Choosing a Solar Thermal Provider: Competing Bids
Before you choose a solar thermal provider, you may have to choose among a number of bids. Deciding on the one you want is not as simple as choosing the lowest bid. Often, the lowest bidder will give you the worst job. At other times, the lowest bid only means there are hidden costs. Cautions that apply to other purchase prices apply to solar thermal, too.
Be certain you are not comparing apples to oranges. For example, be sure that all the solar thermal bids you have received know what kind of mounting you want: Have they given you a quote for a roof-mounted system instead of ground or pole-mounted?
What is the BTU rating for the solar thermal collectors? Different panels are rated quite differently. Be sure your solar thermal dealer is giving you the system output you need.
You might really only care about the total output of the system. For solar thermal, this is measured in BTU.
Does the solar thermal bid include everything you need? If you want a system that is immediately usable, be sure that is explicitly stated in all bids. Some factors that you may want to be sure are included:
Knowledge is Power
A nonprofit organization called the Solar Rating and Certification Corporation can give you clear benchmarks for comparing solar thermal systems.