Preliminary questions

  • Do I know how much electricity I currently consume and how much it costs?
  • Do I have a south, east or west-facing roof? If not, do I have property with open space that might accommodate a ground-mounted solar electric system?
  • Do I know where there is shading on my roof (or on my property) during different times of the day and at different times of year?
  • Do I want to purchase and own the solar electric system, or do I want to work with a third-party company and either buy the electricity generated with a power purchase agreement or pay a monthly lease payment?

Questions to ask installer

  • Can you provide references from previous customers with similar systems?
  • How many similar systems have you installed?
  • When would you be able to perform the work?
  • How long will the project take?
  • What warranties are provided (including workmanship warranty and specific equipment warranties)?
  • Have you worked with local building officials and utility representatives when installing similar systems in the past?
  • Do you have a Massachusetts-licensed electrician as part of the project team?
  • Will you hire subcontractors to complete portions of the project? What firms will you hire and what work will they do?
  • What kind of training will you provide me with so that I can operate and maintain my system?
  • Do you offer any financing, or third-party ownership options?
  • Do you have any financial arrangements with any of the financing option providers you work with and do these include extra charges or fees?
  • Will you or a partner company be able to assist me in selling the solar energy credits generated by my system?

Purchasing and contracting

  • Am I comfortable with the installer’s knowledge and experience?
  • Have I checked how many installations they have done in the region?
  • Does the installer have credible references?
  • Is the installer adequately insured to protect me, as well as the company’s employees and subcontractors?
  • Does the contract include performance specifications for the system being installed, including an estimate of the power that will be produced annually or under different conditions?
  • Does the installation contract clearly lay out what is included?
  • Does the proposed payment schedule protect me by allowing payment to be withheld until the system:
    1. Passes local code inspections
    2. Receives utility interconnection approval and
    3. Is shown to be operating properly?
  • Are all warranties clearly stated with information on how to exercise them?
  • Does the installer have standard licenses, such as a Home Improvement Contractor or Construction Supervisor License, or any additional industry certification, such as OSHA 40 or NABCEP?
  • Will the installer be using subcontractors? If so, for which part of the project?

Post-installation and operation

  • Has the installer tested and activated the system?
  • Have all necessary inspections occurred?
  • Has the installer left descriptive materials and equipment operating manuals as reference materials?

    Examples of this include a system design and electrical diagram, equipment warranty information, and installer contact information for any future operations or maintenance questions

  • Upon installation, has the installer given me a walk-through of all the different parts of the system, and shown me how to monitor the system, and turn it on and off?
  • If I plan to take advantage of state and federal tax credits, have I completed this when filing my taxes?
For more recommendations about solar installation, check out our Tips for Finding and Selecting a Solar Installer article.

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