I’ve been thinking about getting solar panels put on the house for a while, but never really got around to actually doing it until now. Part of the delay was that I expected the total system cost to be significantly higher than where it ended up. The last time I looked into it, none of the online tools I used included Illinois’ incentive scheme, which massively reduced the system cost. Maybe I wasn’t checking the right boxes, or it’s new program, or perhaps I was just using the wrong estimator tools, but I’m glad I checked into it again (at least for now :)).
The bidding process was quite interesting, with vastly different levels of attention to detail, panel counts, and vendor feel. Some of the bids were great, I could tell that they put the work in, and were thorough and professional. Where others were very much back-of-the-envelop affairs. Interestingly, the more professional the bid, the less used-car-salesperson the interaction felt.
I received five bids, and ended up going with Certasun. There were a variety of reasons behind this, but it mostly came down to it being the most believable (i.e. no panels in the shade), with a solid, efficient panel and monitoring solution. Of course it didn’t hurt that the salesperson we worked with was a nice person. If you’re considering a similar project, let me know, they have a referral system which benefits both parties. I’m also happy to discuss the other vendors we considered, but would prefer to do that in a less public way, so email me for that.
Also, while the hackability of the system didn’t play a role in the choice, it was nice to know that someone has already done some work in that area. I hope to document both the install process, experience, and post install messing about with the system. So if there’s anything you’d like to know about any of that drop a comment below or send me an email.