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Hiring a Contractor
Contractors should be licensed and bonded, and provide a written contract.
- Request references and photos of previous work.
- Ask how many projects they have completed in Illinois.
- Get the names of owners whose systems are similar to the one they are proposing for you.
- Call these references and ask if they would use the contractor for future work.
Ask who will actually be doing the work. Long-term employees? Subcontractors? It is common for solar contractors to hire subcontractors to perform some or all of an installation. Verify that any subcontractors have experience or training installing solar energy systems.
Explain if your home has any unusual features, such as specialty roofing.
If you are considering both Solar Water Heating and Solar Electric (V) you many want to consider a contractor who can install the systems simultaneously.
Ask Solar Ambassadors if they would recommend their contractor.
Check to see what type of Certifications and Education the installer has.
Certifications and education to look for are:
- PV/Thermal Installer
- ETA International
- lBEW/NECA Electrical Contractor with PV training
Typical Terms & Warranties
Make sure the bids you receive are based on the same criteria. Where the system will be installed, warranties and hardware can all affect price. Solar water heating system bids should estimate the energy the system will save annually in kilowatt hours or therms. Solar electric system bids should state system size in watts or kilowatts, and estimate the electricity the system will produce yearly. Both should include all costs associated with the project, including hardware, installation, permitting and warranties.
Ask for a copy of the standard contract terms from the contractors you are considering and compare them. Trade Allies of the Energy Trust, for instance, are required to provide a minimum two year warranty covering all repairs resulting from defects in equipment or workmanship.
Equipment manufacturers typically provide longer warranties.