When researching installers choose qualified and insured professionals with the proper credentials required by your state and local governments, ask questions. Lots of them; including:
- Are you up to date with local permitting and interconnection requirements?
- Will you provide references that we can talk with about their experiences?
- Are your installers licensed in accordance with governing building requirements?
- Do your system prices include discounts or rebates?
- What sort of warranty does the system you are proposing offer?
- Who is responsible for maintaining and repairing the system once installed?
- Will you provide a written bid?
Bids made by a potential installer should clearly state the maximum generating capacity of the system they are proposing. The capacity should be measured in Watts (W) or kilowatts (kW) and include an estimate of the amount of energy will produce annually or monthly in kW hours. Use this figure for a useful comparison with your existing utility bills.
Understanding What is Required
Once you decide to install a solar system, work with your installer to complete the necessary permitting steps. Whoever installs the system will have determined the appropriate size for your system based on your current and projected electricity needs. These needs are based on:
- Current usage.
- Available sunlight .
- How the system will be orientated and tilted once installed.
- System efficiency of converting sunlight to electricity.
Further, your installer will make sure that all equipment is installed properly by orienting and tilting the equipment to maximize daily and seasonal solar energy production.
Be sure you understand how everything will work, whether or not you are responsible for any additional utility fees, and how exactly billing, and (if applicable) net metering will work.
The final step is connecting your system to the local grid, assuming that you have installed a system with that in mind. A grid-connected system allows owners to power their homes or small businesses with solar energy daily and seasonally whether or not there are many hours of sunlight. Excess electricity generated is fed back into the grid and “banked” for those times when renewable resources are unavailable. When that occurs, electricity from the grid kicks in and supplies your electrical needs. This eliminates the expense of a separate electricity storage device like batteries.
If you prefer, you can install a system that has separate electricity storage devices and is not connected to a grid. These are design considerations that should be addressed during the system planning and design phases.