You probably know why to buy a solar system.
But do you know how ?
You already know that between cutting your electric bills by as much as half and by earning significant tax credits and subsidies, a solar installation for your home pays for itself and then some. You also know that renewable solar energy substantially reduces your carbon footprint.
But even so, going solar is still too big an investment to make blindly.
So here are some facts to help you make that investment wisely and safely–with a residential solar installation that performs as promised and gives you decades of trouble-free, dependable service.
Choose the type of system
More than 90% of U.S. solar installations are roof-mounted and tied to the power grid. Electricity they generate during daytime lowers your electric bills and sends excess power back to the utility company for credit. At night, you use power from the grid. If your roof isn’t pointed to produce enough solar energy, a ground mount system can be. Whether it’s for pumping water from a well or powering a small hunting cabin, a stand-alone off grid system lets you declare your independence from the power company. And adding battery backup storage to your system can keep the lights on and key appliances running as long as the sun keeps rising. (Unlike many solar contractors, Milestone performs all these types of installations and has installed more battery backup systems within 200 miles of our offices than anyone else.)
Research the solar panels
Solar panels differ widely in quality, from high-output, world-class modules to outright pieces of junk. So go online, check the specs and particularly the reviews to be aware of what you’re getting. (Milestone installs two of the world’s most powerful, most efficient modules, made by Panasonic and REC. What’s more, as an Authorized REC Installer and West Virginia’s only Authorized Panasonic installer, we can give you the world’s best warranty protection, with more years of more inclusive coverage.)
Shop for value, not just price
Choose a certified installer
Installing a solar system safely and properly involves working with unusually high-voltage DC circuits and understanding things like temperature-corrected conductor selection, proper fusing and grounding, and proper string sizing. Most licensed electricians – even master electricians – without solar training and experience aren’t up to it. For an installer who is, look for NABCEP (North American Board of Certified Energy Practitioners) certification. It’s the gold standard of solar expertise. Earning it calls for relevant real-world construction qualifications such as mechanical, structural and electrical engineering, as well as a track record of successful installations. (Five West Virginia solar installers have employees with NABCEP PV Installer certification. Milestone’s founder has earned two – for PV Installation and PV technical sales.) Milestone has also earned certification as Authorized Panasonic and REC solar module installers and as a Gold Experienced Tier Installer of Sol-Ark inverters, America’s leading and highest rated brand.
Avoid site-unseen bids.
No, that’s not a misspelling.
It takes more than reading a filled-out online form to know what kind of solar installation to recommend. So make sure that any installer you consider will make a free visit to your property to conduct a free, thorough on-site evaluation. (Milestone does, to check your roof’s orientation and structure and the amount of shading from trees and other buildings.)
Compare multiple bids and ask multiple questions
Compare after-installation service
Compare the warranty protection
What’s important about a warranty is not just its terms, but also the health of the company that issued it. Down the road, if the company goes out of business, you’re out of luck. Some installers have bought up deeply discounted solar panels from dying companies, and your warranty protection could die with them. (As an Authorized REC installer, and as West Virginia’s only Authorized Panasonic Solar Installer, Milestone gives you extended warranty coverage, for over more years.)