Homeowner's Guide — Education

How to Choose a Solar Panel Installer

Research Each Solar Installer before you schedule a meeting with them

We recommend that you do research about potential solar installers before you schedule a meeting with them. This will save you a lot of time and ensure that you are speaking with a solar installer who you can trust.

When you begin to research local solar installers, we recommend you look at the following to start your research:

  • Google Reviews: check out what customers say about a solar installer and what it is like to work with them. This will give a good impression of which solar installers you should contact to get a bid.
  • Better Business Bureau: your local Better Business Bureau can tell you if there are any complaints or reports about a potential installer.
  • Your County Government: contacting your local county office is a way to find out which licenses a solar installer has and if they are in good standing with your state and local government.
  • Your Utility Company: it also a good idea to contact your utility company to see if they have any feedback about local installers

Compile a list of questions before your scheduled meeting

If you contact your local utility company about local solar installers, you should also ask the utility company if they have a list of requirements or a list of questions they recommend you should ask every solar installer that you meet with to get a bid.

We have compiled a list of the most frequently asked questions that you utility companies recommend for homeowners to ask solar panel installers. The list of questions is below

Questions to Ask a Solar Installer

01 — Are you licensed, bonded, and insured?

Any good solar installer will offer to provide you with documentation answering these questions. You can also check with your local county and state office to confirm the solar installer’s current status.

02 — How long have you been in business?

Always a good question to ask so you can understand their level of experience. Solar installers typically need to be in business for a minimum of 2 years to be able to provide customers with consumer financing options.

You should also review online and with your local Better Business Bureau how long this solar installer has been in operation.

03 — How many residential solar systems have you installed?

Good solar installers are proud of how many solar systems they’ve installed and we’ll most likely mention this on their own when they meet with you.

04 — Can you provide us with your customer reviews, testimonials, and references?

A good solar installer will provide you with customer testimonials and references.

This is why it is so important to research a solar installer’s Google Reviews and other online reviews, so you can get a full picture of the quality of their work and what it will be like to work with them.

05 — What is your rating with the Better Business Bureau?

Again, this is something you should identify before you meet with a solar installer.

It is still a good question to ask to see if the installer knows this or if they tell you something different than what is listed on their profile.

06 — Who will be working on my home?

You need to ask if the solar installer will perform the actual solar installation for your home or if they will contract this out to another installer.

It is best if the solar installer you’re meeting with will also be the same company to install your solar panels. If that is not the case, then you will need to ask for information about the company who will be completing your home’s installation and research that company.

07 — Will there be a master electrician on site when the system is installed?

This will give you a good idea for the installation crew’s expertise and the expertise of the other installation crew members.

08 — Is my roof right for solar panels?

A good solar installer will conduct a site analysis for home to evaluate if it is suitable to go solar.

Ask them how they will conduct a site analysis and evaluate if solar panels can be installed on your roof.

09 — What happens if my solar system does not perform as promised?

Your solar installer should offer a production guarantee for your home’s solar system.

10 — Your solar installer should offer a production guarantee for your home’s solar system.

Your solar installer should have a project management team to take care of permitting and the inspection process.

11 — How will going solar impact my utility bill?

This will depend on your home’s future energy usage, your state’s net metering laws, and the design of your home solar system.

A solar installer should be able to review this with you and provide you with a variety of solar panel options that will best offset your monthly utility bill.

12 — What is the warranty for my home’s solar panels?

25-year warranties are the industry standard for solar.

You should ask a solar installer if they will also cover their workmanship with a 25-year warrant to match the solar industry standard.

13 — If my roof needs to be replaced in the future, what is the process of removing and replacing solar panels?

If this is the case for your home, you need to ask the solar installer about their professional certifications and how many roofs they have removed and replaced.

If the solar installer does not handle this, then you will need to research about the company they recommend to handle this for your home.

14 — How will I know if my system is working?

A quality solar home system and equipment will come with software solutions to monitor your home system’s performance.

You need to ask a solar installer about the monitoring options for the equipment they recommend for your home.

15 — How are rebates and incentives handled?

Your solar installer should assist you with completing any rebate applications that are available to you.

Most rebates are paid directly to customers by their utility company in accordance with their program specifications. They are normally paid out within 30 days of your solar installation’s final inspection date.

This is one more reason to speak with many solar installers and get multiple bids. Their answers to questions like this will tell you about their knowledge of your local area incentives as well as how much assistance they will provide to you during the installation and setup process.

16 — What additional costs might I have over the lifespan of my solar panels?

You need to ask solar installers about the quality of the components and equipment they recommend for your home.

A good solar installer will be happy to explain the reasons why they choose specific equipment for your home and the warranties for your components and equipment.

17 — What is the process for grid tying solar with my utility company and how long does that take?

This is a question that helps you test how much knowledge your installer has about the installation and setup process.

Typically, the process includes completion of a net metering agreement, approval of an engineered plan, installing your system, and a final inspection of your new system. The process can take 6-12 weeks.

If you ask this question and the solar installer is unsure or unclear about the process, this might be a sign that they are not the qualified solar installer that you need.

18 — What system size should I choose for the most savings?

Cost savings is the main reason most homeowners go solar and you need to know which system size is right for your home and do the best to offset your utility bill.

