Blog Updated: November 2023
Businesses across the country are discovering the benefits of solar energy, including an attractive return on investment (ROI), increased property value, a clean source of electricity, and the 30% federal tax credit. If you’re ready to see what solar looks like for your commercial property, the first step is to reach out to local installers for a solar consultation. They will be able to provide you with a detailed solar project proposal and answer any solar questions you have.
When you receive these indicative solar project proposals, there are many factors to consider. Each solar consultation comes with different assumptions, equipment, and scopes of work. Below are a few considerations to help you evaluate your solar project proposals with tips for how to identify a reliable solar partner.
Look at the solar company’s project portfolio. What clients have they worked with? Do they have experience with similar companies or projects? (For example, here is Namaste Solar’s project portfolio.)
A quality contractor uses quality equipment. Look for a solar company that only utilizes tier 1 solar panel manufacturers to help ensure the quality of your solar system. Also, consider whether the solar contractor is tied to a single solar panel vendor or if they have the flexibility to choose the best panels for your specific project needs.
Pay close attention to what is and is not included in your solar proposal. A turnkey solar project will include design, modeling, engineering, permits, installation, roofer coordination on warranty, code-required safety equipment, interconnection and associated applications, procurement, taxes, and quality assurance. Partnering with an installer with all these capabilities will save you money and hassle in the long term.
Rigor of Modeling
An in-depth financial analysis begins with robust utility analysis, capacity assessments, and solar energy production modeling. While many of these inputs are easily known – like roof space and historic energy usage – others are informed by years of project experience. When talking to a solar company, ask about how they model projections. Are their projections generally conservative or aggressive? Do they have a reputation for value-engineering systems?
Where Are They Based?
Are they a local company with detailed knowledge of local regulations and incentives? You are choosing a partner for your solar project, a two- to three-decade asset. They should be responsive and focused on finding the right solutions for your needs.
The lifetime value of your commercial solar system will be strongly affected by the future cost of energy from utilities. Each kilowatt hour (kWh) of solar energy your system generates is one less kWh that you buy from the utility company, and as utility costs increase, the value of energy from solar increases, too. Namaste Solar uses energy cost projections from the Energy Information Administration, a data set collected in Colorado for over the last 15 years.
Return on Investment Analysis
Are you comparing apples to apples? A cash deal will never present the same as a financed deal. And more importantly, return on investment (ROI) is merely a snapshot of economic viability. Complex internal rate of return (IRR) analysis with dozens of variables is needed to properly assess the viability of your solar project, so beware of any simple ROI analysis with only four or five variables.
Service and Maintenance
Does the company have dedicated service teams? Are there licensed electricians on staff? Is operations and maintenance included in your contact? Look for a local company that will be a stable, long-term partner for your solar project.
Get Your Free Solar Project Proposal
Namaste Solar’s purpose is to transform energy and transform business. Our experienced solar advisers will work with you to understand your project goals, timelines, and milestones. Take a look at our extensive commercial experience and see how we measure up. Contact one of our non-commissioned solar experts today to start a conversation.