Deciding to go “green” and becoming a solar home is a wise choice, and it’s a big one! The sales process, signing the contract, picking out your manufacturers, and considering your financing can become a fast-paced whirlwind of information, and you don’t want to miss anything.
No matter what state you are installing your solar in, asking many questions ahead of time is crucial when picking your solar installer.
Make sure you review your contract BEFORE signing. Look specifically for any verbal agreements such as reroofing agreements, production guarantees, workmanship guarantees, or any promises that were made during the sales process.
Let your dealer or installer know you want a contract copy right after signing. Don’t wait! This should also include a detailed breakdown of the system’s expected energy production, including monthly and annual projections.
Keep a copy of your loan agreement or lease, including terms and conditions, interest rates, and repayment schedule.
Site Plans, Mapping & Photos
Get a copy of your site plans. Your site plans will have specific information about your installation with images. The site plans must be approved by an engineer and will usually be over 3-4 pages long.
Get a photo of the manufacturer’s label on the back of your panels. Usually, you will find the manuals and specific information about them, including Warranties, online.
Talk to your installer about mapping your system. Mapping is where the installer inputs the serial numbers of your micro-inverters, inverters, optimizers, or panels in a manufacturer’s portal for you to access later for solar monitoring. It will be ESSENTIAL, later after your system is turned on, to have your system correctly mapped for troubleshooting purposes in the future.
Insurance, Permitting, and Agreements
Talk to your home insurance company and tell them you are a solar home. Most insurance companies do not charge much more because you’ve chosen to go solar, and many will assist you with costs later if you should occur accidental damages to your system that are not covered under warranties.
Obtain copies of all permits and approvals required by your local jurisdiction, utility company, or homeowners’ association. This may include interconnection agreements, and establishing the connection between your solar system and the utility grid.
Net metering agreement: If applicable, secure a copy of the net metering agreement with your utility company, outlining the terms for selling excess energy back to the grid.
Maintenance and monitoring information: Gather information on system monitoring, performance alerts, and recommended maintenance schedules, including contact information for customer support or service providers.
And finally, talk to your tax preparer after you get your solar quote about your tax incentives. Salespersons and dealers are not tax experts. They know the basics, but homeowners may have extenuating circumstances, varying state laws, or other unforeseen factors that can affect how tax incentives are paid.
Your tax preparer is the one to turn to for this information. If you do not have a tax preparer, usually a larger company such as H&R Block, Jackson Hewitt, or one of your local franchises can point you in the right direction. In all cases, if you have taken out a loan for your solar, the tax incentive should be applied to your solar loan. Don’t forget to look into Federal incentives too!