solar-panel-installation | June 13, 2024

Investing in solar energy has multi-fold benefits, from saving dollars from going out of your pocket to adding value to your home as an appreciating asset and leading a more sustainable life. However, all these benefits do come with a bit of a price tag. You would want to make sure that you are making an informed decision because, let’s face it, no one likes huge surprises in the long run, especially ones that may not be in your favour. 

So, you’ve done your due diligence, including research, asked friends and family for suggestions, looked up solar installation companies in your area, and maybe even chatted with some neighbours who’ve already installed solar panels. What’s next? You should reach out to your preferred solar company for more insight before committing to solar energy, to ensure you make a sound choice.

Following are some questions you can ask your solar company prior to installing solar panels in your home:

1. How long have you been in the business of solar energy?
While this seems like an obvious question to ask (or Google), it is still important to address it in person. With the recent boom of reliance on greener energy sources, several companies get incorporated in a rush to get a slice of the profit pie and end up closing just as quickly. As a result, it is important to verify that your solar installers have several years of experience and are qualified to take on your solar energy project.

Future West Solar (FWS) is a full-service solar company that provides end-to-end service from initial consultation to solar panel installation and after-care. Our team of Master electricians, operations managers, engineers, designers, and installers has almost two decades of combined experience. You can trust us to get the job done and get it done right, leaving you with a smile on your face and a home running on sunshine!

2. What solar incentives are available in BC?
Switching to solar energy is a huge upfront investment, so governing bodies often provide subsidies, grants, or rebates to incentivize homeowners to depend on greener energy sources. A solar installation company with significant expertise and reputation in your area should be able to give you all the details regarding financial incentives that you can use to relieve some of the financial pressure. 

At Future West Solar, we provide a full-service consultation as an added value so we can understand any financial incentives or benefits currently being offered. 

3. What type of solar equipment do you use?
It’s always good to check with your solar installers about what kind of solar panels and equipment they plan to use and why they’ve made that choice. Any company claiming that only one type of solar system, inverter, or battery can be used is not a good sign.

Our team at FWS uses top-quality monocrystalline panels from Canadian Solar, one of the world’s leading renewable energy brands. These panels have high silicon purity and are, therefore, the most effective at converting light to energy. They are also highly efficient.

4. How much consumption is my solar energy going to offset?
A knowledgeable solar installer will understand how much of your energy consumption can be met by solar energy production and should be able to explain it to you in simple terms. Factors such as weather, shade, roof size, and household energy consumption all play a part and will be considered by your solar company.

Your solar company must provide information on how much of your consumption can be offset by solar energy within your project proposal, overview, or contract. They must also be transparent and proactive in keeping you in the loop about any details you need to know.

We work on custom solar solutions for every homeowner; we’ll model your home and surroundings with premium software and create a quote tailored to your needs. This will include what your solar system will look like, how much energy usage will be offset, the approximate payback period, and total savings. So, you never have to be afraid of being kept in the dark! (pun intended)

5. How do I sell solar energy credits back to the grid?
Through a system known as Net Metering, a program in which solar panels are connected to a public utility power grid, surplus power is transferred onto the grid, allowing customers to offset the cost of power drawn from the utility. It is designed for people who generate electricity for personal use. So, while you power your home with sunshine, you can rely on your utility provider’s (BC Hydro or Fortis BC) grid if needed. Our team can guide you through your application, permits, and solar installation grants so you get started on the right foot. For more information, check out our previous blog post on what you need to know about Net Metering in BC.

6. What kind of warranties or maintenance are available for my solar system?
It is always good to proactively ask about warranties for the solar panels and installation service. A reputed company will stand behind its service and offer after-care services. Future West Solar provides a 25-year warranty with local service readily available when you need it. As for maintenance, solar panels are very low-maintenance. Let mother nature do the work for you—don’t sweat it!

7. How much will it cost to install the solar equipment?
Cost factors typically include the type of panels, the size of your home, energy usage, etc. Estimates can be challenging to provide since they depend on your home and lifestyle, among other things. It's best to get at least three quotes for a decent ballpark figure of your solar system's cost.

According to our expertise, the average solar installation cost is between $15K and  $30K. To reduce your installation costs, we are happy to discuss any loans, programs, or incentives that will save you money.

8. What is your timeline for installation?
Most solar panel installations are completed within one to three business days; however, every company is different, so it's always good to double-check. Another helpful question is asking how long the entire process will take, from signing the contract to running on sunshine, as this can vary, too. This process usually takes two months or longer.

Our team can come to your house within as little as 18 hours to review a solar proposal tailored to your home and electricity usage. Then, we can install your system and have it produce power within two months, and we're constantly working on ways to make that even shorter!

9. How can I monitor the solar energy my system generates?
You will usually have a dashboard of data available to keep track of your system, including the kilowatts being supplied to your house when you're looking and the kilowatt hours of energy your solar system has generated that day.

At FWS, our power inverters come with a real-time system for monitoring your solar system’s performance and energy production. This will let you stay informed about its efficiency and the money you’ll be saving as a result.

10. Can you provide testimonials?
If your solar company lets you contact any of its customers for an impromptu call, meeting, or email, that’s a good sign. If they are a bit apprehensive or choose which clients you can contact, then that could cause concern. You can check out our satisfied customers' thoughts here, and always reach out for further information!

Are you on the verge of committing to solar and have plenty of questions for our team at Future West Solar? We’re proud to service the Okanagan and Fraser Valley regions with our Kelowna and Chilliwack offices; contact us now, and we’ll walk you through any doubts or concerns you may have.