Doing your due diligence on any home improvement is important, and solar panel installations are absolutely no exception. However, a solar panel installation may be a bit different than other types of modifications or projects. Here’s what we mean:
For starters, they aren’t necessarily a “renovation” in that, for the most part, you aren’t upgrading something that already exists. Next, they aren’t something that is handled in the same way that - say - a kitchen remodel would be.
If you were planning to have your kitchen redone, you may head down to a local design showroom to pick out your fixtures and features and create your dream design yourself. You’d probably speak with friends and family about which contractors they’ve used. And you may - if you’re trying to stay within a budget - attempt to undertake some (or all!) of the work yourself.
Solar panel installations are another beast entirely. They’re a relatively new addition to the world of home improvements, and it’s important that you do your due diligence thoroughly. Most folks can wield a paintbrush just fine and even figure out how to install a kitchen sink with relative ease, but climbing up on your roof to install solar panels is strictly a job for the professionals.
To make doing your due diligence a bit easier, we’ve compiled a list of five questions (okay, some of them are multi-part endeavors) you should ask each prospective solar panel installation company.
- How many years have you been in business? How much industry experience does your leadership team have?
- Are there any upfront costs for installing solar panels? Are there any consultation fees?
- Does the system come with any warranties or maintenance (especially if you purchase it outright)?
- Are all of your business licenses and insurance (for your particular state/municipality) up to date?
- Is any part of the process subcontracted? If so, how are those vendors vetted?
Due to the nature of solar panel installations being relatively new, you’re unlikely to find a company that boasts generations of experience. But, you may find an organization that has experience in similar industries and they’ve made the natural transition over. Similarly, if you’re dealing with a brand new company, you’ll want to know how much experience their leadership has - just because their company is new doesn’t mean their team doesn’t have years of experience in installations and the associated industries.
Let’s be honest, this is likely to be one of your first questions when doing any sort of project! Within the solar panel installation industry, in particular, it’s not uncommon to hear about “$0 down” offers and then find out a bit down the line that there is, in fact, some money down. Check with the companies you’re interviewing to see if they charge any consultation fees and what fees and charges are involved from the very first to the very last steps of their process.
When you’re making a large investment it’s nice to know what will happen if things aren’t working properly. If you’re planning to invest in a solar loan or Power Purchase Agreement (PPA), there is likely to be significant warranties and maintenance policies in place, but if you purchase your system outright you will definitely want to check to see who’s responsible for repairs should anything happen within a specified amount of time.
It’s incredibly important that when you’re having any work done on your home you’re absolutely certain that you’re using reputable contractors. One of the ways to do this is to make sure their licenses and insurance are all up to date. You can, of course, ask them to furnish this information for your review, which should be an easy enough request, but you can also check with your local state or municipality offices to verify for yourself.
Finally, while you’ll want to know the status of the business’s licenses and insurance, you’ll also want to know the status of the folks who are doing the actual work. In some cases, portions of the job may be subcontracted out to other companies or to contracted laborers. Therefore, you’ll want to make sure they’re all properly vetted (and probably insured) by the company you’re doing business with.
Are you ready to learn more about going solar? Download our guide, Frequently Asked Questions About Going Solar, today.