Solar Installers – Why You Should Choose Only Professional Installers

Solar installers are the people who install solar panels and solar cells on the roofs of commercial and residential buildings. Even in this day and age of green energy it is difficult to find professionally trained solar installers or solar roofers as they are becoming increasingly known as. The reason for this is that they have to have a combination of two skills; that of the regular roofer, complimented with the knowledge of a solar electrician.

The market consists of basically two different types of solar installation being done today these are; retrofitting and integrated. Retrofitting is when a solar panel or panels are fitted to an existing roof. Integrated is when solar cells and panels are incorporated into the roof of new buildings.

When a solar panel is retrofitted the skills of the solar technician are not so important because it is not so difficult. Broken down to the basics this just means fitting one or more panels to the existing roof and feeding the wiring through the roof to the battery banks. This could easily be done by a regular roofer that just then leaves the wiring to an electrician.

A drawback for retrofitted solar panels is that because solar panels can be bulky and are more exposed to the elements such as; wind, rain and snow and, that a lot of people think they are unsightly and in some areas can actually bring down the value of a property. This is the reason that integrated solar roofing is growing very quickly in popularity. These types of panels are actually built into the roof, meaning that the sides are almost flush to the rest of the roofline. In this way the solar panels are less exposed to the more severe elements and obviously are more pleasing to the eye although it is still noticeable that you have solar panels on your roof.

In response to this problem solar cell manufacturers have come up with the ingenious solar shingles. These very clever, very sophisticated solar shingles have photovoltaic solar cells built into them. Because these solar shingles are the same in appearance, size, shape and color as regular asphalt shingles they will go virtually undetected. In this way the solar installer can turn an entire roof into one big solar panel and will give the look of a regular roof (well, from a distance anyway). With the increasing popularity of this type of roof it has also increased the demand for skilled solar installers/roofers.

Solar panels and solar shingles differ in as much as in the panel the cells are already wired together, whereas the shingles have to be wired together in an array as they are fitted to the roof. This means that the shingles must be fitted and wired together before the rest of the roof goes on. In this way the wires from the shingle can be run along the roofs ridge cap thus hiding and protecting them from bad weather.

Qualified, professional solar installers are usually made nowadays because there are not many people that have both the necessary skills needed. This is why reputable solar installation companies will take a regular roofer and train them to be solar technicians or take the technician and train them in the art of roof building.

Choosing the Right Solar Installer – More Frequently Asked Questions

Since choosing the right solar installer is probably the next most important decision to be made after deciding to invest in solar energy, you’ll need to do your homework and ask the right questions to get the answers you need to feel comfortable with this most important of decisions.

Here we’ll look at some more frequently asked questions and the answers to those questions that should help with your decision.

What should I look for in a good installer?

The first thing you should do is ask for the installer’s credentials. Since certification’s not required, the installer may not have anything concrete to show you. But, many serious installer’s these days often come from an electrical background, which means they usually are NABCEP (North American Board of Certified Energy Practitioners) certified at least, and may also be certified in solar energy.

Failing that, find out what kind of training they’ve had and also how much installation experience. If they’ve been working in the solar energy business for a number of years and have a record of successful installations, that may be worth more in the long run than any number of degrees or certificates.

How can I verify an installer’s background?

One of the most important parts in the process of choosing the right solar installer is conducting an in-person interview with each candidate. For this reason, it’s best to choose an installer that operates locally, so that they can come to your home and conduct an on-site analysis of your needs, at which time you can ask whatever questions you have about the installer’s experience, background, how they propose to handle your project, time estimate, the type of experience his employees have, etc. You need to feel comfortable with the installer in order to make a decision, so make sure you’re armed with every question you need answers to.

Always ask for and check references. If an installer is as good as they may claim to be, they’ll have nothing to hide and should be happy to provide you with several references you can check. But, don’t just get the references and assume the people are happy with the work done. Make sure to contact these previous customers to find out what their results and experience were with the installer. If possible, ask one or two if you can visit their home to see and chat about the work done.

What else should I look for?

Ask the installer what products he uses, and check with local solar companies or online to make sure these are quality products.

The installer should be able to offer a warranty for the work done, and enquire as to what type of service contracts they offer for post-installation maintenance work.

The installer must at least provide liability insurance to cover potential property damage, and they should, ideally, be bonded, although this may cost more as it’s not required.

They should advise you on energy-saving tips and techniques you can follow to ensure you get the most benefit from your new system.

If you’ve reviewed all the frequently asked questions we’ve provided and got the answers you need to these questions and are comfortable with the person interested in doing the installation, then you should be in a position to make a decision and to choose the right solar installer for your project.

Professional Solar Installation Vs DIY – Pros & Cons

Home solar panels are a great way to generate clean, renewable energy from the sun. If you have been considering going solar, you can choose between a professional solar installation and a do-it-yourself option. Both can be successful, but which one is right for you? Here are three major factors to consider:

1. Price

Watt for watt, a DIY solar project is almost certainly going to cost less money than a professional solar installation. Some kits include only the instructions to build and set up your home solar panels, where more expensive kits come with the panels, inverter, and instructions. If you go the DIY route, panels built by a reputable company with good warranties are a far better bet than ones you’ve assembled yourself.

On the other hand, the quote from a good solar installer will include site evaluation, system design, parts, labor, and interconnection. Some solar installers will also help you file for solar rebates. Many of the federal and local incentives are available only for professional solar installations.

2. Installation

Any project involving electricity requires you to know what you’re doing. If you think you have a good working knowledge of electricity, a small single panel solar kit is a good way to preview what you would be in for with a bigger project. If you do a lot of DIY projects, you are probably already aware of the hidden costs in time and frustration. However, if you’re handy and willing to do the research and labor, you may well be up for the challenge of installing your own home solar panels. Don’t forget about the building permits!

One of the major advantages of a professional solar installation is that every aspect is handled by experienced professionals, from applying for building permits, to determining the best location for your solar panels, to interconnecting with the grid and passing the final building and electrical inspections. Your solar installer will be able to deal with any issues that come up, and get your system up and running on schedule.

3. Solar Panel Quality & Efficiency

The quality of panels in kits can vary widely, so you’ll need to do your research. Efficiency and durability are important components of your solar panel system’s ability to reduce your energy bills. Efficiency is also affected by the location of your solar panels and the orientation of your roof. If you DIY, you will need to determine the optimal location for your panels.

While solar panels are generally reliable and low maintenance, warranties are still good things. If you build your home solar panels, you will clearly be on your own if anything goes wrong. Even solar panels with good warranties (20+ years) may have their warranties invalidated by unprofessional installation. Find out before you buy.

Professional solar installers tend to use higher quality, name brand solar panels with good warranties because customers will hold their solar installer responsible for anything that goes wrong. Ask the company who manufactures their panels and inverters before signing any paperwork.

The Bottom Line

If you’re a go-getter who is willing to do the research and has the skills to install your own home solar panels, you can enjoy considerable savings with DIY solar. However, if you don’t want to take any chances with your home and roof and want everything done right the first time, you’re better off with a professional solar installer.