The Ultimate Guide to Choosing the Best Solar Company for Your Homestead

Though many homesteaders choose to DIY their solar, messing with electricity can be scary. And maybe you want to leave all of that stress to the professionals. We don’t blame you. Picking a company to entrust with your solar project can be tricky, though. After going through this process ourselves, we’ve got some advice for choosing the best solar company for your homestead.

solar company 1
Photo by Kindel Media

Introduction to solar energy and solar companies

We know you probably know the basics about solar, but here’s a little refresher, just in case.

What is solar energy?

The sun’s energy is abundant, renewable, and environmentally friendly, making it a highly sought-after alternative to traditional fossil fuels, especially for homesteaders. The term “solar energy” refers to the radiant light and heat emitted by the sun that can be harnessed and converted into usable energy.  

Solar energy can be captured through solar panels, also known as photovoltaic (PV) panels, which convert sunlight into electricity. These panels are typically installed on rooftops or in open areas where they can receive maximum exposure to sunlight.

Why choose solar energy?

Choosing solar energy over staying on the power grid offers oodles of benefits. First and foremost, solar energy is a clean and sustainable source of power that reduces our reliance on fossil fuels, combatting climate change and reducing air pollution. Who doesn’t love clean air?

Solar energy also provides energy independence, allowing homeowners and businesses to generate their own electricity and reduce their reliance on the grid. Finally, solar energy can result in significant long-term cost savings, since it reduces or eliminates monthly electricity bills and can even generate surplus energy that can be sold back to the grid. This is called net metering.

What are solar companies?

Solar companies are specialized firms that design, install and maintain solar energy systems for residential, commercial, and industrial clients. The pros, in other words. These companies have the expertise and experience to assess a property’s solar potential, recommend the most suitable solar solutions and ensure the efficient installation and operation of solar panels. 

Pro tip:
Solar companies also assist with obtaining necessary permits and paperwork, provide financing options, and offer maintenance and repair services. They are crucial in making solar energy accessible and hassle-free for ya.

Benefits of hiring the best solar company

Man carrying a solar panel.
Photo by Kindel Media

When considering a solar energy system, it is essential to work with the best solar companies in the industry. We touched on some of the benefits already, but here they are rounded up for you: 

  1. Expertise and experience: Top solar companies have a wealth of knowledge and experience designing and installing solar energy systems. They stay up-to-date with industry advancements and can provide tailored solutions to meet specific energy needs.
  2. Quality assurance: The best solar company prioritizes using high-quality solar panels and equipment. They ensure that the components used in the installation are durable, efficient and backed by warranties.
  3. Streamlined installation process: Hiring reputable solar companies ensures a smooth and hassle-free installation (in most cases). Their technicians are trained professionals who adhere to industry standards and best practices, ensuring your solar system is installed safely and efficiently.
  4. Access to financing options: Top solar companies often offer various financing options to make solar energy more affordable if you don’t have the funds to pay out-of-pocket. These options include solar loans, lease agreements, or power purchase agreements (PPAs), allowing customers to access solar energy with minimal upfront costs.
  5. Maintenance and support: The best solar companies provide ongoing maintenance and support services to ensure the optimal performance of the solar energy system. This includes regular inspections, cleaning (yes, they need to be cleaned) and any necessary repairs or replacements.

Factors to consider when choosing a solar company

Selecting the right solar company, of course, ensures a successful solar energy installation. Here are some factors that you should consider when choosing a solar company. 

Solar company experience and expertise

One of the first factors to consider is the experience and expertise of the solar company. Look for companies that have a proven track record in the industry and a solid portfolio of successful solar installations. Experienced companies are more likely to have the necessary knowledge and skills to handle the complexities of solar energy systems and ensure a smooth installation process. 

Additionally, consider the expertise of the company’s staff. Look for solar companies that employ trained professionals, such as engineers, electricians, and installers, with the necessary certifications and qualifications. These experts can assess your energy needs, design an efficient solar system and address any technical challenges that may arise during the installation. And since you live on a homestead, you know there will be special challenges. For example, will this system power my chicken coop or greenhouse?

How do you get the scoop on how well these solar companies do their job? Go to sites like Yelp and ConsumerAffairs to see reviews from real customers.

Licensing, certifications and rep

No amateurs allowed. If you wanted an amateur, you could have let your weird Uncle Jack install your solar system. When evaluating solar companies, make sure that they hold the appropriate licenses and certifications. Check if the company is licensed by the relevant regulatory bodies in your region. A valid license indicates that the company meets the necessary standards and requirements for operating as a solar energy provider.

In addition to licenses, certifications from industry organizations demonstrate a company’s commitment to quality and professionalism. Look for certifications such as the North American Board of Certified Energy Practitioners (NABCEP) certification, which is highly regarded in the solar industry. These certifications validate that the company’s employees have undergone rigorous training and possess the technical expertise needed for solar installations.

