The choice to convert to solar energy in your home isn’t a complicated one. The benefits are undeniable, from saving money each month to living a more sustainable life. But things can get a little more complicated when it comes to choosing a solar contractor and actually embarking on the installation process. That’s why it’s important to ask questions and make sure you’ve investing in the best equipment, workmanship, and service possible.
Home Improvement Leads offers a list of some of the most important question you can ask your solar contractor.
Is my roof suitable for solar?
Solar panels can be installed on most types of roofing materials, but there are many other aspects to consider. First of all, any leaks, rot, or damage will need to repaired before installation. Second, your roof needs at least 10 years of solid performance left. If you’re just a few years away from the end of your roof warranty, it doesn’t make sense to install solar panels that will have to be removed and reinstalled in just a few years. Solar panels typically last 25 years or longer, so you may need to reroof if your roof has seen better days. The installer must also consider the pitch and size of your roof and whether any shading (such as from a tree or nearby building) will block the panels’ access to sunlight.
Do you have the appropriate licenses and insurance?
Amid the growing options for solar contractors, the best way to narrow them down is by evaluating credentials. Online reviews are a good tool, but you don’t just want good service and good product; you want a guarantee that if anything goes wrong, the contractor or their insurance will take responsibility. Be sure to ask for paperwork or a license number and verify. Don’t make such a life-changing investment based on someone’s word.
Do you recommend a solar lease or power purchase agreement (PPA) as an alternative to buying?
Solar leases and PPAs can decrease your upfront investment. You get to use the power generated by the panels but you do not own them. Therefore, the company handles the maintenance and any necessary repairs. This can be convenient for some people, but these agreements aren’t right for everyone. It can be difficult to sell your home with a leased solar system, so make sure you’re entering an arrangement that works for you.
How much money will I save? How long will it take to pay the system off?
Vague answers simply will not cut it when it comes to how much energy the system will produce monthly. Your installer should be able to give you estimates on how much you’ll save based on your energy load, the utility prices in your area (with regard to inflation), and how much energy your solar system will produce. You should also have a method of keeping track of your energy production to make sure your system is living up to its potential.
What incentives are currently available?
Your solar contractor should be knowledgeable about the federal, state, local, and utility incentives that can be applied toward the project. Ask them whether or not they handle the rebate paperwork or if they’re available to help you with the process. Make sure they’re familiar with the standards that need to be met and permits that need to be obtained in order for these incentives to be applicable.
Could I add extra panels in the future?
Some solar customers make a one-time investment in a system that’s big enough to cover their entire home’s energy load. Others buy a system smaller system and use grid energy to fill in the gaps. If you’re in the latter group but are interested in expanding your solar array in the future, make sure your system and your roof are expansion-friendly. If you think you would be interested in going off-grid in the near future, be sure that your system has that capability as well.
What do I do if there’s a problem with the system?
Don’t let this question be an afterthought. If your system doesn’t perform as well as promised or something goes wrong, you need to know who to contact, how you can get a hold of them, and how long it will take for someone to respond and resolve the issue.
Don’t hesitate to ask questions. Any solar contractor worth hiring will be comfortable answering these and many more; they’re there to help you attain clean, green energy in a format that suits your needs.