Choosing the right solar company to install your equipment is extremely important. You need to make certain that those panels are positioned for maximum efficiency, that they are suitable for your property, and perfectly wired to avoid any long-term issues. Get it right and you’ll barely need to perform any maintenance work whatsoever besides a quick occasional clean, get it wrong and you’ll produce less energy than you should expect and it will take longer for your system to become cost-effective.
There’s no shortage of solar companies out there and as with any other industry, there are both good and not-so-good contractors to choose between. Make sure your company has straight-up answers to the following five questions.
1) Are You Licensed & Insured?
Simple as this question may sound you’d be amazed how easy it is to forget to check accreditation before you get started. While there are probably some non-accredited contractors perfectly capable of performing the work, the fact is that those with the right documentation are going to be formally qualified in electrics, structural management, network design/configuration, and carry comprehensive indemnity insurance.
2) Do You Inspect The Roof?
Again, this is easy to miss but essential to get right. For solar panels to be safely installed you need to make certain that the roof is in good condition and capable of holding the additional weight. Make sure your company is qualified in this. If they decide that some repairs are necessary, feel free to seek a second opinion and also discuss who will perform this work and who is responsible for it. Strengthening is quite common but should rarely cost more than an additional $1,000 on average.
3) What Are The Best Three Options?
Sizing up a solar installation is much more complicated than just looking at your energy bills and installing a system that will reduce them by a certain size. You need to make sure contractors assess the angle of your roof, offer a variety of panels at different price points and performances, understand local net-metering regulations, are capable of installing batteries if required, and able to suggest any other suitable alternatives.
Some of the best solar companies will even perform a shading analysis that provides a detailed profile of the suitability of your property for certain types of panels. Asking for three options – all exactly costed out – is the best way of making sure you are dealing with a professional company that will do a decent job. Perhaps also ask them what they have installed on their own homes, and why, for good measure.
4) Tell Me About These Warranties…
Warranties are important. Make sure they offer a workmanship guarantee so they are obliged to repair and recalibrate if necessary. Ideally, you should look for companies that offer this for between 5-10 years but make sure that they explain all exemptions in some detail. For instance, if you decide to hire someone else to perform a routine checkup/deep clean a few years into the warranty and they are damaged in the process, who is liable for the repair costs?
Your panels will likely include a manufacturer’s guarantee (often 20+ years) but that is practically useless if they are damaged through secondary causes. The best contractors will be upfront about this from the start and provide a totally comprehensive service including occasional check-ups – sometimes at a heavily discounted rate.
5) What Happens If My System Underperforms?
The truth of the matter is that even the most carefully designed solar project is going to involve a small amount of guesswork with predicting energy yield. The best contractors will always estimate towards the low end but also be willing to look at possible solutions of the system is clearly underperforming. Sometimes just slight repositioning (those angles really do matter) can considerably increase performance, while for obvious reasons it is best to identify faulty equipment as quickly as possible.
Sometimes things do go wrong and the best companies will always be those who have a solid track record of making these good. If you spend some time checking up on reviews, those are the kinds of examples that tend to indicate that a company is truly professional and worth working with.