Home solar power is moving into the mainstream. Nowadays, going solar is not dissimilar to many other home improvement projects, whether it’s replacing your roof, renovating your kitchen, or building a deck. What’s the best way to find a company you can trust to install your solar panels? Use a solar installer that has earned the EnergySage seal of approval.
How does EnergySage evaluate and choose its solar installers?
The EnergySage Solar Marketplace has more than 500 pre-screened solar installers from across the country offering solar quotes to U.S. homeowners. But what does it mean to be “pre-screened”? Before they can receive the EnergySage seal of approval, we evaluate every solar installer to ensure that they’ll provide quality service to EnergySage users. These high-quality installers are approved based on the following criteria:
Years of experience
Solar is a growing industry that attracts professionals from many backgrounds, and contractors that once focused on other types of home projects are starting to move into the solar industry. Before an installer can join EnergySage, we verify that they have several years of legitimate experience designing and installing solar panel systems and confirm that they have multiple successful solar installations under their belt.
Licensed and insured
The necessary business licenses and insurance policies that a solar installer needs to hold differ from state to state. Occasionally, local jurisdictions will impose additional requirements that installers need to fulfill. When a solar installer wants to join the EnergySage Solar Marketplace, we check to verify that they are appropriately licensed and insured for the areas in which they operate.
Reputation in the market
Working with a solar installer should always be a positive experience. To ensure that everyone on EnergySage receives excellent customer service and a high-quality solar installation, we examine every installer’s industry track record, including their company reviews, before granting them the EnergySage seal of approval.
The North American Board of Certified Energy Practitioners (NABCEP) offers the leading certification program for solar installers, known as the Solar PV Installation Professional Certification.
While NABCEP certification is not a firm requirement for entry into the EnergySage Solar Marketplace, we ask every installer if they are NABCEP-certified. Some installers who have been working in the solar industry since before NABCEP was formed in 2002 may not be certified, and may be granted the EnergySage seal of approval based on their lengthy track record instead. Any installer without the NABCEP certification has to demonstrate to us that they have significant solar industry expertise.
Characteristics of the best solar installers
All of the solar installers on the EnergySage Solar Marketplace meet the criteria listed above. When it comes down to deciding between two good solar installers, how do you determine which one is the best?
The best solar installers will stand behind their installations by offering a workmanship warranty, which is specific to the work of designing and constructing the solar energy system. Workmanship warranties are distinct from warranties for solar equipment and typically range from one to 10 years.
Trusted advisor on energy system design
Going solar is a significant investment in your home, and you should have a strong, trusting relationship with your installer. The best installers will work with you to understand how solar fits within the energy system of your home or business. The best solar installers are guides and advisors – you should feel comfortable asking your installer questions every step of the way.
No high-pressure sales tactics
Going solar is an excellent but significant home decision, and not something to be rushed along by a potential solar installer. High-pressure sales tactics are much more common among the large solar leasing companies in the country, so be on the lookout and always read the fine print before signing. If you feel overly rushed by a solar installer, chances are they aren’t the right one for you.
Differentiating quality among installers on EnergySage
People shopping for solar on the EnergySage Marketplace often ask our team which solar installers are the best among those with the EnergySage seal of approval. We screen all installers to make sure that they are reputable companies with the experience and the track record to deliver quality work for our customers. But once they are in the Marketplace, how do you tell them apart? How do you identify the best of the best?
Ratings and reviews can be a useful tool in determining the quality of an installer, but they often focus on the “extreme” end of the customer experience, either very good or very bad. Company reviews may or may not provide a comprehensive view of the company’s quality.
To answer this question from our perspective, we created our own rating system for solar companies on EnergySage, based on these companies’ actual performance. Our Marketplace provides hundreds of thousands of quotes from solar installers across the country, giving us a unique set of data for this task. To make this data understandable and useful for rating installers, we identified three core areas for evaluation: results, reputation, and responsiveness.
In our Marketplace, “results” means success with real consumers. This requires both providing competitive quotes that are attractive to solar shoppers as well as project follow-through that leads to completed solar installations. Installers are rated on their success of completing solar installations for shoppers in the Marketplace. For the results category, installers are graded relative to their peers on their performance over the last several months, ensuring that our ratings are up-to-date and reflect recent performance.
We evaluate an installer’s reputation based on the ratings and reviews of their company. This includes the average 5-star rating for the company and the timing of the reviews to ensure that this rating is based on up-to-date information. We also consider supplier endorsements here: solar equipment manufacturers often have partner programs that recognize their best installers, and we consider these endorsements of an installer’s reputation.
One of the things that consumers value most is responsiveness. We measure this by how quickly installers respond when a consumer asks for information. Our data indicates that responsiveness is a key metric for customer satisfaction and a leading indicator of an installer’s overall performance in the Marketplace.
Our rating tiers
We use the evaluations across results, reputation, and responsiveness to generate a rating for each of our installer partners. The end result is one of three ratings: Approved, Advanced, and Elite.
Every installer in the Marketplace has passed our key screening criteria and are approved to participate. For this reason, we’ve labeled the first tier in our rating system, the foundation for all of our installers, “EnergySage Approved”:
Companies that distinguish themselves by their results, reputation, and responsiveness can earn the rating of “EnergySage Advanced”. Advanced installers are among the top half of installers in the areas that they serve. They have demonstrated a mastery of the Marketplace and a level of service higher than most of their peers:
Elite installers are the top installers on EnergySage. They have excelled at providing great service and achieving results in the Marketplace. And they have truly distinguished themselves among their peers:
Find high-quality solar installers on EnergySage
Choosing a solar installer can be a challenging part of your solar buying process; we hope that our rating system provides a useful data point, among many others, to help you make a confident decision.
If you’re considering going solar, but haven’t yet thought through the economics of it fully – try our Solar Calculator today. Once you’re ready to get competing quotes from local installers, join the EnergySage Solar Marketplace.