You decided on solar energy! What’s next?

Congratulations! Solar energy is an environmentally friendly source of electricity. Solar energy saves you money (link to the previous article) while reducing your carbon footprint. Now it is time to look at the process of installing and utilizing solar power in your home.  We can help.

Five steps to finding the right solar installation company

Like many home improvement projects, it is essential to do your homework. Solar installation companies are plentiful and finding the correct one for you requires a little leg work. Here is a 5-step guide to finding the right solar installation company for you.

  1. Find out who is out there. Make a list, whether using Excel or a good old-fashioned paper and pencil and search and compile a list of reputable providers with a proven track record.  The list may include local and national companies. Then create a list of questions and factors from our steps below.  These can include location/home office, installation time, installation costs, and financing options.
  2. Check each company’s certifications and licenses. provides a wealth of information reading certification and licensing:

The North American Board of Certified Energy Practitioners (NABCEP) is a nationally recognized, independent, voluntary certification program for photovoltaic (PV) and solar-heating system installers that can be earned to demonstrate specific skills or knowledge. To become NABCEP-certified, installers must have a certain amount of work experience (see NABCEP Handbook for specific qualifications) and must document all training and installations. Installers must also pass a rigorous exam, sign a code of ethics, and take continuing education courses for re-certification every three years.  SEI recognizes NABCEP as the leading certifying authority in the solar industry.

Currently, 12 states and Puerto Rico have solar contractor licensing requirements. The contractor licensing requirements described here refer to solar-specific licensing requirements rather than general electrical or plumbing contractor licenses. Most states require a licensed electrical or plumbing contractor for PV and solar-thermal systems, respectively.

Some states require solar installers to obtain a separate, specialized solar contractor’s license. In most cases, solar is a specialty classification under the general electrical or plumbing licenses, and all appropriately licensed contractors can install solar systems without the solar specialty license. However, contractors may obtain a solar specialty license and install systems without having the full electrical or plumbing license. This reduces the cost of licensure for contractors who only install solar systems.

You can view the Solar Licensing Database here.

3. Read their Google and other reviews. Nothing speaks louder than a happy or unhappy customer. Google, Yelp, and the Better Business Bureau will produce reviews and customer comments.  You can also ask for a reference, bearing in mind that a contractor will most likely give you positive references.

4. Get a quote. A quote will outline the process, materials, and cost. Here are a few questions might wish to ask:

  • Do you offer a warranty, and for how long?
  • Does your company service the panels, and is annual maintenance required?
  • Do I need a permit from my town, and will you obtain it for me?

5. Financing the project. Installing solar panels on your roof for solar energy is like financing other home improvement projects.  This can include cash/checks or loans and traditional financing. Look closely at all options for the best financing for your home budget. Some states offer incentives and tax credits, so take your time and do the research.




How invasive is the solar panel installation for my roof?

If performed by a reputable and licensed solar installation company, and your roof is in good condition, the damage is rare. It is very common for homeowners to worry about damaging their roofs when installing solar panels. The panels have a life span of 30 to 35 years, so it’s essential to make sure installing panels doesn’t cause harm to your roof. Fortunately, roof damage because of a solar panel installation is extremely rare because installers take precautionary steps while installing panels to prevent leaks and other damage from occurring.

What is the average timeline for home solar panel installation?

Once you have selected a solar installation company, a site assessment will occur. The assessment and proposal phase includes a view of the property, usually on Google earth, to see the location of the home and the measurement of shade. The installer will inspect the roof itself and determine where the panels will be placed.  This could take 7-10 days from the contract date.

Approval is next. You will receive and review a proposal. The assessment and proposal go hand in hand, determining the locations of the panels, the installation requirements, and the final costs.  This stage may be another 1-3 weeks.

Permits and installation are dependent on your local town or county office and the supply chain to secure and deliver the materials. This is the dicey piece of the timeline from 2-6 weeks. Inspections by your town or county inspector are required, usually within two weeks.

Now let’s flip the switch. Your solar provider will submit the required paperwork to the utility company. Then they install a bi-directional meter to track how much energy you’re producing. This could add a few weeks to a month to your timeline. Don’t worry, and it will all come together!

When do I start seeing the benefits of generating my own solar power?

SolarReviews has been the leading American consumer reviews website for reviews and ratings of residential solar panels and solar panel installation companies since 2012. They explain:

It is calculated by taking the total cost to install the system, then subtracting solar incentives and rebates, and monthly electric bill savings until the total cost has been paid off. In the U.S., most homeowners can expect the solar panels to pay for themselves in 9-12 years, depending on their state. Variables include:

  • cost of electricity replaced by solar energy
  • available incentives and tax initiatives
  • roof composition and age
  • quality of equipment used
  • method of financing

Take your time and understand the process

Finding a reputable solar installation company takes time and effort. Take into consideration your budget, your commitment to your home to enjoy the financial benefit of solar power, and your dedication to contribute to a better environment.

Get a custom proposal from a professional and sharpen your pencil.  Solar power makes sense, and when done correctly, you will enjoy the environmental and financial benefits for decades to come.


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