Written by Sarah HancockSarah Hancock is passionate about green living and sustainability. She frequently writes about renewable energy and manages the Solar blog at BestCompany.com.
This is the twelfth question in a twelve-question series. Please click here to read the introduction, as well as access the other questions in the series. Or, download the printable ebook to view the entire series.
"Given that installing a solar PV system is a significant investment, it's important to do your homework: research incentives in your area; get an idea of what you can produce in terms of solar electricity and what that translates into with regard to savings by using various online solar calculators; speak with friends/neighbors that have installed a PV system; and most importantly, try to get multiple quotes. Getting multiple quotes is important, not just to secure a good price, but also because you want to feel comfortable with the company that you choose. By speaking with a few installers, you will learn more about their experience and credentials, and ultimately increase your odds of making the right choice for you." -Simone Garneau
"Consult with a trusted source. Get as many estimates as you can. Research and review credible information, such as from the Dept. of Energy on costs, etc. Do not rely too much on ‘solar calculators’ alone that are easy to Google on the internet – these typically do not give the full picture or complete analysis." -Greg Reed
"When shopping for solar and talking to different solar companies, be sure you're comparing apples to apples. At the present moment, you're essentially renting your power and are paying your bill on a monthly basis. You own a home for a reason: you don't want to rent. So why would you choose to rent your power?" -Rainier de Ocampo
"If your home qualifies for solar, go for it." -Julio Daniel Hernandez
"Right now is one of the best times to install solar. The incentives are great and there are a number of great solar installers. If the incentives go away, the payback will be longer. Like a computer, don’t wait for more technology to improve. Electronics all need to be approved by the Underwriters Laboratory and big changes are coming, but you will get plenty of your system's benefits by the time they come to market." -Teris Pantazes
"If your site is appropriate and you'll be in your home for at least several years, there's really no downside. If your site is not appropriate, look into community solar. You can still gain many of the benefits. If initial capital is a factor, look into lease-back systems where the installer owns the system and sells you discounted electricity." -Shel Horowitz
"If you purchase a solar system, you can reasonably expect an ROI anywhere from 3-7 years. This equates to a 14-33% annual return that keeps going once the investment is paid for. I would ask them, "with your current utility company, what is ROI on your electric bill?" This frames the situation differently, and some people have a hard time grasping the idea that the money they spend on their electric bill is a cost with no return. With solar, they can take that money they are already spending and turn it in to an investment with great return factors." -Matt Stoutenburg
"As long as a homeowner can qualify for the program, solar will definitely save them money if they have enough sunlight and space. There's no reason not to go solar unless you are happy paying more for your electricity from your utility!" -Geoff Mirkin
"Talk to somebody who has had PV panels installed and do some research. PV panels will not work for every person or every property but it is part of a renewable and efficient energy tool bag that can save you money and carbon." -Mark Stevenson
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