Many homeowners express hesitance about having a solar power system installed on their home, simply because they’re unsure as to what the process involves. Will their home be disrupted by installers for days or weeks, with panels and construction materials cluttering up the yard? Will it take months to bring their system online?
To help you understand what to expect, here’s a brief outline of the solar installation process.
When you submit a call request, we’ll get back to you as soon as possible to collect some basic information.
If you call us or submit an online request for a free estimate during our office hours, at most you will have to wait a few minutes to speak to one of our representatives. During the day, our typical response time to online requests is 5 to 10 minutes, at most. If you submit a request while we’re closed, you can expect to get a call back from us first thing in the morning. Once you’re on the phone with us, we’ll gather some basic information about what you’re looking for from a solar power system.
A key issue we want to highlight: Many homeowners are extremely nervous to talk to us, let alone have an advisor come to their home. This is because many companies engage in high-pressure tactics to try to force customers to sign a contract on the same day. We have had customers who have been given a hard-sell by three or four installation companies. Some of these companies cold-call people out of the blue, or even show up on their doorstep unannounced.
We do not use high-pressure tactics. We have been around for 16 years, and plan to be around for many more. That’s why we treat every customer as a customer for life. We want to make sure that you have all the information you need to make a decision you can be happy about today, tomorrow, and 20 years from now.
Once we have an idea of what your goals are for a solar power system, as well as your concerns, we will schedule a site assessment.
On the agreed upon day, one of our advisors will visit your home to gather detailed information about your property.
Obtaining the maximum possible performance from a solar power system requires having an in-depth understanding of your property. What direction or directions does your roof face? How will we have to prepare your roof in order to install the system. Are there trees or other obstacles that cast shade on your roof at certain times of the day?
To answer these and other questions, one of our advisors will carefully inspect your property, taking measurements where necessary. In addition, we will ask you about your typical energy usage, whether you own or expect to own an electric vehicle, and other details about present or future choices that impact your energy consumption habits. For PG&E customers, having your account number handy when you first call us is extremely helpful, as PG&E has a solar contractor line that we can call to gather your usage history prior to the visit at your home. This will save you a lot of time you would otherwise have to spend finding and gathering old energy bills.
We use all of this information to determine what size system will meet your needs, the best possible installation configuration, the projected electricity production, and the estimated cost of installing the system (assuming you’re not considering a lease option).
Once a site assessment has been conducted, we encourage homeowners to take some time to consider their options.
After the assessment, we will present you with information about what to expect from a home solar system, given the details and restrictions of your home and property. Don’t worry, we’ll sit down with you and explain everything, and answer any questions you might have. We can also help you understand alternative approaches to funding, such as obtaining a solar loan, or even leasing a system.
This is a serious decision. We generally expect homeowners to take at least 2 to 3 weeks to make a decision.
Many customers we work with do a considerable amount of shopping around—some of them get as many as 5 to 8 quotes. However, don’t base your answer strictly on price point. Be sure to ask a lot of questions, such as:
- Do you outsource installation work to subcontractors?
- Are you NABCEP PV Certified?
- How long have you been in operation?
- How many systems have they installed?
- What does the warranty cover, and for how long?
- Who is responsible for fulfilling the warranty? Will you have to haggle with a manufacturer located across the country or overseas, or will the installer handle everything for you?
- What is the expected useful lifespan of the solar panels?
- Are you properly licensed for solar power installation? If so, C-46 Solar or C-10 Electrical? (Be sure to get their license number.)
- If they damage your roof, will they cover the cost of repairs?
Write everything down. Be detailed and thorough in your questioning. If you’re asking about the warranty, ask about each element of the system (inverters, panels, wiring, etc.), how long the warranty covers that item, and what the cost will be to you to repair the item in question.
A big item that most homeowners aren’t aware of—many warranties don’t cover labor, and only offer a 10 to 12-year product warranty. A 25-year performance warranty is standard, but 25-year coverage for labor is not.
Then, follow up. Go online and check their reviews on Yelp, Facebook, Google, and the BBB. Research the company to make sure that it’s been in business as long as they say, and that any claimed licensing is accurate.
If you choose to work with us, it will take 2 to 3 months for us to obtain necessary permits, but the installation itself usually only takes 1 day.
Once you have made your decision and signed an agreement with us, we can start the process of obtaining the necessary paperwork. In addition to obtaining required building permits, we will also help you to identify potential subsidies you are eligible for. This includes federal and state rebates, tax credits, incentives offered by local utilities, and more.
But once the big day arrives, you won’t have to wait long. In most cases, installation only takes a single day, though larger and more complex situations can require a second day of installation. But installing the wiring, racking, inverters, panels, and energy meter is a surprisingly fast process. Before you know it, our installers and equipment will be out of the way, and you can step back and see the finished product installed on your roof. But there’s still one last step.
The local government and utility will need to approve our work and give final approval to connect the system to the grid and go live.
After we’re done, a city or county representative will check to make sure all of our work is up to code. We then send all the paperwork to your local utility. If necessary, they will also send out a rep to ensure the system is in proper working order and grant final approval to energize the system.
If you like, we can provide you with instructions on how to turn your system on yourself. Otherwise, an installer will be out within a couple of days to start your system up, and ensure that everything is working properly.
But we don’t stop there. We will schedule a follow-up appointment to review your system’s energy production to ensure that you are getting the performance we promised. And if you ever have any questions, just call us and ask for help!
If you have any questions about the solar power system installation process, or are considering having a system installed, contact us by calling (916) 782-3333, or send us a message using our contact form. We’ll be happy to answer any questions you have!