After receiving different quotes and proposals from 5 different home solar panel installation vendors over the past 9 months we thought you might be interested in any significant differences between different aspects of their approaches.
Recently we wrote about the differences in these solar panel installation vendors approach when it came to providing references.
I was surprised how much difference there was.
References of the vendor’s performance is critical if one is spending $30,000, $40,000, $50,000 and even possibly $60,000 for solar panels to be installed on one’s roof; as least I think it is important.
Today, we compare differences in the approach these vendors took when it came to site visits.
The Realtor Sales Agent Approach
Solar panel installation Vendor A took what I call the realtor sales agent approach.
Have you ever seen a real estate sales agent in a home they are about to list for sale?
Part of their task is to obtain accurate dimensions of each room.
For this task, many real estate agents to not use a tape measure.
Instead, many of them use a simple device which looks like a stick with a very small wheel at one end. They place the small wheel along each wall and push it from the start of the wall to the end.
By doing this, the device will tell them how far the small wheel traveled.
Well, this is what solar panel Vendor A did.
He came out to our home and went out to our back yard, pictured below.
Then he used this same real estate agent measuring device along the back wall.
Once he did this, he came up with how many solar panels would be able to fit. It took all of about 10 minutes.
Seriously, that’s all he did. I have to admit that this did not inspire confidence in me.
Up On The Roof
Solar panel installation Vendor B went up on our roof and spent a good 45 minutes or so taking measurements.
This inspired confidence that the measurements would be accurate; at least more accurate than Vendor A’s measurements.
In order to accurately determine the physical configuration or installation of the solar panels on one’s roof there needs to be an accurate measurement of the roof size and shape.
In order to come up with an accurate estimate of solar electricity production (which is why you would be making this investment in the first place) you need to also measure the slop of the roof.
Vendor B used an app. he had in his smart phone; you know, the type of ultra modern cell phones that are everywhere these days that are not just a phone.
Inside The Roof
Vendor C went one step further.
Yes, Vendor C spend about the same amount of time up on our roof doing this and that measurement.
Additionally, Vendor C when inside our roof.
This solar panel installer took me by surprise when he asked how to go up into the attic.
After I showed him he spent about 10 to 15 minutes looking around.
Once he came back down I asked why he did this.
He stated that he wanted to take a look at the, and I’m probably not using the correct term here, roof trusses and support. He wanted to be sure to accurately measure the distance between the two for calculating the installation of the racking (upon which solar panels are placed).
Additionally, he wanted to see if our local town’s bylaws would require additional work underneath the roof before they would provide their permit.
Measuring The Sun’s Shading
Vendor D was quite different in two ways.
Vendors A, B and C had each sent just one person to my home for the measurements.
Solar panel installation vendor D sent a team. Furthermore, this team spent several hours on the roof.
Granted, while Vendor’s A, B and C do not charge (at least at the time) for this service, Vendor D typically charges a few hundred dollars.
Why so many?
Here is the second difference.
Rather than simply take measurements with a smart phone application, this team used the device below called a solar path finder in order to measure the sun’s shading on each of the different roof lined, the angle of the sun’s rays onto the roof, etc.
With this device, solar installer Vendor D said they could provide the most accurate production numbers as well as generate the maximum amount of solar panels which could be installed on our various roof lines yet which would provide a solid financial rate of return.
Yet, no, solar installer Vendor D did not inspect the inside of our roof.
Vendor E did not come on site at all.
Instead, solar panel installation Vendor E simply used numbers from one of the prior solar installation vendors proposals / quotations in order to give me their quote.
And, there you have it. Five different solar panel installation vendors each participating under the same government guaranteed solar contract and production rates program yet with five different approaches.
Next time in this series of articles on comparing solar installation vendors we will look at the different solar arrays proposed by each to see if there was any difference.
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