How to choose a solar energy installer

If you’re installing solar energy for your home or office, you probably have a bit of cash to spare – while they help you reduce bills, solar panels are a far cry from cheap. Still, having cash hardly means you should opt for a solar energy installer who’s going to rip you off and try to make an easy buck off of you being misinformed.

Bad practices in the solar energy installation industry abound because very few people have an in-depth familiarity with this technology and the practices around it. Educating yourself before making contact with the first contractor on your list is the only way to ensure someone doesn’t use dirty tactics to part you with your hard-earned money. Here’s how you should choose a solar energy installer that will do you right.

 Choosing a solar energy installer

  • Ask for the installer’s certificates. Despite being fairly new, solar energy installation is an established industry and there are multiple organizations that help legitimate contractors gain credibility by issuing certificates. Picking a company certified with one or more of these organizations will go a long way towards ensuring that they follow a code of conduct as opposed to doing whatever they want. Needless to say, the company should also be licensed and insured as opposed to working out of a garage.
  • Get a feel of the contractor as they provide you with a quote. Are they trying too hard to make the sale, almost coercing you to pick them as your installer, or are they laid-back and happy to answer your questions without being too pushy? Does the person have an “I want your money” feel to them or are they clearly a friendly businessman who cares about customers? These things will tell you a lot about what you can expect from the installer from start to finish. Also, while not necessary, you should consider a free quote as a definite plus.
  • Look for transparency in regards to the solar panels themselves. They might not look all that different from one another, but solar panels can vary considerably in terms of quality and utility. The installer you’re considering should be completely transparent with the solar panels they’re offering, providing a brand, model name and pros and cons of every type of panel suggested – omitting this information is a sure sign that they’re doing dirty business, as is refusing to sign a contract that makes them liable should they install a different panel than the one they claim.
  • Look for a lengthy warranty for both the panel and the inverter. Solar panels don’t break that often, which is why they tend to come with warranties in excess of 20 years – this should include repairs to the cells as well as other parts of the panel. Since inverters don’t last as long, they generally have a warranty of around 5-10 years. If the warranty policy of an installer deviates from this, keep looking – they might be using products that are faulty, low-quality or have already been used on a different structure.