So, you’re going solar. Good for you! You’ll be so happy you did. You’ll save money….over the long-term the average 20 year savings for Americans who make the move to solar is projected to be over $20,000. That’s a LOT! Plus, solar energy creates zero pollution by harnessing a completely renewable resource. Zero. Yeah, it’s a pretty big deal.
Some things to consider before making the leap:
Be aware that price DOES matter. Any installation company that presents you with a radically lower bid should make you suspicious. Experienced installers know the costs involved to install your system correctly. Newer installation companies may come in at a low bid because they are either not aware of the true costs of doing it right, or they are so new that they really, really, want the business.
It’s also good to be aware of the fact that many reputable installation companies may not repair another company’s mistakes for you, and so if installed incorrectly the first time, you’ll most likely have to pay to have the system completely removed and any damage repaired, prior to incurring the cost of an entirely new install.
You’ll want to make sure you ask the right questions up front. Doing your due diligence before the install ensures you won’t have to worry about inferior workmanship, leaks, or other easily avoidable mistakes down the road ….reminds me of something my Father always said, “Do it all the way, or don’t do it at all.” Thanks, Dad; words to live by.
9 Must-Ask Questions:
You’ll obviously have a ton of questions. Don’t be afraid to ask them all. If you have no clue where to even start, this should be a pretty good starting point.
- How long have you been in business / How much solar has your company installed to date?
Personally, I’d only go with a company that has been actively installing for at least3 years (the longer the better, really).
- Are you NABCEP Certified (North American Board of Certified Energy Practitioners)?
Ask for proof. This is a voluntary certification that gives PV Installation Professionals additional experience and knowledge that will distinguish them from their competitors. This is a supplemental accreditation to state licensing requirements, and while it doesn’t replace those requirements, it does add to the installers credentials, giving them a leg up in terms of expertise.
- Are you licensed and insured as a solar installer or electrician in my state?
Ask to see their license and proof of insurance.
- Do you subcontract any of the installation? If yes, to who? What are their qualifications?
You don’t want to hire someone and then see a vehicle with a company logo you don’t recognize show up in your driveway, leaving you scratching your head and wondering what’s going on. It’s OK if they subcontract – many companies use a network of installers across various jobs – just be sure the subcontractor holds the proper accreditations.
- What are the electrical codes in this area, and how do you adhere to them?
This varies by state – know yours beforehand and make sure the installer knows them all as well.
- What are the names of the module and inverter manufacturers? What are their warranties?
Get a run-down of what will be used and then look them up online and make sure they’re from reputable companies, check out reviews and/or testimonials.
- Can we go over the racking, mounts and fasteners that will be used?
Same as above. Structural attachments between the roof and the modules are extremely crucial elements of your installation.
- Can I have the names and numbers of 3 references?
Unhappy customers are sure to tell you about their experience. You should also go to the company’s website and look for testimonials, as well as research them online for any related reviews. It also wouldn’t hurt to ask for 1 or 2 local addresses you could drive by to see the installs for yourself, in person.
- Can I see some photos of systems you’ve installed that are similar to the ones you’ll be installing on my house?
Chances are, if they can’t show you any photos, they haven’t done much in the way of actual work.
Going solar should be a great experience – not a headache. Doing your homework up front will give you something money can’t buy – peace of mind. I hope you enjoy the many benefits only solar power can provide!!
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Industry leader EcoFasten Solar designs, engineers, and manufactures patented, watertight solar roof mounts. The company provides mounting solutions that are easy to install, cost-effective, rugged in fabrication, and unsurpassed in quality. Comprised of a seasoned and growing team of professionals with talent, ability, and drive, all EcoFasten Solar products are precision-designed with the installer in mind.
(images from: eco-business.com, entrepreneur.com, expertosolar.com)