10 Tips on deciding which Company to go with your solar power install

It is important to do homework before you install solar panels since it involves big investments. There are many factors that need to be looked at such as company, model, your household requirement and any potential returns in the future you are looking at. One of the best ways to get most of the things right is to get hold of right solar installation company who can guide you through entire solar installation process covering everything from rebates, incentives and finances to installation and maintenance. We bring to you ten tips to help you zero in on which Company to go with your solar power install.


  1. Local Incentives: There are local solar power incentives that vary from county to county and city to city and some incentive plans are designed to promote local solar installer. For example if you are staying in San Francisco and you hire a local company (San Francisco based) to install your solar system, you get $750 back in additions to all other incentives and rebates that you already are entitled to.
  1. Certification: So now when you know the importance of hiring a local solar installation company, we will move on to the next most crucial factor in deciding a solar company. Look for solar companies that are duly certified by North American Board of Certified Energy Practitioners (NABCEP). Certified solar panel installers in U.S. have gone through rigorous set of test to obtain certification from NABCEP. To qualify for NABCEP certification, an installer not only has to pass required exam but also should have a two years of prior experience in solar installation. You can visit the website of NABCEP to obtain the list of certified solar system installer from your area. You may also come across few solar installers who are not certified, many of them either have years of experience or have taken classes at solar institutions. In case where solar installer has several years of experience, he may not consider certification important and rely on their experience to demonstrate quality and reputation. In such cases ask for as many references as you can from the installer of their prior solar customers. In case of installer who have only taken classes at solar institutions, see to it that they have completed it from an established and reputed solar institution for example like Solar Living Institute or Solar Energy International and have received hands on experience by NABCEP certified teachers. Do not hesitate to ask them to produce educational qualification they have received from solar institutions.
  1. Insurance and License: The installer should have appropriate insurance and license to ensure he is fully covered and you will not be held liable, should there be an accident. Solar installer you are planning to hire should at least (bare minimum) have general liability insurance, worker’s compensation license and license to work as a contractor. Hire installers with C-10 license only. Do not hire any installer if they do not have these minimum insurance and license in place, otherwise inadvertently you are only inviting trouble.
  1. Better Business Bureau (BBB): It is an excellent destination to have a general rating of an installer. BBB provides basic rating of the company and also information about any complaint that might have been registered against the solar installer. BBB helps you understand and avoid any installer that might sound good on paper while fall short of expectation when trusted with project.
  1. Subcontracting: Find out if the solar company you are going to hire subcontract any of their work. If they do, stay away from them as there can likely be disconnect between your project engineering and installation. But if incase that is the only choice you have, ensure that the subcontractor they will hire is certified with NABCEP. One of the best options is to hire a company that offers turnkey operations. These companies deliver projects from concept to completion and so you can held them accountable for solar installation project they have delivered for you.
  1. Location: The advantage of hiring the local solar installer is that they are familiar with your local area. It is imperative for them to have the knowledge of the local area since this will insure they are aware of local codes and weather patterns. On a long run, this will also insure that they can provide maintenance services. It is going to be helpful for you also to review reference and check their past work if you hire local installer.
  1. Payment Option: Obtain quotations from multiple solar installation companies. Ask them to explicitly specify in their bid the payback and expected monthly saving on your electricity bill. Ask if ongoing maintenance is included in the bid or will this be billed additionally. Your solar installer should be able to provide you with all the information related to different financing option such as purchase, lease or power purchase agreement.
  1. Brand: Speak and find out from your solar installer what brands they are familiar with. What are the brands they prefer and why.  NABCEP is a best place to find out which brand and model the installer is certified to use.
  1. Warranty: Warranty on solar panels is very crucial since they take nearly 5 to 10 years to pay back. Keeping this in mind, warranty on solar panels should at least be 10 years. Overall warranty on most of the brands range from 20 to 25 years. Also ensure that warranty covers any instance where solar installer will fix your panels in case should anything malfunction. This kind of warranty is typically for 5 years.
  1. Service agreements and Guarantees: Obtain specifics of the service agreement and performance. You can ask them straight questions like what if the solar installation doesn’t produce what they say will produce. Some companies provide production guarantee. This is important since this ensure that your investment is paying for itself. Select a company that will pay you in an event where your system does not produced according to what they have claimed. Be cautious of companies who change their promises after installation.
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