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 https://www.nabcep.org/nabcep-professionals/.

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 http://verify.sos.ga.gov/verification/

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
    • Check their online reviews (e.g. Better Business Bureau, Google, SolarReviews.com)
    • Request references 
    • Ask if they are a member of GA Solar as it is very important solar companies support their local advocacy organization.
  • Get quotes from several solar companies. 
    • Beware of high-pressure sales tactics. We see this used to make someone not compare other quotes and purchase 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). The average price per watt for residential solar in Georgia is around $2.90/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 ROI 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.
  • Watch out for marketing gimmicks. Some examples we’ve seen are:
    • “Your power company sent us to tell you about their new solar program” or “Does your home have a smart meter? That means you qualify” - 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.
    • “Get paid to go solar” - Power companies will pay for your exported solar power, but this is a misleading statement because they only pay the wholesale rate in most cases in Georgia.
  • Request a copy of their insurance certificate. Ensure they at least have liability insurance just in case something does go wrong.
  • 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.

    Click here for more on Tax Credits


    (Source : SEIA)
  • 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

Quick guide to paying for solar

  • These sources of financing are available in the market:

Grants, loans and mortgages

Helpful guides on Solar Purchasing for Homes

A Homeowner's Guide to Solar Financing - Leases, Loans, & PPA's (Clean Energy States Alliance)
Residential Consumer Guide to Solar Power (SEIA)