While generating power from the sun is without cost, the technology behind this process is not. The reality is that solar panels are an investment, much like a home, that has an upfront cost but pays off in the long term. The installation can be compared to a small construction project and each module contains multiple parts to make everything run smoothly. So, how does a homeowner ensure that taking a chance on clean energy solutions will be worthwhile?

There are four key areas for homeowners to evaluate when determining which solar provider will be the right fit for them. These factors can make or break the value of a solar system and determine how beneficial it will be for a homeowner.

1. Degradation

An investment is only good for the lifetime of the item being invested in. While homeowners should choose durable solar modules, there is one important factor that can be easily overlooked. Degradation is the rate at which a solar panel loses its production capabilities over time. Because solar panels sit on top of a homeowner’s roof, they are exposed to various types of weathering and temperature changes. These changes can cause the solar panels to expand and contract, adding stress to the cells inside. Conventional solar cells often crack and break under pressure, leaving them to produce less energy over time. SunPower solar cells are made differently. Designed with a durable copper backing to prevent damage, SunPower’s solar cells are better positioned to withstand the factors that often cause conventional solar panels to degrade at a quicker rate. When it comes down to it, SunPower solar panels last longer, providing homeowners with decades of high-efficiency solar energy.

2. Warranty

Not all warranties are created equal. To truly protect your solar investment, you need to ensure your solar equipment is fully covered. Sure, some companies might have a decent-looking warranty at first glance but solar companies come and go. If a company goes out of business, the warranty will become void, and that’s not helpful for anyone. To feel truly confident that your investment is covered, you should choose a company that has stood the test of time. SunPower has been serving the solar industry for over 36 years and we’re here to stay.

It’s that experience that has led SunPower to work out ways to develop products that better serve our homeowners, including how we build our systems. In general, a solar system is comprised of many different working pieces. For many solar companies, that means things can get complicated. That is, unless you own a SunPower solar system. SunPower solar equipment comes from one company. That means every single piece of a SunPower solar system is covered by the most comprehensive 25-year warranty in the solar industry. Homeowners don’t have to worry about going to various manufacturers to get their solar system fixed, they only need to rely on one company—SunPower.

3. ITC

The federal solar investment tax credit (ITC) is a great benefit to homeowners looking to adopt renewable energy. This advantage enables homeowners to receive a tax credit on a percentage of the total installed cost of their solar system. And the great news is that the ITC was extended early in 2021. Previously planned to zero out in 2022, this was expected to be the last year homeowners could receive this tax credit at a lower percentage of 22%. But the extension has bumped this tax credit back to 26% for the time being, with projections to drop back down to 22% in 2023. This recent increase positions 2021 as the perfect time to begin a solar installation because homeowners can take advantage of the full ITC amount.

4. Efficiency

When it comes to saving money, solar panel efficiency matters. SunPower has the most efficient panels on the market* and requires less rooftop space to meet a homeowner’s energy needs. In fact, SunPower solar panels produce 55% more energy over 25 years than conventional panels within the same space. This makes SunPower solar panels a great solution for compact roof sizes and allows space for further expansion.

Specifically designed with a unique light-trapping surface, SunPower solar panels can generate sunlight from ultraviolet and infrared rays. With the ability to trap all of this light, many homeowners have found that their solar systems have produced enough energy to shave serious dollars off of their utility bills.

The Bottom Line

When it comes down to it, the cost of a solar system is just one part of the equation. Homeowners who take the time to truly identify what makes a solar system valuable will reap the biggest benefits. And they don’t have to figure this out on their own. One thing that makes SunPower unique is its expansive network of dealers across the nation. These dealers are local experts that are specifically trained on the ins and outs of solar power and are actively engaged within their respective communities. They work directly with homeowners to design and install solar systems that will fully meet a home’s energy needs. SunPower dealers can ensure that you are taking full advantage of your solar system. To find one near you, check out our dealer locator tool.

This post originally appeared on the SunPower Resource Blog