Choosing the Right Solar Installer – A Checklist

October 21st, 2015 by hesty No comments »

If you’ve decided to invest your hard-earned money in a new solar electric system, the next step involves choosing the right solar installer.

This could be one of the most important decisions you can make regarding your new system, and one that should not be taken lightly. After all, if you’re willing to commit to making as sizable an investment as solar energy in your future, you need to make sure that, when the system is installed, it’s done correctly the first time.

To help you make sure you’ve taken all the steps necessary in making a decision you can feel good about, here’s a checklist of points to check off as you go through the process.

• I have a budget I need to work within, but I’m also aware that I can’t let price be the determining factor, all other things being equal. The old adage that says you get what you pay for applies here as well.

• I have checked the installer’s credentials, and, even if they don’t carry any kind of certification, I have managed to get a good feel for their competence, or lack of.

• I have made sure the installer at least carries liability insurance to protect my property.

• I made sure I’m not the installer’s first customer by verifying that the installer has been fully trained and has plenty of experience. If I was to allow the installer to use me as his first customer, I may end up as the installer’s training site, which may have major repercussions for me.

• I have asked for and checked the installer’s references. And, to make doubly sure, I went out to the site of one of the installer’s previous customer’s to verify his work.

• I asked for and got written guarantees that cover the installation and any follow-up work that may need to be done.

• I have asked for an inventory of the products the installer intends to use and verified that they are of the highest quality by contacting several solar retailers to see if they would recommend these same products.

• I have compiled a list of local installers supplied to me by nearby solar companies and organizations. I prefer to use someone local because they are able to perform a site inspection and analysis in person, at which time I can also find out more about their competence and qualifications, and get to know them a little better.

• I have conducted a thorough face-to-face interview with the installer and been able to ask all the questions I had regarding the installation so that I can feel comfortable about working with a particular installer and about the decision I need to make.

These are the main points to cover when considering hiring a solar installer. The decision as to which installer to hire can be a make or break decision that should not be rushed into, and should not be made purely because of price considerations.

You need to do your due diligence so that you feel comfortable with the decision you end up making and the installer you end up hiring. A bit more effort up front can prevent a lot of pain and expense later on.

Warning – Solar Installations and Your Roof

October 14th, 2015 by hesty No comments »

Before any installations take effect, follow this important steps to save stress and money.

Warning about solar installations and your roof.

While a solar installation on your roof this days is the best to save energy and help the environment one important thing to consider is your roof. Before you have your solar system installed ask your contractor about the roof, what about the roof, what is going to happen if your roof leaks and you already spent a lot of money putting your solar system, what if those leaks are located under your solar system is your contractor going to come and un install the system so the roofing contractor can take care of your leaks or if not, are you ready to pay another solar contractor to uninstall the system so the roofing contractor can take care of your leaks?

Be careful and always ask this questions so you minimize the money you spent after your system is installed and working for you. The best thing to do is find a roofing contractor and fix the area where the solar system is going to be installed and ask for a warranty on any repairs, plus let the roofing contractor interact, talk with the solar contractor, one of the reasons is the solar cells always requires steel pipes and roof pipes to hold the new solar system attach to the roof, and no one than a roofing contractor that can take care of your roof.

Many roofs have solar systems, solar cells installed on the roof. The bad thing is that the solar contractor never told the home owner about the condition of the roof, and one thing is because they do not want the home owner to refuse their contract or sometimes they do not want the home owner to worried about the roof, but many times they just want to complete their work get their check and go. While many roofs are old and they need to be replace is not going to be a good idea to installed a new solar system on your roof and then later on have to un installed the system because no one told you that the roof needed to be replace before any solar installations took effect. Even if you have a new roof there always going to be roof penetrations, holes going to your roof to attach the new solar system, the best thing to do is call a roofing contractor before any installations take effect.

Ten Questions to Ask Before You Select a Solar Installer

October 6th, 2015 by hesty No comments »

What You Need to Know When Selecting a Solar Installer

With the summer fast approaching, now is the perfect time to start looking for a home solar energy system. Before you scroll through the phone book to find the number of a local solar professional, there are a number of important considerations that you have to take into account to find the right solar installer for your solar power system project. Knowing what questions to ask can make the difference between an exciting journey into renewable energy and an endless stream of problems with your new solar energy system.

  • How many solar energy systems have you installed?

Ask if the professional has experience with grid tie or off grid solar energy systems. Also, ask if the installer does mostly solar panel residential or commercial systems. This would indicate that the contractor has a history of involvement with the industry and is familiar with many different brands and components.

  • What do you recommend for my property?

As a potential solar client, keep your interests up front. If a solar contractor arrives at your door, communicate your interest in going solar, and find out what they recommend for a solar power system on your property. Chances are you already have a site selected – but find out what your contractor recommends before showing your hand. In this manner, you’ll confirm that the installer recognizes the importance of site selection. If they show up without a solar pathfinder or SunEye in hand – try someone else! The most important decision of a solar energy system is selection of a site.

  • Do you have any formal training in home solar energy installations?

A good installer will be one that has received extensive training. For instance, many solar panel manufacturers offer continuing education classes to solar contractors. These classes help familiarize the contractors with the intricacies of their unique solar energy systems. You might want to ask a potential installer whether they received formal training with the particular brand of solar equipment you hope to buy.

  • Do you have any certifications?

A number of national and state organizations, like the North America Board of Certified Energy Professionals (NABCEP), offer certification programs to help distinguish capable professionals. The NABCEP board in particular holds its installers to some of the highest standards, and many states now require homeowners to use a NABCEP-certified installer before they can participate in financial incentive programs. NABCEP’s on-line Installer Locator makes it easy to find a certified professional in your area.

  • Do you have references?

To really test the reputation of a solar installer, consider asking them for references from previous clients. Contacting past customers is a great way to determine whether a company’s claims of customer service ring true. Many installers will be happy to show you pictures of completed solar power installations – it’s a sign of a job well done!

  • Does your installation team include an experienced electrician?

Many solar energy systems require complex electrical components and unfamiliar hardware, so an electrician’s expertise is very important. However, not all licensed electricians are familiar with solar energy systems, so it’s important to ask whether the electrician working on your system has received solar-specific training and possesses experience installing photovoltaic energy systems.

  • Do you work with a licensed roofer?

If your solar photovoltaic system will be installed on your roof, contracting a licensed roofer to monitor the stress your new solar energy system will place on your home’s structure would be a prudent consideration.

  • Are you insured and bonded?

Be sure to verify that your installers have sufficient liability insurance by asking to see insurance papers. If the technicians encounter problems, you want to be confident that the installer can cover the cost of repairs and damages.

  • Do you warranty parts and components?

Some solar accessories may not come with warranties from the manufacturers. If this is the case with the specific brand that you’re looking to implement, you should ask the installer if they will warranty the equipment. Whether it comes from the maker or the installer, you should seek coverage for the greatest number of conditions and components over the longest period of time.

  • What is your long-term service policy?

Teasing out the long-term provisions of an installer’s service agreement can be tricky, especially if the agreement is full of legal and technical information. Here are a few points to consider: 1) How many years will service be provided on the unit? 2) What types of repairs and replacements does the service agreement cover? 3) What happens when the equipment doesn’t perform as efficiently as promised?

If you have more questions about home solar energy systems, please visit the SolarTown Learning Center.