Installing solar panels on your property is the final major step toward achieving energy independence. Because your solar panels represent a significant financial investment, it is critical that you work with a solar installer you can rely on. The maintenance of your solar system will be handled by a reputable solar installer for many years to come. We are aware that there are numerous companies that provide installation services, but not all of them are of high quality. As is true in many industries, there are companies that are only interested in making a quick buck by cutting corners. This is no different in the construction industry. You don’t want to hire the wrong people because the money you save on a low-cost installation will only end up costing you more money in the long run. Continue reading for advice on how to find a reputable solar installer, as well as how to avoid being taken advantage of by shady businesses.

Why Hiring a Good Solar Installer is Important

You will be able to use your solar panel array for at least the next twenty years. They are also prohibitively expensive. As a result, you want to make certain that the installation is completed correctly to avoid any problems down the road. Hiring a low-quality solar installer in order to save a few dollars will end up costing you more money in the long run. Typically, inexperienced solar installers use low-quality equipment, and they do an overall poor job with the wiring and installation of solar panels. Furthermore, you will lose efficiency and valuable power output as a result, and the municipality or utility provider may not even find that your solar array complies with the applicable codes and regulations. Some of the characteristics you should look for in a good installer are as follows:

  • Local or family owned
  • Been in business for at least five years
  • Tier 1 panels and quality equipment
  • Proper licenses and certifications
  • Good customer service
  • Good reviews and testimonials

A good installer has a long list of completed projects and satisfied customers that they should be able to refer to you if you ask them. They should use the most up-to-date equipment and wiring, and they should be in possession of all necessary licenses and certifications issued by the state. They will also take care of all of your servicing and maintenance needs in the future. If everything goes smoothly and correctly during the installation, your PV array should be able to provide you with all of the electricity you require for at least two decades. Don’t cut corners when it comes to finding a reputable solar installer.

How do I Find a Trusted Solar Installer?

Since the solar industry has exploded over the past ten years, a large number of electricians, carpenters, and other construction workers have taken advantage of the situation by starting their own solar panel installation businesses to supplement their income. It’s a lucrative market, and it’s only going to get bigger in the foreseeable future. However, as is true of many maintenance jobs, not everyone is honest in their work. We’ve all heard the horror stories about how things went wrong. A shoddy mechanic, a shoddy plumbing job, and a fixer who didn’t fix anything. Installation of solar panels is no exception, which makes it even more important to dig deep and conduct thorough research to ensure that the people you hire are actually going to do their jobs, and that they have the necessary certifications and training to complete the job correctly.

Search Online

Your best friend is the internet. Finding solar installers in your area will return dozens of results if you do an internet search. You’ll find both well-known brands and small, family-owned businesses in this section. Additionally, in addition to search engines, there are numerous websites dedicated to assisting you in your search for the best solar installer. Assuming you’ve already found the manufacturer and brand of solar panel that you’re interested in, the company’s website will also include a list of reputable installers for that particular product. This is probably one of the better options because both the company and the installer want to maintain positive relationships with one another and their customers. Installation of a product that is not up to standard is undesirable for both the manufacturer and the installer, who both wish to maintain the branding and publicity that comes with being recommended by a major brand. For a review of the best solar brands available in the United States, please visit this page.

person using laptop computer

                                            The internet is your best resource when searching for a trusted installer. Source: Christin Hume

Ask Others Who Have Installed Solar Panels

The power of word of mouth can make or break a company. That’s why it’s a good idea to seek advice from others who have had solar panels installed on their homes or businesses. Take advantage of friends, family, and neighbors who already have solar panels and ask for their thoughts on the matter. Inquire about the process, and inquire about any installers who stood out to them, both positively and negatively. Inquire about how the panels are doing now, and whether or not there have been any problems. Inquire about the customer service as well as how they were treated on a more personal level by the company. Whether or not they have summoned them back for maintenance is also critical information to have. If the maintenance is being performed by a different company, this could be a major red flag.

Make a List and Start Making Calls

Once you’ve gathered enough information, it’s time to start narrowing down your options and making decisions. Make a list of all of the installers in your area and begin calling each one on the list. Get a sense of how they operate as a company and how they interact with their potential customers. Even if you don’t intend to hire them, it’s a good idea to ask them some questions. Test their solar panel knowledge and see how much they know about the different types and efficiency of solar panels. Pay close attention to people who ignore your inquiries or appear frustrated about whether or not you are going to hire them in the first place. Good solar installers will take the time to hear what you have to say and will be willing to answer your questions. They will also provide you with direct answers, or at the very least a call back, if there is a topic on which they need to do some additional research.

