You have made up your mind to install solar power in your home; you have done all your homework and you know the costs involved; you have even decided where on the roof you want the panels placed.
How do you make sure that you are dealing with the right Sacramento solar company?
Choosing the right solar installer will make the difference between a trouble-free installation that will run smoothly for years… or years of frustration from chasing down an installer with additional costs.
It is important that you compare Sacramento solar companies before you decide to hire one. You don’t have to talk to all of them; comparing 3 or 4 will lead you to the right one.
To start with, you need to prepare a shortlist. Most Sacramento solar companies have websites. Go online and type in Sacramento solar companies. Look at the first 3 or 4 websites and compare how much information each installer is willing to give about solar installations and other topics to do with solar.
Usually, a good company will give clients testimonials and contact information. Pick the 3 or 4 companies that give you the most information.
Now that you have a shortlist, you can go ahead and interview them for the following information.
Another way to find a good solar installation company is to ask around. Referrals are a great way of finding good contractors. A referred contractor doesn’t eliminate the need for an interview; you still have to find out if they are right for your project.
Reputation is everything; it tells you how they have performed in the past. Here is what you are after:
How long have they been in business?
A company that has been in business for a long time is better than one that started to operate recently. For one thing, you can be sure that they have the necessary experience to make a proper, lasting solar installation.
Being in operation for a long time also tells you that they have had satisfied customers; if the customers were unhappy, word would have gotten around and they would not have been able to get new customers.
Ask all the companies that you interview to give you the names and contact addresses of the last two homes where they did an installation. Call these homeowners and find out if they are happy with the installation and how the project went: how long did it take, did the company behave professionally? Feel free to add any other questions you may have.
Better Business Bureau rating
The Better Business Bureau, or BBB, rates businesses using several factors. They consider things like how many complaints have been filed against a business, how serious those complaints are, whether the business responded to the complaints and so on.
The ratings range from A+ (highest) and F (lowest). BBB ratings are taken quite seriously by consumers. If you want to find out the rating of any solar company in Sacramento, go to the BBB website and type in the name of the business.
Naturally, you want to go with an A+; if you don’t find one that has such a high rating you can pick one in the B range but be careful if you have to deal with a C downwards.
Licenses and insurance
Different states in the US require different licenses. There are several licenses that are required in the state of California. The most important is the C-46 Solar Contractor license. It is issued to contractors who have 4 years of experience and whether they passed a business, law and trade exam.
Once a contractor has this license, he is qualified to work with solar, water and space heating systems as well as solar pool heating systems. There are several other licenses, but these are not mandatory and are for contractors who work on more specific solar installation work. If you want a solar heated swimming pool for instance, you should ask to see a C-53 license. Please note that licenses are issued to individuals and not to companies.
Insurance is a must for any contractors who work in your home. The last thing you want is someone getting injured and you having to pay for their medical bill. Ask the installer which insurance company they use and then call the company yourself and have them send you a copy of the current premium. If the contractor will use handymen, they have to be insured too.
In house installers vs. subcontractors
Some Sacramento solar companies send out subcontractors to do installations. Although they might be licensed, they may not be as skilled as in-house installers. Insist that you get the main contractor himself.
This is one of the most important decisions that you will make for your solar power installation. You want a contractor who uses American made panels. Many solar companies in Sacramento use panels that are made in China. These have a shorter lifespan than those made in America, but many homeowners choose them because they are cheaper. If you want quality solar panels that will last for decades, buy the ones made in America.
Ask the installer from which company they get their panels and then go online and check out the company for legitimacy. There are also plenty of online forums for homeowners; use them to find out their experience with panels from different companies.
Any Sacramento solar company that claims to be good at what they do should give a warranty. Ordinarily, solar power warranties cover the component parts of the system rather than the whole of it. They also cover the workmanship of the installation.
The usual warranty period for panels is 25 years (if you buy American). Inverters usually have warranties of 10 years, but they can last for as long as 30 years. Good installers usually offer a 2 year warranty for workmanship but there are some who will give you just 1.
The other thing you should confirm before you hire a contractor is whether the warranty is transferable to a new home owner. Installing solar panels naturally increases the value of your home, but any additional value may be lost if the new owner doesn’t have a warranty to fall back on. Ideally, the person who buys your home should enjoy the same warranty that you got when you installed but not all contractors extend this privilege.
To conclude, it may seem like this may seem like a lot to do just to choose the right Sacramento solar company for your installation, but keep in mind that being diligent is important when you are dealing with a project of this magnitude.
As we said at the beginning, it makes the difference between a trouble-free installation and years and years of unreturned calls and additional costs.