A Buyer's Guide for Residential Solar Systems

Unlike the engineers and project managers at big utility-scale solar PV arrays, you're not getting paid to research and identify the best possible solar modules for your rooftop solar installation. Although these industry experts might have a bit of an inside track for their solar PV procurement, it doesn't mean you have to blindly pick a product for your residential solar system.

Just like any other major purchase, such as a car or a home, when you begin the process to install a rooftop solar PV system, you'll want to do your homework to ensure you're obtaining the best product at the right price. Be sure to consider these factors before you buy a residential solar PV system:


Partner with a respectable installer

Although you might want to bust out the ladder and get up on your roof, in most instances it's best to leave the installation to a solar professional. Not only do these companies and individuals have the experience and skills necessary to successfully install your solar modules and balance of system, installers also know the local permitting rules and applicable legislation that governs the usage of residential solar modules.


Review your solar PV financing options

Since solar PV systems are long-term investments that pay for themselves over several years, it's important to review the different financing options available. While you can purchase a solar system outright using a loan or cash, you also have other options available to help offset the initial costs as your rooftop solar modules pay themselves off. Each choice comes with its own set of advantages, and it's best to see which options best suits your current and long-term financial goals with your rooftop solar PV system. In addition, depending on where you live, you might qualify for a variety of financing options, which vary from one state to the next.  

PACE programs

As noted by the Solar Energy Information Administration, some states offer Property Assessed Clean Energy(PACE) financing. A residential PACE program places a line item on your property tax bill to repay what you borrowed for the solar PV system. Check to see if your state allows PACE financing options.

Leasing solar PV systems

Another way to finance your rooftop solar PV system includes a lease. In this case, the solar company owns the system, while you lease it and benefit from the power it generates. Some companies allow you to lease it without any upfront costs.

Power Purchase Agreements (PPA)

Instead of entering into a lease for your solar PV system, you can also use a power purchase agreement. In a PPA, a solar company installs the solar system on your property, while you still get to use the electricity produced by the solar system by paying a specified rate set by agreed-upon contractual terms.


Look for quality solar modules

There's a certain persistent myth within the solar industry that the highest prices automatically mean the best product. While there's something to be said about the most expensive solar modules, this doesn't always equate to the best products on the market. Often the higher price is simply to cover the cost of marketing and other promotional activities, and not due to the quality of the panels.

Instead of looking for the most expensive panels, review what solar manufacturers have been ranked by third-party industry organizations, such as the DNV GL PVEL Production Qualification Program. The PQP recently conducted a product certification test for Trina Solar, rating the solar manufacturer as a top performer in the Module Reliability Score Report 2017.  

As a top module provider and one of the most bankable solar companies, Trina Solar drives smart energy together with installers, distributors, utilities and developers around the world. 

Click here to learn more about solar PV modules from Trina Solar.

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