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What to know about solar equipment manufacturer endorsements

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There are a number of factors to consider when choosing an installer, including experience, years in business, online reviews, licensing, and more. A lesser-known factor you may want to consider as you’re comparing one installer versus another is whether a solar company has received any manufacturer endorsements.

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It’s becoming increasingly common for solar equipment manufacturers to endorse specific installers throughout the country – but what does it mean to earn a manufacturer’s endorsement, and are there any extra benefits to choosing one of these installers? 

What are manufacturer endorsements? 

Select solar equipment manufacturers offer public endorsements of solar installation companies. The criteria of the endorsement can vary from manufacturer to manufacturer, but there is typically a minimum criteria that determines whether an installer is worthy of a manufacturer’s “seal of approval.” 

While a manufacturer’s endorsement is generally not necessary in order to sell a certain type of equipment, these endorsements often involve some perks for installers, such as equipment-specific training for employees, extended warranties for end customers (like you!), access to promotional pricing, marketing materials, and more. Most manufacturer endorsement programs include several tiers, offering different levels of benefits to those they deem as their top installer partners.

Benefits of working with a manufacturer-endorsed installer

If you have a preference for one equipment type or another, chances are you can obtain it from several different solar companies, regardless of whether they’re endorsed by the manufacturer or not. However, depending on the installer and the endorsement program, working with one of these installers may include some additional benefits.

For one, installers with endorsements from manufacturers often have to sell and install a high number of installations using that specific manufacturer’s equipment in order to obtain their endorsement. This attests to their expertise in installing a particular product, as well as their experience with installing solar panel systems in general. 

Additionally, manufacturers don’t provide endorsements to every installer that comes knocking: these companies are often required to go through a vetting process to ensure that they are properly licensed and qualified. That way, manufacturers can be sure they’re only associating their brand name with installation companies in which they have full confidence.

Lastly, several manufacturer endorsement programs require that their installers continue to meet certain customer satisfaction scores or go through training in order to maintain their endorsement status. This can be an additional indicator of an installer’s reputation.

Popular manufacturer endorsements

Here are some of the more well-known manufacturer endorsement programs today:

SunPower

SunPower was one of the first companies to offer manufacturer endorsements. Uniquely, solar installers need a SunPower endorsement in order to sell and install any of their products. 

SunPower has four different tiers for its partners: Master dealers, Elite dealers, Authorized dealers, and Commercial dealers. Installation companies who are part of their highest tier (Master dealer) exclusively sell and install SunPower panels: you can identify these companies by their name, as Master Dealers’ names start with a “SunPower by”. 

SunPower is well-known for its extensive warranty offerings; the company and its endorsed installers provide bumper-to-bumper warranty coverage for 25 years, including covering any labor and shipping costs associated with replacing their solar panels.

Panasonic

Panasonic’s endorsements are split into three different tiers: Authorized, Premium, and Elite. A big advantage to working with a Panasonic endorsed installers is their TripleGuard extended warranty offering: when you install Panasonic solar panels with an endorsed installer, Panasonic provides their own labor warranty of 25 years and covers any necessary shipping costs for replacement parts during that time. This is an added bonus to any product and performance warranty already offered by both Panasonic and the solar installation company.

LG

LG endorses a number of installers to sell and install their solar panels. These installers are collectively known as the LG PRO network. LG PRO solar installers are classified into three separate tiers: Silver, Gold, and Platinum.

Similarly to Panasonic, one of the biggest benefits of working with an LG PRO installer is the warranty offering: if you install with an LG PRO, they provide a labor warranty of 25 years. They’ll also pay installers up to $450 for any labor necessary for repairs or replacements. 

REC

REC has a certified installer network, known as REC Certified Solar Professionals. When you install REC solar panels with a certified professional, you receive extra protection from their ProTrust Warranty. This exclusive warranty covers product (25 years), performance (25 years) and labor (10 or 25 years). As a part of the labor warranty offering, REC pays certified installers or end customers for any necessary solar panel servicing or repairs.

Solaria

Solaria has its own network of certified installers, known as Solaria Pro Partners. These installers receive special pricing for Solaria’s solar panels, so they can offer you some of the most cost-competitive options for these products. Additionally, Solaria Pro Partners have free use of the company’s design and proposal tool to help you better visualize what its solar panels will look like on your roof.

Q CELLS

Like with Solaria, Q CELL’s endorsed installers, known as Q PARTNERs, receive cash rewards, which potentially translates into savings for end customers like you. Q CELLS also offers its partners additional training and support, allowing these installers to develop extra expertise on Q CELL products.

Enphase

Enphase, the leading manufacturer of microinverters, has its own installer network that’s split into two tiers: Preferred and Premium. These installers specialize in Enphase installations, having demonstrated the knowledge and expertise necessary to install Enphase products. On its website, Enphase displays how many installations each installer has completed using their microinverters within the last year, as well as what year each installer started working with Enphase microinverters.

SolarEdge

SolarEdge, the leading manufacturer of power optimizers, also endorses a select amount of reputable and experienced “Preferred Partners” for their network. Similarly to Enphase, the SolarEdge website lists how long each of their installation partners has been installing SolarEdge products.

SMA America

SMA, well-known for its string inverter technologies, endorse installers through their PowerUp program. One of the biggest advantages of working with a PowerUp installer is that you will receive a 5-year extended warranty on your inverter at no additional cost. SMA also offers dedicated service and support lines to their PowerUp partners, meaning they will be able to address warranty and servicing claims as quickly as possible.

Unirac

Unirac, one of the top racking companies in the country, endorses installers in three separate tiers: Certified, Certified Gold, and Certified Platinum. If you install their equipment with a Platinum installer, you’ll benefit from an extended warranty offer. Additionally, installers in each of the three tiers receive extensive training on installing Unirac systems – you can be sure that they know what they’re doing on top of your roof.

Find reputable installation companies on EnergySage

Choosing an installer is one of the most important steps in the solar installation process, so you want to make sure you compare multiple options before making a decision. By registering on the EnergySage Solar Marketplace, you can receive up to seven free quotes from local installers to compare side-by-side. These quotes will display all applicable manufacturer endorsements, including the ones listed above. Prefer one type of solar panel or inverter over another? Simply note it in your account so installers can quote accordingly.

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