In Part 1 of our Ultimate Guide to Choosing a Solar Installer, we went over photovoltaic panel quality. Today is all about installation quality, or workmanship.
One of the biggest concerns we hear from potential customers is how the installation process will affect their roof. After all, what good is having awesome solar panels if they wreak havoc on your roof or become loose/detached over time? With that said, here are few key tips on installation that will save you a ton of time and headache in the future:
Use racking with high-grade aluminum
Racking is the equipment used to attach the solar panels to your roof, and it’s usually made from anodized aluminum. High quality racking is made from higher-grade aluminum, such as “marine grade 6000,” which is much stronger and more durable. Better racking prevents problems with your roof.
Flashing is the best way to secure panels and racking to your roof
Flashing are thin pieces of metal placed over the area where the bolts that hold down the racking are fastened to your roof. Their purpose is to keep the water out so your roof doesn’t leak, which can cause significant and expensive damage. Be aware of solar installers that simply drill holes into your roof to hold the racking in place.
More efficient panels means less holes in your roof
A solar panel with superior efficiency will be lighter and smaller than a panel that requires more surface area to produce the same amount of power. Therefore, you won’t need to drill as many holes in your roof for the fastening bolts. Lighter panels also means less weight and stress on your roof, and less area covered in panels.
Find a company that specializes in solar installation
Just as you wouldn’t ask a plumber to work on your electric, you shouldn’t ask anyone else but a solar expert to handle your installation. Beware of companies that boast about many years of experience but don’t specify what that experience is in. They may have 30 years of experience in standard electrical contracting, but only began installing solar in the last year.
Reputable solar companies split their installation teams up into electric and roofing specialists who are required to have a hundreds of hours of experience before they can work on your home. Sometimes you’ll even find multiple roofing specialists to help with different kinds of rooftops.
Ask to see photos of past installations
You should be able to tell from past project photos if the solar installer you’re considering is a professional. The installation should look clean, with no exposed wires running along or dangling off the roof. The lines and angles of the panels, as well as the fastening bolts (if shown), should be even.
NABCEP certifications are highly recommended
The North American Board of Certified Energy Practitioners (NABCEP) is an industry-accrediting body with highly stringent criteria for membership. Having a NABCEP-certified worker on your job means you are getting a higher quality of installation from the moment planning begins.
Good solar installers guarantee their work
A guarantee on workmanship offer protection for your home, your new solar panels and your peace of mind. It’s also good sign that an installer is confident of the quality of their work.