What should I look for in an installer?

When choosing an installer, you’ll want to consider many criteria. We’ve distilled the most important into a comprehensive list below.

Experience: It’s important to assess the installer’s installation experience. How many installations have they completed? How many were systems similar to your own in size, design, and materials? In addition to installation experience, installers should be familiar with the permitting and interconnection procedures relevant to your property. How many installations have they completed in your jurisdiction and utility territory?

Reviews: When researching prospective installers, be sure to ask for customer references.  How were other peoples’ experiences with the company? Consider checking online reviews at sites like Angie’s List and the Better Business Bureau.

Materials: With hundreds of manufacturers and products on the market, it can be hard to know what the best panel, inverter, and racking system is for your property. You’ll want to ask your installer what components they offer and what their experience has been with those manufacturers. Should you desire a specific type of material (an American-made panel, for example) you should express that preference upfront with your installer.

Labor warranty: Labor warranties cover the workmanship of the installer, most likely covering their electrical wiring and roof penetrations. These differ from installer to installer, so it’s important to know what each installer offers when choosing between companies. Be sure to ask if the warranty fully covers roof penetrations when researching labor warranties. Some installers do not offer that coverage under warranty. If having a robust, long-term labor warranty is important to you, ask your installer if they offer an option to upgrade to a longer warranty period.

Licensing and certifications: While no universal solar license exists, a leading industry certification to look for is NABCEP (North American Board of Certified Energy Practitioners). All installation crews should include at least one person who is NABCEP certified. This includes electricians. You should request a copy of your installer’s electrical and contracting license.

Source: GW Solar Institute

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