How to Choose a Solar Installation Team

When ready to switch to solar power, most begin with a quote. However, they shouldn’t choose based on price alone, there are a few other things to consider beforehand. Once the type of solar power panels has been chosen, and the buyer has figured how they’ll finance their purchase they are ready for the toughest decision ever, choosing the installation team. Here are some tips.

The team selected will be in and out of one’s home or business and on their roof basically building a custom solar power system.The way the company handles the job directly affects energy production, service and will basically determine if the panels will last as long as possible.

Since solar installers vary by reputation, size and experience as well as products offered, delivery and fees and their geographic focus it’s difficult to assess them using the standard methods of financing options, cost and general benefits. Happily, installation of solar equipment isn’t very complex. As long as the team in question is experienced the job should go off without a hitch.

Consider the following attributes and standards when looking for solar installers:

Expert Knowledge

Any solar installer should have a skill set that’s specific to the install of particular systems. There are specific types of training and several affiliations that the company should have depending on where they are located. By asking them to show their certifications one can see fi they are validated and considered experts in their field of solar power.

Checking certifications means quality assurance will be met for every system that is installed, and any crew that is affiliated with the company for the project at hand should carry at least one professional to oversee the work.

While there are plenty of talented solar installers without certifications, it’s much better to go with those who have been. This way one is guaranteed to be satisfied with the results, and they’ll know they are up to the latest standards.

Licensed and insured

In addition, all solar installers should be licensed and insured to the specifications of the area they are working in. These vary by jurisdiction. The best solar installer will provide their license number before a potential client even asks. At the very minimum they should have liability insurance.

Track record and experience

As an industry on the rise, solar power brings all types of people from professionals to homeowners and even caravan travelers. Many contractors now include solar options along with their regular electrical, plumbing, roofing and other construction jobs. This is a growing trend that hasn’t let up for years and is projected to continue to grow.

When it comes to one’s own system it’s smart to find solar installers that have a proven record for installing the specific system of interest. There is no shame in asking for stats on how many systems they’ve installed, and it’s always smart to get references.

Be Wary of Sub-Contracting

Solar installers are not immune from using sub-contractors. While having “some” is okay, be wary of any company that uses mostly sub-contractors. If they bring a specific expertise or has worked with the company for years, it can be a great arrangement. On the flip side there are tons of risks involved when too many sub-contractors are used.

Ask how the company chooses who to work with, and what the extra hands will be in charge of doing and why. It’s the property owner’s right to know all the details of the job they are paying for.

Finally, the best solar installers are also advisors, and should always be interested in the particular project at hand. They should lend advice at all times, and offer a lasting relationship should any new products be available that would benefit the set up.

7 Exciting Reasons To Get Into the Solar Installation Business NOW

It Is the Perfect Time To Get Into the Solar Installation Business

The solar energy industry is absolutely booming. There’s never been a better time to get into this field. Customers who are ready to install solar PV systems at their homes are often put on long waiting lists because there simply aren’t enough installers to meet the current and growing demand. The initial equipment costs have come way down and there are more federal and state subsidies than ever before. This means the customer can get in for less but your service fees are not affected. It is also worth noting that PV systems are being designed now to be easier to install and maintain and there’s a flurry of research with amazing new products about to be launched.

There’s Enormous Potential For Growth

For the last 20 years, the demand for solar PV has grown at least 30% each year. In the United States, solar installations are expected to DOUBLE in 2011, according to IDC Energy Insights (the leading source for research-based analysis for the solar industry). – and if there were enough installers, it would likely more than double. According to several studies, electricity consumption is is expected to at least double by 2030 and the price is expected to continue to rapidly rise. The demand will surely get MUCH greater over the next two decades. This is one of the few under-saturated industries out there and a reputable solar installer should have all the work they would want and then some.

It’s Easy To Get Started In the Solar Business

The start-up costs are very low. You can become profitable within the first month or two. It’s easy to start part-time if you don’t want to quit your other job. The business isn’t that hard to learn if you can get someone who has already been in the business for a while to divulge what they know – no sense in reinventing the wheel here – just pattern yourself after someone who has already been successful in the solar business. You do NOT need a college degree but those who have one will find it rewarding work.

You Can Take Enormous Pride In What You Do

As the co-organizer of an annual public solar tour in my community, I personally know several solar consultants who just beam with pride when they show off their work. Each project is an accomplishment that lasts a long time (solar PV lasts 40 years on average) and each project is there in plain sight for the whole world to marvel at. Solar installers absolutely love to take us on a pre-tour to point out all their projects that could be included on the public solar tour. With an excited voice, they say things like “See those panels on that church, I installed those about 5 years ago….I also installed the panels at the middle school….want to see?!?” As we pass by a house and they point at the roof, “Look over there….that was one of my first projects and they still work fine…hardly any maintenance at all….they’ve already made their original investment back and now they’re selling electricity back to the utility company!” The pride solar installers show for their work is extremely infectious and spreads throughout the whole community. Local newspapers love to write about these projects. It’s one those rare jobs where everyone involved feels good – the installer and the customer.

