Go local to go solar: your best choice for great value

June 5, 2013

Contributed by Laura Goldman

Sonoma County Gazette, April 2013

When you decide to go solar, the choice that makes the most sense is close to home. Here’s why: You want a business you can trust to be your long-term partner in power generation, one with your best interests in mind, and a solid reputation for doing excellent solar work in your community.

Go for an established local solar provider whose work you respect, and who’s known for taking great care of customers. Select a member of the community, someone you may see at a local store or around town. Before making a commitment, find out who you’re doing business with, and the level of quality and service you will get before, during and after installation.

If you’re promised a solar deal that seems too good to be true, find out details before making a possibly costly mistake. For highest value and lasting satisfaction, your true best deal is a local, reputable solar business.

Here are some pointers to help guide your decision:

Experience and Expertise

  • How many years has the business operated, and how long have they been doing solar installations? How many and what type of installations have they done in your neighborhood or community? Does the business do all work “in house” to ensure accountability and quality?
  • Does the business hold a solar design and installation license, and is it in good standing? (Contractors State License Board website: www.cslb.ca.gov )
  • Who owns the business and where are “headquarters” for customer service when you want or need support, assistance or answers?
  • What training and certification do staff have?  (Watch out for “rent an installer” types!)

Quality of Equipment

  • Which solar panels and inverters are used and what warranty is provided? (Verify quality, and ensure your contract guarantees quick response time for warranty calls!)

Customer Satisfaction

  • Does the business provide many customer references you can check out, and contact information so you can speak with satisfied customers?

Commitment to Community

  • How does the business give back to the community? What kind of involvement do they have with local organizations and good works?
  • Does the business hire locally and provide employees a living wage and benefits?
  • Does the business help strengthen local self’-reliance, and consider the local economy and environment in their buying and business practices?

If you’re satisfied with what you find in a solar business, you’ve likely decided to Go Local when you Go Solar. Be informed, and work with a local provider that does well by doing good in and for the community. That way, you know you’re getting a trustworthy, long-lasting great deal when you have the sun produce your electricity!

Laura Goldman is co-owner of Solar Works, established in 1986 by John Parry, her husband and FSL – Fearless Solar Leader. Solar Works is an award-winning solar design and installation business based in Sebastopol, and a certified B Corporation and Go Local member. www.solarworksca.com