You need to ask solar installers about the incentives and rebates in your local area to get you the most financial benefit. This is one more reason to get multiple bids, so you can find the solar installer that will identify the biggest cost savings for your home’s system.

19 — Will a lien be placed on my home if I lease or take out a loan for solar?

Good solar installers will recommend you own your solar panels, instead of leasing. You can only take advantage of the federal solar tax credit and other tax incentives if you own your panels, either by purchasing with cash or taking out a solar loan.

Taking out a solar loan will not place a lien on your home. A lien will be placed against your solar panels which is one more reason to not lease solar panels.

If a solar installer recommends that you lease your panels, you then have to question everything else they have recommended to you.

20 — Is there an insurance policy that comes with the system or will I need to take out additional homeowner insurance?

Solar panels are covered by their manufacturer warranties, but you will still need to have homeowners insurance.

You want to make sure your home’s solar panel system is covered as being part of your property’s “total loss” of assets if anything ever happens to your home that causes your solar system to be damaged and need to be repaired or replaced.

Asking questions like these will again tell you more about a solar installer’s overall knowledge and if they know the answers to the most important questions you may have after your installation is complete.

04 — Research Your Tax Credits and other financial incentives

The federal solar tax credit allows you to deduct 26% of the cost of your system if you install it in 2022 and will be 22% if you install it in 2023. It is crucial for you to research and learn as much as you can about other state and local tax credits, rebates, and other incentives that are available to you.

A good solar installer will know what incentives are available for where you live and with your utility provider. This is one more reason why we recommend you speak with many solar installers and get multiple bids. Some installers are more knowledgeable and can find the most incentives for you.

We recommend that you also visit the DSIRE Incentives Database. The Database of State Incentives for Renewables and Efficiency (DSIRE) is a comprehensive database where you can search for and find the solar energy incentives available in your state and across the country.

05 — Decide which system and system size is best for your home

Just like you should get multiple bids from different installers, you should compare multiple solar panel options for your home and decide which is the best option for you. Your installer should provide you with a variety of options in order to determine what will work best for you individual home as well as generate the biggest offset of your current utility usage.

Once you are comfortable with your available options, the next step is to decide which system and system size is best for your home.

06 — Choose a Solar Installer and Schedule Your Installation

You’ve done a lot of research about solar installers in your area, gotten multiple bids, and quotes about the best solar panel systems for your home. Now you need to choose who your solar installer will be.

It is crucial to choose a solar installer that you can trust and has an excellent reputation and is in good standing with your state and local governments. Once you’ve selected your solar installer, they will be able to schedule your installation and help with permitting and getting your system installed.

Your solar installer should also be able to help you with applying for any manufacturer rebates or local rebates that might be available to you.

07 — Get Connected on the Electric Grid

This is your final step in converting to a solar power home. It may take several days depending on your state and local utility company to get your new solar system connected to the local electric grid.

An assessor will come to your home to check out your new system. Once they approve your system, you can now switch on your system.

Congratulations! Your home is now a solar power home.

  • Federal Solar Tax Credit: How It Works

    If you’re considering going solar, you have most likely heard about the federal solar tax credit. The investment tax credit (ITC), which is frequently called the federal solar tax credit, allows you as a homeowner to deduct 26% of the cost of installing your solar system from your federal taxes.

    Read Article
  • How Solar Tax Credits Work

    Going solar is a significant investment, but it is also one of the smartest investments you can make as a homeowner. If you are researching how to go solar, you have most likely read about the different state and federal solar tax credits available to homeowners.

    Read Article
  • How Solar Rebates Work

    Solar rebates are an easy way to reduce your cost of going solar. Rebates are incentives you receive upfront when you install solar panels for your home. States and utility companies can provide rebates at a fixed flat rate regardless of the size of your system. Other utility rebate programs will depend on the size of your home’s system - the amount of kilowatts (kW) you installed for your home.

    Read Article
  • How Solar Property Tax Exemptions Work

    According to the U.S. Department of Energy, a home’s resale value increases by $15,000 when a solar system is installed. Most states offer solar property tax exemptions as an incentive for homeowners to go solar. Solar Property Tax Exemptions remove the added value of a solar system from the valuation of your home for tax purposes. While the value of your home increases due to installing solar, your state property taxes will be for the pre-solar value of your home which is lower.

    Read Article
  • How Net Metering Works

    You may have read about or come across the term “net metering” while researching if you should go solar. Net metering allows you to sell surplus energy produced by your home’s solar panels back to your utility company. It is essentially a billing tool that uses the electric grid to store surplus energy generated by your home’s system.

    Read Article
  • Should You Go Solar?

    Many homeowners are currently asking themselves “Should I go solar?” The cost of switching to solar has dropped 70% over the past decade while the average utility bill has increased by 15%. The huge drop in price along with the many tax credits, rebates, and other financial incentives available to homeowners has made solar into an attractive option.

    Read Article
  • How to Convert to a Solar Power Home

    Over 1 million homeowners in the United States have made the switch to solar this past decade and that number is expected to reach almost 14 million (1 out of every 7 homes) by the end of this decade. If you’re one of the many homeowners who plan to go solar, we recommend you follow this process to convert your home to a solar power home.

    Read Article
  • How to Choose a Solar Panel Installer

    We recommend that you do research about potential solar installers before you schedule a meeting with them. This will save you a lot of time and ensure that you are speaking with a solar installer who you can trust.

    Read Article