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EcoWatch is a community of experts publishing quality, science-based content on environmental issues, causes, and solutions for a healthier planet and life.
Move or Change: How Plants and Animals Are Trying to Survive a Warming World

Thor Hanson's new book explains the biology behind climate change and why some species may be better able to survive a quickly changing planet.

Climate
Researchers have observed Kodiak bears changing their diet in response to climate change. Caroline Cheung / USFWS / CC BY-NC-ND 2.0

By Tara Lohan

When it comes to climate change, nature hasn't had the luxury of waiting for foot-dragging politicians or stonewalling corporations or science deniers. Countless species are already on the move.

"Just as the planet is changing faster than anyone expected, so too are the plants and animals that call it home," writes biologist Thor Hanson in a new book that explores the field of climate change biology.

Read More Show Less
EcoWatch Daily Newsletter

On her 82nd birthday, Jane Fonda was arrested. Approaching the capitol steps, Fonda was grabbed by the capitol police and put into handcuffs. But Fonda wasn't alone. She and 138 other people were arrested, and they were all there for a reason: the U.S. government's dismal response to the climate crisis. This kind of celebrity direct action is rare, especially among the Hollywood elite who are advocating for climate action as their new pet cause. Because of this it's more important than ever to dive into the celebritization of the climate crisis. Today we're going to figure out if celebrity advocacy is actually working as well as determine who is actually doing the work to build the movements we need to effectively foster a just transition.

Read More Show Less
zstockphotos / iStock / Getty Images

Over the past decade, rapid advances in solar energy technology, falling costs of clean energy systems and government-sponsored incentives have driven the popularity of installing solar panels to a record level. For readers wondering, "who is the best solar installer near me?" here's the good news: To capitalize on the projected growth of solar power, a large number of new solar installers and electricians are opening up shop across the country, which creates healthy competition for your business.

The growing number of competing solar installers presents both challenges and opportunities for a customer. One one hand, having more options may make for a more difficult decision. But on the other, savvy investors can use competition between local installers to their advantage. The competition between solar companies can lower the cost of solar panels, saving you thousands of dollars.

To make sure you're getting the best bang for your buck, we recommend getting free quotes from a few certified solar installers near you. You can get connected with top solar companies in your area by filling out the 30-second form below.

So, How Do I Find the Best Solar Installer Near Me?

To get a concrete understanding of the cost and process of installing a solar panel system on your home, it's best to contact a solar installer near you. Typically, most solar installers will offer a free consultation during which they analyze your current energy use, roof layout, budget, product availability and energy goals. Then, they'll offer a proposal customized to your specific needs.

To ensure they're securing the best possible value from their investment in renewable energy, savvy customers will get proposals from several companies and compare costs and warranties. Companies frequently run specials and promotions on solar products or energy efficiency packages, so be sure to ask about those when reaching out for quotes.

When choosing the best solar installer for your job, look for a company that provides homeowners with assistance when applying for the federal solar tax credit as well as any applicable local rebates and solar tax incentives. If applicable, installers will also help you get connected to the net metering program offered by your utility company, and most will walk you through solar financing options if you're unable to pay cash for your system.

It's a good idea to be familiar with financial incentives and financing options prior to your consultation to ensure an installer covers everything available. If an installer doesn't have a thorough knowledge of local programs or doesn't offer help with applying for rebates or solar loans, it may not be the best company to do business with.

Here are some other things to consider when looking for the best solar installers near you:

  • Licenses and certifications: Legitimate installers hold state-mandated electrical licenses as well as North American Board of Certified Energy Practitioners (NABCEP) certifications.
  • Customer reviews: Checking a company's Better Business Bureau rating and reviews from customers around the web can give you a better sense of an installer's service.
  • Additional services offered: Some installers have tree removal, roof repair, solar battery installation and energy monitoring services. If you need these or other solutions to complete your installation, look for a full-service installer.
  • Financing options: Whether you're paying in cash, taking out a loan or wanting to lease solar panels, make sure the installers you're considering have the financing options you need.

How Do I Read a Solar Proposal?

Choosing a few top solar installers near you and booking consultations is the easy part. Once you get proposals from each company, however, things may get a bit more confusing. Reading and understanding those proposals is one of the most important steps in choosing a solar installer. Here are a few items to look out for in a proposal:

Solar Proposal Element What to Look for from Solar Installers Near You

System size

The size of a solar energy system is measured in kilowatts, which is abbreviated to kW. A kW is a common unit of energy measuring power generation — or consumption.

