Top 11 Mistakes with Selecting Solar Contractors and How to Avoid Them

It’s hard to deny that solar panels are more popular than ever. Now that they are more affordable, homeowners want to purchase an installation to help with their power needs.

And when 55% of Americans say that they would invest in solar panels if they could recoup the investment in five years, it’s no surprise that you’re getting ready to purchase your own solar panels.

Knowing which mistakes with selecting solar contractors to avoid is vital to getting the installation you want. Keep reading to learn 11 mistakes that are worth knowing about and avoiding.

1. Choosing an Unlicensed Installer

Working with unlicensed installers is one of the biggest mistakes you can make when installing solar panels. Solar installations are a challenging job. If you want it done right, you need to work with a pro who has worked hard to get certified.

A big reason some people do this is the cost. Someone offers a homeowner a good deal to get their panels installed.

But you also have to consider the service you get with a discount. Will that person do the job right, and will you get a warranty to handle problems?

Make sure to avoid working with unlicensed contractors if you can. Yes, you will pay more money when going this route. But you’ll also have piece-of-mind that things are done correctly.

2. Not Verifying Insurance

Having insurance coverage is a must when installing solar panels. You have people working on your roof moving around heavy equipment. Although the chances are good that nothing will go wrong, you can never discount the possibility that something bad will happen.

Insurance will protect you in these situations. Your homeowner’s insurance may not offer coverage for this scenario, so you rely on the solar contracting company to offer coverage.

Get proof of insurance before you sign an installation contract. Verify that it covers accidents for both injuries and property damage.

Otherwise, you risk being on the hook for damages if something goes wrong.

3. Mis-Sizing the Solar Installation

A big mistake you want to avoid when looking at your options for solar contractors is not understanding your power requirements. Homeowners don’t do enough research into their power needs and can’t determine how big of an installation they need to power their homes.

If the solar contractor you hire doesn’t understand your needs, they may be unable to perform the proper installation. You may get a solar installation that’s too small or large for your home.

Of course, you may not know how to do this yourself. If this is the case, tell that to an installer and have them help you design a solar panel system that will meet your needs.

4. Not Getting Several Estimates

It’s common for some homeowners to only speak with one contracting company. Dealing with a home improvement project and juggling interviews between contractors can be time-consuming. Because of this, people only reach out to one company and rely on them for the job.

Doing this is a mistake. You can find many pricing options in the solar industry. Each will have pros and cons that are worth considering.

Understanding all your pricing options will help you make the best choice. Get the final price from each contractor, along with the services included in the price. This information will help you when comparing solar installation costs and finding the best value for the money.

5. Not Reading the Warranty

Solar panels have gotten very reliable over the years. On top of that, solar contractors are experienced and will generally do the job right.

But that doesn’t mean problems will never occur. Even pros will make mistakes, and solar equipment can come with defects that cause it not to work correctly. You don’t want to be without protection when this happens.

A robust warranty will help you when you have problems. The contractor you should hire should have a warranty for all labor. This means that if a worker makes a mistake, your contractor will fix the problem at no cost.

The same is true for your equipment. If your solar panels fail, you should get a replacement that works at no cost to you.

Check the standard for solar warranties and ensure yours aligns with those standards.

6. Forgetting About Future Service

No matter how well your solar panels work today, they will lose efficiency in the future. Some of this may be because of natural degradation. But in other cases, it’s because your solar panels aren’t being properly maintained.

One of the common causes of this is debris. You need to clean your solar panels regularly to make sure nothing is blocking the solar panels.

But in other cases, it’s because your solar panels aren’t being checked for problems. Most homeowners don’t want to do this themselves, so they call a solar contractor for the job.

Ideally, you’ll work with the contractor you hired for solar panel cleaning. Yes, you can call someone new if the contractor you hired isn’t available. But you probably trust your previous contractor and will prefer them for the job.

7. Skipping Reading the Contract

Taking a contractor at the word for a job isn’t enough. This is true for every type of home improvement work — from regular home renovations to solar panel installations.

Your contract will tell you everything you need to know about the installation. It covers the services required from the contractor and anything required on your part.

Unfortunately, you will occasionally find contractors that slip bad terms into contracts without their clients knowing. Make sure you read a contract carefully before signing it to make sure you know exactly what service you’re getting.

8. Ignoring Roofing Issues

Solar panels don’t work on every roof. A roof needs structural integrity to handle the solar brackets and weight of solar panels.

If you have an old or damaged roof, you won’t be able to install solar panels on your roof. But that may not stop a solar installer from handling the installation without verifying your roof’s ability to support one.

Ensure the contractors you speak with verify your roof’s capability with solar. You’ll need to get a new roof if it isn’t compatible.

Some solar companies can also handle roof installations, which is good if you only want to work with one company.

9. Agreeing to Upfront Payments

Although most solar companies are trustworthy and handle all the work you pay them for, you can’t discount the possibility that this won’t happen. Some contractors will drag a job along if they don’t have the incentive to complete it, and some will drop the job completely.

You usually see this happen when you pay for an installation upfront. In this situation, you have no leverage over a contractor. They can finish a job as they please, and you don’t have much say in the matter.

The same isn’t true if you pay in installations. Most reputable companies will request a deposit. But from there, you’ll pay for the project in installations as the work gets completed.

The company won’t receive the final payment until you’re satisfied with the result.

10. Not Staying Local

It’s tempting to want to hire a large solar installation company for the job. You think that because a company is big, they offer better service. While this may be true in some situations, that doesn’t mean those companies are the right fit.

Each location has building regulations to follow. If a national company doesn’t have a presence in your area, they may not know those rules.

Make sure the company you hire is local and does regular work in your area. These companies will understand the local landscape and pass the building inspection after the job is complete.

11. Skipping Reading Reviews

A mistake you don’t want to make when finding solar installers is not reading online reviews. You can’t trust everything a solar installer says about their services. They don’t want to turn customers away, so they won’t discuss the downsides of working with them.

You can learn these things by reading what other customers have to say. You can search online for local contractors and read the reviews from past customers.

A minor complaint here and there isn’t a big deal. But if you find constant complaints about a service, it’s a sign to skip hiring a company.

Avoid Common Mistakes With Selecting Solar Contractors

You’ll spend a lot of cash when investing in a solar installation. In many cases, you can spend more than $10,000 to get the job done — even if you have solar tax credits.

This is a big reason you can’t take your choice of solar contractors lightly. You need to do whatever possible to vet your solar contractor options to make sure they can handle the job. Keep the mistakes with selecting solar contractors above in mind to help with your choice.

Did you find this post helpful, and have other future home improvement projects lined up? Check out the blog to learn the best ways to tackle your next projects.


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