7 Questions For a Professional Solar Installer
So you’ve decided solar energy is right for you and your home, you’re ready to start the installation process, and you may even have a budget prepared. However, you probably have some lingering reservations and you might not be entirely sure what questions to ask your solar installer. We’ve compiled a short list of important questions to ask your solar installer that can help you gain confidence in a solar energy system for your home.
1. What Size of System Should I Install?
Each home will need a different sized system installed, just as every home has different energy needs. Homeowner A may want to reduce their home’s energy by an eighth, whereas Homeowner B may want to entirely switch to solar energy and provide excess energy to a side building. Each homeowner has different goals when it comes to their home’s energy efficiency, but the main factors that remain the same are to save money and improve the home’s energy efficiency.
The homeowner’s personal preferences, the size of the home and the amount of space available for a solar panel system are all crucial factors in deciding what size system will need to be installed. How big your roof is and how much shade your roof sees on an average day will also influence the size factor. Your professional solar installer will help you analyze your home’s energy needs and be able to provide you with an estimate of the size of your solar system.
2. How long have you, or your company, been in business and how many systems have you installed?
This question may seem basic, but it definitely comes with an important answer. How long the installer has been in business, whether corporate or local, will help you identify how much experience this individual/company has within the solar energy sector. Depending on your needs, if they’ve been in business for less than five years, or especially less than one year, you can ask for references.
If you’re personally unsure of your installer’s work, this will give you a way to ask other homeowners how this particular installer performed and anything that may have gone exceptionally well or gone awry during the installation process.
Follow-Up Question: Do You, or Your Company, Use Solar Energy?
If a company themselves are using solar energy, you’ll know that they trust the process and energy productivity.
3. What licensure and qualifications do you/your company have?
When you hire an individual or corporate installer to meet your solar energy needs, you expect that he/she will have qualifications and licensure to do so. However, it is important to make sure you see these documents or at the very least, you are positive he/she has them. You’ll also want to know if they have insurance and what those policies entail, too. Be sure to find out if they will be hiring subcontractors and if so, what those qualifications and licensure includes. Many installers do subcontract, so if you hire someone who does, just make sure the accreditations are existent.
4. What paperwork and permits do you take care of, and which ones do I need to obtain myself?
Generally, the installer will take care of the paperwork that you need. However, if they don’t, you will want to know how to obtain this information yourself so you have proper clearance for your solar panel system installation. Along with insurance and licensure, this question is just as important to understanding the work you’ll need to do. Additionally, each state has different electrical codes and you will want to be sure that the company adheres to these properly that way you personally aren’t penalized or fined.
5. What kind of warranty do you have and does that change at all, while the warranty is in place?
In the unlikely event that something goes wrong, you’ll want to know how the repairs are handled and if there will be additional costs to you. The majority of the hardware, solar panels, inverters, etc. are covered by manufacturer warranties. Most of these are rather standard warranties across different companies, but the workmanship may vary. For example, one company may stand behind their workmanship for a year, while another may stand behind it for five years. You will also want to be aware if they provide various warranty options and analyze which commitment provides you will the most assured decision.
6. What costs do I pay up front and what’s an estimation of what I could pay in the long-term?
Whether you’re choosing a corporate installer or a local installer, installing solar panels will be a investment, economically and sustainably. From each company that gives you an estimate, make sure you receive a breakdown of what those prices entail. You’ll want to know what costs are covered and what you will still need to front. Along with the insurance rates and warranty policy, it’s important to be aware of what you could end up spending in the long term if anything.
7. How much money can a solar panel system save me?
Most likely, the main reason you’ve decided to go solar is that of the cost-saving benefits, which means you’ll want to know how much money this is going to save you. For the average American home, you could end up saving around $20,000 over a 20-year span, an average of $1,000 savings per year. If you’re looking at cost-saving solutions, solar installation is definitely a cost-effective solution in the long-term. Although these are average price saving estimates, you will want to be aware of what your home’s savings can be and learn how to maximize that revenue. If the company you’re working with stays current with tax incentives and revenue policies, you will be able to maximize your profits that way, as well.
Are You Ready to Start Installation?
After all of these essential questions to ask your solar installer, feel free to ask any and all other questions surrounding materials or processes that you are unsure of. Before you sign any paperwork or pay any finances, be sure that you read the fine print and understand all terms of your agreement beforehand. You’ll want to make sure everything you’ve discussed is included in the contract and that there aren’t any questions left unanswered. This is a wonderful investment for your home and you want to make sure all aspects of its work cohesively. If you have any additional concerns, feel free to contact us directly before installing your solar system.