How to Select a Solar Installer
How do I find a solar installer for my home or business?
Installers that are eligible for incentives from the Wisconsin Focus on Energy program can be found at www.finditwithfocus.com. You will select if you are search for a "provider" for your home or business. Select the county you live in. You will need to choose if you are looking for solar electric or solar hot water installers. Don't know what technology you want? You may need a site assessment first.
Solar installers included on the Focus on Energy list for homes, are considered Residential Delivery Ally. They have gone through solar training programs approved by Focus on Energy. Solar installers included on the Focus on Energy list for businesses are not required to have previous solar training. It is important to get references, and ask questions as outlined below to find a qualified installer.
The Wisconsin energy program, Focus on Energy, recommends that you solicit bids and interview at least three potential contractors.
Are installers certified?
There is not a state certification for solar installers. Several installers have become NABCEP certified (North American Board of Certified Energy Practioners). This national certification requires coursework through accredited training programs, designing and installing a specified number of solar installs, and passing a professional technical exam. You can search for NABCEP certified installers on NABCEP website. Focus on Energy also indicates which installers are NABCEP certified.
How do I choose an installer?
Provided by the Midwest Renewable Energy Association (MREA), below is a list of questions one should ask a Solar Energy Contractor BEFORE committing to buying a Solar Electric or Solar Thermal system. Additionally, there is provided lists of appropriate responses to theses questions. The reason for these questions is to protect the end-user from potential hazards and liabilities associated with having a Solar Energy system installed on their building or home. Click HERE for a PDF version of these questions.
- What qualifications do you or employees have that ensures a quality install?
- Nationally recognized Installer Certifications (i.e. NABCEP, UL)
- Prior documenting experience with system(s) desired
- Contracting License, Liability Insurance
- How long have they been in the Renewable Energy Business
- For Solar Electric, does your company hold an Electrical Contracting License or do you hire out?
- Provide name of Licensee and type of license
- For Solar Thermal Systems, does your company hold a Plumbing Contracting License and do you have a State Licensed Plumber on staff?
- Provide name of Contracting Licensee and Licensed Plumber
- Will installing the this system void any roof warranties associated with my building?
- List of precautions taken, products used and statements from manufacturer's compliance with roofing standards
- What is the expected output and who is responsible if expectations are not met?
- Output predictions based on site conditions and statement regarding liability
- What is the warranty period of this install?
- Product warranty information and construction and statement regarding liability
- *Focus on Energy requires a 5-year warranty from installers on all residential installations*
- Who is responsible for the Interconnection and Incentive documents for this system?
- Name of staff person who will prepare these and other incentive paperwork
- For a Solar Electric System, what is the Dollar per Watt on this proposal?
- Some incentive programs have caps based on Dollars per Installed Watt
- Other questions to consider:
- Can you provide references from previous customers with similar systems?
- When will you be able to perform the work? How long with it take to finish?
- Have you worked with local building officials and utility reps when installing similar systems in the past?
- Do you repair systems that you installed, and if so, what are your rates?
- What kind of training will you provide me with so that I can better operate and maintain my system?
After these questions are answered to your satisfaction, be sure to mention that no work shall begin until the permit is on site and all documentation has been delivered and reviewed. If pre-payment is requested, hold the final amount until all expectations have been met.