We understand that each of our customers use energy differently. That’s why IID has created solar interconnection processes and resources to help customers make informed decisions before purchasing a home solar system.
Before you make the long term decision to invest in a rooftop solar system, it is important to understand the costs that are associated with solar panel installations and what you might expect to pay out of pocket.
How to Choose a Contractor
Selecting the right contractor is one of the most important decisions you’ll need to make when installing a generating system. To help safeguard you, any solar added at your home must be reviewed and approved before you use or connect to the IID power grid. Below are some tips to help you make an informed decision:
- Interview a minimum of three potential contractors and obtain written bids from each one
- Verify that the contractor's license is current and active with the CSLB. It is also important to make sure they hold the proper type of license required to get the job done (A, B, C-10, C-46 are only allowed)
- Ensure all quotes for the project are in writing and only sign after fully understanding the terms and making sure the costs are within reason.
- Never provide more than 10 percent of the system cost for an up-front deposit and do not make final payment until the system is installed and operating properly.
- Do not hesitate to ask the contractor questions about their business, the system or anything you may not understand.
- Request references from previous customers to ensure they are satisfied and the systems are performing properly.
For additional tips and information about hiring a contractor, visit the Contractors' State License Board (CSLB) website. You can also check with your local Better Business Bureau to see if the contractor you are exploring has any active complaints against them.
Obtaining Contractor Bids
Make sure your contractors' bids reflect the system that will best meet your needs and expectations. This will require an onsite visit as well as a review of your past energy consumption and any future energy needs. After your discussion with the contractor, you should feel confident that your energy system is being sized appropriately.
Some additional areas of discussion/negotiation are:
- How energy efficiency could help reduce the size and cost of your system
- How much space/square footage is needed for your system
- If there are any factors that will affect performance
- Equipment and workmanship warranty coverage and options (must have a 10 year warranty)
Comparing Contractor Bids
Once you've at least three bids from contractors, it's important to understand and compare what each is offering. Below are some tips that may be helpful when comparing bids:
- Try to understand all the terminology being used within the contracts. If contractors are using different terms, ask for clarification to make sure you are comparing the same thing.
- Make sure the bids are as comprehensive as possible. All anticipated work and associated costs should be outlined in the bids. If it is not, ask for a more detailed estimate.
- Take caution against automatically selecting the lowest cost bid. It may be an indication that they are compromising quality or cutting corners.
California Energy Commission retailer and contractor database
- List of Installers, Contractors and Retailers
Notice: The California Energy Commission provides this list of Installers, Contractors, and Retailers of solar photovoltaic, small wind, and fuel cell systems for information purposes only and does not endorse any of the listed sellers. The list is based on a company's business address, and the ZIP Code distance, City, or Area Code may not indicate the entire geographic area served by a company.