You've decided you are ready to install solar panels on your home’s property and start saving energy. But selecting a solar panel installer can feel overwhelming, as this is a big commitment and investment. How do you choose a reputable and quality solar vendor to install panels on your property?
Here are considerations you should have when looking for a solar panel installer:
First, compile a list of solar panel installers. You should include local installers as well as national ones. Take into consideration that there are benefits with either. National vendors may be able to offer more robust warranties while local installers will be more experienced with your state’s rebates and area’s permitting requirements. We can help you determine a list of solar contractors in your area.
Determine the installer’s credentials. If not listed on their site, you may need to call to inquire.
License: A good solar installer will be licensed in their state. You can verify by license number on your state's government website and you should also ask the vendor upon hiring to provide you a copy of the license. Some states require specific licensing for solar installation while others don't require any license or an electrician license. You can check your state’s licensing requirements.
Permit: Also, check your local building agency to be sure you understand what is a code-compliant installation and what the process is for permitting. Any additions, including solar panel installation, to your home, is likely to require a permit.
Certification: You should also consider if your solar panel installer is trained and holds any certification, such as a PV Installation Professional, from the North American Board of Certified Energy Practitioners (NABCEP). The NABCEP is a nationally-recognized certification program for installation and sales. While you don’t have to hire an installer with certification, it does indicate they have more training specifically with solar panels.
Bonding and Insurance: Lastly, you should determine if the contractors you're interested in are fully bonded and insured. If a solar vender is bonded, you are financially protected should they do a poor job or don’t finish the project. Insurance protects your installer as well as your property in case injury or damages occur during the project. Upon agreeing to hire a vendor, you should be provided proof that they are bonded and insured.
Referrals and Reviews
Review the solar panel installer’s website and search results related to that company to find out how long each has been in business and any other experience-related information you can find. Search results for the company may show some online reviews including the Better Business Bureau (BBB) and feedback from previous clients as well. The company itself may also provide you references, but make sure you reach out to their references and ask around.
There are a few options to finance solar panels, including paying outright, taking out a loan, leasing, or a power purchase agreement (PPA). It is important to know what the solar panel installer offers in terms of finance options. If you know you would like to lease solar panels, you can rule out vendors that don’t provide that option.
When shopping for an installer make sure to find out what warranties are offered. Consider what the warranty covers, for example, repairs and replacement, and for how long. Once you agree to hire an installer, make sure you have the warranty in writing.
Most companies will schedule an appointment to see your property so they can accurately calculate prices. You should request price quotes from at least your top three choices. When you ask for the quote, here are some good questions to ask:
- Do you offer any financing programs?
- What does your warranty offer?
- How long is your warranty valid?
- Based on my average energy consumption, how many solar panels will I need?
- Will you take care of any necessary permitting and city and/or state requirements?
- If we move forward, what is the process?
Now that you know what to look for when hiring a solar panel installer, it will be no time before you start reaping the benefits of going green and saving money.