Three tips for Choosing a Solar Installer
Investing in a solar energy system is not like buying a new car. While an automobile is a standalone purchase, a solar system is connected to your home or business — so even the latest models with the coolest new features on the market are only as good as their ability work with your particular site, your roof, your budget and your needs.
With that in mind, we offer these tips for finding a reputable solar installer.
Look at the big picture
Don’t accept a solar sales pitch if it feels like a solution in search of a problem. Instead, ask tons of questions specific to your own situation. Is my rooftop appropriate for solar? How will you prevent leaks? How will I monitor my system’s output? What if I have questions, or need service or repairs?
A reputable solar installer will demonstrate a commitment to finding the best value and best fit for your specific needs. That means they should take the time to find out exactly what you hope to achieve by installing solar panels. Then they should assess your site and structure, and give you a realistic understanding of whether your goals are achievable with solar and affordable on your budget.
Check their credentials
It should go without saying that a solar installer should have proper certifications and membership in reputable trade organizations. If you’re seeking state incentives, you’ll need a NYSERDA installer — and fortunately, any participating contractor first needs to qualify for the program by undergoing training and earning one of three possible credentials:
- IBEW-NECA Electrical Journeyman & Apprentice Training (International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers and National Electrical Contractors Association)
- UL (Underwriters Labs) PV System Installation Certification
- NABCEP Certification (North American Board of Certified Energy Practitioners) PV Installation Professional Certification.
At Sunrise, a full-service NYSERDA installer, our designers are NABCEP Certified (North American Board of Certified Energy Practitioners) – the highest certification in the solar industry — and we are members of NYSEIA (NY State Energy Industries Association).
Ask about recent projects and references
The most obvious way to feel confident in your solar installer is to use a local company that friends and neighbors recommend. An added benefit of this method is being able to actually see the finished product on other people’s homes — and most are happy to show off their new, reduced electricity bills as well.
But even if you’re one of the earliest adopters in town, there’s another way to get a good idea of an installer’s track record. Ask whether the firm has been selected for a Solarize program. Installers are only chosen to participate in these community-based solar programs after a thorough vetting process by the local municipality — so you’ll already know they’re qualified. Sunrise has been named the designated residential and commercial installer by nine Solarize programs throughout the region including Solarize Bedford-Mount Kisco, Solarize Cortlandt-Croton, Solarize Larchmont-Mamaroneck, Solarize Nyack Plus (including all of Rockland County), Solarize Rye Brook, Solarize Hastings-Dobbs Ferry and Solarize Wappingers, and most recently, Solarize Greenburgj and Solarize Peekskill.
So ask around; since program participants receive group discounts, you’ll usually be able to find a number of prior customers clustered in a Solarize community — and many will be happy to tell you about their experience.