Nationwide Home Solar Power Contractors and Information
Because cost can be an issue when installing solar panels, resourceful homeowners may look for ways to get in the door by buying them discounted or used. If you can find solar panels that work well but cost less, why not? To answer this question, we decided to ask an expert.
According to Paul Smith, Director of Sales and Marketing at Sunstream USA, buying a smaller system poses less risk while being just as cost effective. Smith points out significant dangers to buying solar panels at a “bargain.” For instance, used solar panels may not come with a manufacturer’s warranty and may be older than they look. As an alternative, Smith recommends taking advantage of state and federal tax rebates, as well as purchasing package deals from reliable solar installers who receive the best solar technology equipment and understand how it all works. Here’s more from Smith.
For homeowners who can’t afford to purchase a new solar system outright, would you recommend leasing the panels for a monthly payment? Why or why not?
Here in the New York area, leasing the panels has not become popular yet.
What I would suggest to a customer who does not have a large budget is: Buy a smaller system.
The New York State and the Long Island public power companies both offer sizeable rebates to customers. In most cases a customer can attain a rebate that will cover approximately 40% of the cost of an array. When that sum is added to the state and federal tax credits, nearly 50% of the cost of an array can be covered. In most cases, residential customers can purchase up to at 10 Kilowatt system and receive a rebate. There is no reason why a customer couldn’t buy a smaller array (Perhaps a 4 Kilowatt system) and then enlarge it at a later date. The customer would still be eligible for the remaining 6 Kilowatts of rebate money whenever they might decide to add to their existing array.
What about bargain hunting for solar panels, buying them second hand, wholesale, or in comprehensive retail packages? Is this something you would encourage?
I would encourage getting a few quotes from solar installers in your area. Most installers offer packages that include the panels, the racking, wiring, inverters and the installation by a master electrician. You could buy the panels on your own, yet most of the best manufacturers sell their panels through distributors so it is difficult to buy the best brands on your own. Also Solar panels produce power with Direct Current, which can be at a high voltage, it is advisable to have them installed by an experienced professional.
I would not recommend buying secondhand panels. Most panels are warranted for 25 years – if you buy “used” panels they would probably not come with the manufacturer’s warranty, plus there is know way of knowing how old those panels might be.
To echo Smith’s presentiment, think twice about purchasing discounted panels at the risk of poor installation. In a recent interview with CalFinder, REgrid Power CEO and SolarTech.org Chair Tom McCalmont also warned homeowners against contractors who don’t exclusively install solar systems.
“Generally, the best solar contractors do solar designs and installations exclusively,” he says. “Electrical contractors may specialize in other types of electrical work, but they generally do not have the expertise to do correct solar assessments and designs.”
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Flexible, understanding & very professional. They made the construction process bearable.
Did an excellent job. It was an unusual project and they were able to meet the unique requirements with no problems.