The size of your system will be based on how much energy you use in your home and will determine how many solar panels you need to purchase. For example, if you need a 5kW system and are purchasing panels with a 340-watt output, you'll need 15 panels. (5kW / 340W = 14.7 panels)

Estimated annual solar production

Your estimated annual solar production is a measure of how much energy your system is expected to produce in one year. You can compare this figure with the usage shown on your utility bills to calculate how much energy your system will offset.

Estimated energy burden

When creating a proposal, a solar installer will ask how much electricity your home uses each year. They use this to calculate your estimated energy burden, which reflects how much money you could expect to spend on energy without a solar system.

Watch out for number inflation here, as installers will often factor in rising utility rates over time. If an installer estimates a high energy burden, it makes it easier for them to calculate high estimated lifetime savings. If you get multiple proposals and one reflects a much higher estimated energy burden than the others, the installer may be using shady sales tactics.

Estimated lifetime savings

By comparing your energy burden with your estimated annual solar production, solar installers can estimate the lifetime energy savings generated by a system.

Compare this key figure to other proposals to evaluate which company may offer the best return on investment (ROI).

What Should I Expect from My Solar Panel Installation?

So, you've compared your proposals and picked a winner. A trustworthy solar installer will walk you through the process from beginning to end, but here's a good idea of what to expect when installing solar panels:

Solar Installation Step What to Expect from Solar Installers Near You

Sign contract and submit paperwork

Customers should be prepared to provide a copy of a utility bill, a down payment (depending on their chosen financing) and a signature for their net metering agreement if applicable.

Obtain permits and approvals

Similar to some other home improvements, an approved permit from the presiding city or county is required for solar projects in most areas. The solar installer will handle the permitting, but this process can take a few days to weeks depending on the efficiency of the area.

Most energy providers also require approval for solar installations in their network. This can come in the form of a net metering agreement or interconnection agreement.

System installation

Once all the permits and approvals are secured, the company will schedule a day to install the solar panels, inverters and other equipment.

The timing will vary depending on the complexity of the installation, but most are completed in less than one day.

Pass inspections

Both the presiding permitting office and utility company need to inspect the installation before it can be turned on. The solar installer will handle the inspection logistics, but scheduling and completing an inspection can take a few weeks.

Obtain PTO and turn system on

Once your utility provider approves the inspection and processes the necessary paperwork, it issues permission to operate (PTO). Obtaining PTO is the final step before a system can be turned on.

After this happens, your solar installer will notify you and walk you through the steps of turning the system on or come and do it for you if necessary.

FAQ: Solar Installers Near Me

Who is the best solar panel provider?

Though we can recommend some top solar companies that operate across the U.S., the best solar panel provider and installer for you will depend on where you live. We encourage readers to compare quotes from local companies, read reviews and talk to neighbors who have installed solar panels. Referrals are also a popular method for finding a trusted installer.

What is the average cost of installing a solar system?

The cost of installing solar will vary greatly depending on the size of the system, your location and the type of solar panels and other products you choose. On average for a modest system, one can expect to pay between $15,000, and $20,000 after the tax credit is applied.

Is installing solar panels worth it?

Unless you deal with a shady property, a rainy climate or an unfit roof, solar panels are one of the most reliable investments you can make. Most solar panel installations pay for themselves in energy savings within five to 10 years and last an expected lifetime of 25 years. Even if you intend to move, solar panels add to property value, so your investment is protected.

How much will solar help me save on my electric bill?

Energy savings depend on a variety of factors such as monthly energy usage, the size of the system and the size and shape of the roof exposed to sunlight. The best way to calculate estimated savings on your electric bill is to consult a solar installer near you.

U.S. Sen. Ron Johnson (R-WI) arrives for a vote at the Senate chamber at the U.S. Capitol on June 22, 2021 in Washington, DC. Alex Wong / Getty Images

By Jake Johnson

Amid a deadly northwestern heatwave that scientists have described as "the most extreme" in recorded history, footage uncovered by CNN shows Republican Sen. Ron Johnson of Wisconsin flippantly dismissing the established science of human-caused climate change during an event hosted by a GOP-aligned advocacy group.

Read More Show Less
Trending
Park staff take pictures of a thermometer display showing temperatures of 130° Fahrenheit (54° Celsius) at the Furnace Creek Visitor's Center at Death Valley National Park in June 17, 2021 in Furnace Creek, California. PATRICK T. FALLON / AFP via Getty Images

A heat wave scorched the U.S. West just before the official start of summer, bringing record-breaking temperatures, worsening a dangerous drought and offering yet another example of how the climate crisis has upended our idea of normal.

