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If you have been looking for a solar installer to lower your expensive cost of electricity, then you need to know who is a solar installer. Moreover, you’ll want to know what the difference is between a solar marketing company, solar sales organization, solar installer and an EPC (Engineering, Procurement and Construction) solar company. Below, you will find more information about the differences. 

A Solar Marketing Company: These type of companies are only in the business of finding the prospects for the sales organizations. You may have received flyers or phone calls from them. Some of these companies run an in-house marketing division in order to control the quality of the leads they generate for their sales team.


A solar sales organization: These type of companies are usually middlemen between the marketing company and the installer and they (are supposed to) have a lot of practical knowledge about available solar power systems, financing options and installation methods. These organizations must have home improvement licenses from the Contractors State License Board.

A solar sub-contractor: These groups of companies are hands-on installers who will do the actual installation on your roof. They receive their projects from the solar sales organizations. Usually, these companies are small and install solar power systems locally. These organizations must have solar or electrical contractor’s licenses.

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An EPC (Engineering, Procurement and Construction) solar company: These are usually bigger entities who (are supposed to) handle everything from marketing to in-house installation, but many of them use 1099 marketers, sales reps and installers. These organizations must have solar or electrical contractor’s licenses. There are two types of EPC companies:

  • National EPC solar companies
  • Local EPC solar companies

You need to find out who you are dealing with before signing a contract. Installing a solar power system for your house is a great idea for many reasons, and especially if you want to lower your electricity cost. When you do, you’ll want to hire the right solar installer/company instead of hiring a solar company. Your installer must be the right match and needs to be able to offer the right solar panels, the right solar installation method and the right solar financing option to you. The first step is to find an experienced, licensed and unbiased Energy Advisor to be your advocate during the process. Energy Advisor Hub has created a proprietary cloud-based platform to connect you with the right solar installer/company. Now, let's talk more in details about EPC and solar sub-contractors:

1. EPC

EPC stands for Engineering, Procurement and Construction. It means EPC companies have the necessary licenses, experience, financial and logistic capabilities to deliver a project from start to finish. They have strong relationships with the following entities to deliver a complete project:

  1. Solar Financing Companies to offer financing options (solar loans, solar lease and solar PPA).
  2. Solar parts distributors to deliver solar panels, solar inverters, wire, cable, breaker boxes, etc.
  3. Their bank to give them credit lines to deliver the projects until they get paid from the customer (in cash purchases) or from the financing company (in case of solar financing).

Moreover, they have the following teams in-house or outsourced to deliver your solar installation:

  1. Site Audit/Survey team to conduct a survey to measure your sqft of suitable roof space for solar panels, measure your sun exposure, check your roof age, check compatibility of your Main Electric Panel with the solar power system installation. This can be done by an in-house team, but a lot of EPC Solar Companies outsource this to independent contractors.
  2. Design team to draw an accurate solar site layout of your house showing all the panels on the roof. This can be done by an in-house team, but a lot of EPC Solar Companies outsource this to independent contractors.
  3. Engineering team to sign off the solar site layout for permit process. This can be done by an in-house team, but a lot of EPC Solar Companies outsource this to independent contractors.
  4. Procurement team to maintain relationships with the solar distributors and place orders.
  5. Solar installation team to install your solar power system in compliance with the approved site layout. This can be done by an in-house team, but a lot of EPC Solar Companies outsource this to independent contractors. These independent contractors are called Solar Subcontractors.

 

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2. Sub-Contractors

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A solar subcontractor is an individual or a legal entity who is licensed to install solar power systems. They must have the required experience and the necessary licenses (C10 or C46) to install the systems. Usually, they don’t have the financial capability to deliver a project from start to finish, so they only take care of one part of the whole process, which is installing the solar power system. They are usually small local solar installers.

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How do I choose a Solar Installer?

Installing a solar power system for your house is a smart decision to lower or eliminate your electric bill, (depending on the solar program you choose), and increase your property value-- while saving this planet for everyone! In the meantime, not many homeowners know about the available solar programs, let alone all the details about how to choose the right solar installer.  This is where many, many homeowners fail. You must pick the right solar installer to get the right results. Here are just some of the questions that you need to ask to increase your chances of finding the right installer for your home solar project.

  1. How long this company has been in business?
  2. Are they insured and bonded?
  3. How many installs have they completed over their business life time?
  4. How about their rating on Yelp and BBB?
  5. What kind of solar financing they offer?
  6. Who does their installation?  Literally, who? Are they employees? Or Subs.
  7. What type of solar panels, inverters and mounding devices they carry?  Why?
  8. Who is their financing partner and why?  They should have a solid answer.
  9. What is your payment schedule with them?  Does it work for you?
  10. What is their installation time frame?
  11. Ask about production guarantee for panels/system, roof warranty for penetrations and workmanship warranty?  Also, what is covered for inverters, and for labor.

These are the basic questions that you need to ask at minimum, but in reality there are over 50 factors that need to be considered to get the optimum result. Installing a solar power system for your house is a complex and time consuming process and that’s why you need to have an unbiased Energy Advisor on your side to walk you through the process. You can click HERE to find your trusted Advisor to get the guesswork out of your solar project. 

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Should I work with a local solar installer?

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If you begin looking into solar panels for your house you will quickly notice that there are both local and national solar installers. The next questions you’ll want to ask yourself next are:

  1. What are the pros and con of each one?
  2. Which one should I work with?

We hope this article helps inform you to make the best decision.

A lot of homeowners prefer working with the local solar installers to support their local community, but they want to make sure the local company has the technical and financial capacity to deliver a good service and installation to them. Usually, top rated local solar companies go out of their way to keep their customers happy because their business highly relies on word of mouth.

It is good to work with the right local solar installer, but you must make sure that the company is the right company for your project depending on your house specifications such as your roof type, sun exposure, your KWh usage, your monthly electric bill, solar panel types, etc. Choosing the right local solar installer can help you have a good experience during your solar project, but sometimes effective communication is a challenge with these type of companies. Overall, they will deliver your project on-time and on budget.

National solar installers:

A lot of homeowners work with national companies just because they have a bigger brand and they have deep pockets in the case that anything goes wrong in their project. Usually, these companies find their customers through national retail stores such as Home Depot, Best Buy, Costco, etc. This does not mean they don’t generate referral business, but their referral ration is less than local companies. These companies install thousands of solar power systems per month and you may not receive the best possible attention that you expect from a solar company.

If you have received quotes from multiple companies and you are not sure which one you should move forward with, then you need an experienced, licensed and unbiased Energy Advisor who can act as your advocate. Click HERE to pick your trusted advisor and rest assured knowing they will take care of the rest for you.

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