Why compare solar quotes
Last updated 6/9/2021
Think back to the last major purchase you made. Was it a car? A vacation? A house? A new phone or laptop? Before you made that purchase, how many days–or weeks or months–did you spend researching, and how many different options did you look at before finally deciding on the right one for you? If you’re like most people, you probably spent somewhere between a few weeks and a few months researching, comparing multiple different options in the process.
And why should solar be any different? Solar is a major purchase, and one that is often accompanied by significant complexity. With that in mind, most solar shoppers in the US compare two to five solar quotes before making a decision.
That’s where EnergySage can help. We take the hard work out of finding, calling and trying to compare quotes from different installers, by gathering custom solar quotes from local installers on your behalf and putting them in an easy-to-compare, side-by side format.
And the best part? EnergySage is completely free for you to use.
Comparing multiple solar quotes saves you money
There are two primary reasons that comparing multiple solar quotes can save you money: competition and transparency. The competition effect means that each additional quote you receive for solar will help you to find the right solar panel system at the right price. Transparency can be trickier to put a price tag on, but for a market that has historically been as opaque as solar, knowing what equipment will be installed on your roof–and the quality of that equipment–helps to ensure you’re getting the best solution for your needs.
When you receive multiple solar quotes through EnergySage, the two of these components combine to mean that you’ll save 15 to 25 percent on the cost of solar compared to going solar outside of EnergySage.
How to compare solar quotes with EnergySage
There are a few key components to review in solar quotes, and EnergySage makes it easy to compare each one of them head-to-head.
What to compare in the design of your solar panel system
The way solar panels are laid out on your roof impacts the amount of solar power you generate, as well as the overall aesthetics of your system. Different installers will take different approaches to the design and configuration of your solar panels, so it’s important to compare the different designs and ask installers why they chose their specific design.
One specific thing to keep in mind is the different production estimates for your solar panels. There are a number of different tools that installers can use to estimate the amount of electricity your solar panels will produce, from the publicly available PV Watts, to the powerful online modeling tools from Aurora and Helioscope. It’s not uncommon–or wrong–to see quotes from different installers include different system sizes (i.e., number of panels) that are each designed to produce 100 percent of the electricity you need. If one installer offers a much smaller or much larger system than other installers, it’s worth asking why.
What to look for in solar equipment
There are dozens of different manufacturers of solar equipment–solar panels, inverters, and batteries–each of whom often offers multiple different models of products. It can be very difficult to sift through the differences, pros, and cons of solar equipment on your own.
When deciding which equipment options are right for you, it’s important to consider both the price and quality of the equipment you’ve been quoted. Differences in pricing between solar quotes can often be explained based on the quality of equipment that’s offered to you: in other words, you’ll pay a premium for the best available equipment on the market, same as you would for any home appliance. Depending upon your specific situation, it may or may not make sense to pay extra for higher-rated equipment. For instance, if you have more than enough space to put enough solar panels to meet your electricity needs, it might not be worth it to pay a premium for the highest rated equipment since you don’t need to eke out every possible kilowatt-hour of production from a limited amount of space.
EnergySage is here to help compare solar equipment! We’ve developed a solar equipment rating system in conjunction with the Department of Energy-funded National Renewable Energy Laboratory (NREL) that helps you to compare the performance and quality of different pieces of solar equipment head-to-head. And if you’re excited about diving into the weeds and comparing all of the technical specifications of different pieces of equipment, our Buyer’s Guide for solar panels, solar inverters, and solar batteries allows you to search, sort and filter different equipment options, and select the ones you want to compare, putting all of the details from equipment spec sheets in one, easy-to-use location.
What to consider with different solar financing options
There are two key questions to ask yourself when considering different solar financing options: do you want to own your system and how much do you want to pay upfront?
When you own your solar panel system, you will be eligible to receive solar incentives and rebates, such as the federal investment tax credit (ITC), but, based on your agreement with your installer, you’ll likely be responsible for monitoring the performance of your system and getting in touch with your installer if anything looks awry. Owning your solar panel system makes sense for people who can take advantage of solar incentives (i.e., who have the tax liability to receive the ITC), and who want to receive the full benefits of what solar can offer, such as increasing your home value.
While solar is a major investment, you don’t have to pay for it all at once. In fact, if you can afford your monthly electricity bill, you can afford to go solar! Both solar loans and leases/PPAs allow you to go solar for no money down, offering the opportunity to pay monthly for your solar panel system. With a loan, you’ll own the system and be eligible to receive incentives and rebates; with a lease, you won’t own the system and will see bill savings but no incentive payments. Also, it’s important to consider the length of the loan vs. lease: solar leases are typically 25 years long, whereas a solar loan may have a 12 or 15 year term, meaning once you’ve paid the loan off you’ll receive the full benefits of free, solar electricity for the remainder of the system’s lifetime.
Here’s how those decision points translate to the type of solar financing that works for you:
- Cash purchase: If you want to own your system, want to maximize your savings, and can afford the upfront expense, a cash purchase is the best option for your solar panel system.
- Solar loan: If you want to own your system, but would prefer not to pay for it all upfront, a solar loan allows you to go solar for no upfront cost and often pay less than you currently pay for electricity each month.
- Solar lease/PPA: If you can’t take advantage of solar incentives, and would prefer to pay monthly for your solar panel system, a solar lease or PPA is a great way to still take advantage of solar.
Not sure which financing option is right for you? Don’t worry about it: EnergySage presents the savings and cost of different payment methods next to each other both in our Solar Calculator and when you’re comparing quotes in our Marketplace.
What to look for in a solar installer
At the end of the day, the most important thing to consider is the solar installer who will install your system. You’ll want a reputable solar company with experience installing solar panel systems in your area, with all the appropriate certifications, and who you can count on to pick up the phone in the unlikely event that anything goes wrong with your system.
When you select an installer through EnergySage, you can be sure that the installer is screened and vetted by our team: we work with the best solar companies in your area to help provide confidence in your solar purchase. Beyond that peace of mind, it’s good to know what sort of experience other, real homeowners had with the installers you’re comparing. That’s where installer reviews on EnergySage can help. Major purchases always feel better with a referral from a friend, family member or neighbor; and when you look at installer reviews on EnergySage, it’s like gaining access to a nationwide referral network. Check to see if a review is from a verified EnergySage shopper, whose experience will be very similar to yours.
EnergySage is the nation's online solar marketplace: when you sign up for a free account, we connect you with solar companies in your area, who compete for your business with custom solar quotes tailored to fit your needs. Over 10 million people come to EnergySage each year to learn about, shop for and invest in solar. Sign up today to see how much solar can save you.