Schedule some preliminary conversations with contractors. You’ll evalu-
ate the contractors as they evaluate your power needs. Points to consider in-
clude your energy-usage history, if you want a ground-or roof-mounted system,
the direction your roof faces, the basic costs and financing options available,
any potential shading risks taken from satellite views of your property, and your
primary goals and concerns for going solar. A conscientious company will do a
detailed site evaluation before bidding on the job.
Once you’ve settled on a contractor, you’ll meet at least one more time to take
final measurements and go over the contract carefully. The contractor will take
a deposit, order materials and schedule an installation date.
The installation of a residential solar system should take two or three days.
Installation isn’t compete until it’s tested and shown to meet power production
specifications. Once that’s established, you can take satisfaction in watching
the electric meter spin backward during daylight hours. r
Mike Hall is president of Borrego Solar Systems Inc. ( borregosolar.com). He holds
a master’s in chemical engineering from Stanford University and a bachelor’s in
chemical engineering from the University California Santa Barbara.
Search for a local contractor
Start your search for a local contractor in the zip-code listings
at the back of this magazine, or on line at findsolar.com. For
word-of-mouth recommendations, attend meetings of your
local chapter of the American Solar Energy Society (see page
58 for listings).
Solar modules carry a 25-year warranty but are made to last
30 to 40 years with little to no maintenance. The aluminum
support system should last at least that long, and the roof
should remain watertight for the warranty life of the system.
Other components (charge controllers and inverters, for
instance) carry shorter warranties. your contract should specify
a service policy for these components.