Read More Show Less
A new "Climate Clock" is displayed in New York City on September 20, 2021. Ben Wolf via Climate Clock

By Jake Johnson

As the United Nations General Assembly kicked off in New York City on Monday, activists unveiled a new version of their digital "Climate Clock" to spotlight the extent to which rich countries are reneging on their vow to invest $100 billion a year in a global green energy fund designed to assist developing nations.

Read More Show Less
A sign at Hoover Dam warns of "very dangerous levels" of heat in the forecast at Lake Mead near Boulder City, Nevada on July 1, 2021. David McNew / Getty Images

By Tara Lohan

It's hard not to think about how hot it's been — even if you live somewhere that has escaped the heat in the past few weeks. When British Columbia clocks temperatures of 121° F, it gets the world's attention. As it should.

Here are six reasons why we need to be paying more attention to heat waves.

Read More Show Less
Sometimes the dark face of the Moon catches Earth's reflected glow and returns that light. NASA Earth Observatory

A new study has revealed an unexpected impact of the climate crisis: it's actually making Earth dimmer.

Read More Show Less
Trending

For the past seven years, Pathway to Paris has been using the power of music to inspire people to act to solve the climate crisis.

That's why this coming Saturday they are celebrating this year's Climate Week NYC with a block party in an imperiled urban greenspace.

Read More Show Less
Rep. Louie Gohmert (R-Texas) arrives for the House Judiciary Committee markup of the Elder Abuse Protection Act, the Criminal Judicial Administration Act, and other amendments in Washington, DC on May 18, 2021. Tom Williams / CQ-Roll Call, Inc via Getty Images

Republican Representative Louie Gohmert from Texas made headlines Wednesday after comments he made about climate change and the orbit of the Earth and moon went viral.

Read More Show Less
Trending
Paul Souders / Stone / Getty Images

What Is Climate Change? Is It Different From Global Warming?

Climate change is actually not a new phenomenon. Scientists have been studying the connection between human activity and the effect on the climate since the 1800s, although it took until the 1950s to find evidence suggesting a link.

Read More Show Less
Switzerland's Rhone Glacier protected by white tarps in August of 2020. Bertrand Rindoff Petroff / Getty Images

Usually, humans huddle up in blankets to stay warm in the winter.

For the glaciers of Switzerland, however, the opposite is true. A ski resort in the Swiss Alps is using blankets to protect a glacier from melting in the summer sun.

Read More Show Less
A flare stack next to pump jacks and other oil and gas infrastructure on April 24, 2020 in the Permian Basin near Odessa, Texas. PAUL RATJE / AFP via Getty Images

Royal Dutch Shell announced Monday it was selling its oil and gas production in Texas's Permian Basin to ConocoPhillips for $9.5 billion in cash.

Read More Show Less
EcoWatch is a community of experts publishing quality, science-based content on environmental issues, causes, and solutions for a healthier planet and life.
Move or Change: How Plants and Animals Are Trying to Survive a Warming World

Thor Hanson's new book explains the biology behind climate change and why some species may be better able to survive a quickly changing planet.

Climate
Researchers have observed Kodiak bears changing their diet in response to climate change. Caroline Cheung / USFWS / CC BY-NC-ND 2.0

By Tara Lohan

When it comes to climate change, nature hasn't had the luxury of waiting for foot-dragging politicians or stonewalling corporations or science deniers. Countless species are already on the move.

"Just as the planet is changing faster than anyone expected, so too are the plants and animals that call it home," writes biologist Thor Hanson in a new book that explores the field of climate change biology.

Read More Show Less
EcoWatch Daily Newsletter

On her 82nd birthday, Jane Fonda was arrested. Approaching the capitol steps, Fonda was grabbed by the capitol police and put into handcuffs. But Fonda wasn't alone. She and 138 other people were arrested, and they were all there for a reason: the U.S. government's dismal response to the climate crisis. This kind of celebrity direct action is rare, especially among the Hollywood elite who are advocating for climate action as their new pet cause. Because of this it's more important than ever to dive into the celebritization of the climate crisis. Today we're going to figure out if celebrity advocacy is actually working as well as determine who is actually doing the work to build the movements we need to effectively foster a just transition.

Read More Show Less
zstockphotos / iStock / Getty Images

Over the past decade, rapid advances in solar energy technology, falling costs of clean energy systems and government-sponsored incentives have driven the popularity of installing solar panels to a record level. For readers wondering, "who is the best solar installer near me?" here's the good news: To capitalize on the projected growth of solar power, a large number of new solar installers and electricians are opening up shop across the country, which creates healthy competition for your business.

