Solar Energy Quotes: A Checklist of Information

by Solar Selections on October 4, 2011

Checklist of questions to ask your solar power installer

Sourcing a various number of options when making consumer decisions has become a necessary part of purchasing for many people in the Western world. Considering the vast number of car makes, phone brands and broadband companies all vying for customers, it makes sense to do your research and compare the various offers available. So when it comes down to comparing solar energy installers and their quotes, what sort of information is necessary to enable a like with like comparison? This article provides a summary of what to look for and an idea of the weight to attribute to each factor involved.

Comparing Quotes from Various Solar Installers

Punching ‘Solar Energy Quotes’ or ‘Solar Power Installers’ into your average Google or Yahoo search engine these days results in a plethora of avenues spearing out from in front of you. The UK market is in a period of previously inconceivable growth, so competition for your mouse click is more convoluted than ever. Going through the motions of gathering some information together can appear quite straightforward after the first couple of sites, especially ones that offer multiple options immediately such as Solar Selections. When looking at the mountain of quotes now assembled from various sources before you the narrowing down process can become difficult.

That’s why here at Solar Selections we present the information to you in an easy-to-read format, ensuring all important and relevant details are clearly included. We display the quote information from the installers side by side, so that each aspect can be simply evaluated one by one. For more information on our Product and Price Comparisons, find our guide here.

However, if you’re comparing  non-Solar Selections quotes we recommend ensuring the following information is detailed, and why:

  • Panel and Inverter Brands and Specifications:

    This is as important as the brand of your car or phone. Some sources place more emphasis on brand than others, and whilst all components you should be quoted on are accredited there are performance efficiencies, power tolerances and sizes all to consider. You want to ensure that your brand is an established company with a proven track record and the relative accreditations. We don’t expect you to at first have an expert knowledge on the differences of the brands, so we suggest speaking with an objective Broker for some advice. If you don’t all you’re comparing are subjective opinions rather than facts.

  • Performance, Manufacturer’s and Workmanship Warranties:

    Obviously a very important aspect to any quote are the three warranty fields.

  1.        Performance warranties only relate to panels, and all accredited panels carry a minimum 25 years performance warranty. Some offer longer, but that amount of time will see your investment returned several times over so is less vital. 
  2.        Accredited manufacturer’s warranties will carry a minimum of 5 years and apply to both the panels and inverters. Workmanship warranties are directly involved with the installation of the system, such as ensuring panels are not damaged by being stepped on or connected improperly. 
  3.        The minimum workmanship warranty is 1 year. Some companies offer significantly longer periods, and this can be useful considering your return on investment period.
  • Individual Price Contributions of Components:

    This can be listed, but isn’t deemed to be the most foolproof method of comparing quotes. This is because it can be altered to suit by an installer.

  • Net Job Total:

    Prior to VAT or discounts, is useful to understand how much the installer charges for their workmanship and materials.

  • Final Job Total:

    This is the one figure Installers will never omit, it is the amount payable for the whole project.

  • Deposit:

    A very important figure as high deposits (>50%) need to be considered prior to signing a contract. It’s also helpful to understand when you’re deposit is payable.

    Solar Selections Tip: Site surveys are usually carried out prior to deposits being paid in the UK. Ensure that if your installer is requesting a large deposit prior to a site visit, you’ve verified their MCS accreditation and understood your contractual obligations fully. Legal advice is recommended when unsure, or just contact us and we can help you for free.

  • Possible Extras:

    It’s very important to understand that not all jobs can be perfectly priced up prior to install day. Some extras that should be listed are charges for roof material, scaffolding, travel, double or multistory buildings, long cable runs from panels or inverter to electricity meter, trench work for ground mounted systems and tilt frames. These should be listed, however unforeseen costs can arise regarding scaffolding, roof condition and intricate or complicated splitting or placement of the panels. Be aware of these factors and discuss them with your Solar Selections Broker, or your installer if you’re going direct.

    Solar Selections Tip: Be aware if you are installing without Solar Selections that any information provided by installers can be subjective to their arrangements, such as that everyone charges X amount for scaffolding or slate roofs. Only we as an impartial expert in the industry can truly answer your queries effectively.

The Smart Method: Solar Selections

The Solar Selection’s Product and Price Comparison Summary details all of the above information. In communication with your Broker, you can ensure that you compare your quotes in the most efficient and helpful means available, arriving at your solar choice confidently and with support.

Written by Jarrah Harburn

jarrah@solarselections.co.uk

T: 020 7205 2267

© 2011 Solar Selections Pty Ltd

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