There are now more choices for solar installers than ever before. Although this means more options, it can also be difficult to pick between solar contractors.
The experience, solar equipment, and product warranties vary widely between installers. Choosing the best contractor for the job can have a significant impact on the solar system payback, electricity production, and maintenance costs. Improperly installation of a solar system can even invalidate equipment warranties, cause reliability issues, and not comply with code requirements.
A lot of new installers have entered the market in the last decade. Some are known for excellent workmanship while others are not. Sadly, some have taken advantage of solar energy being a new market and have even provided inaccurate or even misleading information. Similar to hiring a contractor for a different type of home improvement project, experience, skill, and quality customer service is essential.
The good news is there are reputable solar installers available throughout most of the United States. When selecting an installer, follow these steps to find one that will get the job done right.
Solar System Warranty
Most solar panels and equipment have manufacturer warranties for a certain amount of years. Solar panels typically also have warranties guaranteeing a certain level of energy performance. Typically, these warranties cover new equipment but not the labor. Solar installers usually offer warranties on their work for a certain amount of years. It is also essential to consider the reputability of the installer and if they stand by their warranties.
The North American Board of Certified Energy Practitioners (NABCEP) has certification programs for solar energy contractors. NABCEP certification involves taking a written test and having a certain amount of hands-on experience. Although this doesn’t guarantee quality workmanship it does demonstrate a certain level of knowledge and expertise. It is ideal to have a NABCEP-certified involved in an installation.
One of the best ways to find a quality solar contractor is to learn about the reputation, expertise, and customer service of different solar contractors. Asking people with solar systems or else reading online reviews are a great way to achieve this. Google, Facebook, Yelp, and other sites allow users to review contractors.
Certain solar contractors take a one-size-fits-all approach to a project. They typically install the same equipment in the same place, regardless of circumstances. This approach is acceptable if the a project is really simple and straightforward and doesn’t have a complicated roofline, roof obstructions, orientation issues, or shading. A truly honest and reputable solar installer will even say if a given property is not well-suited for solar energy and gauge expectations accordingly.
Unfortunately, some projects have numerous challenges, such as skylights, dormers, and lack of a south-facing roof. Whenever possible, it is best to find an installer that customizes installations, taking the project goals, budget, and property into account for the solar system design. For example, if an installer uses a few different inverters, they can select the best equipment for the job. Proper solar system sitting and equipment selection can help overcome or at least mitigate many of these obstacles.