The silhouette of four men installing residential solar paneling on a house

Choosing A Solar Installer: Local vs. National

It’s a basic law of economics that when demand starts to seriously increase the number of suppliers is bound to follow suit.

So, given the enormous growth in the solar energy market, it’s not at all surprising that consumers and business owners alike looking to go solar find themselves with more and more companies to choose.

Nor is it surprising that huge corporations, sensing an opportunity for massive profits, are going into the solar energy business on a nationwide scale.

Because corporations out to dominate a burgeoning market spend an enormous amount on advertising, you may be more likely to think of them. Indeed, their business strategy relies on the fact that most folks will just reflexively call the first name that comes to mind.

But, as with most things, when looking for someone to convert your home or business to solar power it pays not to be lazy. When a company’s strategy for growth is focused entirely on establishing an image, the reality of the service they provide can fail to live up to it.


A Local Installer’s Reputation Is Crucial

The biggest reason local solar providers are likely to do a better job is that they simply can’t afford not to.

Whereas a single bad review won’t impact a company doing business on a national scale, a local firm’s reputation in the small market they service is the only thing keeping it afloat. As such, even one bad installation is going to have serious consequences for a local installer’s bottom line.

In homegrown companies, the person answering the phone, the installation specialist who provides the estimate, the installers, and even the head of the company are all likely to all know one another.

Indeed, having everyone involved in your installation from the first phone call, through the installation process, till the meter is finally turned on working as team to deliver the best possible service has to be the explicit goal of any local company that wants to succeed.

Anyone’s whose been in the unfortunate predicament of having to contact a huge corporation to remedy a problem with one of their products or services, on the other hand, knows that the exact opposite is true. 

Phones are answered by people in another country. They contact employees thousands of miles away whose names they don’t even know. Those employees themselves have no connection to the ones who provided the product or service. And the executives in charge couldn’t be further removed from day-to-day operations if they were living on Mars.

When you choose a local company, you’ll be dealing with human beings in your community working as a team, not a ruthless system spread out across the planet.


Local Knowledge Is Crucial

Converting your home to solar energy involves a lot more than installing panels on your roof. 

Permits have to be secured to make sure the installation meets state, county, and city requirements.

Any alterations to a residential roof are subject to local safety guidelines.

Fire codes stipulating how panels have to be laid out differ from one jurisdiction to another.

A local firm in business to do a lot of installations in your area is much more likely to be on top of all the complex and ever-changing bureaucracy involved than a national firm that makes its money by doing a few installations in many jurisdictions spread out across the country.

If you’re in a Homeowners Association, the requirements can become even more of a burden. Local solar installers develop expertise in working with HOA’s and may even have experience with yours.

But there are local bureaucratic benefits as well as costs. 

Many government incentives exist for homeowners and businesses converting to solar energy. Moreover, the list is constantly changing as old incentives are phased out and new ones are created. 

Incentives provided by local and state authorities and even your local utility company can seriously impact your  return on investment. And, just like building codes, a local company is far more likely to be on top of the incentives relevant to you and, hence, be able to provide a much more accurate estimate of your bottom line.


Building Your Community

Choosing a local solar company gives you a tighter more human relationship to the people you’ll be entrusting with a very serious responsibility and ensures that they’ll be aware of your special circumstances.

It also means investing in your community. From your first phone call to switching on your meter, you’ll be providing a living for people who live, work, and play in your area. And even business profits will wind up getting spent locally and help keep your community thriving.

You might say that going local helps our human environment thrive in just the same way that going solar benefits nature.


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