Solar quotes have become more popular these days than the actual product, in fact, entire businesses have been built around selling consumer information to installers.
It’s always important to shop around, sure, but too many times we have seen people scared away from solar after being inundated with up to 7 quotes at once.
The churn and burn system that has become so popular isn’t good for anyone. Customers are feeling overwhelmed, yet aren’t receiving the information they really need.
On the other end of the spectrum, installers are selling on price instead of quality. Given that companies are sharing around customers, no one is giving or getting the right amount of attention.
Quotes are here to stay, so we thought it was time to talk about exactly what you should expect out of a ‘quote’. Now before we start, it should be a given that an installer makes his way out to your home. Never accept an email or call offering you a ‘one price fits all, only $1499.99, fixed price’ type of quote.
It may seem like the easier option at the time, but we are talking about a 20-year commitment here. Would you rather have a trained installer inspect your home, design a personalised system and get an accurate price from the start or get a rough guesstimate from a salesperson?
Solar systems are becoming more advanced year on year, new technologies are emerging and the market is changing. While solar is actually a fairly simple technology from a user perspective, there are a lot of variables to take into consideration.
If an installer isn’t prepared to give you the proper information then you are being left in the dark and dare we say it, possibly taken advantage of. During an in-home inspection, expect to receive information about:
Products (Including specifications, manufacturers, output etc.)
Further reading material from either the company or its partnered manufacturers.
How solar works and how it could benefit you.
Without the right product information, you are restricted from doing your own research. The same goes in regards to provided further material, and even the specifics on whether solar can help you save.
The biggest mistake you can make when buying solar is relying on an over-the-phone quote. Solar isn’t the latest iPhone, and a price isn’t the only variable to take into consideration. No installation ever costs the same as the configuration of your roof, installation time and structural limitations are all unique attributes of your home.
With that being said, it is impossible to get an accurate price estimation without a proper inspection of a number of things including:
- Roof Access
- Safety Measures
- Structural Limitations (Shading, Roof Direction)
- The current condition of existing electrical components.
An experienced installer will be able to look at your home, and within 15-20 minutes begin designing a personalised solar system. But, only when they are able to get a close-up look at the condition and layout of your home and roof.
It’s hard to know whether you just spoke to a trained electrician or a salesperson who knows how to bluff. An installer should present his or hers qualifications, references, and experience, along with the appropriate licensing and certification. We doubt there will be many installers unable to do this, but it’s important to check. Here’s a list of things to ask for during a quote:
- Registered Business Number
- Public Liability Insurance
- Contractor License
- Electrical License
- CEC Design and Installation Accreditation
- CEC SPS Accreditation
Final Presentation and Financial Discussion
During a presentation, an installer will go over a few options and present the benefits of solar as well as any limitations they may come across. It should be an honest conversation, not an attempt at a credit card exchange.
In fact, if we believe we need more time to go over our findings we won’t even present a final price during a solar assessment. Instead, we will get back to you in one or two days later with a personalised system, designed to reduce your bills as much as possible.
Rather than push a discount on the spot, we prefer to get an idea of your budget and suggest what direction to go in to meet your needs. If we think we have found a system that will do the job for less, we will offer that system.
On the contrary, if we believe that cheaper products will be detrimental to the efficiency of your system, we will suggest a few tweaks. We aren’t the only ones who take this approach, in fact, any reputable company will act similarly.
It depends whether the installer you are dealing with is concerned about a paycheck, or a long-term relationship, as well as the reputation of solar as a product and an industry.
And, when it comes to getting the numbers make sure it's based off system cost estimations (most companies will and should use a preset calculator) and not how big the commission will be (more commonly known as a price pulled from thin air).
A quote is a price estimate and a price estimate alone. We think that the cost is only part of the process which should include education, assessment, savings estimations and all round customer service.
While a solar ‘quote’ is an opportunity to present the customer with a price, it's also a chance for the customer to talk face-to-face with an expert and in the process, become informed about their future with solar.