The Difference in Working With a Solar EPC vs. a Non-EPC

solar panel on table with planning set

There’s no denying solar energy is booming these days and companies are popping up everywhere. Chances are you’ve come into contact with some form of solar company; whether you’ve been actively researching solar energy benefits, had someone knock on your door to talk to you about solar, or spent any amount of time on social media only to be inundated with solar advertisements (some with vague or misleading claims).

However, the term “solar company” can be a pretty vague description of the services provided as not all solar companies are set up to be a one-stop-shop for your solar energy needs. In fact, some companies are actually just lead generators or sales companies and don’t perform any of the actual work or hold any electrical license, as we’ll discuss in more detail. With an investment as big as solar energy, you want to be sure that you know who and what you are working with to make the transition as smooth as possible.

What is an EPC Solar Company (sometimes called vertically integrated solar company)?

An Engineering, Procurement, and Construction (EPC) solar company is a term mostly used in the commercial solar industry, but has been adopted for residential solar to describe a company that provides end-to-end services that include consultive sales, designing your system, equipment procurement, project management, solar panel installation, and reliable support should maintenance or warranty claims be required. With an EPC solar company, you can expect to work with a single company throughout the entire project and beyond. An EPC solar company typically does not subcontract or outsource any of their work, opting to handle everything in-house. While an EPC solar company may not offer their own financing options, they typically have close partnerships with lenders and can provide easy financing options with their products and services.

Solar lead generators, brokers, dealers, and more.

Did you know the solar company you’re interacting with might not even be the company that does the actual work on your solar panel system? Scary thought, we know. When you fill out a form online asking you to “qualify for solar”, there’s a good chance your information is being collected and sold to another company as a lead. A good way to check whether you’re providing your information to a lead generator is to do a quick search for that company’s name and see if there are any reviews. No reviews are a good indication you’re looking at a solar lead generator, as they tend to come and go or change names frequently.

But what about brokers and dealers? A broker is an organization that works to compare solar companies and proposals for you in exchange for a commission. There are several online platforms that offer this service and it may be a good option for someone who does not feel confident in their ability to compare and choose a solar company to work with.

Solar dealers are companies that sell equipment and services on behalf of another company or hold the warranty while outsourcing or subcontracting out the engineering, project management, solar panel installation, or even service work. Solar dealers have become increasingly prevalent because of the low barriers to entry; it requires little to no infrastructure as they can sell solar energy systems and find a solar installer to perform the work. As a consumer, this can make it difficult to determine the quality of the work that will be completed as it is dependent on who the sub-contractor is and the relationship between the two companies. Always ask your solar advisor about the scope of work, and who will be performing it. Make sure to research any sub-contractors as well to see what experiences others have had using them. You’ll also want to consider any potential complications down the road and get a clear understanding of who is responsible for any service or warranty work, as well as the potential risk involved with the solar dealer not sticking around.

Here’s a visual example of the difference in the process of working with a vertically integrated solar EPC vs. a company that subcontracts their work.

Solar EPCs Non-EPC solar subcontractor

As you can see, we’ve got everything covered with the help of our solar financing partner. Positive Energy Solar manages your solar project in-house to ensure quality, ease of doing business, and performance. After you get your solar installed, we are here to be of support with any services you need beyond installation, including a dedicated service department.

With other solar companies, you may find yourself responding to an ad that is actually a lead generator that will sell your information to several companies that will contact you with a bid. Your financing, installation, engineering, and solar design may also be subcontracted, making it harder for you to know what work is being done, and by whom. That can quickly turn into a lot of cooks in one solar-powered kitchen.

Types of Solar Companies

Looking for a quick reference guide to understanding and comparing solar companies? Here’s a breakdown of the different types of solar companies out there:

  • Solar Equipment Manufacturers: These companies manufacture solar panels but most do not provide installation services or financing.
  • Solar Finance Companies: These companies help provide financing when you’re looking to purchase your solar energy system. They typically partner with solar dealers and solar installers.
  • Solar Lead Generation Companies: These companies generate leads for other solar companies. They act as a marketing & advertising firm for solar but do not represent a single company.
  • Solar Dealers: These companies can sell solar products and services on behalf of another company. They typically hire 1099 independent contractors as their sales team and then have a subcontractor perform the work.
  • Solar Installers (subcontractors): These companies strictly install solar panels for other solar dealers who have hired them to perform the work.
  • Solar Brokers: Like a Real Estate broker, solar brokers do your shopping for you. They provide you with multiple bids on solar as opposed to a lead generation company that will sell your contact information to multiple solar companies that bid to you.
  • Solar EPCs (vertically integrated, turn-key solar installer): These solar companies handle every step of the solar process from advertising, sale, design & project management, to installation and servicing.

If you’re looking for a vertically integrated EPC solar company in New Mexico, Positive Energy Solar provides a proven track record and takes care of everything for you, making the switch to solar easy and providing lasting value and peace of mind. To learn more, schedule a free consultation today!