Enphase Platinum Installer

Solar is a 25 year commitment, research it as such

Your PV Solar System is a very large investment in what is likely your single biggest investment, your home. Solar can be one of the best investments you make depending on the contractor you hire, if you make the wrong decision you may regret it for many years to come. As such here are some pointers as to how to best ensure that you choose the right contractor and PV system to fit your needs.

Solar is not a “one size fits all” proposition and as such, a site visit and consultation are always required before signing a contract to avoid costly change orders later. By properly understanding your needs and site-specific variables, you can be assured that a true scope of work is understood upfront to avoid costly change orders later.

Things to consider in the contractor you hire to ensure you have the best long-term experienceRemember this is a 25-year relationship.

  1. Search our recommended installer list based on your zip code as we have completed a lot of the research for you, these contractors are Enphase ambassadors and have already been vetted by Enphase.
  2. Verify with your state’s Contractors State License Board that they are licensed for the work you are contracting for. In many cases, this will also alert you to their years in business, that they are properly insured and or that they are currently under a disciplinary situation or not licensed at all!
  3. Google the company name and the word complaints. Check online sites such as Yelp, BBB, Nextdoor, etc. This is a quick way to get an idea as to the reputation of the contractor.
  4. Does the Contractor own their building and trucks? If so it is reasonable to assume they will be doing their own work.
  5. Or are they working out of a PO box and using Sub Contractors for all of their work? This can be a concern as you may be dealing with a sales team only. Who knows who will do your work?! Who would handle any needed repairs needed down the road in this case?

Basic questions that need to be answered before signing a contract.

  • What system size do you need? At a minimum, a contractor should be reviewing your previous year’s kWh usage. This gives a good baseline indication. To properly size the system you should be asked if you plan on getting an electric car, using more air conditioning, or is anyone moving in or out of the home in the near future, etc. If so then you will need to account for this in the system design.
  • How many panels fit on your roof? A company should be able to provide a professional drawing showing where the panels will go. S, W, E roofs are recommended. North should be used only as a last resort and will never deliver the power of the other roof orientations.
  • What size is your main electrical panel? There are back feed limitations with solar. It is often the case that your existing Utility service will dictate the maximum system size that can be reasonably installed, without a proper site inspection you could easily be looking at a huge change order to bring the electric service up to code, this is a perfect example of understanding the scope of work upfront and avoiding costly change orders later.
  • How old is your roof? If your roof is 20 years old or more then you should consider re-roofing before going solar, as it is costly to remove and reinstall a solar system. We recommend you consider finding a contractor who has an electrical license and a roofing license. This will prevent future finger-pointing should the roof ever leak.
  • Review the contract in detail before signing. It is not uncommon at all for less scrupulous companies to send you a contract that doesn’t include any specifics. Your contract should include at a minimum the following:
    • Inverter type – Manufacturer and model number *Make sure they are specifying Enphase microinverters*
    • Panel Manufacturer and Model number
    • System size should match the quantity of the panels times the panel wattage; ie 20 LG 335w panels is a 6.7kw system size
    • Are all warranties detailed and understandable? How long will the installer stand behind their work? Our microinverters and most panels have a 25-year warranty.

Just to recap:

  1. Do your own research first before contacting the three companies you want to consider.
  2. Schedule consultations and site visits with your top three. Listen and ask questions of all three before making your decision, don’t fall for any special deals if you will sign today.
  3. Make sure you are provided with drawings, proposals, spec sheets, and contracts for your review. Review them, don’t assume!
  4. Never make a decision on the first visit!
Buying a house with solar panels

Buying or Selling a House with Solar Panels?

Are you buying a house with solar panels?

Perhaps you are in the market to buy or sell a home and ready to assume the benefits of a previously installed PV solar system, here are some tips on how to decide whether the existing system is an asset or a liability.

Should I buy a house with an existing solar system?

  • Is the system owned outright and not subject to a lease or PPA?
  • Was the system installed by a reputable installer who is still in business?
  • Did they use quality solar panels and inverter from companies that are still in business?
  • Is there a copy of the original contract and is the warranty transferrable?

If you can answer yes to all four of the above questions, then the answer is simple; yes, buy the house.

If not, then read on; find out which red flagsto look for and what to expect from the system?

How was the system originally purchased?

