Top 10 Questions to Ask Your Solar Installer Before Signing a Contract

Solar FAQs

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By Smartpowr

Are you considering making the switch to solar energy for your home? With the increasing popularity of solar power and the many benefits it offers, from reducing your carbon footprint to lowering your electricity bills, it’s no surprise that more and more homeowners are exploring this eco-friendly option. However, before you sign on the dotted line with a solar installer, it’s crucial to ask the right questions to ensure you’re making an informed decision and getting the best value for your investment.

In this comprehensive guide, we’ll walk you through the top 10 questions you should ask your solar installer before entering into a contract. By addressing these key points, you’ll be better equipped to choose a reputable company, understand the installation process, and feel confident in your transition to clean, renewable energy.

1. How Long Has Your Company Been in Business?

When entrusting your home’s solar installation to a company, it’s essential to know their level of experience and track record in the industry. Ask your potential installer how long they have been operating and how many solar systems they have successfully installed. A company with several years of experience and a solid portfolio of completed projects is more likely to have the expertise and knowledge needed to handle your installation smoothly.

Additionally, inquire about the company’s certifications and licenses. A reputable solar installer should be licensed, bonded, and insured to work in your area. Look for certifications such as the North American Board of Certified Energy Practitioners (NABCEP), which demonstrates a high level of proficiency and adherence to industry standards.

2. What Specific Solar Panels and Inverters Do You Recommend and Why?

Not all solar panels and inverters are created equal. When discussing your solar installation with a potential installer, ask them about the specific makes and models of equipment they recommend for your home. A knowledgeable installer should be able to explain the benefits and drawbacks of different options, taking into account factors such as efficiency, durability, and cost.

Pay attention to the warranties offered on the solar panels and inverters. High-quality equipment often comes with longer warranties, providing peace of mind and protection for your investment. Be cautious of installers who recommend lower-quality or unbranded products, as these may not deliver the long-term performance and reliability you expect.

3. Will My System Be Grid-Tied or Off-Grid? What Are My Battery Backup Options?

When going solar, you’ll need to decide whether your system will be grid-tied or off-grid. Grid-tied systems are connected to the utility grid, allowing you to draw power from the grid when your solar panels aren’t producing enough energy and send excess energy back to the grid for credit. Off-grid systems, on the other hand, are completely independent and require battery storage to provide power when the sun isn’t shining.

Ask your installer about the pros and cons of each option and which they recommend based on your energy needs and goals. If you’re interested in having backup power during outages, inquire about battery storage solutions and how they can be integrated into your solar system. A well-informed installer should be able to guide you through the decision-making process and help you choose the best setup for your home.

4. How Much Electricity Will My System Generate, and What Assumptions Are Production Estimates Based On?

One of the primary reasons for going solar is to reduce your reliance on the utility grid and lower your electricity bills. To determine the potential savings and return on investment, you’ll need to know how much electricity your solar system is expected to generate.

Ask your installer to provide a detailed estimate of your system’s annual electricity production in kilowatt-hours (kWh). Inquire about the assumptions and calculations used to arrive at these estimates, such as your location’s solar irradiance, the orientation and tilt of your roof, and any shading factors. A transparent installer should be able to walk you through their methodology and explain how they arrived at the production figures.

5. What Incentives and Tax Credits Are Available, and How Will They Impact My System Costs?

Going solar can be a significant investment, but there are various incentives and tax credits available to help offset the upfront costs. Ask your installer about the federal, state, and local incentives you may be eligible for and how they will impact your overall system costs.

The federal solar Investment Tax Credit (ITC) is one of the most significant incentives, allowing you to deduct a percentage of your solar installation costs from your federal taxes. Your installer should be well-versed in the available incentives and able to provide guidance on how to apply for and maximize these benefits.

6. What Financing Options Do You Offer, and How Do They Compare?

Solar installation costs can vary widely depending on the size of your system, the equipment used, and the complexity of the installation. To make going solar more accessible, many installers offer various financing options, such as loans, leases, and power purchase agreements (PPAs).

Ask your installer to explain the different financing options available and how they compare in terms of upfront costs, monthly payments, and long-term savings. Be sure to carefully review the terms and conditions of any financing agreement and ask questions about any aspects you don’t fully understand. A reputable installer should be transparent about the costs and help you choose the financing option that best fits your budget and goals.

7. How Will the Installation Process Affect My Home, and How Long Will It Take?

Installing a solar system involves mounting panels on your roof, running conduit, and making electrical connections. It’s essential to understand how this process will impact your home and daily life. Ask your installer about the specific steps involved in the installation and how long the entire process typically takes.

Inquire about any necessary roof penetrations or modifications and how the installer will ensure your roof’s integrity and weatherproofing. If you have any concerns about the aesthetics of the installation, such as the visibility of conduit runs, discuss these with your installer to see if there are any alternative solutions.

8. Who Will Be Performing the Installation, and What Are Their Qualifications?

The quality of your solar installation depends largely on the expertise and workmanship of the installers themselves. Ask your solar company about the team who will be performing the installation and their qualifications. Will they be using in-house employees or subcontractors? If subcontractors are involved, how does the company ensure they adhere to the same high standards?

Look for installers who have NABCEP certification or have undergone extensive training in solar installation best practices. A reputable company should be transparent about their team’s qualifications and experience and provide references from satisfied customers upon request.

9. What Kind of Warranties and Maintenance Packages Do You Offer?

Solar systems are designed to last for decades, but it’s crucial to understand the warranties and maintenance options available to protect your investment. Ask your installer about the warranties provided on the solar panels, inverters, and workmanship.

High-quality solar panels often come with 25-year performance warranties, ensuring they will produce a certain percentage of their rated output over time. Inverters may have shorter warranties, typically ranging from 5 to 15 years. Workmanship warranties cover any issues related to the installation itself and can vary in length depending on the installer.

Inquire about any maintenance packages or services offered by the installer. Some companies provide ongoing monitoring and maintenance to ensure your system is performing optimally and address any issues that arise. Understanding the level of support available post-installation can provide added peace of mind and help you make an informed decision.

10. How Will I Monitor My System’s Performance, and What Happens If There Are Issues?

Once your solar system is up and running, you’ll want to keep track of its performance and ensure it’s generating the expected amount of electricity. Ask your installer about the monitoring solutions they offer, such as web portals or mobile apps that provide real-time data on your system’s output.

Find out what happens if there are any issues with your system, such as equipment failures or underperformance. Will the installer proactively monitor your system and notify you of any problems, or will you be responsible for identifying and reporting issues? Understanding the level of support and responsiveness you can expect from your installer is crucial for a smooth and stress-free solar experience.


Making the switch to solar energy is an exciting and rewarding decision, but it’s essential to do your due diligence when choosing a solar installer. By asking these top 10 questions and carefully evaluating the answers, you’ll be better equipped to select a reputable company that can deliver a high-quality installation and exceptional customer service.

Remember, going solar is a long-term investment in your home and the environment. Taking the time to thoroughly research your options and ask the right questions will ensure you make an informed decision and enjoy the many benefits of clean, renewable energy for years to come.

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