Top 14 Mistakes with Picking Solar Contractors and How to Avoid Them


Going solar may just be the best decision you’ve ever made. Not only can it help reduce your electric bill, but it can also help reduce your carbon footprint.

The most important thing is that you find the right solar contractor to help you through the process. However, there can be a plethora of mistakes that you may come across during the selection process.

Do you want to know how to avoid many of these mistakes so that your solar installation goes smoothly? If so, keep on reading to find the most common mistakes with picking solar contractors.

1. Lack of Research

A lack of research before hiring a solar contractor can lead to significant mistakes and problems down the road. If someone chooses to go with the lowest bid, they may end up with lower-quality parts and installations that do not reach their anticipated energy savings.

To avoid these mistakes, homeowners should always research contractors online and ask for references before hiring a solar contractor.

2. Choosing Solely Based on Price

Though it can seem tempting to look only at the initial cost of a solar installation, this often leads to larger issues and more money spent in the long run. Low-cost contractors may be using lower-quality materials or have inexperienced staff, leading to an ineffective and hazardous solar system.

Additionally, inexperienced workers may inflate the time it takes to complete an installation, resulting in additional costs. To ensure the system runs safely and effectively and to avoid additional expense, it is important to ensure the contractor is a variety of factors, not just the price.

3. Ignoring Credentials and Certifications

It is beneficial to vet solar contractors to ensure they are adequately trained and qualified to perform their job. Prior to hiring, ask for references and proof of the contractor’s licensure and certifications. Ask the contractor if they are experienced in photovoltaic solar installations.

Check with the local authority to inquire about any complaints. Furthermore, see if the solar contractor is NABCEP certified or holds any specialty accreditations. If the contractor fails to provide proof of credentials and certifications, side-step their services and move on to the next contractor. 

4. Not Checking Experience

Ask if the contractor has ever done a similar solar installation experience. Furthermore, request to view the contractor’s portfolio to gain insight into their previous work and make sure that the contractor has the required state and local licenses.

Lastly, verify references from other customers and make sure to thoroughly read any contract before signing. By taking the time to do some preliminary research and due diligence, homeowners can be confident that they are choosing a contractor they can trust with the installation of their solar system.

5. Overlooking Warranties

Many contractors offer warranties that are specific to the amount of time they will do free repairs or maintenance. Customers should also be aware of warranties offered by the manufacturer of the solar panels and any other equipment purchased. The contractor should be willing to go over the exact coverage provided in detail.

If a customer does not feel comfortable with the warranty offered, they should not sign the contract, as the warranty must be read and understood before signing. Additionally, target customers should always get a written warranty rather than an oral one, as this will give them peace of mind and protect them from disputes down the line. 

6. Not Assessing Past Work

Poorly assessing a solar contractor’s past work is a common mistake when picking a contractor for a solar project. This can lead to the contractor not having the relevant experience and expertise to properly handle a solar project or having a reputation for unsatisfactory service or dodgy practices.

To avoid this, it’s important to thoroughly check any potential contractors’ websites or portfolios and contact the prior clients they’ve served. This also helps to determine whether or not they can handle the different aspects of the project and if they will put the customer’s needs first. 

7. Lack of Communication

A lack of communication can impact the quality of the completion of the job, the timeframe it takes, and your overall satisfaction with the project. Asking your solar contractor specific questions and actively listening throughout the entire process is key. One mistake to avoid is not discussing specific materials or the plan in full before signing the contract, this can lead to frustration throughout the job.

Make sure to get frequent updates on the progress of the job, in writing, and don’t be afraid to ask questions and express any concerns. Ensuring that you and the contractor are both on the same page is key to a successful project. Don’t leave anything out, not even the smallest details. 

8. Not Considering Local Options

Many solar companies are not only local but may specialize in the type of installation that is right for the job at hand. This could mean customizing the system based on the available roof space, the geographic location, or any other specific needs the project may require.

Neglecting to explore local options deprives homeowners of local contractors’ crucial knowledge and expertise. To avoid this mistake, homeowners should research and shortlist local Contractors that specialize in the type of installation they require. 

9. Failing to Verify Subcontractors

Failing to verify subcontractors can be a major mistake when selecting a solar contractor. Subcontractors are the people who will actually do the work, so it is important that their installation techniques, materials, and equipment are all up to industry standards.

Additionally, it is important to ask the contractor to provide proof of insurance that covers all of their technicians and subcontractors to ensure that any damages or liabilities are covered. If a contractor is hesitant to provide these documents, they should not be hired.

10. Skipping the Contract Review

Before signing the contract, it is important to review it thoroughly and ensure that there are no hidden fees. Make sure that everything is written out clearly and that there are no surprises. Also, check that the contract includes:

  • Appropriately detailed warranties
  • Guarantees
  • Timelines 

Making sure references and licenses are valid is one of the most important steps in avoiding costly and unpleasant surprises. If all the research checks out, the contract should be reviewed in detail to make sure it does what it’s supposed to do.

11. Disregarding Online Reviews

Reading online reviews is a valuable resource for customers looking for reliable solar contractors. Unfortunately, some customers may choose to disregard these reviews and instead rely solely on outdated references from friends or family or make their decision solely based on the lowest bid.

This should be avoided in such a critical issue as selecting a solar contractor. Reviews provide invaluable insight into the quality of service and attention to detail that customers can expect from the contractor they choose. If reviews are consistently poor, this should be an immediate warning sign that the contractor should not be trusted. 

12. Not Checking the Permits and Approvals

Ensure the selected contractor is familiar with local laws and regulations to know what permits, if any, are needed for installation. Don’t assume that the contractor will automatically obtain the permits. Another mistake to avoid is hiring a “cheaper” contractor who cuts corners and does a lax job.

13. Lack of Transparency

The details of any agreement should be disclosed during the selection process and contract signing. Be aware of hidden costs, commission payments, and other miscellaneous costs that your contractor may not be transparent with. Sometimes poor performance or dishonesty can not be revealed until it’s too late.

Ensure your solar contractor is credible and respected within their industry. Once you’ve done due diligence, make sure to keep all paperwork and communication in writing to avoid any communication errors. Making sure you understand the contractor’s policies and procedures to ensure a successful project is essential. 

14. Not Trusting Your Instincts

When it comes to something as big as solar energy installation, people tend to be trusting of their chosen contractor, and this can put them in a vulnerable position. To avoid making this common mistake, take the time to really get to know the solar contractor. Don’t be afraid to ask for referrals or even a list of former customers who have used their services.

Finally, if something doesn’t feel right, trust your instincts and walk away. It’s better to be safe than to enter into an agreement when you don’t feel completely secure. Start doing your research today and get the right solar contractors for installing your solar panels.

Avoiding These Mistakes With Picking Solar Contractors

You now know what the top mistakes with picking solar contractors are and how to avoid them. To ensure you are receiving the best service, research the company you are considering, get written quotes, fully review all contracts before signing, and look into their customer references.

Don’t make assumptions, ask questions! Reach out to your local solar experts today to find the best contractor for you.

Are you interested in other home improvement topics? Check out our other articles about your favorite topics.

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