Before you decide to get a quote for solar panels, there are some important questions you should ask any company you are considering hiring. Think of it as an interview – after all, they will be working on your home, so get to know what the company is about and what their reputation is as installers.
In addition to general questions the contractor’s website or brochure may answer, be sure to ask:
Are you a licensed solar contractor and how long have you been in business?
Make sure anytime you hire a contractor to work on your home that he is licensed by the state and county/city he is working in and also that he is bonded and insured. Ask about the company’s installation numbers and how long they’ve been in the solar business. Don’t be an installation guinea pig! Make sure the contractor has some experience before he starts climbing around on your roof.
Will you thoroughly inspect my roof? And how will you make sure my roof doesn’t leak?
While most over the phone quotes are able to give you an idea of a recommended system size, your roof needs to be physically inspected by the contractor to make sure it is fit for installing panels on it. Depending on the roof’s age and overall condition, you may need to replace your roof before installing your system.
When the racks are installed (the support system for the panels), holes are made in your roof. Ask the contractor what equipment or additional materials will be applied to ensure you do not experience leaking in rainy weather.
What happens if my system does not produce as much as expected?
If you are promised a system to produce a certain amount of power per year, find out what happens if your system does not live up to your expectations. Will the company add additional panels at no cost to you? Will they reimburse you for the underperformance? Sometimes systems are sized only to cover what you’re using now and does not cover possible future useage. So if you plan on expanding your family or adding more rooms on to your house, you may decide to opt for a system that is sized slightly bigger than what you require.
Do you install the system or do you subcontract it out?
Find out who will be doing the actual work on your home. Many companies bid a job and then hire another company to do the work. If another company will be doing the work, find out their license information and experience with installing.
What happens if I lease a system and then move?
Generally, a lease can be transferred to the new owners of the home, after approval from a credit check. If they do not qualify, the leasing company will remove the system from the roof and will not hold you to your contract any longer. Ask if there are any fees associated with removal of the system or transferring of lease.
Will I need to add to my system or replace panels or inverters after so many years?
Solar equipment comes with a warranty and guarantee on production quality. This is separate from the contractor’s warranty on workmanship. Ask about both warranties and what exactly is covered by each.