Additionally, consider the company’s reputation within the industry. Look for awards or recognition they may have received for their work. A reputable solar company with positive customer reviews and industry recognition is more likely to provide a high level of service and customer satisfaction. If you’re looking at a local solar company, check with the Chamber of Commerce to see if they have received any complaints about the company.

Man in hardhat drilling a solar panel into place.
Photo by Gustavo Fring

Range of solar products and services

Friend, you need options. Consider the range of solar products and services the company offers before signing up. A reputable solar company should provide a diverse selection of solar panels, inverters, batteries and other components from trusted manufacturers. They should also offer various system sizes and configurations to meet your very particular energy needs on the homestead.

In addition to installation, many solar companies offer additional services such as energy audits, solar system monitoring and energy storage solutions. These services can enhance the overall performance and efficiency of your solar energy system. Assessing the range of products and services a company offers can help you determine if they can meet your specific requirements.

Quality of solar panels and equipment

The quality of solar panels and equipment used by a solar company is a critical factor to consider. High-quality components ensure the longevity and efficiency of your solar system. Look for companies that partner with reputable manufacturers known for producing reliable and durable solar panels. Right off the bat, the company should offer monocrystalline panels, which are the most efficient and durable.


A strong warranty indicates the company’s confidence in the quality and performance of its products. Pay attention to the warranty terms and coverage, including the duration, coverage for defects and performance guarantees. 

Most high-quality companies warranty their systems for 20 to 25 years. Make sure to peek at the percentage of the efficiency the warranty covers. For example, a warranty may state that it guarantees 90% production for 10 years and 80% at 25 years.

Financing options and incentives

Solar installations can require a significant upfront investment, so it’s important to consider the financing options and incentives solar companies provide. Look for companies that offer flexible financing options such as solar loans, lease agreements, or power purchase agreements (PPAs). These options can help make solar energy more affordable and accessible, allowing you to pay for the system over time or only pay for the energy produced.

Additionally, inquire about the incentives and rebates available in your region. Many governments and utility companies offer financial incentives, tax credits or net metering programs to encourage the adoption of solar energy. A knowledgeable solar company should be able to guide you through the various incentives and help you maximize your savings.

Researching and comparing solar companies

Researching and comparing different solar companies is a crucial step in finding the best fit for your solar energy needs. Here are some strategies and tools to help you gather information, evaluate options, and make an informed decision.

Gather information

Start by gathering information about different solar companies operating in your area. This can be done through online research, local directories, industry associations, and recommendations from friends, family, or neighbors who have installed solar systems. Create a list of potential companies to evaluate further.

Make sure to visit the websites of the solar companies on your list. Company websites often provide valuable information about their services, experience, certifications and customer testimonials. Take note of their service areas, as some solar companies may have geographic limitations.

Check online reviews and ratings

As we mentioned before, online reviews and ratings are a powerful tool for evaluating the reputation and customer satisfaction of solar companies. Look for reviews on trusted platforms like Google, Yelp, ConsumerAffairs or the Better Business Bureau. These platforms allow customers to share their experiences and provide insights into the quality of service offered by different solar companies.

Don’t be a Negative Nancy! Pay attention to both positive and negative reviews, as they can give you a balanced perspective. Look for recurring themes in the reviews, such as professionalism, installation quality and customer support. Consider the overall rating of the company and the number of reviews to gauge their credibility.

Request and compare quotes to find the best solar company

Contact the solar companies on your list and request quotes for your solar energy system. Provide them with relevant information such as your location, energy consumption and any specific requirements you may have. A detailed quote should include the size of the system, equipment specifications, installation costs and any available financing options. 

Pro tip:
Make sure to get your quotes in writing! Slick salesmen will try to get you to agree to everything over a phone call. Don’t let them!

Once you receive quotes from different companies, compare them side by side. Look beyond the total cost and consider factors such as the quality of equipment, warranty coverage and included services. Evaluating these details will give you a better understanding of the value offered by each company.

Evaluate solar company websites

Best solar company: Sunpower is one of the best.
Photo by DIY Homesteading 101

Solar company websites can provide handy-dandy insights into their expertise, offerings and customer-centric approach. When evaluating a company’s website, ponder over the following:

  • Certifications and partnerships: Check if the company holds relevant certifications from recognized organizations such as NABCEP. Additionally, see if they have partnerships with reputable manufacturers, which indicates their commitment to using high-quality equipment.
  • Testimonials and case studies: Read customer testimonials or case studies featured on the website. These stories can provide insights into the company’s professionalism, installation process and overall customer satisfaction. Be wary, though. They may only post the good ones.

Educational resources: Consider if the company provides educational resources like blog posts, guides, or FAQs. This demonstrates their commitment to educating customers and empowering them to make informed decisions.

