Western Solar was founded in 1994 and is currently headquartered in Bellingham, Washington. They provide solar services throughout the I-5 corridor, including Whatcom, Skagit, Snohomish, King, and Island Counties. They have also done some systems in Thurston and San Juan Counties as well. Solar is all they do. They are not just another contractor who does other projects on the side. Western Solar's electricians are NABCEP (North American Board of Certified Energy Practitioners) Certified and are utilized by the electrical union to teach solar best practices.
- Three-Way Monitoring Option, Problems, Production, and Usage
- Battery Backup and Off-Grid Systems
- Solar Panels Made Specifically for the Washington Climate
- Special Financing Programs
Western Solar offers a web monitoring option. This option would allow you to receive reports on your solar energy production. It also alerts you to production problems with any of your micro-inverters. In addition to tracking your solar production, eGauge allows you to track your energy usage as well. You can use this system to compare everything on a single screen side-by-side with your production. This will help you achieve net-zero consumption, maximize your payback and lower your monthly electric bills. You will also receive monthly energy production reports sent straight to your email inbox.
Traditional solar systems that are tied to your local power grid use either a micro or string inverter system. These are required by law to shutdown when the power goes out as this helps protect repair workers who are trying to restore power from being electrocuted. That means during an outage you won't have any power. However, Western Solar has an Outback battery backup system option that is grid-interactive and can stand alone, which means your system can switch to an off-grid mode where it can draw power stored in your battery bank when the power goes out.
Western Solar also offers an off-grid battery option as well. This option is perfect for those who are building a home in an area where no power is available. An off-grid system is custom designed to meet your specific energy needs throughout the year. However, in some cases, an additional generator may be required. Additionally, the current legislation still allows you to qualify for the 30% Federal Tax Credit even though you are not connected to the local utility grid.
Western Solar only uses Iteck Modules on all their solar installations. These solar panels are specifically made to withstand the harsh Washington climate. Iteck Modules are designed for maximum efficiency using precision robotic technology, can hold up to dead loads (like snow) of up to 113 pounds per square foot, they come with a 25-year protection warranty and a 10-year production warranty and they come with black frames at no extra cost. They also have a silver frame option as well.
Western Solar has a Solar & Energy Efficiency Financing program with terms up to 15 years and loan amounts up to $50,000 with a fixed rate as low as 4.25%, which is better than what you would normally get with a home equity loan.
- No Lease or PPA Options
- They Only Service One State - Washington
- Web Monitoring is Only an Option
Western Solar does not offer any lease or PPA options and for those who don't or can't qualify for financing, this could prevent them from going solar. Additionally, some people just prefer a lease or PPA option and the fact that Western Solar does not offer them will cause those customers to choose a different solar provider altogether.
Western Solar only provides solar service in one state - Washington. This is less than some of the other solar providers; however, if you live in Washington, this is not a problem. And if you live elsewhere, you may want to choose one of your local solar service providers instead.
Western Solar's website states that they provide website monitoring as an option. We feel this is something that should be included with your system as many of the other solar companies provide website monitoring already included with their service.
The Bottom Line
Western Solar has many great features and benefits. So let's recap this Western Solar review by first talking about what they are doing right. Then we will recap some of the areas of concern.
- Western Solar offers three-way monitoring options, such as monitoring for problems, measuring your production and an option to also monitor your usage in comparison to your production.
- They also offer a battery backup system, as well as off-grid systems, which is helpful for people who choose to live in an area with no power options or people who want to live off the grid.
- Western Solar almost exclusively uses Iteck Modules, which are specially designed to withstand the harsh climate in Washington.
- They also provide some fantastic financing programs with very generous terms and low-interest rates.
Now that we have gone over what Western Solar is doing right, let's talk about where we feel they could use a little improvement. Having all the information, the good and the bad, will help you make an educated decision as to whether or not this company is right for you.
- Surprisingly, Western Solar does not offer any lease or PPA options. This is unusual as other solar service companies usually offer at least one and more often than not both options.
- Western Solar only provides service in the state of Washington, which is fewer locations than some of the other solar providers.
- Western Solar does not appear to include web monitoring in their services. Many companies offer this option as a part of their service.
Western Solar has a stellar online and offline reputation, a wide variety of options, some of which include battery backup systems and off-grid systems. That coupled with the fact that they have a fantastic warranty and a unique financing option is encouraging and gives us cause to issue them a high recommendation as a top-notch service provider for all your solar needs.
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