When choosing a solar installation company to service your San Francisco home, there are several important things to keep in mind. The median San Francisco household size is 1,639 square feet; this factor will drive what size solar system is best for your home. And with 6,520 solar companies in the area, you can better understand the number of options you’ll have when choosing an installer.
In addition to house size and solar companies in the area, here are some other essential consideration factors to keep in mind when looking for a solar installation company in San Francisco.
Size of the System You Need
An important part of solar installation is determining what size system, or how many solar panels, will work best for your home. To best determine how many solar panels you’ll need, be ready to give companies the following information:
- How much available space is on your roof
- The amount of energy your household uses
- The average number of hours of sun that your home receives
- The wattage and relative efficiency of the photovoltaic (PV) the type of solar panels you want to install
Finally, be sure to inform the company of the number of people that reside in your home.
San Francisco has three people in the average household, so many installers will use this number as a benchmark for how much solar energy your home will require.
Solar companies offer different warranties on their products and services, but you can find some common themes among the most prominent companies. For example, most solar companies and vendors offer 25-year warranties for solar panel performance and factory defects. Warranties for other elements, such as battery and charge controllers, vary depending on the item and the manufacturer.
You may find that some companies also include extra insurance and protection options for situations like property damage during installation, since the installation process involves altering your existing structures to accommodate the technology and wiring. Workmanship guarantees usually come standard, but coverage length can vary as well.
If you plan to lease your solar system, most companies will cover all issues throughout the contract duration. Also, they will typically take responsibility for solar system maintenance.
Types of Solar Warranties
- Manufacturer’s Equipment Warranty (Product Guarantee): Also called a product warranty, a manufacturer’s equipment warranty usually offers 25 years of protection for premium, high-quality solar panels and covers manufacturing defects and panel failure.
- Performance Warranty (Power Guarantee): A power guarantee is a promise from the manufacturer that your solar panels will maintain an output of a specified percentage of their original levels. Typical performance warranties range from 10 to 25 years and promise percentages of around 90% after 10 years and about 80% after 25 years.
- Workmanship Warranty: A workmanship or installation warranty covers any damage to your solar energy system caused during or as a result of installation. Coverages have a wide range from two to 15 years or more.
Solar Panel Type
Determining which type of solar panels will best suit your lifestyle is an important part of choosing an installation company. For residential use, there are typically three solar panel options: monocrystalline, polycrystalline and thin-film. A fourth option, solar shingles, are newer and less cost-effective. But if money is less of an obstacle, solar roofing shingles are great for those who prefer a sleeker finished look.
Monocrystalline solar panels: These are the most frequently installed panels, boasting the highest efficiency rating of 20% or higher with warranties that typically last 25 years. Monocrystalline panels tend to cost the most upfront, as it costs more to manufacture them.
Polycrystalline solar panels: This panel option is typically less costly to build than its monocrystalline counterpart, making it cheaper to buy but also less efficient. Each panel produces about 250 watts of power instead of 300 or more. Polycrystalline panels resemble the more popular versions, though, and last nearly as long depending on the brand.
Thin-film solar panels: The most cost-effective option, thin-film solar panels are much lighter in comparison. They tend to be less efficient overall.
Solar shingles: For those with larger budgets, solar shingles may be the way to go. While they tend to be less efficient than monocrystalline panels (they have between 14% and 18% efficiency), shingles are a more attractive option.
Monocrystalline solar panels are pricey, costing an average of $1 to $1.50 per watt. On the other side of the price spectrum, thin-film panels cost between $0.43 and $0.50 per watt.
Shingles are a newer technology and accordingly cost more money and require a more in-depth installation.
San Francisco Home Energy Needs
Based on the size of the median San Francisco household, which is 1,639 square feet, and the average energy usage per household in California, which is 542 kWh per household you can estimate how much energy your home might require. This information can help you determine which solar company can best take care of your home’s needs within your budget.
How to Find the Best San Francisco Solar Installers
Know what your household needs most when it comes to solar panels (perhaps an affordable price range or a certain amount of daily wattage), and ensure that each installation company knows as well. The following tips will further help you choose the best solar company in San Francisco.
Get Multiple Quotes
When you’re in the market for solar panels, price shopping is imperative. Costs can drastically differ from company to company, so by shopping around and getting multiple quotes (at least four or five) you can better understand what it costs to install solar in your area and then make an informed decision on who to work with. And remember, the lowest quote isn’t always the best one. If it sounds too good to be true, it probably is.
Read Reviews From San Francisco Homeowners
Customer reviews are usually the most helpful when learning more about a solar installation company. Websites like Google and Facebook can provide reviews and testimonials from the company’s past clients. If the reviews are overwhelmingly negative, it may be worth it to request more information directly from the company in question.
Choose an Established Reputable Solar Company
The solar space is full of installers, some with long standing reputations, and some that are new to the scene. While newer companies are just as worthy of your consideration, you’ll likely be able to learn more about an older, more established company that has many past clients and lots of online reviews.
In addition to that, an older and more reputable company may service more areas and have more installers than a newer company just getting started.