Get Quotes From Multiple Installers

After you’ve done some asking around, start gathering some quotes. Location, home energy consumption, the size of the proposed system, the type of panels, and, of course, the quality of the installer will all influence the cost of your solar system installation. Compare quotes and make a note of any prices that are significantly higher or lower than the range. Exorbitant prices can be indicative of high quality, or they can be indicative of a company attempting to make up for low revenue. Low prices can be indicative of a good deal, or they can be indicative of a company that underpays their employees.

Check Certifications, Reviews, and Background Experience

As soon as you have a sense of the different solar installers in your area, as well as the prices they will charge, it is time to start looking into their company’s history and reputation. Because any company can appear to be successful on the surface, it is the quality of the work that is most important to consider.

It is once again necessary to make use of the internet’s resources. The first thing you should look for is licenses and certifications from the company. It is a non-profit organization that certifies solar installers under the North American Board of Certified Energy Practitioners (NABCEP). A certification from the NABCEP is the industry standard; no good installer will operate in the absence of such a certification. Aside from that, installers are required to hold a variety of state-level licenses and certifications, though the specifics of these vary from state to state. The regulations governing solar energy will almost certainly be more stringent in areas where solar energy is more prevalent, whereas other states may only require simple variations of electrical or construction licenses. Check the requirements for your area and compare them to those of the installers in your neighborhood.

The next thing you should be aware of is the individual’s previous work experience. Companies that have been in operation for a longer period of time are more desirable. Starting with a minimum of five years is a good place to start. These are the types of businesses that are more likely to have completed large projects and to employ experienced employees who are loyal and hardworking. They should also be well-known in the solar industry and have partnerships with well-established solar manufacturers. Inquire if they can provide you with references from previous projects so you can evaluate their work. A good solar installer should have no problem pointing to their previously completed projects as evidence of their expertise. You should also inquire as to whether the company was in existence prior to the installation of solar panels. When a company has a strong background in electricity, maintenance, or construction, it indicates that they are knowledgeable in a wide range of specialties.

A good installer will have employees with a background in construction or electrical engineering. Source: Fran Hogan

Of course, you can’t ignore the importance of customer feedback. While a company can tell you all about their certifications and how many projects they have completed, the best way to truly know whether or not you are in good hands is to hear it directly from previous customers who have experienced the same thing. Everyone is going to have some negative reviews; you can’t please everyone all of the time. However, a good company will have far more positive reviews than negative reviews. This should be reflected across a number of different platforms as well. If a company has positive reviews on Google but negative reviews on Facebook, you should be on the lookout for red flags. The way a trusted installer responds to negative reviews is a good indicator of their reliability. In order to resolve complaints and customer grievances in a non-confrontational manner, a good installer will go out of their way to do so. Companies that are untrustworthy will place the blame on the customer or will completely ignore them.

Please consider doing a favor for the solar community by leaving a review about your solar installer! Whether your experiences were positive, negative, or just OK, you want to share them with others as well. We should do everything we can to promote good solar installers while also alerting the public to the presence of bad ones.

Local vs. National Installers

Despite the fact that there are numerous large corporations to choose from, it is sometimes preferable to work with smaller family-owned businesses. Large corporations aren’t the best at providing excellent customer service. Their customer service department receives so many calls that they can afford to be less personal with their customers. Their reviews will reflect this; small-time installers will receive significantly better feedback than large corporate installers. Smaller companies are more willing to provide you with the personal attention that you deserve from a reputable solar installer.

Corporate installers are more likely to purchase equipment in bulk at a low price, even if the equipment is not always of high quality. They also have a tendency to hire subcontractors to complete the installation, who may or may not do a good job. This also removes the company’s liability, as it will be the subcontractors who will be held responsible if something goes wrong. When something isn’t done correctly, you’ll have to call the company, subcontractors, and the manufacturer, which will create a bureaucratic nightmare for you.

Local companies are more likely to customize your PV system, and they will have no problem ordering high-quality parts specifically for your installation. They are more likely to already have high-quality name-brand equipment, which they have chosen based on previous ratings of performance and satisfaction from customers. They will be equipped with Tier 1 solar panels as well as name-brand inverters. In addition, you will be working directly with them. The same people who answer the phone will be the ones who come to your home and install your solar panels. This results in a situation in which you can have open communication and thus develop a personal relationship with the other person. They will be on hand to address any questions or concerns you may have. In the event that something goes wrong, they will also be the ones to correct the situation. You will not be required to go through a larger contracting company in order to obtain a fix.

