6 Factors to Consider Before Hiring Solar Services

By 2015, the US solar power system brought in enough energy to power 5.4 million homes. The sun emits enough energy to power the world 10,000 times over every day. To capture this rich resource, install a few solar panels.

Before hiring solar services from a company, do some research. During the solar boom, fly-by-night businesses took advantage of customers.

Protect yourself from scams with a six-point vetting system. The system weeds out greedy companies. If the company won’t provide any of this information, find another installer.

1. Read Local References and Reviews

Advertisements for hiring solar services include confusing jargon. The best way to understand a business isn’t through their ads, but their customers.

Ask friends and family who they used for their solar installation. Do your neighbors have solar panels? Ask about the job quality provided by their installer.

Take the reference list and follow up online. Find reviews on and off the company’s website for a real look at what they offer.

2. Does the Solar Installer Have a License?

Solar installers must carry at least general contracting licenses. Your state may require installers to carry a specific solar contractor’s license.

Installers without a license may not have other important documentation. Licensed installers carry liability insurance and follow federal job safety standards. Without either, you might pay for any accidents the installer causes.

3. What Solar Panel Designs Does the Company Install?

There are three types of solar panels. Pay attention to which panel design the company suggests for your home.

Common solar panel designs:

  • Monocrystalline – Most expensive and 20% efficiency
  • Polycrystalline – Mid-range pricing and 17% efficiency
  • Thin-film – Cheapest panel option and 11% efficiency

The installer should visit the property and suggest panels that work for you. Don’t trust anyone that suggests panel types with no information about your home.

4. Will the Company Bring in a Subcontractor?

Subcontractors come in when a business needs extra help with a job. Some new companies use third-party labor to fill gaps in their installation knowledge.

Before a third-party install your solar panels, ask about their qualifications. Vet the subcontractors like you did the original company. If something goes wrong, hold the original company responsible for the repair costs.

5. Ask About the Warranty Details

A warranty from your solar panel company means they plan to help maintain the system. Scammers won’t offer warranties or their offer is under a year.

A trustworthy installer carries manufacturer warranties of around 25 years. Some also offer workmanship warranties or panel production guarantees.

6. Spend Time Comparing Installer Costs

Less than half the solar installation cost goes toward the panels. The other 64% is called soft costs.

Soft costs include:

  • Permits
  • Sales tax
  • Transaction fees
  • Corporate costs
  • Installer profits
  • Labor costs
  • Supply chain cost

When hiring for solar services, ask the companies about their soft costs. A good company will be 100% honest and explain the charges. Scammers may hide fees in the soft costs to charge you more.

Be Smart When Hiring Solar Services

When hiring solar services, you need to trust the company. A bad installer can cause roof leaks that cost thousands of dollars to repair.

Don’t be afraid to ask the installer any questions about solar energy. It’s their job to inform you about the process.

Need more advice on updating your home? Browse our Home & Garden section for helpful tips.

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