You probably have a ton of questions to ask solar companies before you’re ready to pull the trigger on solar. After reading the list below, you’ll probably have a ton more.
Now to be totally honest, this list might be overkill. You don’t have to ask every question to every solar installer you talk to.
The real purpose of the list here is to give you a good starting point of what information you’ll need to understand whether solar, and the company, are a good fit for your home. We hope you find it helpful!
57 Questions To Ask Solar Companies
About The Company
1. How long have they been in business?
2. How many solar installations have they completed?
3. Where do they operate (are they a national company, regional, local)?
4. Have they done any installations in your neighborhood/immediate area you can check out?
5. Can they give you references/contact information for recent customers they’ve done an install for?
6. How much experience do they have in working with your local electric utility company?
7. Who will be handling the electric work? Are they on staff? Do they have a Master Electrician that does the work or supervises?
8. Do they subcontract any of the work out and, if so, how do they hold the subcontractors accountable for their work?
9. Is the company (and any subcontractors) bonded and insured?
10. What certifications (NABCEP) and training do the installers at their company have?
11. Do they have a licensed Engineer at the company who will review and sign off on drawings before they are submitted to the appropriate officials?
12. Will they handle getting all necessary permits from the city/county?
About the Money
13. What is the total upfront cost of the system?
14. What is the total cost of the system after tax credits, rebates, incentives?
15. What solar tax credits, rebates and/or incentives do you qualify for from the federal government, state government, local government, utility company, solar panel manufacturer, etc.?
16. What will your monthly payments be?
17. What is the payment schedule (Is there a down payment? Do you pay a percentage when work begins? Do you pay it all when the system comes online?)?
18. Are there any discounts if you pay cash?
19. What is the interest rate on the loan?
20. Who is financing the loan?
21. How many years does the loan last for?
22. What happens if you sell your home before the loan is paid off?
23. What help do they provide, if any, in getting any tax credits, rebates, etc. that you are eligible for?
24. What data did they use to come up with the estimated cost for your system?
25. Is the estimated cost guaranteed? If not, what could change the final cost?
26. How much do they estimate you’ll be saving per year on electricity (do they factor in increasing electricity rates in the calculation)?
27. Do solar panels increase home value in your area (how do they measure this)?
About The Equipment
28. What is the make/model of the solar panels you’ll be getting?
29. What is the size of the system?
30. How many panels will be installed?
31. What is the efficiency of the panels (wattage/panel)?
32. What type of panels do they recommend (typically monocrystalline, polycrystalline or thin film)?
33. What type of inverter/microinverter will your system have single (ie. string, micro, optimizers)?
If You’re Getting a Battery…
34. What make/model battery do they recommend?
35. What is the cost for the battery and for the installation?
36. Can you add a battery to your system at a later date if you don’t get one when the panels are installed?
37. What is the capacity of the battery backup system?
38. If the power goes out, how long will your house be able to run on the battery backup?
About Warranties & Repair Work
39. What warranties come with each component of your system? (Basically how many warranties will there be with your system and what does each one cover.)
40. Who do you contact if there is an issue with your solar panels and/or other components?
41. Do they offer a performance guarantee if the system does not produce as much electricity as the company promised?
42. Does the warranty also cover your roof?
43. If you have to repair your roof at some point after getting panels, how does the process for removing and replacing the solar panels work?
About the Installation
44. Once you sign off on the system, how long will it take before installation begins?
45. How long will installation take from Day 1 to your panels generating electricity?
46. What are the steps involved in the installation process?
47. What kind of heavy equipment will be used for the installation and are there any issues with getting that equipment to/on your property?
48. How will the panels and other equipment be attached to your roof?
49. What kind of roofing experience do the installers have?
50. Is the system NEC 2014 compliant?
51. Do they do a structural evaluation of your roof before installing the panels?
52. What kind of quality control do they have to ensure the quality of the equipment and installation?
53. What guarantees do they offer if the work isn’t completed on time (especially if it results in your missing out on a tax credit/rebate/incentive)?
About What Comes After Installation
54. Who will monitor the system production?
55. How will you be able to monitor the system?
56. If net metering is available in your area, how will that work?
57. Can you add additional panels in the future and, if so, how will that work?
Now That You Know What To Ask…
Whew! That’s a lot of questions! But, again, at least you have an idea of the type of information you should be getting from the installers you talk with.
Now that you know what questions to ask solar companies, the question becomes who should you ask? We recommend you talk to at least 3 local solar installers in your area to hear what they have to say, get a few quotes and see who you feel will do the best job.
If you know people in your area with solar panels, ask them who they’ve used and contact that company.
Also, we recommend using a solar advisor service like Understand Solar. They don’t do installations. They just have relationship with a number of reputable solar installers across the US and connect you with the best ones in your area. They also have a nice solar savings calculator on their site you can use.
To see how much you can save and get in touch with reputable, local solar installers, fill out the form on their site here.