Taking the plunge into converting your home’s energy source to solar power is an exciting —and nerve-wracking— time for any homeowner. By choosing a knowledgeable and experienced professional, you give yourself the best chance of having a system that suits your family’s needs, without the having to worry about poor project management. Yet, how do you know that your prospective professional fits that description? We at Modernize have found these ten questions to be essential in guaranteeing that a home’s solar installation is done professionally and well every time.
How many solar installation jobs have you done?
Solar power has boomed recently, and the market is doing its best to keep up. Although there are plenty of companies whose sole focus has been solar installation for years, there are others who have only recently acquired the specialized skill set. Ideally, your prospective installer will have performed more than 50 installations and will be able to provide references you can contact.
Is the company a licensed, bonded, and insured agency?
Any reputable company will have special licensure, bonding, and insurance for all of their employees. There are certifications for people in the solar power industry, and companies that have employees certified by the North American Board of Certified Energy Practitioners (NABCEP) is a particularly first-rate designation. Make sure also to inquire as to whether these same employees will be the people performing the work, or if it will be subcontracted.
Is my home compatible to warrant the expense?
Not every home is designed and oriented to accommodate solar panels. Ideally, your roof should have less than a 60-degree pitch, good southern sun exposure, and not be shaded by large trees or buildings.
What size system do I need to adequately supply my home?
Generally speaking, one square foot solar panel in direct sunlight should produce 10 watts of power. With that in mind, you can compare your rough calculations of just how much power your family would need with what your prospective installer is telling you.
What permits are required forthe city?
Each state has different regulations in regards to their building codes, though it is highly probable that a building permit will be required. Assuming that your city allows for solar panel installations, most professionals will take on the responsibility of acquiring the appropriate permits.
What is your equipment warranty?
A standard warranty for good quality solar panels should cover a 90 percent output after ten years and 80 percent after 25 years. Certain components like the inverter do not have as long a life expectancy as the solar panel itself, and it is good to know if those are included in the warranty.
Is there a labor warranty as well?
A good company will have some level of protection for their customers strictly on the installation work itself. Certain states require you to hire a business that has a 10-year warranty for their labor for your solar installation to qualify for a rebate. To determine what incentives are available in your state, as well as the specific requirements to qualify, check out DSIRE.
What maintenance is required to ensure the warranty remains valid?
Usually, solar panels require minimal maintenance and your warranty should not be affected—though this is not always the case. It is better to have all details spelled out in the case of any contingency later on.
What is in the bottom line?
Be sure that your final price quote includes everything from materials and labor to permit fees and initial roof inspections.
How long should the installation take?
In most instances, the actual installation process should only take a few days to complete, though the design, configuration, and fulfillment of all components may add upwards of a few weeks to the schedule.
Like with most home renovations of this magnitude, it is best to get assessments and quotes from multiple professionals to ensure that you find the right people for the job.