As with any business, evaluation of contractors is important when investing in solar energy. Because solar arrays can produce large quantities of electricity, only qualified professionals should install PV systems. The North American Board of Certified Energy Practitioners (NABCEP) offers a credentialing program for clean energy professionals. NABCEP-certified professionals have completed educational requirements and practical, hands-on experience to be certified by this professional association. This type of certification may be of value to a clean energy customer, but should only be one part of the selection process. Several quality solar professionals are available that are not necessarily NABCEP-certified.
Obtain several quotes prior to selecting a contractor. Inquire about what is included in the quoted price, lease contract, or community solar garden share. Some contractors will include related electrical work performed by a licensed electrician, while others may not. (Work completed ‘downstream’ of the inverter must be performed by a licensed electrician to insure compliance with National Electrical Code (NEC) and local building codes.) In Colorado, quotes can vary tremendously between contractors and there are companies that have a business model based on the quick sell. Be sure to do your homework before entering into a contract and avoid just doing what seems easy.
Check with your solar professional about whether they will complete required paperwork for incentives from utility companies or if this is the responsibility of the customer. Typically, any utility-based incentives will be paid after the installation is complete and the net meter is installed.
Inquire about any warranties offered by the contractors and equipment manufacturers. PV panels have long useful lives, so it is not unusual to see power-output warranties of 20 to 25 years. Inverters commonly have 10 or 12 year warranties, but some have extended warranty options. As these are the most commonly replaced parts of a PV system, pay special attention to inverter warranties. As with most warranties, mistreatment of components will often void warranties, another reason to utilize experienced professionals.
Ask for references and any certifications they may have. You will be investing several thousand dollars into equipment and labor. Solar professionals should be able to provide numerous references and details about their experience and training.Last updated: February 15, 2018 at 13:00 pm