Home solar systems are pretty simple: put some solar panels on your roof, wire them up, get connected by your utility, and enjoy cheap electricity for 25+ years. But the technology and options can be confusing – especially as solar salespeople strive to point out differences in their products and services. I’ve watched customer’s eyes glaze over as I talk about the differences between poly and mono crystalline cells, string and micro-inverters, degradation rates and warranties. This only makes comparing solar proposals more difficult.

Solar panels are a commodity sold on a $/watt basis. Many of the solar panels get their cells from the same sources in Asia – just as different brands of gasoline are manufactured in the same refineries. As a result, two homes with the same total wattage of solar panels on the roof with the same exposure will have virtually identical annual energy production.

Listen up to this week’s Energy Show on Renewable Energy World as we talk about a simple way to compare solar proposals and quotes on a dollar per watt basis. We also discuss important home solar contract terms, inverter choices, monitoring, and the ways to pick a good installer.