The Ultimate Guide to Choosing the Right Solar Installer

The Ultimate Guide to Choosing the Right Solar Installer

Last Updated on January 25, 2021 by Scott Laskey
Jan 26

Are you considering installing solar panels for your home or business Congratulations, you’ve made a great decision.

But, you’re probably wondering:

“How do I choose the best solar installer for my project?”

The quality of work provided by a solar panel contractor is the most important part of any installation.

That said, this guide is designed to help you determine how to choose the ideal solar company.

Read on.

How to Pick the Best Solar Installer for Your Project

There are so many important factors that go into selecting the right solar company for your installation.

Here are 11 things you need to look for.

1. Choose a Certified, Trained, & Self-Performing Installer

The design and installation process is technically challenging and involved. Whether you are the owner of a commercial business or a home, you will want your contractor to have direct control and oversight over the installation work performed.

It is crucial to choose a solar installer that is fully certified and has a professionally trained team of certified electricians and solar construction professionals working alongside them.

Your solar partner should have the certification they need, a proven track record and knowledge of current safety practices.

You want your installer to self-perform the installation and have direct, in-house advanced solar training and knowledge of how best to safely install solar power equipment.

2. Be Familiar with Subcontractor Qualifications

If your solar contractor intend to use subcontractors, it’s important to have have a good sense of the track record and qualifications of those entities.

Some circumstances call for a solar company to use subcontractors for specific tasks. The best companies are always transparent about why and how they use subcontractors.

Subcontractors may be used to complete a limited and specialized scope of work or they might be used to complete the majority of the installation labor.

In either case it is critical that the prime contractor have expert supervision present on the job site to maintain strict quality control.

Here at Sandbar, we self-perform the vast majority of our installations and maintain strict, on-site supervision and quality control across 100% of our jobs. 

Ask about the quality control process in place for managing subcontractor work. Also be sure to inquire about subcontractor qualifications and track record.

If possible, choose a company that not only sells but also installs systems with its own experienced crews.

2. Choose a Local Brand

When it comes to solar installers, homeowners can choose between a local or a national company.

While some may assume that national installers are the smarter choice – since these companies may be larger – a local installer is always a better choice.

Not only are local installers more reliable than national installers, you won’t have to jump through hoops to speak with a tech.

Working with a local company allows for a more personalized experience and better service while also supporting the local economy.

3. Choose an Installer Who Provides Maintenance

Most people assume that all solar installers also provide maintenance for PV panels.

This couldn’t be further from the truth, though.

Many solar installers don’t provide any follow-up maintenance. Unfortunately, this leaves you without support if your system needs service in the years following installation.

To avoid this, find a solar installer who also provides solar maintenance. This team will be a one-stop-shop for your rooftop solar panel system. They’ll manage the system from installation, throughout its lifespan.

4. Avoid Cheap Solar & Consider Financing Options

If the price seems too good to be true on your rooftop solar panel systems, it is.

If you don’t have money on hand for an installation, financing can make a big difference. An established solar company can help you explore sound financing options.

While this isn’t their main role, they can advise you on different plans, guide you through the steps and make the process easier.

5.Talk With People You Trust

It’s highly likely that you know someone who already has residential solar panels installed at their property.

Ask them about the contractor they worked with and how they rate the experience. They also might be able to recommend a company perfect for your job.

It is recommended that you get more than one proposal as a comparison.

6. Consider Different Solar Panel Brands

There are different solar panel brands available at different price points, but you shouldn’t make a decision based solely on cost. The leading brands are similar in terms of efficiency rating, performance, material quality and warranty.

Different solar panel brands are manufactured in different wattage increments. Unit costs are more accurately measured as price per watt. The final cost of your project is determined by its total wattage, not the price per panel.

Other important factors to consider are the product’s maintenance track record including any recalls and the manufacturer’s reputation.

An experienced solar panel contractor is your best resource for detailed information about different systems for your home.

7. Get An Idea of Their Expertise

You want to work with a company that can document its capabilities. Ask for quality assurance certifications that back up industry expertise for installing all types of solar panels as well as similar energy systems.

Read testimonials on the company’s website, and check out independent online reviews. An established track record is crucial to making sure you get the highest level of service.

The company should be happy to discuss all the details outlining solar power systems they’ve installed for previous clients.

8. Verify Licenses and Insurance

Business licenses and insurance policies protect both you and the company. Requirements vary by state and local jurisdiction, so make sure you understand how they apply to your area.

At a minimum, the company you choose should have general liability insurance.

9. Confirm Workmanship Warranties

A workmanship warranty is an important part of any solar panel installation. Average warranties cover design and construction of a solar energy system for 1 to 10 years.

You can purchase an operation and maintenance contract separately from the installation process. However, it’s much easier and more reliable to deal with a company that backs its projects with in-house workmanship warranties.

10. Expect Advice and Guidance

The best solar company gives you advice and guidance on the right solar panel system for your home or business. You want a strong, working relationship based on trust, so expect open lines of communication and a commitment to keeping you posted as the project progresses.

11. Be Sure of Bankability

Larger companies usually have excellent track records for success, and that keeps them bankable.

If a small contractor goes bankrupt, that can stall an ongoing installation or void workmanship warranties on a finished job.

An established solar panel company is your best choice for long-term project security.

Key Questions to Ask a Solar Installer

Asking the following questions gives you a better idea of how well the company can work for you:

  • Do you self-perform your installation work?
  • If you do not self-perform the installation, can you tell who or what company will be performing the installation work?
  • What is the track record and qualifications of that installation company?
  • What is the ratio of certified electricians to solar installation laborers on your job sites?
  • What quality control practices do you enforce during the installation process to ensure that the equipment is safely and correctly installed?
  • Can you verify quote numbers?
  • What kind of energy production can I expect from my panels?
  • Can you be sure that my roof is suitable for solar?
  • What kind of financing options do you offer?

Choose Sandbar Solar & Electric

When you pick a solar installer for your project, you want to know that you’re choosing honest professionals who meet all regulatory requirements and demonstrate real industry expertise. You also want solid warranties that protect your investment.

Here at Sandbar Solar & Electric, systems are designed, engineered, and stamped by our in-house electrical engineer.

Certified electricians then install the systems and trained professional installers. Sandbar offers ongoing maintenance and service options throughout the lifespan of your system.

If you’d like to request a free solar consultation, contact our friendly experts today.

About the Author

Scott Laskey is the founder of Sandbar Solar & Electric. With a Bachelor’s Degree in Economics from UC San Diego, Scott has an NABCEP certification, and has lectured on and taught many high-tech construction practices and solar PV technical concepts to education institutions, including Stanford University and state-recognized electrician apprenticeship programs. Scott enjoys sharing his knowledge of the evolving renewable energy space and making a difference in his community.