Favor long-established businesses in your area.
Be skeptical of solar energy firms that have only been around for a short period of time (say, less than 5 years). The longer a company has been in business, the better.
Inquiring with the company directly, consulting the Better Business Bureau, or, in some cases, researching the company online through the state licensing agency, can all yield this information. If you need warranty service years down the road, you’ll have a greater chance of getting it from a reputable company if you went with one that has some industry experience.
If you live in a state with a more developed residential solar market, like California, you’ll have an easier time finding installers with at least ten years of experience. In regions where solar power is still in its infancy, like the Midwest, you may be limited to working with startups.
Learn from customer feedback, but tread carefully when reading online
The Better Business Bureau is a wonderful place to begin when looking for information about a company through internet evaluations. Unlike other review aggregators, you can trust the BBB’s ratings.
It gathers client feedback about a firm and attempts to resolve conflicts between the customer and the business. It’s important to study a complaint thoroughly to determine whether it warrants action, as it could reveal poor practices on the part of the firm or simply be the result of a misunderstanding between the company and the client.
In addition, the status of a listed complaint can vary from settled to unresolved. Resolved complaints are of lesser consequence, and it is to be expected that any large company with a significant amount of business will have some dissatisfied consumers. Traditional reviews are allowed on the BBB, but they are not moderated in any way.
It’s a good idea to research the firm on other review websites, but remember to take the opinions of others with a grain of salt. Quality can be harder to gauge from online reviews because they can be skewed.
In particular, you should stay away from “pay-to-play” websites like the ones you see on Angies’ List and ConsumerAffairs.com. You should also be wary of solar company review websites, as they too have been implicated in pay-for-placement practices.
We found that reviews on Yelp and Google were slightly more reliable than those on these other sites. If you want to learn more about this topic, check out the resources we’ve provided below.