OVERALL ASSESSMENT: Solsmart did a quality installation of our 7540W Microfit Solar panel including grid hookup. I highly recommend them. Very few issues to report and they delivered more than promised.
THE JOB: We contacted Solsmart and 3 other companies to quote on the installation of solar panels on our home. Solsmart responded very quickly and provided a detailed quote with all pertinent information including references and insurance details. Based on satellite imaging they claimed they could install 34 panels for a 8500W system. which was 2000W more than the nearest competitor. In the end they could only fit 29 panels for contracted size of 7250W but honoured their original cost per Watt price. We chose to go with 250W Panasonic panels (made in Ontario by Eclipsal) and Enphase microinverters. Either Solsmart or Panasonic upgraded panels to 260W at no cost providing an extra 290W capacity (I believe this was due to product shortages). Solsmart took care of all paperwork including applications, permits, inspections and hookups. They worked within our budget constraints. They completed the work with all required hardware and installed, at no extra cost, a squirrel guard to prevent nesting under the panels.
QUALITY OF WORK: As far as I can tell work quality was excellent. Mounts correctly went into rafters and there are no signs of water leaks even after the torrential rains of July 2013.
WORK AREA APPEARANCE AND CLEANUP: No issues to report. Clean up was efficient and thorough.
SCHEDULING: No Scheduling issues to report. They met or exceeded all commitments.
COMMUNICATION: By far Solsmart had the best offer in terms of information provided including extra potential operating costs I might expect (i.e. fees, insurance, etc). Our sales representative, Peter, provided lots of additional information and patiently answered many questions. Our communication with the management team was uneven but generally excellent. Solsmart was able to clearly indicate why they offered a superior service. On the negative side, I have a little less confidence the assessment of our projected electricity generation was sufficiently studied. Solsmart provided projection numbers but never talked about potential issues caused by shading, for example. Only time will tell if the projections are accurate but I have some concern they may have been too optimistic.
COMPANY ASSESSMENT: Solsmart has both good Homestar ratings and an A+ BBB rating. They have been in the solar business longer than the Microfit program has been in existence and appear to be committed to staying in business after the program winds down. They appear to be well run. Their employees are very motivated and polite (when asked, one said he had the best job in Ontario). I believe they are honest and ethical.
VALUE FOR MONEY: Solsmart’s quote was middle of the pack but I believe they provide excellent quality for the money.
BOTTOM LINE: As part of my research I communicated with multiple clients all of whom where resounding in support of the company. I also spoke with suppliers who indicated the company was one of the best in the province. I wish they gave me more confidence I could rely on the projections they provided and I was concerned about how far off they were on installation size. I would have prefered they under promise and over deliver. However, overall based on my experience and what I have learned I have no reservations recommending Solsmart.
GENERAL COMMENTS: The solar industry is still developing in Ontario and as such there are both good and bad practices. One of my concerns is the industry as a whole slags their competition and generates fear and uncertainty in the process. While accusations may be valid the negativity tarnishes the whole industry and may turn off potential investment. Unfortunately, no company seems to be immune from this practice. I hope the industry can learn to exist without this negativity. I also believe the FIT and MicroFit programs are good for the long term health of the Ontario economy. As a participant I have put up the money, taken the risk and hope to receive a modest return on my investment. In the process, I have help support good companies like Solsmart and others to develop new technologies and services and eventually generate tax revenue in the process. I hope we as a province can recognize this benefit.
FIRST YEAR RESULTS
In the first year of production I have had no issue with either the installation or equipment. Actual output was 6.5MWh compared to a promised 9.0MWHh (72%). The lower output can be attributed to shading due to nearby trees and roof layout and fixtures plus an overly harsh winter when no energy was produced.