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 experience. Remember this is a 25-year relationship.
- 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.
- 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!
- 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.
- Does the Contractor own their building and trucks? If so it is reasonable to assume they will be doing their own work.
- 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:
- Do your own research first before contacting the three companies you want to consider.
- 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.
- Make sure you are provided with drawings, proposals, spec sheets, and contracts for your review. Review them, don’t assume!
- Never make a decision on the first visit!