Posted on Fri, 05/13/2011 - 03:45 PM by Bryan Nisperos
viewed 15242 times
As you get a little closer to pulling the trigger on a solar power system, one of the final steps before actually purchasing a product is to have a professional installer come out to your home and do a site visit. The purpose of this visit is to make sure your roof is appropriate for solar power, determine what kind and size of system you will need and then put together a quote that will show you the pricing and details of your new system. While a good installer will walk you through this process, being a good consumer means having some solid information going into your site visit, so here’s a look at what you need to know before the installer arrives.
Know Your Energy Usage
The size and type of system you install will be based primarily on your energy usage. The idea behind most solar power systems is that you want to generate enough power to cover your electricity usage, but since the power company won’t pay you for excess energy, you don’t want to have it be much bigger than you need either. Gather your electricity bills for the last year. Since energy usage varies drastically between winter and summer months, a good installer will look at your usage over the course of the whole year and then design a system that generates your yearly average usage. The beautiful part of net metering with your utility means that if you make twice as much as you need one month, then use twice as much as you generated the next, you only pay the utility for the net energy you used.
Know What to Ask
A reputable installer will provide you with all of the important information related to your system, but you will want to make sure to ask a couple of questions if they’re not provided to you by the installer. Make sure you get a breakdown of the costs, materials, installation, taxes, rebates, etc. Get a proposed timeframe for installation in writing. Make sure that the installer will handle your rebates and subsidies, and if they pushback, consider going with a different installer. Lastly, make sure that you get a written warranty for all of the work. Your solar power system will be under warranty for as much as 25 years, so make sure that your installer is willing to stand behind his work as well.
Know When to Say No
Finally, know that having an installer come out to the house for a site visit is not a done deal. You’re basically interviewing the installer to see if the terms, pricing and overall feeling you get from them is a good fit. A solar power system is a big investment and something that you will have as part of your home for decades. Even if you feel good about the first installer you see, get a second opinion so you have something to compare it to and only make the call to go ahead and start the work when you’re completely comfortable with the entire process and terms.