Seek recommendations and referrals

Reach out to friends, family, or neighbors who have already installed solar systems and ask for their recommendations. They can provide firsthand insights into their experience with different solar companies. Inquire about the installation process, customer service and overall satisfaction with their solar energy system.

Additionally, ask the solar companies you are considering for references from past customers. Contact these references to gain a deeper understanding of their experience with the company. Ask about their overall satisfaction, the installation process, and any post-installation support they received.

Interview solar company representatives

Consider scheduling interviews or consultations with representatives from the solar companies on your shortlist. This will allow you to ask specific questions and get a better sense of their expertise, professionalism, and customer service. Prepare a list of questions about their experience, certifications, warranties, financing options and post-installation support.

During the interview, pay attention to how the representative responds to your questions and concerns. A knowledgeable and attentive representative will provide clear and thorough answers, demonstrating their commitment to customer satisfaction.

Use this cheat sheet to assess a solar company’s experience, services, warranties, and overall suitability for your solar energy project.

Questions to ask to find the best solar company:

  1. How long have you been in business? Inquire about the company’s experience in the solar industry. A company with a solid track record and years of experience will likely have the expertise and knowledge necessary for a successful solar installation.
  2. Are you licensed and insured? Ensure that the solar company has the licenses and insurance to operate legally. This protects you from any liability in case of accidents or damages during the installation process.
  3. What solar products and services do you offer? Ask about the range of solar products and services the company provides. This includes the types of solar panels, inverters and other components they offer, as well as any additional services such as energy audits or system monitoring.
  4. Can you provide references from past customers? Request references from previous customers who have had solar installations with the company. Contact these references to gain insights into their experience, the quality of the installation, and the overall satisfaction with the company’s services.
  5. Do you provide financing options? Inquire about the financing options available. Ask if the company offers solar loans, lease agreements or power purchase agreements (PPAs) to help make solar energy more affordable for customers.
  6. What warranties do you offer? Ask about the warranty coverage for both the equipment and the installation workmanship. Pay attention to the duration of the warranty, coverage for defects and any performance guarantees.
  7. How do you handle maintenance and repairs? Inquire about the company’s approach to maintenance and repairs. Ask if they offer ongoing maintenance services and how they handle any necessary repairs or equipment replacements.
  8. What is your customer support process? Ask about their response time, communication channels, and the availability of dedicated customer support representatives.
  9. Do you assist with permits and paperwork? Determine if the solar company assists with obtaining necessary permits and handling paperwork related to the installation process. This ensures compliance with local regulations and eases the administrative burden for you.
  10. What is your installation process? Ask about the timeline, equipment preparation, safety measures and any requirements from your end to facilitate a smooth installation.

Compare quotes and proposals

Review the quotes and proposals you received from the solar companies on your shortlist. Take a close look at the details, including the system size, equipment specifications, installation costs, warranties and any financing options. Consider the overall value each company offers and how well their proposal aligns with your specific energy needs.

Pro tip:
Create a comparison table or spreadsheet to help you visualize and compare the key aspects of each proposal. This will make it easier to identify the differences and select the best option for your solar energy project.

Finalize the contract

Once you have selected the solar company you wish to work with, it’s time to finalize the contract. Review the contract carefully, ensuring that all the agreed-upon terms, including the system size, equipment details, installation timeline and total cost, are accurately reflected. Pay attention to any cancellation policies, warranty terms and any other important clauses. Make sure to ask questions if you have any. Don’t wait until after you sign!

Understand financing and payment terms

Two men in hardhats looking at quotes.
Photo by Gustavo Fring

If you have opted for a financing option, carefully review the terms and conditions associated with it. Understand the payment schedule, interest rates and any additional fees or charges. Ensure that you are comfortable with the financial obligations and that they align with your budget and long-term financial goals.

If you have chosen to pay upfront, clarify the payment terms and any required deposits. Understand when payments are due and ensure that they align with the project timeline.

Schedule the solar installation

Coordinate with the solar company to schedule the installation of your solar energy system. Work with them to determine the best date and time for the installation, considering factors such as weather conditions and your availability.

Prepare your property for installation by clearing any obstructions and ensuring that the designated area for the solar panels is accessible. Follow any instructions provided by the solar company to ensure a smooth installation process. Don’t forget to pen up any wandering animals too.

Monitor and maintain your solar system

Once the installation is complete and your solar energy system is up and running, it’s important to establish a plan for monitoring and maintaining it. Regularly monitor the system’s performance using your online control panel or app. A dip in efficiency can mean that the panels need cleaning or that they are damaged.

Follow the maintenance recommendations provided by the solar company, which may include periodic cleaning, inspections and maintenance checks. Stay in touch with the company for any necessary repairs or replacements, especially during the warranty period.

Pro tip:
Don’t attempt any quick fixes yourself without checking with the company. You may void the warranty.