Nationwide Home Solar Power Contractors and Information
Tom McCalmont, CEO of REgrid Power and Chairman of SolarTech.org, is involved in making solar energy safe, affordable, and reliable. CalFinder recently caught up with McCalmont to get his opinion on how more homeowners can access solar energy.
While initial cost is a major point of focus for homeowners looking to go solar, McCalmont encourages homeowners to weigh in overall system efficiency. For instance, a more affordable system may not incorporate elements such as shading and electrical design, and will therefore have poorer performance over time.
McCalmont also gives excellent advice to help homeowners protect their solar investment dollars. For instance, did you know that solar contractors in California can only request a maximum $1,000 deposit on residential projects? Here’s more advice on solar, in McCalmont’s own words:
What do you see as the hardest part for homeowners converting to solar energy other than money?
“The second most challenging task for homeowners considering going solar (beyond the cost!) is finding a qualified contractor. Since solar is still new, many homeowners don’t understand the importance of an accurate solar assessment to eventual system payback. System sizing is critical as every home has some amount of shading from distant objects, and the system must be located in such a way as to allow for and minimize the impact of this shading. In addition, the electrical design of the system is crucial as much of the expensive generated solar power can be lost through incorrect electrical design or insufficient wire sizing. A competent PV installation company will understand all of these issues and will perform a detailed shading analysis on the roof of the structure and will prepare a detailed electrical design including correct wire sizing.
Customers often underestimate the importance of these steps and place too great an emphasis on the initial price of the system. The problem with doing that is that a customer is purchasing the system to generate power over time. If the initial price from vendor A is less than from vendor B, but vendor B does proper shading and electrical design, in fact, the system from vendor B may be far cheaper over the life of the system as the generated power is actually considerably more. This is why selecting a high quality solar contractor for your installation is so important.”
What recommendations would give to help homeowners overcome these obstacles?
“Be sure to select a competent solar contractor for your installation. Generally, the best solar contractors do solar designs and installations exclusively. Electrical contractors may specialize in other types of electrical work, but they generally do not have the expertise to do correct solar assessments and designs. Check with the Contractors State License Board (www.cslb.ca.gov) to verify that your contractor is licensed. Ask your contractor whether he is NABCEP certified – this is an important industry certification that only the best solar contractors have, and it indicates that the contractor has taken a difficult test certifying his ability to design PV systems. Check whether your solar contractor is Diamond Certified (www.diamondcertified.org). Verify that the solar contractor has done a shading analysis on your roof, not a “drive-by” survey but a real assessment with a solar measurement instrument such as a Sol metric Sun-Eye. Finally, do not select a solar contractor that asks for more than a $1,000 deposit – in the State of California, this is the maximum deposit a contractor can request by law for any residential project. Good luck with your project!”
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Sunbelt Solar Energy representative contacted me and he has very knowledgable and professional.
PEP is such a great company and always available to help.