Solar photovoltaic (PV) technology is incredibly durable. Your panels may need occasional cleaning, but that’s about it.
However, getting set up with a new installation can either be a hassle-free experience or an extremely frustrating one. In order to avoid unnecessary headaches, it is important that you understand what all is involved—and who is ultimately responsible for each stage of the installation process.
Let’s take a look.
Your Solar Installer’s Responsibilities
Not surprisingly, your solar installation company is responsible for the actual “installation” itself. But this involves more than just design and set-up. The entire installation process also includes:
1.) Grid-connecting your system once approval is given by your utility company. And for this, the installer must be licensed to operate within your state.
2.) Handling permits, applications, and municipal approvals—including permission from the utility to connect your installation to the power grid.
3.) Walking you through all the different financing options (e.g. cash, loans, etc). Financing approvals might come from 3rd parties like banks. But if you choose the right installer, they will be able to help you with the application process—from start to finish.
4.) Helping you apply for all relevant solar incentives. This is particularly important if you finance your system using cash or solar loans.
5.) Providing you with a solar production guarantee—including system maintenance and monitoring. Be sure that you see these coverages in your contract with your installer—in advance, before you sign.
6.) Providing coverage and protection. Technically, the manufacturer provides warranty coverage for solar components, but claims are usually sent through the installer. Your solar installer should also provide workmanship guarantees (minimum of 20 years) to protect you from any defects resulting from faulty labor.
That’s a lot of support. But you should never commit to any installer who isn’t willing to provide all of the above.
However, we’re not quite finished. There are a few additional steps we need to cover.
Your Utility Company’s Responsibilities
As mentioned before, only PV systems installed by licensed solar installers qualify for grid connections—DIY jobs don’t qualify. But it is ultimately the utility company that decides whether your system can be connected to the electricity grid.
Some utilities offer very quick turnaround times—others don’t.
At Direct Energy Solar, we work closely with power providers to ensure our customers receive the fastest possible approvals. And if you live in a state with longer-than-average turnaround times, we’ll let you know what to expect in advance.
Your utility provider is also responsible for buying any excess solar power that your installation sends into the grid. This means that you can sell your solar electricity:
- In exchange for utility credits—in states with net metering.
- In exchange for cash—in states with feed-in tariffs (FiTs).
Note, however, that participation in net metering and the FiT isn’t automatic. You must actively enroll in these programs. If you choose a reputable solar installation company, they can help guide you through this enrollment process. But it’s important you select an installer who is familiar with your market, because the rules governing net metering and the feed-in tariff vary from state to state.
It All Starts with Choosing the Right Solar Installer
Both installers and utility providers have certain obligations—but the installer’s impact on your solar experience is far greater. And so your primary responsibility involves selecting the right company for the job. Doing so is the best way to ensure that going solar is as profitable and enjoyable as possible.
So how do you find the right solar installer?
We’ve written a companion article that walks you through how to evaluate every solar proposal that comes your way. And we’ve also published a guide on what to look for in an installer. Use these free resources to get started.
And if you have additional questions about what is involved with going solar, schedule a free appointment with our team today.