  • A system that is owned outright is not subject to any loans or leases and must be assumed at close of escrow – this is the best way to go and poses no “red flags.”
  • A system that was purchased with a PACE loan (Property-Assessed Clean Energy Loan) and must be assumed by the buyer – RED FLAG
  • Use this as leverage in the transaction. Consider if it’s worth a bit more money if the system is unencumbered.
  • See what it will take to have the seller buy thee system outright before the close of escrow.
  • Try to get rid of the PACE loan and do not close escrow unless you fully understand he liabilities you are undertaking. This isn’t necessarily a deal breaker, however, it’s not the best means to finance a PV system.
  • The system was leasedRED FLAG
  • Use this as leverage in the transaction. It’s not necessarily a deal killer, but lease agreements are certainly not in favor of the seller.
  • Is the leasing company still in business? If not, this could be a deal killer.
  • What is the remainder of the contract? Is the buyout fee reasonable (Doubtful)? What level of monitoring is provided and is it still functioning? A common mean the leasing companies use as a crutch to void their production guarantees is the monitoring device has lost connection and the homeowner ignores it.
  • Who do the lease payments go to and do they have a local presence?
  • Are you sending payments to Wall Street or to a regional company who is still answering the phone?
  • Is there a lease escalator and are you aware of the sales tax billed on every payment?
  • If you need service what is the procedure?
  • If you are in the market to put solar panels on your home this is probably not the choice you would make.
  • But it’s already there so… if you would like the house, then determine if the lease is acceptable to assume.
  • Some leases are acceptable in that the cost of power consumption under the lease is still less than what you would pay your local utility company. If this is the case then don’t let it stop you from buying the house of your dreams.
  • The system is a PPA (Power Purchase Agreement)RED FLAG
  • Again… Leverage.
  • Consider the remaining term?
  • Will you use the power delivered?
  • With a PPA you’re paying for it regardless. Be sure that the system is sized right for you.
  • Again, who do the PPA payments go to and do they have a local presence?
    • Are you sending payments to Wall Street or a regional company who is still answering the phones?
    • What is the current rate?
  • Is that tax rate favorable with today’s rate plans?
  • You will most likely be on a “Time- of-Use” (TOU) plan and offsetting the least expensive power sold by the utility.
  • Check closely. Rates can vary and usually contingent upon your utility plan.
    • Escalators? Is there a lease escalator clause that can potentially change the agreement price?
    • Are you aware of any sales tax billed on every payment?
  • What level of monitoring is provided and is it still functioning?
    • At least with a PPA it’s in the companies benefit to maintain the monitoring.
    • But can they bill expected production if you connection drops?
  • If your system needs to be serviced, what is the procedure?
  • If you are in the market to put solar on your home, PPA is not the choice you should make.
    • But it’s already there so… if you like the house, then determine if the cost per kw is acceptable.
    • If the cost of the power under the PPA is still less than what you would pay your local utility, then don’t let it stop you from buying the house of your dreams.
  • Who installed the system? At Palomar Solar & Roofing, we proudly put our name and contact information on the system plaque.
  • Can the home seller tell you who did their installation?
  • Is the installer still in business? What is their reputation?

So many red flags – do I really want solar?

Let’s take a quick moment to remind you of the benefits of solar. First and foremost: It makes sense financially. Investing in a PV Solar System is one of the best investments you can make as a homeowner and if done right, through a reputable company such as Palomar Solar & Roofing, peace of mind and an overflow of benefits will shortly follow. Many believe the primary reason to go solar is for the environment. Here at Palomar, we prefer to look at the financial benefits of solar and if it’s good for the environment, that’s a bonus! 

Do homes with solar systems sell faster?

Simple answer is… “Usually.” Of course if your house has a PACE loan or a lease, you may experience the opposite. What if the panels are facing the street and located in a haphazard manner as to be an eyesore. This is why it is so necessary when choosing your solar company to ensure that you are hiring a company who will be honest about all variables. At Palomar Solar & Roofing, we know that our systems are installed right and take aesthetics as well as proper sizing into consideration. If a system is installed properly, by a reputable contractor with quality components, then yes; your PV system will add value to your home. It will also allow the homebuyer to close escrow with peace of mind rather than pulling out of escrow at the discovery of any “red flags,” due to the previous home owner cutting corners.

What is the value of my solar system?

Did we mention benefits? One of the many benefits following the installation of solar is that it has great potential to increase the value of your home. But keep in mind that value is truly contingent upon the current market and method in which you’ve purchased your PV solar system and it absolutely matters which company has installed your system. The cream of the crop has risen in the solar industry and in our opinion, there are only a few companies who can really offer peace of mind. If you’re buying a home that these companies have installed on, you can feel comfortable knowing that warranties are going to be upheld and at a minimum the job was done right. Do your research on a solar system that was previously installed on a home you have taken interest in. Once you have identified which company has installed the system, research the company and ensure reputability.

At Palomar Solar & Roofing, we provide each system with a full set of documentation; from the contract to the installation plans and warranties. We are proud of our work and our reputation shows it. When looking for your solar installer, know that these intangibles are what make a difference between a system that is an asset to you and your home, versus one that could make selling your hoe an experience you’d rather forget.