It’s Really Easy To Attract New Customers

I also know from the solar tour that if you do a good job with each installation, customers will be more than happy to brag on you profusely and highly recommend you – and encourages other to get the same technology. Free seminars and energy audits are also good method to easily attract new customers. Often times, a seminar will include a field trip to a past project or two and I’ve found that solar PV customers are more than happy to host such a visit and talk very enthusiastically about the project. It’s like having a human billboard showing off your work which is very tangible and exciting to see.

It’s Incredibly Rewarding and You’ll Meet All Kinds of Interesting People

People who decide to install solar PV at their homes or businesses are some of the most fascinating people around. They’re often into all sorts of cool sustainability issues and love to share information and trade notes. They are people who genuinely care about the future of the planet and about what we leave future generations. It is quire rewarding to work with and help these kinds of people realize their solar energy dreams – and they are usually networked into many others who are also interested in your services.

Solar Installation Is Highly Profitable and It’s Only Going To Get Better

The solar business is VERY lucrative. According to large job sites, the average annual salary for a solar consultant ranges from about $75,000 to $150,000. The lower end of the salary range tends to be in states with a lower cost of living and the higher end corresponds to states with a higher cost of living. If you own your own solar consulting business, you can of course net MUCH more than this – and as your business grows you can create highly desirable jobs in your community.

4 Steps to Choosing the Right Solar Installer

You’ve had enough of over-priced utility bills and decided to take control of your own energy destiny by installing a solar electric system, so now comes the next major decision – choosing the right solar installer.

This can be an arduous, time-consuming process, but one that’s extremely necessary if you’re to reap the full benefits of your new system.

Following this 4 step process will hopefully make things go more smoothly for you.

1. Support Your Local Installer

One of the most important steps in choosing the right solar installer is to conduct an interview with each prospective candidate, preferably in person. An installer located nearby would generally be best. There are several reasons why this is so important.

First of all, thanks to their relative proximity, a local installer should be able to visit your home or site to perform a site inspection and analysis in order to provide a reliable estimate of exactly what equipment you’ll need and where that equipment should be installed, particularly the solar panels, since these will need to be placed where they will receive the maximum isolation possible.

Secondly, this will provide you with the ideal opportunity to conduct the all-important interview, where you can and should ask every conceivable question you may have regarding not only the system you need (asking these questions and the answers the candidate gives should give you a good feel for whether or not the person knows his stuff) but also the kind of training and background the candidate has, their experience, how many installations they’ve completed successfully, etc.

Thirdly, you’ll get the chance to know the person behind the company and whether or not you feel comfortable with them on a personal level. You may wonder why this is important. Well, the reason is that, since you and your installer should be working together as a team to get your project completed, you’ll want to feel that you’re able to communicate well and that the installer is open and honest in his dealings with you.

2. Check The Credentials

A prospective candidate may not carry any certification, since that is not a requirement for a person to become a qualified installer, so this may be a matter of checking more intangible qualifications such as what type of training the installer’s completed, along with any courses they may have attended. Any installer worth their salt should be open and above board about their background and experience, and any reticence or uncertainty in this area on the candidate’s behalf should be cause for concern. After all, you don’t want to find out you’re this installer’s guinea pig, otherwise known as their first installation!

It’s not unusual for installers to have had an electrical background, which probably means they carry a NABCEP (North American Board of Certified Energy Practitioners) certification. If they’re also certified in solar energy, even better.

Be sure to ask for and check references. You should make a point to call each reference and ask about their experience, good or bad, with the installer, and, if possible, ask permission to visit the site of the installation to see the work done firsthand.

You should also make sure the candidate has liability insurance, uses top-quality products and can offer written guarantees, along with service contracts.

3. Find Out How Much The Labour Will Cost

What does a good installer cost? Ah, yes, the $64,000 question. Well, hopefully, not that much! Actually, this is hard to quantify, because it all depends on the size of the job, and most quotes given cover the entire job with the cost of installation being factored into the total cost.

But, as a rule of thumb, the amount that covers installation should be around 15% of the total cost. But, since the installation can make the difference between a PV system that performs at the peak of efficiency and one that causes you constant headaches, this is an item you should not skimp on, all other things being equal.

4. Get Several Bids

If you’ve managed to find a few installers you think might be suitable for your project, you should request bids from them, 3 or 4 at least would be good. Take a look at the various bids and make sure that everything you’ve requested and that the installer promised is included. Be sure to negotiate to get the best price possible. There’s plenty of competition out there these days, so don’t be afraid to make a counter-offer, provided that it’s reasonable, of course.

If you follow these steps, you should have done your due diligence and be in a position to make a decision and choose the right solar installer for your system. But, if you’re still not comfortable with any of the candidates, there’s sure to be one out there that can fill your needs, so repeat these steps until you’re successful.