How Do I Evaluate a Solar Proposal?


There is no shortage of solar installers these days—it truly is a buyer’s market.

You’ve probably already been inundated with offers via email and post. But as you begin exploring your options, how do you separate reputable installers who genuinely want to save you money—from those who simply want to take your hard-earned cash?

Below is a handy checklist that can help you evaluate each solar proposal that you receive.

What Every Solar Proposal Absolutely MUST Have

Although you may be flooded with offers, you should never entertain any solar proposal that doesn’t meet the following criteria:

  • All solar quotes should be 100% free. You shouldn’t pay a dime for this basic service. And it’s best to avoid any installers who tell you otherwise.
  • Your installer should be licensed to practice in your state. This isn’t necessarily a requirement to go solar. However, unlicensed installations don’t qualify for grid-connections or most types of incentives.
  • Each proposal should include a detailed analysis of the potential savings you’ll receive. And those numbers should be backed up with a production guarantee.
  • The installer should provide you with a number of different financing options, including leases, PPAs, loans, and cash.
    • If financing your system with a lease or PPA, the proposal should outline monthly costs.
    • If financing your system with cash or loans, the proposal should include information about payback periods—i.e. how long it will take for your system to break even.
  • The proposal should include detailed information about relevant incentives—both at the national and state level.
  • Your installer should be able to clearly explain all costs, turnaround times, and next steps.
  • The proposal should include a workmanship warranty (min 10 years) and manufacturer warranty (min 25 years).

These represent the bare minimum you should expect. And never commit unless you have all of the above in writing. Verbal promises simply aren’t enough.

You’ve received a solar proposal. Now what?

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Now let’s move onto the “nice-to-have’s.”

What Every Solar Proposal Probably SHOULD Have

If every proposal you receive contains the above items, you’ll be in pretty good shape. But to boost the financial and environmental benefits of your solar investment, look for the following items:

  • Green audits and energy efficiency recommendations. By lowering your property’s total power consumption, it’s possible to reduce the number of solar panels required for your home or business.
  • A synopsis of how inspections and permits work—including the approval process, timelines, and who is responsible for each step. In most cases, the installer will handle these on your behalf.
  • Maintenance and service agreements are always nice to have. Solar technology is incredibly durable, but in case a malfunction occurs, you want to know what the next steps are:
    • If you lease your system, the “lessor” handles all repairs and cleaning.
    • If you own your PV system, you contact your solar installer’s customer care team to request any service needed.
  • The exact price-per-watt of your installation. This number makes it easier to compare apples-to-apples if you’re looking at several competing offers.
  • You want a proposal written in “plain speak.” Some installers use overly complicated legalese and technical jargon. If you can’t understand what you’re committing to, don’t sign anything.

One Final Way to Evaluate Each Solar Proposal

Given the promise of lower utility bills and a smaller carbon footprint, solar is a technology that basically sells itself. After all, who doesn’t want to save money or protect the planet?

And yet, some installers use extremely aggressive marketing tactics and try to push you into signing up for their services.

You might receive a perfect solar proposal—one that includes all of the features listed above. But if the installer isn’t helpful, consultative, and informative, then you shouldn’t move forward.

Going solar should be a positive, exciting experience—from start to finish. But if the initial consultation leaves you with a bad vibe, the rest of the process probably won’t be enjoyable.

To understand our approach to going solar, request a free proposal from us today.