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The Number One Tip For a Successful Solar Purchase: Shop Locally

Sabrina Lopez
May 8, 2017
3 min read

Of course, we would say that. After all, we make our living right here in Arizona. But there’s no need to take our word for it. A recent National Renewable Energy Lab (NREL) study concluded that quotes from large, national installers are generally priced about 10%, higher than local installers. That premium amounts to an average of 37 cents per watt, more than the cost of an inverter and racking combined. Moreover, with a growing selection of versatile financing options that allow customers to keep their tax credits and retain system ownership, larger national brands that traditionally rely on lease-only models find it more difficult to compete.

Business Insider and Green Tech Media have reported on the NREL study, with GTM offering the most complete exploration of the methodology behind their research. While the details of that article are far too extensive to outline in the context of a blog, the conclusion is undeniable: 

While the reasons for pricing differences between different sizes of installers are complex, the study's broader conclusion is simple. Consumers should be comparing more quotes -- because a big brand name won't necessarily be the cheapest.

Like most home improvement projects, however, price alone should not be the only factor in your decision. After all,  if done properly, a solar investment will benefit you for many decades. It’s important to ensure that the products and service providers earning your dollars have the longevity and expertise to back your investment throughout its lifespan. In all these areas, local installers have several key advantages. Consider the following:

  • A local solar expert is more aware and better able to adapt to local utility rates and incentive programs that can save you money.
  • Requirements and permitting regulations differ greatly from city to city. Local installers generally have a better understanding of these details and direct relationships with local regulatory departments.  
  • Many national brands are locked into a single financing model – specifically leases. Local providers generally offer a variety of financing options where customers benefit from faster ownership, as well as solar tax incentives
  • Local installers understand local climate conditions and are better equipped to offer products and installation techniques designed to last. This is particularly important in extreme climates like Arizona.

The story's moral is that while large, national solar companies may have better brand recognition and backing from large financial institutions, their bloated marketing budgets don’t necessarily translate to better services. Do your research and utilize resources such as Yelp and Angie’s List to find out what others say.

Sun Valley Solar Earns #1 Solar Installer from Ranking Arizona