How to Pick a Solar Installer: 6 Tips
Professional solar installation isn’t cheap. Depending on the size of your solar system, you could be paying around $10,000 or more for installation alone. At that price, you’ll want to make sure the installers do their job right. So, it’s essential to know how to pick a solar installer that you can trust.
Today we’re sharing six tips on how to choose a solar company that’s reliable and trustworthy.
1. Check Licensing, Insurance and Certifications
Let’s start with qualifications. Look into the licensing requirements in your specific state and county so you find a company with a suitable license.
Many states require licensed solar installation companies to be insured and bonded. If it is not a state requirement, you should ask the installation company about their workers’ compensation and liability insurance.
There are also non-state-related certifications for solar installers, with the most notable one being the North American Board of Certified Energy Practitioners (NABCEP) PV Installation Professional Certification.
According to Jeff Spies, president of Planet Plan Sets, the NABCEP database "is an excellent starting point to find a good contractor. Certified folks produce higher quality work and are typically ethically-oriented individuals.”
Getting support from a NABCEP-certified technician ensures that you are working with a knowledgeable solar company who adheres to a strict code of ethics.
2. Review Company Experience
Another essential qualification is experience. To ensure a high-quality solar panel installation, you want to pick a solar company with a track record of experience.
An experienced solar installation company should know how to analyze your energy usage and find the best solar panel system for your home.
3. Look at Reviews and Reputation
It’s easy to do quick research to make sure a solar installer has a good reputation. Check out Google Reviews, Yelp or the Better Business Bureau (BBB) directory for reliable information on a solar installer’s track record.
You can also check with state licensing authorities, says Spies. "See if there are any open complaints in their name. Note that legitimate, good companies get complaints, too. But the most reputable companies will address their complaints properly."
4. Scrutinize Financing Options
If a solar installer offers financing options, be sure to look at all the fine print like interest rates and payment escalators. You’ll want to know exactly how much you’ll be paying for the solar installation over the whole financing term and compare it to the total cost without financing.
You should also consider whether the financing company will take advantage of the federal tax credit (30% for systems installed by the end of 2032) and ask if the financing is transferable should you decide to sell your home.
5. Get Multiple Solar Quotes
It is always a good idea to get several solar quotes to compare different offers. Here are some factors to look at when weighing your options.
What brand equipment and panels will the installer use?
Be wary if you receive a quote that doesn’t specify the solar panel brand or includes an “or Equivalent” caveat. The installer should be transparent with the solar equipment you’re getting when you sign your contract because specifications and warranties can vary significantly from panel to panel.
Ask about the installation schedule upfront. You don’t want to sign a contract, then wait for months to get your solar energy system up and running.
In your conversations, inquire about equipment lead times as well as the time it will take to get permits from building authorities, the city or municipality, and the utility provider.
Professional solar installers should also provide a warranty on their labor — if they don’t, consider that a red flag. You’ll want to ask about coverage for common damages such as roof leaks.
All solar equipment comes with manufacturer warranties, but those warranties won’t cover improper installations.
Know That the Cheapest Quote May Not Be the Best
We all want to save a few bucks, but solar panel installation is something you shouldn’t skimp on.
If an installer provides you with a cheap quote that’s too good to be true, it probably is!
Cheap solar quotes indicate sub-par equipment, inexperienced labor, or cutting other corners. Choosing a reputable solar installer to ensure a correct, high-quality installation that passes inspection is always worth it.
A final word of advice from Spies: “Stay wary — there are many contractors that may attempt to fleece you. You're on your own in this arena. But by using NABCEP’s certified PV installer database, verify licensing and researching complaints, you can reduce the potential of being scammed.”
6. Consider DIY Installation
You may not have to look very far to find the perfect solar installer because it could be you!
Taking the DIY route with your solar installation can save you thousands of dollars, and you can avoid the stress of finding a trustworthy installer. Additionally, you’ll have full control over the process and complete it on your own time, which is a significant benefit.
Learn more: DIY Solar — Is It Worth It?
If a complete DIY project seems too daunting, you can also take a hybrid approach. Manage some parts of the installation process yourself, and seek professional help on an as-needed basis. You’ll still be able to save some money and have some control over the installation.
If you’re ready to start the DIY journey, be sure to purchase your solar panel kit from GoGreenSolar, so you can take advantage of their perks, including NABCEP-certified technical assistance and permitting and interconnection support.
We hope these tips help you choose the right solar panel installer. Ultimately, going DIY is one of the best ways to guarantee a successful installation, work with someone you trust (yourself) and save money.
Reach out to the DIY experts at GoGreenSolar, who can help you select the optimal solar system for your needs, guide you through the entire installation process, and assist you with paperwork, permits, and inspections.