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Should I go solar in Nigeria through a registered solar company or just contract an installer?

OK, I feel this article is important because often times when we as a company send out quotation to a client, they will wonder why they should use a registered company when there are electricians that may be able to install solar on the roof. I will try as much as possible not to write from the perspective of a company.

We will sincerely look or examine the reason you should actually go through a registered company when you want to go solar.

First of all, this article is not about the techies who want to do it themselves like what you see on YouTube how Americans and Europeans and some Africans will want to install solar by themselves. In other words, I am not trying to discourage anyone who is handy and want to install solar all by themselves.

So we will start by looking at the merits and downside of the two options. After which we make our own recommendation as already stated and you will as well make your own choice.

Advantages of going solar through an Electrician or solar technician:

So let's consider this first, and by solar technician, we mean hiring someone who 'can' install solar panel to do the job instead of consulting a solar or renewable energy company.

  1. More affordable: This is the first advantage. The services of a single installer is usually more affordable and the reason is because his cost of running his business is extremely low. He has no rent to pay or salaries to pay. All this add  up to reduce his charge or cost of providing his service. I must say that this is usually the primary reason people go to them in the first place instead of consulting a solar company.
  2. Faster delivery: This may be debatable as some companies may actually deliver a lot faster than you think. But a dealing with a solar technician will remove all the protocols like sending of Proforma Invoices, series of prior inspections or consultations, replying of emails and sending of emails before an agreement is reached. All you need here is simply to contract your technician and he will go do the job and gather materials as soon as possible.
  3. Dealing with a very familiar person: Most times, this solar technician is your family member, friend, your church or mosque member or your acquaintance and it is very easy to deal with such person or it may even be a way you want to help the person to progress in his craft.

Disadvantages of going solar through an Electrician or solar technician:

  1. Solar is a system that requires the expertise of more than one person: Your solar technician or usually electrician is not sufficient for you to have a good solar system installed. Going solar is a system that requires the know how of more than one person. Most times, electricians who refer to themselves as solar consultants are not expert in things like system sizing and other technicalities needed to get a working solar system solution. Also solar technicians may not be real experienced electricians who can trouble shoot any fault in the home when the need arises.

  2. Quality of products not guaranteed: Dealing with a solar technicians is one of risking going solar with substandard materials like deep cycle batteries and panels. This should not be but most technicians do not really have a reputation to protect since they do not have an office neither are they operating through a registered business name. They usually focus on maximizing profit. Also due to the fact their service is usually very cheap, they tend to go for cheap materials as well which is most times substandard.

  3. Difficult to claim Warranty: This one is even more costly. because you are dealing with one person who goes to various suppliers to purchase components for installations, it will be extremely difficult for you to claim warranty when issue or the need arises. Also, the service of an electrician usually come with a verbal warranty policy with no written document to back it up legally.
  4. Poor Expertise: You will expect poor expertise when dealing with an electrician that claims to be a solar technician because solar system installation is beyond electrical works. A solar technician ideally should also be an electronics engineer with a degree. He should have a good knowledge of semiconductors and electronics. Most solar technicians are only apprentice that learned how to do the job. They are not necessarily experts many of the times.

So that is the major 4's. Now let's take a look at going solar by a renewable energy company.

Disadvantages of going solar through a registered renewable energy company:

 

  1. Slower delivery rate: Dealing with a registered company is like following a due process. Most companies will insist on inspecting your site first, several email communications, confirmation of payment and some bureaucracy. Admittedly, some companies may fasten and optimize their business process. For example, at Wavetra Energy, we have online tools that help customers make faster decision and even have a view of our pricing for some standard unsized installations.
  2. Slightly more expensive: Renewable energy companies will be sightly more expensive because they run a structured business with a lot of in house expertise. This means that their operation cost is higher as they will pay salaries, rents and maintain office costs.
  3. Very formal relationship: Except for a smart company with a robust customer service, dealing with companies looks very formal unlike working with your personal solar technician or electrician.

So what about the merits?

Advantages of going solar through a registered renewable energy company:

  1. Warranty on product and installation guaranteed: Companies themselves are legal entities. When dealing with them, you enjoy real customer protection and you can claim your warranty when thing go wrong. Every good company will honor their word but make sure you understand their warranty policy before placing order. It is easier for these companies to honor their warranty because the product is their brand or they are authorised distributors of a bigger brand that will easily replace a faulty one for them.
  2. Expertise delivered: established spend lots of time and resources to get experts in their respective fields on board. just a single vacancy published online can generate up to 1,000 applicants. These people spend the rest of the time interviewing and sorting to get the best hands for the job. The implication is that you get a professional service most times worth more than what you are actually paid for. We are talking about professionalism from customer service to payment to delivery and installation and support.
  3. Quality Products: Most reputable solar companies only work with quality components. Many of them import their own branded products with their specification or are authorised distributor of a known brand.
  4. Better Support: Companies will definitely provide a better support. They have many resources online and offline to assist you. They also have many experts employed and outsourced to assist you whenever the need arise, unlike a solar technician that may not help because he is engaged elsewhere.

Now you have seen the differences yourself. On a closer valuation, going with an electrician or solar technician may appear cheaper but you will have to pay a lot when their is a failure. You need to understand that Solar installation is a heavy investment that will set you back significantly. You can't afford to gamble with it. You may use your electrician for smaller jobs but for something as complex and costly as expensive as a solar system installation, you should stick to a reputable solar company in Nigeria, USA, Canada or your country.

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