How to Select a Solar Installer: Picking the Right One
It doesn’t matter how you plan on implementing solar for your home, you will have to find an experienced solar installer to install your system and thus it is important that you know how to select a solar installer properly. To see a list of recommended installers check out our solar installer directory.
But even with all those recommendations you are ultimately going to have to pick one to install your system so the following are a few things to consider/look into regarding the experience of your solar installer candidates.
Just realize that due to the youth of the solar industry there are a lot of people in good solar training programs, but you must be cautious as being a talented student doesn’t translate directly into being a capable installer.
NABCEP certification is a very good sign. NABCEP is the most respected national standard certification program in the industry right now. Passing the NABCEP exam is no easy task and is a great indication of the quality of the installer before you.
Realize there are two NABCEP certifications, one is an entry level and the other is the full on professional certification. The professional one is what you are looking for.
The full professional certification requires you to not only pass the test but also have 2 years of hands-on experience in solar or a related field. At least one individual on the company staff should have this certification.
This will most likely not be the sales consultant sent to your home. They are only necessary for the pre-inspection of your property. The NABCEP will be part of the crew that is installing the actual system on your property.
No NABCEP? Go off experience. You know how much your time is in short supply, so sometimes individuals with a lot of experience haven’t found the time to go back to school to sharpen their mind to pass the test. So don’t write an installer off if they don’t have the certification. Just ask to talk to some of the homeowners that they have recently done installs for and see what they think.
If their solar experience is limited, 3 years of electrical and roofing experience with the installer having taken at least 2 intensive hands-on solar classes from a respected solar institution or local Electrician’s Union. A respected solar institution would be classified as one that has NABCEP certified instructors because this ensures your installers learned from the best in the industry.
Check with the BBB (Better Business Bureau) as one last check for the quality of service they deliver by seeing if they have any complaints filed against the company. This can be very illuminating.
Just like any contractor they should be licensed, bonded, and insured in your state. The company needs to be insured for any accidents that may occur during installation. You also want an installer with a license to do the work legally in your state.
Check to see if your city and/or state have an approved list of installers. If they appear on a list from your local or state government then they have been approved to do the work that those government institutions give rebates for.
Check and read warranties carefully. Take the time to get familiar with the warranties that are associated with the components the installers plan to use. This will give you a good sense of life-cycle costs for the system. When will you be replacing your batteries, inverter, etc. You don’t want surprises down the road taking chunks out of your savings account.
Always get a second, and third opinion/quote. Remember this is a very big investment, so picking the cheapest install might not be the wisest decision. A low quality install may mean much more money down the road in repairs to your system due to sloppy installation. But if all their references and experience check out then naturally choose the lowest quote.
Compare all your quotes. Your estimates should display the payback time and the monthly savings you can expect compared to your current electric bills. Also make sure you are comparing apples to apples by ensuring all the quotes are to offset the same amount of electricity. Take note if the company includes monitoring and maintenance in the estimate among other charges that may or may not be included.
But in the end the decision is yours, and your instincts shouldn’t be disregarded in your calculations. High pressure salespeople indicate a company only interested in the money while a company that doesn’t return your calls is probably going to take longer than expected to complete the project.
In summary, a good way of how to select a solar installer is to do your research and trust your instincts and go with your gut if its telling you something fishy is up. And with all this being said you should be well on your way to finding that perfect solar installer to complete a quality install on your property.
Take a look at our recommended solar installer directory to get your search started.