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Welcome to Solar Planet's Learning Center.  Our mission is to educate our users about solar power systems and promote the adoption of solar energy. We also offer a free comprehensive guide to solar energy systems, Solar Energy Made Simple, just for signing up for our newsletter.  You can receive critical news, webinar notices, and information about ongoing events.

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How Do I Choose A Solar Installer?

Next to “How much does it cost,” one of the most common questions for people considering retrofitting their homes with solar panels is “How do I choose a solar installer?” Since the average cost of a 5-watt solar installation ranges from $35,000 to $45,000, naturally you want to make sure the people you hire are knowledgeable and trustworthy professionals. Here are a few considerations to help you make the most informed decision.

Credentials

Is your solar installer certified by the North American Board of Certified Energy Practitioners? If so, you know company personnel passed a rigorous series of exams and worked in the field for at least two years. Sure, there may be perfectly good installers who are not NABCEP-certified, but if you’re looking for the gold standard of achievement, this is it.

Licenses/Insurance

Since your solar installer will be climbing around your roof, the “danger” element cannot be ignored. In the event of a tumble, you want to know that the solar installer is fully licensed, bonded and insured, so you won’t end up footing the emergency room bills. The bare minimum a responsible solar installer will carry is general liability insurance, worker’s compensation insurance and a contractor’s license.

 

Reputation

Is your solar installer in good standing with the local permitting authorities, utility companies and citizens? One way to get the inside scoop on a local business is to look them up on the Better Business Bureau website (www.bbb.org), where you can see: How long they’ve been in business, Where the company is located, If they are an approved member of the BBB, What grade they received (A-F), Whether any complaints have been filed against the company over the past 3 years, and How those claims were resolved.

Quality

Never choose a solar installer solely based on price. For example, one solar installer may offer rock-bottom rates because they subcontract work out to a third party of independent contractors or to workers who are not properly certified/licensed. Or they may be cheaper because they install low-quality brands manufactured overseas. You also want to make sure the solar installer offers a fair warranty. Since most solar panels take 5 to 10 years to recoup the cost, your warranty should be at least 10 years. Most high-quality installers will uphold a 20-25 year manufacturer warranty and guarantee craftsmanship for at least 5 years.

 

Location

The local solar installer is always preferable to the “new guy in town” who just rolled in from another state. Local installers understand the weather patterns and local building codes in your neighborhood, which are two factors that greatly affect the installation and maintenance of your solar panels.

 

Payment Options

A good solar installer will work with you to find a method that is affordable for you. Make sure the quote you receive explicitly indicates what sort of payback and monthly electrical bill savings you can expect. Also make sure you know what percentage of your energy needs the system will cover. Most companies will offer you the option to make a capital purchase, power purchase agreement or lease the equipment.

 

Once you’ve called three different providers to bid on the project, you will have a gut feeling about who the best candidate is. GO WITH IT! However, before you sign on the dotted line be sure you ask for and phone a few referrals to find out if the solar installer is as candid as they seem.

 


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