The Installation Process

Once you’ve identified a suitable installer, you can proceed with the actual installation process. It’s complicated, and it can be quite stressful at times. Consequently, here’s an overview of what to expect during the installation process.

Site Visits

The installers will come out to your house first and take a look at the situation there. Your home’s energy consumption and roof will be thoroughly examined at this time, according to the experts. They will also examine the electrical system in your house. This is the stage at which they will begin to develop concepts for the actual layout and design of your PV system. They will assist you in deciding on a type of solar panel to purchase or whether you should go a different route and purchase solar shingles.

Layout & Design

The installers will design the best layout for your home based on your specifications. What you can expect depends on your home’s energy consumption, the type of solar panel you choose, the amount of available space, and the angle of your roof. The design isn’t finished yet; you’ll have to give your approval before the rest of the process can begin. This is the stage at which you can make changes to the layout before selecting a final design. As soon as you give your approval, the necessary paperwork is signed, and the installation process proceeds to the next stage.

man in black jacket and yellow helmet holding black and white fishing rod

                                               It takes a few weeks of planning before you can begin installing your solar panels. Source: Science in HD

Permits

Obtaining construction permits from local authorities is required for solar panel installation. Your municipality and utility companies must be made aware of the project’s existence. If you are still making payments on your mortgage, the bank will need to be aware of the solar panels as well as the mortgage. It can take several weeks to receive approval from the appropriate regulatory agencies.

Installation

Once the permits have been granted, the solar panel installers will begin the process of installing the solar panels. While the planning and permitting phases can take anywhere from a few weeks to a month, the actual installation process takes no more than a couple of days. A final inspection must be performed on the panels before they can be officially connected to the grid and begin supplying electricity to your home.

Final Inspection

Before you can begin using your solar panel array, it must first be brought up to code. This is done in order to ensure safety as well as uniformity across the residential solar energy industry. Working on panels that are not up to code can be extremely dangerous. They can also be a source of problems during power outages, power surges, and powerful thunderstorms. Once your system has been brought up to code, it can be connected to the power grid and begin to generate electricity. Taking advantage of that sweet solar tax credit is now a possibility.

Conclusion

The process of installing solar panels is difficult. When you work with a reputable solar installer who you can rely on, the process is made easier. It’s important to remember that going local is preferable to going national. Local installers will provide you with the personalized attention you require, whereas larger companies will hire subcontractors who are overburdened with work and will not care about you as a client. Keep in mind to conduct background research into their qualifications. What you want to know about them is how long they’ve been in business, how many projects they’ve completed, and whether or not they have any licensing or certifications. To get the best results, you should work with an established installer who has completed several projects and has been in business for at least five years. Make sure to read the reviews, as third-party testimonials are a good indicator of a company’s performance and should be considered. Finally, once the system is up and running, the same company should be the ones you contact when it comes time for an annual maintenance check-up. A reputable solar installer will meet all of your solar energy requirements for many years to come.

Frequently Asked Questions

What makes a a good solar installer?

Ideally, a good solar installer will have a long track record of satisfied customers, as well as knowledgeable employees and positive customer feedback on social media. In addition, they will use high-quality equipment and provide excellent customer service.

How do I find a good solar installer?

Look online and talk to people who have already had solar panels installed. Check for proper licensing and certifications, as well as previous experiences and customer reviews on social media sites. A direct conversation with the installer is also recommended to get a sense of their demeanor and level of customer service.

What can happen if I hire a bad installer?

A shoddy installer may be inexpensive, but he or she will end up costing you more in the long run. Ultimately, you will have cheap solar panels, low-quality inverters, and shoddy wiring, as well as shoddy grounding. It is also possible to be fined by the municipality or utility company if your PV system does not meet the required standards.

 

 

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Author Bio

George Duval

Writer and environmental expert George Duval has written extensively on the topics of sustainability and environmental studies. After earning a B.A. in Sustainability from Florida International University, George began devoting his life to finding new ways to make the world a greener place. He currently works as a sustainability consultant. His areas of expertise include organic gardening, renewable energy, and plant-based diets, among other things. A number of publications, the majority of which are devoted to environmental issues, are currently in the process of being written and edited by him.

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