The growing number of competing solar installers presents both challenges and opportunities for a customer. One one hand, having more options may make for a more difficult decision. But on the other, savvy investors can use competition between local installers to their advantage. The competition between solar companies can lower the cost of solar panels, saving you thousands of dollars.

To make sure you're getting the best bang for your buck, we recommend getting free quotes from a few certified solar installers near you. You can get connected with top solar companies in your area by filling out the 30-second form below.

So, How Do I Find the Best Solar Installer Near Me?

To get a concrete understanding of the cost and process of installing a solar panel system on your home, it's best to contact a solar installer near you. Typically, most solar installers will offer a free consultation during which they analyze your current energy use, roof layout, budget, product availability and energy goals. Then, they'll offer a proposal customized to your specific needs.

To ensure they're securing the best possible value from their investment in renewable energy, savvy customers will get proposals from several companies and compare costs and warranties. Companies frequently run specials and promotions on solar products or energy efficiency packages, so be sure to ask about those when reaching out for quotes.

When choosing the best solar installer for your job, look for a company that provides homeowners with assistance when applying for the federal solar tax credit as well as any applicable local rebates and solar tax incentives. If applicable, installers will also help you get connected to the net metering program offered by your utility company, and most will walk you through solar financing options if you're unable to pay cash for your system.

It's a good idea to be familiar with financial incentives and financing options prior to your consultation to ensure an installer covers everything available. If an installer doesn't have a thorough knowledge of local programs or doesn't offer help with applying for rebates or solar loans, it may not be the best company to do business with.

Here are some other things to consider when looking for the best solar installers near you:

  • Licenses and certifications: Legitimate installers hold state-mandated electrical licenses as well as North American Board of Certified Energy Practitioners (NABCEP) certifications.
  • Customer reviews: Checking a company's Better Business Bureau rating and reviews from customers around the web can give you a better sense of an installer's service.
  • Additional services offered: Some installers have tree removal, roof repair, solar battery installation and energy monitoring services. If you need these or other solutions to complete your installation, look for a full-service installer.
  • Financing options: Whether you're paying in cash, taking out a loan or wanting to lease solar panels, make sure the installers you're considering have the financing options you need.

How Do I Read a Solar Proposal?

Choosing a few top solar installers near you and booking consultations is the easy part. Once you get proposals from each company, however, things may get a bit more confusing. Reading and understanding those proposals is one of the most important steps in choosing a solar installer. Here are a few items to look out for in a proposal:

Solar Proposal Element What to Look for from Solar Installers Near You

System size

The size of a solar energy system is measured in kilowatts, which is abbreviated to kW. A kW is a common unit of energy measuring power generation — or consumption.

The size of your system will be based on how much energy you use in your home and will determine how many solar panels you need to purchase. For example, if you need a 5kW system and are purchasing panels with a 340-watt output, you'll need 15 panels. (5kW / 340W = 14.7 panels)

Estimated annual solar production

Your estimated annual solar production is a measure of how much energy your system is expected to produce in one year. You can compare this figure with the usage shown on your utility bills to calculate how much energy your system will offset.

Estimated energy burden

When creating a proposal, a solar installer will ask how much electricity your home uses each year. They use this to calculate your estimated energy burden, which reflects how much money you could expect to spend on energy without a solar system.

Watch out for number inflation here, as installers will often factor in rising utility rates over time. If an installer estimates a high energy burden, it makes it easier for them to calculate high estimated lifetime savings. If you get multiple proposals and one reflects a much higher estimated energy burden than the others, the installer may be using shady sales tactics.

Estimated lifetime savings

By comparing your energy burden with your estimated annual solar production, solar installers can estimate the lifetime energy savings generated by a system.

Compare this key figure to other proposals to evaluate which company may offer the best return on investment (ROI).

What Should I Expect from My Solar Panel Installation?

So, you've compared your proposals and picked a winner. A trustworthy solar installer will walk you through the process from beginning to end, but here's a good idea of what to expect when installing solar panels:

Solar Installation Step What to Expect from Solar Installers Near You

Sign contract and submit paperwork

Customers should be prepared to provide a copy of a utility bill, a down payment (depending on their chosen financing) and a signature for their net metering agreement if applicable.

Obtain permits and approvals

Similar to some other home improvements, an approved permit from the presiding city or county is required for solar projects in most areas. The solar installer will handle the permitting, but this process can take a few days to weeks depending on the efficiency of the area.

Most energy providers also require approval for solar installations in their network. This can come in the form of a net metering agreement or interconnection agreement.

