Today, we are faced with much higher utility costs than ever before. In addition to this, there is growing concern about the potentially negative effects of fossil fuels on the environment. As a result, the world is slowly turning towards alternative sources of energy. With significant technological advancements in the field of solar energy, the existence of government incentives, relatively affordable pricing and lower installation costs, it is not surprising that more and more people are choosing solar.
For many of us, the decision to go solar requires little mental effort. Apart from the added advantage of being eco-friendly, consumers of solar power have been known to enjoy unparalleled energy independence and significant financial savings in the long run.
While installing solar panels is not an easy task, your system is likely to cost you more money over time if not done right, hence the importance of choosing the right contractor. To help you make the best possible choice, here’s what to look for when hiring a solar system company.
This is one of the most important considerations. When it comes to the acquisition and installation of a solar system, an experienced contractor is less likely to cut corners. Poor workmanship, on the other hand, can be the cause of issues such as electrical shorts, roof leaks and power losses in the system. As such, you’ll want to engage the services of a well-trained, experienced solar contractor. To gauge the contractor’s level of experience, start by finding out how long the service provider has been in business. Next, find out how much solar the company has installed to date. You should not go with a company that has been in business for less than three years. The longer the contractor has been installing solar systems, the more experienced they are bound to be.
Find out what type of training the staff receives as well as who provides the training. Is the training refreshed and updated? How often is this done? Nowadays, so much can change in the span of a year. As a result, companies that are not up to date are not likely to provide the best services possible.
Also, an experienced local contractor will have a better grasp of the finer details. Through experience, for instance, one might have learned the importance of replacing certain roofing materials before the installation of solar panels. Solar panels usually have a service life of around 30 years, which is about the same as asphalt shingles. As such, installing them together might be the best option.
Supplies and equipment
Make sure you vet the equipment and manufacturer offered by your contractor. Find out which company manufactures the module and inverter featured in the product provided. You wouldn’t want to make an investment of this magnitude without knowing the details involved, which in this case can include the make and model of your solar system as well as any predetermined or potential issues.
With regard to your installation, some of the most important elements are the structural attachments between the modules and the roof. So make sure you go over the mounts, fasteners and racking that will be used. Unfortunately, only an honest and reputable company will make such information available when needed.
Once you get a run-down of the products to be used, look up the company’s digital footprint to make sure you are hiring a reputable and reliable service provider. In an effort to make the most sales and boost their profit margins, many contractors will offer products and services at the cheapest possible prices. Unfortunately, such companies tend to provide outdated products and services.
Besides being the least efficient options available, a lot of the equipment offered by companies with a bargain-priced system of doing business will not be able to stand the test of time. Additionally, the equipment will have a negative impact on your production, meaning you probably won’t see any returns on investment.
This is arguably the best way to avoid poor quality installation work, which reduces the likelihood of future issues. Ask for the names and contact information of at least three references. References can help confirm whether or not the company is as proficient as advertised. Make sure you get one or two local addresses as well. In this way, you can visit one of the sites to see the installation for yourself.
Unhappy customers usually air their grievances by talking about their experiences. So apart from visiting the company’s website, you should also look at related online reviews and testimonials to learn more about the contractor.
Ask to see a few photos of previously installed systems. These installations need to be similar to what you intend to have installed. If the contractors are unable to show you any photos, chances are they have done very little in terms of actual work.
System monitoring services
Pick a contractor that offers system monitoring services. When it comes to ensuring transparency, this might be the most vital part of your solar system. With a system that allows for panel level monitoring, which enables you to see the individual production of every single panel, it is easier to confirm that your panels and system are performing as well as they should. If you can’t see the individual levels of production, then the manufacturer’s production warranty is of no use to you. Reputable contractors will offer system monitoring services for up to five years after installation.
Find out whether the contractor is NABCEP Certified. In the renewable energy industry, this well-established organization is arguably the most widely recognized and respected of them all. So ask to see proof of certification. While this certification is not to be seen as a replacement for state licensing requirements, it is in its own right a supplemental accreditation. As such, this voluntary certification adds to the company’s credentials. It shows that the installer holds the required level of experience and knowledge. Certification can, therefore, help distinguish professional installers from their competitors, at least expertise-wise. Additionally, proof of certification is confirmation that you have been given fact-based promises, especially where production and return on investment are concerned. On the other hand, companies that don’t offer monitoring services are usually hiding the fact that your system is not performing as well as promised.
Licensed and insured
Before you engage the services of a solar system installer, check to confirm that the company is licensed and insured. Ask to see the contractor’s license along with proof of insurance.
Also, find out whether the contractor will do all of the necessary paperwork. The paperwork involved in processes such as utility interconnection, permitting and incentives can be extremely complicated and time-consuming.
Like in several other investments, support can go a long way towards ensuring you have a satisfying experience. Find out whether the company has a formal process of complaint put in place and if they provide tracking tools. Has the company implemented a way to provide feedback? Find out what the contractor does with the feedback.
Find out whether the contractor will subcontract part of the installation. Get to know who will be subcontracted and whether the subcontracted party has the necessary qualifications. Many companies subcontract, using a network of technicians across various jobs. In such a scenario, unfortunately, responsibility issues can arise. If you have to engage a company that subcontracts, make sure both parties hold proper accreditations.
Keep these considerations in mind when hiring a solar system company and you will be on your way to a very pleasant and satisfying experience. By doing your due diligence, you are likely to get value for your money and peace of mind. Remember, your solar system installation should be a great experience and not a headache.
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