Five Questions to Ask Before Choosing an Installer:
1. Is your company NABCEP certified? NABCEP (North American Board of Certified Energy Practitioners) certification represents the gold standard in terms of professional solar competence. Having NABCEP-certified professionals, and/or using them in all installations is an indication of knowledge and competence
2. Do you have adequate insurance, and a valid state/local license? The licenses can be local or state. For instance, Illinois requires a state solar license. Additionally, many local jurisdictions require a contractor license to operate in their territories. Your installer should also have CGL (commercial general liability) insurance, and automobile coverage, at a minimum, as insurance coverage's.
3. Do you use Tier 1 components for the installation? There are literally hundreds of solar panel brands available in the market. Among these, a handful are what are called as ‘Tier 1 modules’. These are the brands on which the lending institutions place their faith and are called as ‘bankable’ modules. At a minimum, the panels have to be in the approved list of the state of California.
4. How long is your warranty period? Whereas many installers will pass along the original equipment warranties to the customer, the installation and workmanship warranties are oftentimes skimpy. You need to go with the installer offering the longest warranty period for installation, and workmanship.
5. Can you give advice beyond solar? Most installers will analyze your electric bill, and based on your electricity consumption will recommend a suitable size. But, you may be overspending on a larger than required system if you did not implement the basic energy efficiency items such as LEDs, or insulation upgrades. Your installer must first analyze and recommend the low hanging fruits which yield a faster payback period than solar such as LEDs, recalculate the system sizing after such improvements, and recommend that size. This strategy could end up saving you thousands of dollars since your new system size after these energy efficiency improvements will invariably smaller than without these improvements.