Many solar shoppers believe that six or more bids will YIELD the most competitive price. Think again.

Warning! Putting out a call for multiple bids can be HAZARDOUS to the health of your solar project and your reputation.

If you’re independently shopping for solar or another renewable energy purchase, be forewarned; casting out lines for multiple bids is like shopping for a discount brain surgeon.  Why?  Think about it folks.  If you owned a solar company and you found out that Frank’s Solar Co., Joe’s Solar Co., Steve’s Solar Co., Bill’s Solar Co., AND about five other ACME solar companies are all in on the bid for YOUR project, then tell me, would you want to compete?

The truth is some contractors and integrators won’t partake in your incited bidding war; they simply CANNOT afford to participate in a tournament of rivalry; the struggle to win the race serves to DIS-incentivize participation. The labor and man hours cost too much to gamble when the chances of actually winning the bid are slim.  Hence, your shotgun approach has just backfired.  And even if you do get a few of these poor sods to return a proposal, well who is left that’s of any quality? This is where the term “discount brain surgeon” applies; a place where the bottom feeders come out to earn your business with lower quality materials, lack luster service, and perhaps a missing tooth in that cheeky smile.  Can you hear the banjo a-twanging in your head?  Okay, I exaggerate a little, but take heed.

What’s more, is once the word hits the street that your company is shopping for five, six, seven or ten bids, then EVERYONE knows you’re not as sophisticated as they had hoped; a sign that you could be difficult to deal with.  This is especially true if you’re a medium to large business, as the larger the business, the quicker the word spreads that you’re in the market to buy; these guys talk.

Speaking from experience, I’ll never forget the time a local municipal water district member confided in me about their own nightmare in shopping for solar for their facility.  This member told me they had FIFTEEN RFP’s, (Requests for Proposals) sent out to various bay area solar companies!  And still, he felt they were adrift in the process.

So before you get too smart for your own good, stop and think about your strategy and the etiquette that goes into shopping for your equipment… keep it to a civilized three bids from reputable and fully integrated companies.  Fully integrated means a company that does it all, from sales to installation to customer service, maintenance and warranty; you’re sure to get better results.  Because sometimes the privilege to do business with a company holds equal merit as the company having to earn the opportunity to do business with you.


Article by Jennifer Coleman of Sun Source Solar Brokers, a solar brokerage and energy consulting business serving Sonoma Marin and Napa counties, including the San Francisco Bay Area.

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Sun Source Solar Brokers
525 East Cotati Avenue, #220
Cotati, California 94931