It’s always a good idea to do some research before hiring a contractor and making a major household investment. As the rooftop solar industry has grown, so have the reports of scams, according to the Wisconsin Department of Agriculture, Trade and Consumer Protection.
Resources are available to help you find local solar installers as you begin the research process:
Check with the Better Business Bureau for customer complaints and the Department of Safety and Professional Services to verify contractor licenses.
Make sure you are talking to qualified and insured professionals who have certification from the North American Board of Certified Energy Practitioners, according to the U.S. Department of Energy (DOE). Also, request testimonials or referrals from installers to learn more about other customers’ experiences.
MGE has no affiliation or partnership with any rooftop solar installers. We work with all installers to get solar connected to the grid but do not offer endorsements for any.
Get multiple bids and ask questions to ensure the system will meet your needs and will be installed safely. Costs can vary, so it’s wise to get several bids for your project. A system sized appropriately for your usage will result in a faster payback period on your investment. Be sure venders use the same specifications and bid on the same work.
Remember to ask:
Solar system and operation
- How will the location of my home and shading in the area affect production of the solar system?
- How much energy will my system produce, and is there a guarantee on energy production?
- Is my roof angle conducive to solar generation? According to the DOE, roof angles between 15 and 40 degrees are optimal for solar panel efficiency.
Installation and beyond
- Who is responsible for permitting?
- What are the installation steps?
- Who is responsible if my roof is damaged during installation?
- What type of maintenance is required, and who will perform it?
- What does the warranty include, and what is its duration?
- What happens if your company is no longer in business in the future?
- Will I incur any additional costs over the life span of the solar system?
Exercise caution before signing any contracts, and be wary of aggressive sales pitches or unsolicited sales calls, extremely low bids or offers claiming to provide free solar panels. MGE does not offer free solar panels, and according to the DOE, the federal government does not have any programs that install solar panels on homes for free.
Reach out to other professionals. Ask your:
- Roofing contractor about the condition of your roof and how many years before it will need to be replaced. Repairing or replacing your roof before installing solar panels can help you avoid the need to have the panels removed and reinstalled later.
- Insurance agent if solar panels will impact your homeowners insurance.
- Tax professional if you qualify for any incentives, if a leased solar system will increase your property taxes and/or if you are required to report proceeds from selling any excess power your system produces.
- Homeowner’s Association (HOA) if your system meets HOA guidelines and if any approvals are required.
- Real estate professional if a rooftop solar system is expected to increase your property value or make it more difficult to sell your home in the future.
It’s also a good idea to contact Focus on Energy. This statewide program offers rebates and incentives for energy-saving and renewable energy projects. An energy efficient home uses less energy!
Additional solar power buying tips are available from these sources: