 things to think about before you spend your money:

  1. Toxic materials. Some of the materials used in the newer thin film solar panels are toxic to the environment. Even though this only becomes a problem when you dispose of the solar panels (which probably won’t be for another 20 years or more), it’s important to know that the panels will need safe disposal when that time comes. But new disposal and recycling methods are being researched and developed. Hopefully, they will be in place by the time you need to use them.
  2. New Technology. If you read the news about solar energy research, you will be amazed at the number of companies that are developing new systems and products. Solar energy research is a worldwide growth industry, with new discoveries being made every month. There is a real temptation to hold off on your solar energy project so you can use the latest technology. But not every experimental product with market potential actually makes it to the consumer.
    Solar panels are no different than any other new product in the process of research and development. Sometimes the best ideas just don’t work out as expected, or are just too expensive to produce. So it’s always a bit of a gamble to wait too long for breakthroughs  n new technology. You could be unnecessarily wasting several months or years of using your solar energy system.
  3. Old Technology. Are you afraid of buying your solar energy system right before the next new product breakthrough? This dilemma is the other side of the coin from waiting too long for a breakthrough. The fear is that a cheaper and better technology is right around the corner, but you just spent thousands on “old” technology.You can do a lot to prevent this scenario by doing a little research on the internet or the library. There are professional business journals that have the latest news on industrial R and D (research and development), and forecast when new products will reach the consumer market. But many of these journals cost several hundreds or thousands of dollars for a yearly subscription, so only libraries can afford them. If your library doesn’t subscribe, ask your librarian to get it for you. Then you’ll need to decide whether you want to wait for the newest product, or go with a traditional system that might be more reliable and predictable because it has withstood the test of time.

What you should know before buying solar panel kits

If you are considering saving money with a do-it-yourself installation of solar panels for your home, buying a kit is a great idea. But it’s not quite the same as going down to your local building supply store and picking up a box of parts to assemble. It’s not like picking out a bookcase at IKEA and putting it together in the living room. There’s a lot of preliminary planning that you will need to do in order to purchase the right kit for your home.

If you have a lot of experience installing solar equipment, you’ll be fine on your own. You probably will only need minimal manufacturer support to answer occasional questions about specific parts. You may need some answers to technical questions to confirm your buying decisions. But you’ll probably be fine just finding a kit within your price range and buying it online. Your situation would be similar to a professional auto mechanic buying a kit car online. You know what you need, you know which parts are the best to use. You know how to make them all work together. You really are qualified to do it all on your own, with minimal help.

But if you have no experience installing solar panels, your best bet will be to find a kit supplier that offers a lot of technical support for both planning and for installation. You’ll need to find a kit supplier that will be available not only by email, but by telephone. You might even want to find one that offers in-person support, if needed.

Your supplier should be able to help you figure out the proper size and configuration for your solar energy system, based on your household’s current and projected energy needs. This preplanning step is crucial. You’ll be wasting money if you buy a system larger than you need. And if you buy one that’s too small for your energy needs, you’ll end up either with no power when you need it, or still needing to buy power from the grid.

Before buying solar panels you’ll also need expert help to analyze your house’s energy needs according to its location and it’s orientation toward the sun. Nearby trees and buildings can affect how efficient solar panels will be. Also, average outside temperatures throughout the year can affect what kind of panels you’ll need.

Your supplier can also help you determine what kind of backup storage is the best fit for your family. Even if you plan to remain tied to the grid, you’ll need at least some batteries to store power in case of blackouts. And there is a wide range of batteries to choose from. Some need more maintenance than others, some will last longer than others, and of course, some will cost a lot more than others. You’ll need help to make the best choice. More info

You’ll also need help determining which manufacturer delivers the best quality for the best price. As with most major purchases, cheaper isn’t always better. But the most expensive isn’t always the best, either. Solar panels come in a lot of different combinations of voltage and amperage. Again, you won’t want to be caught short, or spend money for more than you need.

The time you take to research a competent kit supplier will pay off in the long run. Asking a lot of questions up front will save you time and money. Do some test runs of their email answering system, their phone consulting systems, and their in-person support if they have it. You’ll make a complicated project much simpler and more enjoyable.

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