So you’ve made the economically sound decision to go solar, and are looking for the perfect contractor for the job. For a photovoltaic (PV) system to run its best, it must be installed carefully and correctly. You’ll want to be sure that the contractor you choose is experienced enough for the job. Here are some tips to help you find an all-star solar contractor that goes above and beyond for your installation.
At CalFinder Solar, we specialize in screening contractors for licensing and quality standards. While most installer fees should be fairly similar, we recommend getting at least two estimates and comparing them.
To get pricing on solar panels in your area, click here.
And although some states don’t require contractors to be certified, you should look at these accreditations, anyway. Certifications aren’t just a sign that the contractor has undergone specialized training for solar installations, they signal that they’re an active member of a trade organization or solar not-for-profit group.
In the solar industry, where technology is constantly evolving, it’s important to find a contractor who makes a point of keeping up to date with the latest innovations. Industry experts help contractors stay abreast of current trends and technologies.
More significantly, some solar rebate and tax credit incentive programs require installers to be certified with the North American Board of Certified Energy Practitioners (NABCEP), a volunteer board of industry representatives.
Solar Energy Industries Association (SEIA) is another nationally recognized trade organization. SEIA provides detailed quarterly industry reports to its 1,000 member companies. Certification with either NABCEP or SEIA is a good indication that a solar contractor is a seasoned pro.
The solar industry is still relatively young compared with other contractor services, but when you’re looking for an all-star contractor, you’ll want to ensure that your contractor is experienced in installing solar panel systems.
Don’t be afraid to ask the hard questions. How long have you been in business? How many PV installations have you completed in the last year? Do you carry workers compensation and liability insurance? Do you sub-contract any work? How long will the installation take? Ask for references, and check them.
Industry-specific questions need to be asked as well. Ask the contractor what kind of follow-up service is included in the contract. Many solar providers offer monitoring and maintenance service. An above-average contractor will be knowledgeable about every incentive program offered in your area, and will be able to facilitate the paperwork involved in obtaining those incentives.
A solar contractor should be able to tell you exactly what permits must be obtained, and should then obtain them for you.
An excellent solar contractor will never accept payment without first inspecting your home to ensure it’s a good candidate for solar. The contractor should examine your roof to make sure it can bear the load of a PV system, and to see if the roof has the correct orientation to the sun to make your system effective.
The contractor should also carefully assess your home’s current electrical usage. This often involves examining your electrical bills for the last year.
Taking the time to find an all-star solar contractor is the best way to ensure you’ll enjoy benefits of solar for years to come.