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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.
Palm fruits stored on the road in Tomé-Açu municipality, northern Amazon's Pará state, on Nov. 12, 2019. Karla Mendes / Mongabay

During 18 months, Mongabay investigated allegations challenging the "sustainable" status of the Brazilian palm oil supply chain, revealing impacts including deforestation and water contamination, and what appears to be an industry-wide pattern of brazen disregard for Amazon conservation and for the rights of Indigenous people and traditional communities in northern Pará state.

Read More Show Less
EcoWatch Daily Newsletter
An aerial view of Amazon rainforest deforestation and farm management for livestock in November 2014. Ricardo Funari / Brazil Photos / LightRocket / Getty Images

The Amazon rainforest likely emits more greenhouse gases than it absorbs, a first-of-its-kind study has found.

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.

A lone tree stands in the Amazon rainforest near Santarem, Para state, Brazil, on September 4, 2019. Nelson Almeida / AFP / Getty Images

By Jessica Corbett

New data from a Norwegian nonprofit is generating fresh concerns about humanity's destruction of the natural world, revealing Monday that people have ravaged about two-thirds of original tropical rainforest cover globally.

Read More Show Less
Trending
A 3-hour special film by EarthxTV calls for protection of the Amazon and its indigenous populations. EarthxTV.org

To save the planet, we must save the Amazon rainforest. To save the rainforest, we must save its indigenous peoples. And to do that, we must demarcate their land.

Read More Show Less
A harpy eagle with her nest. Education Images / Universal Images Group via Getty Images

Harpy eagles are the largest eagles in the Americas and one of the largest eagle species in the world, with adult females weighing as much as 22 pounds.

But these massive birds are running out of room and food, a study published in Scientific Reports Wednesday has found.

Read More Show Less
An aerial photograph by Greenpeace in Central Kalimantan province on Indonesia's Borneo Island showed deforestation to make way for a palm oil plantation on Feb. 24, 2014. BAY ISMOYO / AFP via Getty Images

Over the past 40 years, about 50 percent of lowland rainforests in Southeast Asia have been converted for palm oil and other plantations, and remaining forests in the region are heavily logged, according to new research. Yet while the impacts of fragmentation on old-growth forests are well understood, how fragmentation impacts regenerating logged forests isn't.

Read More Show Less
Area bordering Kaxarari Indigenous territory in Labrea, Amazonas state, Brazil, in August, 2020. Christian Braga / Greenpeace
Tropical forests are guardians against runaway climate change, but their ability to remove carbon dioxide from the atmosphere is wearing down. The Amazon, which accounts for more than half of the world's rainforest cover, is on the verge of turning into a carbon source.
Read More Show Less
Trending
Fires, deforestation, logging and mining threaten the integrity of the Amazon rainforest. Ria Sopala / Pixabay

The future of the world's largest rainforest looks bleak. A new report for Environment: Science and Policy for Sustainable Development concluded that the Amazon rainforest will collapse and largely become a dry, shrubby plain by 2064. Development, deforestation and the climate crisis are to blame, study author and University of Florida geologist Robert Toovey Walker found, UPI reported.

Read More Show Less
The Goldman Environmental Prize recognizes grassroots activists from six continents who have moved the needle on environmental issues their communities face. 2021 Goldman Environmental Prize Virtual Award Ceremony / YouTube

Nicknamed the "Green Nobel Prize," the prestigious Goldman Environmental Prize recognizes grassroots activists from six continents who have moved the needle on environmental issues their communities face. This year's recipients led the charge on environmental justice, wildlife and rainforest conservation, plastic pollution, dams and coal projects.

Read More Show Less
Trending
An aerial view of a fire burning next to the Transpantaneira, a road that crosses the Pantanal on Sept. 25, 2020 in Pocone, Brazil. The main cause of induced fires in the region is livestock activity to transform the region into pastures. Photo by Buda Mendes / Getty Images

By Giuliana Viglione

Current estimates of land-use change may be capturing only one-quarter of its true extent across the world, new research shows.

Read More Show Less
Colombian President Juan Manuel Santos makes a speech regarding the Chiribiquete National Park in Guaviare, Cerro Azul, Colombia, declared a UNESCO world heritage site, on July 2, 2018. Diego Camilo Carranza Jimenez / Anadolu Agency / Getty Images

By Alexander Freund

Archaeologists have discovered tens of thousands of prehistoric paintings of animals and humans in a remote area of Colombia. Some now-extinct animals are depicted, meaning the art is likely more than 12,500 years old.

Read More Show Less
Deforestation in the Tibú municipality. Colombian Army Vulcano Task Force

By René Mora, Translated by Romina Castagnino

  • Catatumbo Barí National Natural Park protects the unique, remote rainforest in northeastern Colombia.
  • Satellite data show the park lost 6.2% of its tree cover between 2001 and 2019, with several months of unusually high deforestation in 2020.
  • Sources say illegal coca cultivation is rapidly expanding in and around Catatumbo Barí and is driving deforestation as farmers move in and clear forest to grow the illicit crop, which is used to make cocaine.
  • Area residents say armed groups are controlling the trade of coca in and out of the region, and are largely operating in an atmosphere of impunity.

The Catatumbo River originates in northeastern Colombia's Norte de Santander Department and flows to Venezuelan Lake Maracaibo. For generations, it has provided passage for fishermen and small farmers; but increasingly, it is being used to transport illegal good like weapons, timber and coca crops, from which cocaine is produced.

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.
Palm fruits stored on the road in Tomé-Açu municipality, northern Amazon's Pará state, on Nov. 12, 2019. Karla Mendes / Mongabay

During 18 months, Mongabay investigated allegations challenging the "sustainable" status of the Brazilian palm oil supply chain, revealing impacts including deforestation and water contamination, and what appears to be an industry-wide pattern of brazen disregard for Amazon conservation and for the rights of Indigenous people and traditional communities in northern Pará state.

Read More Show Less
EcoWatch Daily Newsletter
An aerial view of Amazon rainforest deforestation and farm management for livestock in November 2014. Ricardo Funari / Brazil Photos / LightRocket / Getty Images

The Amazon rainforest likely emits more greenhouse gases than it absorbs, a first-of-its-kind study has found.

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.

A lone tree stands in the Amazon rainforest near Santarem, Para state, Brazil, on September 4, 2019. Nelson Almeida / AFP / Getty Images

By Jessica Corbett

New data from a Norwegian nonprofit is generating fresh concerns about humanity's destruction of the natural world, revealing Monday that people have ravaged about two-thirds of original tropical rainforest cover globally.

Read More Show Less
Trending
A 3-hour special film by EarthxTV calls for protection of the Amazon and its indigenous populations. EarthxTV.org

To save the planet, we must save the Amazon rainforest. To save the rainforest, we must save its indigenous peoples. And to do that, we must demarcate their land.

Read More Show Less
A harpy eagle with her nest. Education Images / Universal Images Group via Getty Images

Harpy eagles are the largest eagles in the Americas and one of the largest eagle species in the world, with adult females weighing as much as 22 pounds.

But these massive birds are running out of room and food, a study published in Scientific Reports Wednesday has found.

Read More Show Less
An aerial photograph by Greenpeace in Central Kalimantan province on Indonesia's Borneo Island showed deforestation to make way for a palm oil plantation on Feb. 24, 2014. BAY ISMOYO / AFP via Getty Images