System installation

Once all the permits and approvals are secured, the company will schedule a day to install the solar panels, inverters and other equipment.

The timing will vary depending on the complexity of the installation, but most are completed in less than one day.

Pass inspections

Both the presiding permitting office and utility company need to inspect the installation before it can be turned on. The solar installer will handle the inspection logistics, but scheduling and completing an inspection can take a few weeks.

Obtain PTO and turn system on

Once your utility provider approves the inspection and processes the necessary paperwork, it issues permission to operate (PTO). Obtaining PTO is the final step before a system can be turned on.

After this happens, your solar installer will notify you and walk you through the steps of turning the system on or come and do it for you if necessary.

FAQ: Solar Installers Near Me

Who is the best solar panel provider?

Though we can recommend some top solar companies that operate across the U.S., the best solar panel provider and installer for you will depend on where you live. We encourage readers to compare quotes from local companies, read reviews and talk to neighbors who have installed solar panels. Referrals are also a popular method for finding a trusted installer.

What is the average cost of installing a solar system?

The cost of installing solar will vary greatly depending on the size of the system, your location and the type of solar panels and other products you choose. On average for a modest system, one can expect to pay between $15,000, and $20,000 after the tax credit is applied.

Is installing solar panels worth it?

Unless you deal with a shady property, a rainy climate or an unfit roof, solar panels are one of the most reliable investments you can make. Most solar panel installations pay for themselves in energy savings within five to 10 years and last an expected lifetime of 25 years. Even if you intend to move, solar panels add to property value, so your investment is protected.

How much will solar help me save on my electric bill?

Energy savings depend on a variety of factors such as monthly energy usage, the size of the system and the size and shape of the roof exposed to sunlight. The best way to calculate estimated savings on your electric bill is to consult a solar installer near you.

U.S. Sen. Ron Johnson (R-WI) arrives for a vote at the Senate chamber at the U.S. Capitol on June 22, 2021 in Washington, DC. Alex Wong / Getty Images

By Jake Johnson

Amid a deadly northwestern heatwave that scientists have described as "the most extreme" in recorded history, footage uncovered by CNN shows Republican Sen. Ron Johnson of Wisconsin flippantly dismissing the established science of human-caused climate change during an event hosted by a GOP-aligned advocacy group.

Read More Show Less
Trending
Park staff take pictures of a thermometer display showing temperatures of 130° Fahrenheit (54° Celsius) at the Furnace Creek Visitor's Center at Death Valley National Park in June 17, 2021 in Furnace Creek, California. PATRICK T. FALLON / AFP via Getty Images

A heat wave scorched the U.S. West just before the official start of summer, bringing record-breaking temperatures, worsening a dangerous drought and offering yet another example of how the climate crisis has upended our idea of normal.

Read More Show Less
A new "Climate Clock" is displayed in New York City on September 20, 2021. Ben Wolf via Climate Clock

By Jake Johnson

As the United Nations General Assembly kicked off in New York City on Monday, activists unveiled a new version of their digital "Climate Clock" to spotlight the extent to which rich countries are reneging on their vow to invest $100 billion a year in a global green energy fund designed to assist developing nations.

Read More Show Less
A sign at Hoover Dam warns of "very dangerous levels" of heat in the forecast at Lake Mead near Boulder City, Nevada on July 1, 2021. David McNew / Getty Images

By Tara Lohan

It's hard not to think about how hot it's been — even if you live somewhere that has escaped the heat in the past few weeks. When British Columbia clocks temperatures of 121° F, it gets the world's attention. As it should.

Here are six reasons why we need to be paying more attention to heat waves.

Read More Show Less
Sometimes the dark face of the Moon catches Earth's reflected glow and returns that light. NASA Earth Observatory

A new study has revealed an unexpected impact of the climate crisis: it's actually making Earth dimmer.

Read More Show Less
Trending

For the past seven years, Pathway to Paris has been using the power of music to inspire people to act to solve the climate crisis.

That's why this coming Saturday they are celebrating this year's Climate Week NYC with a block party in an imperiled urban greenspace.

Read More Show Less
Rep. Louie Gohmert (R-Texas) arrives for the House Judiciary Committee markup of the Elder Abuse Protection Act, the Criminal Judicial Administration Act, and other amendments in Washington, DC on May 18, 2021. Tom Williams / CQ-Roll Call, Inc via Getty Images

Republican Representative Louie Gohmert from Texas made headlines Wednesday after comments he made about climate change and the orbit of the Earth and moon went viral.

Read More Show Less
Trending