Choosing a Solar Contractor

Choose a solar contractor very carefully. The fast-paced growth of the solar industry has attracted a number of sales people looking to “get rich quick” and will mislead consumers into making an uneducated purchasing decision. In addition, poor installation practices can mean serious trouble. A properly installed solar PV array will last over 25 years, but if the installer takes shortcuts or uses unqualified workers the system can be a fire hazard, cause roof leaks, or otherwise fail prematurely.

Any installation company should have employees with PV Installation Professional certification by the North American Board of Certified Energy Practitioners (NABCEP). This certification ensures that the installer is trained and tested in the latest approved installation techniques. The sales person or their manager should be NABCEP Certified in PV Technical Sales. You can search for NABCEP certified professionals at

Permits are required for Solar PV projects and that means your contractor must have someone on staff with an Georgia Electrical Contractors License. You can request a copy of this and verify its status at

Buyer Beware

  • Research the company you’re getting a quote from, and not just by reading what they’ve written about themselves.
    • Check how long they’ve been in business. Beware of newer companies -- 45% of businesses fail within their first 5 years.
    • Request the business license and verify that it is current
    • Are they a local company or based out of state? -- Companies are more likely to abandon customers in states they’re not based in.
    • Ask if they use sub-contractors or in-house installers. -- If they use sub’s they’re simply playing middle-man between you and the installer.
    • Request a copy of their General Liability and Workers Comp insurance. -- Companies without this insurance put their customers and their employees at risk.
    • Check their online reviews (e.g. Better Business Bureau, Google, -- Don’t judge by the letter grade alone. Read the complaints and look for trends (poor communication? Install on time? Do they carry themselves as professionals?).Request references.
    • Read the company’s mission statement to see if their values align with yours.
    • Ask if they are a member of GA Solar as it is very important solar companies support their local advocacy organization.
  • Compare solar contractors and their proposals  
    • Get at least three quotes from different solar companies.
    • Beware of high-pressure sales tactics designed to prevent you from getting other quotes and sway you to purchase solar at a premium.
    • One easy way to compare quotes of different system sizes is to find the “price per watt” (total price divided by total system wattage). We’ve seen several companies in Georgia selling as high as $6.60 per watt. The average price per watt for residential solar in Georgia is around $2.90 per watt (before tax incentives). Economy of scale is a big factor in solar, so expect higher prices for smaller systems and lower prices for large or commercial systems. 
    • The typical payback period for residential solar in Georgia is 10-15 years. If your quote is below 10 years you could be dealing with a dishonest solar company.
  • What should be included in a solar proposal and what should you look out for?  
    • Be aware that sometimes companies will only show the monthly payment and exclude the actual contract price (loan principal amount) which makes it difficult to compare proposals. 
    • Know there’s a difference between the pre-tax credit (gross cost) price, and the after tax credit price (net cost after incentives). The tax credit is claimed by the solar purchaser, not by the contractor. So you’ll be paying the full contract amount (unless the system is owned by a third party which isn’t common in Georgia).
    • The proposal should show the layout of the system on your roof or property.
    • It should list the major components and their quantities (solar modules, inverter and battery [if included]).It should show your Solar Offset - the percentage of your annual electricity that will come from solar based on your historical power usage data. 
    • Monthly power bill savings - how much solar will affect your monthly power bills.
    • Assumptions: losses due to shading (very important this is calculated correctly to calculate system performance), annual increase in utility energy cost (important for calculating the ROI and should be around 3.5% based on the U.S. Energy Information Administration), the azimuth and tilt angle of each section of the solar array, and your current utility rate plan (should match what’s on your power bill).
    • Contract - Always read it carefully and compare the workmanship warranties, project timeline, payment terms, the company should file for the permit, and it's common practice for the solar company to file the paperwork with your utility on your behalf.
    • Three day “right to rescind” contract form - required by law (more info at this link)
  • Watch out for marketing gimmicks and general dishonesty. Some examples we’ve seen are:
    • “Get paid to go solar” -- This is used dishonestly in two different ways. 
      • Some solar companies will charge you extra and then offer a cash rebate to you. You can get into trouble with the IRS for this if you’re getting a tax credit for the full contract amount and then also getting a cash rebate from the power company. 
      • Power companies will pay for your surplus solar power, but they only pay the wholesale rate in most cases in Georgia, which is about 1/5th of the retail rate and doesn’t provide much value to you.
    • “Free Solar” “No Cost Solar”-- First of all, nothing is free. This is usually referring to a method of purchasing solar where it is financed over a long enough period that your power bill reduction is greater than your solar loan payment resulting in a positive cash flow. This can be tough to make happen in Georgia but there are cases where it works.
    • “We’re with the ____ Power Company solar program” -- Power companies don’t send people to sell you solar. There are a few rare exceptions but the point is that we’ve seen companies claim to be working in conjunction with the power company when they are not.
    • “Does your home have a smart meter? That means you qualify for a free proposal” -- There are certain qualifiers that make a home a good candidate for solar, but we see companies using very ordinary terms to reel in the masses.
    • “We’re looking for 50 homes to try our solar program” -- Some solar companies will make misleading statements to build interest or gain your trust. 
    • “Eliminate your power bill” - This is only a feasible option in states with annual true-up net-metering which doesn’t exist in Georgia. In the sense of literally going Off-Grid, that is very expensive because it requires massive battery capacity and a redundant power source such as a generator.
  • This list is not meant to be all inclusive. 


Use our member database to find a local solar professional. Click below and then select “Solar Installers”:

Find a Solar Professional

Installing Solar on Your Home

Homeowners who want to install solar on their properties often don’t know what their options are or where to go to find out. If you are interested in solar energy for your home, consult a professional to determine if the right conditions exist.

 Site suitability

 A professional assessment will examine:

  • The age of the roof (the newer the better).
  • How the house is situated (a sunny south or west-facing foot is best, but east facing is also good). 
  • Shading of the roof from plumbing vents, chimneys and other roof features, or from trees and surrounding buildings.  
  • Feasibility of a ground-mounted system.
  • Your electrical consumption during all four seasons.  
  • Building codes or homeowners’ association rules that restrict or prohibit solar options.

Use our database to find a local solar professional.

Find a Solar Professional

 Solar by the Numbers

  • Most home systems cost $12,000 to $20,000.
  • Solar costs have declined steeply over the past 10 years – more than 70 percent – and continue to drop.
  • Solar panels will continue to generate and save money on your energy bills for more than 20 years.
  • Special tax incentives such as the federal Investment Tax Credit help defray the cost through income tax deductions and depreciation.
  • Consider financing options carefully before committing. Read any proposed contract carefully before signing, and consider having it reviewed by an attorney. Here are options to consider:
  • Homeowners can choose a financing option that works best with their budget