WORKING WITH THE INSTALLER
working with a solar installer
And read your contract!
By Mike Hall
PE TERSEN/DEAN ROOFING AND SOLAR SySTEMS NEEDAROOF.cOM
Once you’ve decided to purchase a solar electric power system, your next
step is to choose a solar electric contractor. Some points you should
consider when deciding on the best fit:
• Who has the necessary experience and certifications? Look for a track
record of successful installations and satisfied customers. Is the lead installer
certified by the North American Board of Certified Energy Practitioners (NAB-
CEP) or by a state board? Does the company have the correct licenses to do
• Who has the best-trained and qualified staff? Does the company have
people on staff who can arrange financing, file paperwork for permits and incen-
tives and measure system performance? Will the work crew follow appropriate
building codes for roof integrity? Will the crew follow worker safety procedures
specified by the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA)?
• Who has the best customer service and warranty? What’s the contrac-
tor’s reputation for follow-up service? Check references. Call past customers
to find out whether schedules were met and problems solved.
Read the contract
It should specify the total contract price, how and when incentive payments will be credited, payment schedule and warranty terms on products and service. Find out what kind of
insurance the contractor carries, what part of the work will be
done by subcontractors and what your liability may be if the
primary contractor fails to pay a subcontractor.
Request multiple bids
claudia Wentworth of Norcal Solar recommends getting bids
from three contractors. Each bidding company should review
your utility bills and your site, then recommend a system
configuration. choose the one that best fits your budget and
goals, and then put that system out to all three contractors for
an “apples to apples” bid. Another method is to hire a solar
system design engineer, and provide the detailed specification
to the installation contractors to bid the job.