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News and Trends

How Important Are Solar Installers?

January 25, 2016 | Kerry Inserra

The solar industry has experienced a surge in solar companies popping up all over the country. This saturation appears to be due to an over abundance of smaller solar companies sprouting up in California and across the country.  Not surprisingly, according to a report from online solar marketplace, EnergySage, nearly half of small-to-mid-sized solar installers face more than 20 competitors in their service area. Among the 103 installers surveyed, most began installing residential solar between 2005-2010, and none began in 2014.  This is likely due to the previously scheduled expiration of the U.S. Investment Tax Credit which has since been extended through 2019, with a phase-down thereafter.  Expect to see more solar companies sprout up now that the Investment Tax Credit has been extended.

With the emergence of so many new solar installers, customers have become more savvy and informed consumers.  88% of installers said their customers see two or three quotes before making a decision-with price being the #1 deciding factor in determining what solar company to go choose.

What Does A Solar Installer Do?
Solar PV installers are vital to the operations of solar panel installation and maintenance. They are in charge of safely attaching the modules to the roofs of houses or other buildings and guaranteeing that the entire system works. Solar installers are expected to work with a variety of tools (both electronic and mechanical), and have knowledge of electrical wiring. Safety is a top priority when installing solar panels because of the height of most projects and the high voltage that solar panels produce.  Amazingly enough, many solar installers in the Bay Area were not even installing solar as recently as 2-3 years ago! 

What We Recommend
Of course it is important to get multiple bids before deciding on a solar company that is right for you. With so much solar competition in the Bay Area, you want to make sure you are working with a reputable solar company and experienced installers. Be sure to do your homework and check to see that the installer has the proper credentials, skills, licensing and insurance. Highly respected review sites like Angie’s List, the Better Business Bureau or Customer Lobby are also excellent resources.

With Solar becoming ever more popular, here are 4 key questions you should be asking your solar service company about their installers?

  1. How long has the solar company been in business and how much solar have they installed to date?  For example, Diablo Solar has been in the solar business for over 32 years and has installed well over 21,000 solar systems. They have experienced, well-trained installers who can work on most any solar system.
  2. Who will be working on my roof and how much experience does this person have? Diablo Solar uses only direct employees to install systems and every employee is covered by a $2-million liability insurance policy.
  3. How long will the installation take? The industry average is 3-4 months from the time you sign a contract to when you are producing solar power.  Diablo Solar guarantees that they will install within 3-6 weeks and MOST systems can be installed in as little as 2-4 days.
  4. Service & Repair? What can you expect once the system is installed? What type of service and maintenance is available?  Diablo Solar is one of the few East Bay companies with a dedicated, service and repair department.  They can work on just about any solar system, often providing same day service.

A little due diligence in the beginning will save you money (and headaches) down the road. Vet your solar company and installer in advance.  Referrals and reviews are a great starting point.