When it comes to making the switch to solar energy, choosing the right solar contractor will make all the difference in the world. Michigan Solar Solutions is here to help you make an informed decision, with the following key factors in mind:
One of the most insightful ways to evaluate a solar contractor is by checking customer reviews on platforms like Google, Better Business Bureau, GuildQuality, and Yelp. Pay particular attention to negative reviews. On the BBB website, scroll to the bottom to see how many customer complaints have been received. Mixed reviews are common, but the true measure of quality is in the nature of these reviews and how the company addresses them.
- Experience: Inquire about how long the company has been in business. Established companies often have more experience to offer.
- Consultative Approach: Determine if the contractor is consultative or pushy. Do they take the time to understand your needs and design a custom solution, or are they solely interested in getting you to sign the contract immediately?
- Utility Insights: Does the contractor explain Michigan’s utilities Distributed Generation and how your return on investment can be affected by your power usage patterns?
- Usage Recommendations: Did they provide recommendations on how small changes in your power usage patterns can enhance your return on investment?
- NABCEP Certification: Check if they have NABCEP Certified Sales Associates and NABCEP Certified Professional Installers. Certification can be an indicator of expertise.
- Local vs. Out of State: Determine whether the company is local or an out-of-state entity. Local companies often have a better understanding of local regulations and conditions. Out of State companies come and go as incentives come and go.
- Service Department: Find out if they have a service department and who handles warranty matters.
- In-house Engineers: Inquire about the availability of in-house engineers for technical support when needed.
- References: Ask for references from both recent and past projects. This will help you gauge long-term customer satisfaction.
Get Copies of Their Licenses & Insurances
Ensure the solar contractor is adequately insured and licensed. Request copies of:
- Liability Insurance: Look for a minimum of $1,000,000 per incident and $2,000,000 aggregate.
- Umbrella Insurance: This extra layer of protection can be invaluable.
- Worker’s Compensation: Verify that employees are covered, preventing potential liability on your part.
- Vehicle Insurance: Ensure that the contractor’s insurance covers all vehicles owned and operated.
- Licenses: Confirm that they possess a Residential Builders License and an Electrical Contractors License. If they have to out-source this work you could be caught in the middle of a dispute.
Compare the System Size the Contractor Quoted
Be cautious of solar contractors who undersize your system to appear more affordable. Compare the total wattage of the arrays quoted by different contractors to ensure you get a system that truly meets your needs. When they are on-site, look at the placard on the back of the solar panel to make sure it is the right wattage and manufacturer represented in your contract.
Compare Energy Production Estimates
Some solar contractors may provide power generation estimates, but it’s wise to verify these. Use the National Renewable Energy Laboratory’s Solar Calculator, PVWatts (https://pvwatts.nrel.gov), to check the production yourself.
Selecting the right solar contractor is a crucial step in your solar energy journey. By considering these factors, you can make an informed decision that leads to a successful solar installation and a brighter, rewarding future.