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How to find the right solar installer for your home

The great thing is that you have choices. Finding the right installer is a choice the consumer needs to make. And it’s always better when you’re making a choice after you’ve been educated. Your solar system will last between 30,40, even 50 years. You want a company that will be around to take care of your system when it needs some TLC. The choice you make for home solar products and installation is something you get to live with for decades.

There are many solar installation companies out there offer low-priced solar products and installations. But the old adage "you get what you pay for" couldn’t be truer than when it comes to solar products— and installation partners. Hopefully this will help you choose the right solar installation company. One that listens to your needs and can customize a solar system to match your needs, with high-quality solar products, and staying to/under your budget. When you meet with solar companies, here are some questions to ask with advice on evaluating the answers.

First and foremost, are they a Class A Licensed Electrical Contractor in the State of MN? You want solar companies that are local so when you have an issue, you’re not waiting for them to find the (or another) sub-contractor and getting something scheduled in their calendar. Local companies mean faster response times and a long term relationship with your solar system provider.

You want an installer that is familiar with the weather in your area. Does you no good to bring in installers from AZ to start installing in MN. Why? Understanding construction differences, variances of mounting systems for our local climates, and how to properly install on your roof.

Weather and sunlight vary from region to region, so you want to hire an installer who can design a system that works well in your climate. Plus, local experience is important because the solar installer will likely be more familiar with local building and electrical codes. This is a huge asset because installing solar is an electrical construction project, which requires following local city codes and obtaining the proper permits. If your installer has a strong relationship with the local permitting offices and inspectors, it can help your installation go smoothly, avoiding potential hold-ups caused by changes in local codes, inspectors that are unfamiliar with the work they do, or utility requirements.

Hire an installer that does solar full-time, is located in your market area, versus being companies from out of state that come in, sell a bunch of deals, have them all sub-contracted out, and generally move on to other markets.

Below is an article from the Star Tribune that all consumers should be aware of. There are always scams out there on almost anything, solar included. There are companies that will come in, make all kinds of promises to get the sale, and leave consumers holding the "bag".

Most importantly, do your homework. The type of solar companies you should work with should be able to listen to your needs, help educate you about the entire process, design the proper system without taking short cuts with materials, and this happens often, such as putting in a too small (and less expensive) inverter(s), not allowing your system to deliver you the most available kWh's. And never ever sign and put down a deposit when pressured by sales people.

If they promise they can install your system in a week or so, run! With reputable companies, we have to secure permits with your city, get the utility to okay your system, supply design for approvals, etc., all of which takes at least 30 days to put all together. Putting solar on your home is expensive but rewarding with the properly designed system. Never hurry that process. Get at a minimum 3 quotes from 3 different companies. In the end, most of us use the same equipment, bringing the decision process down to price, the company, and who do you feel most confident in.

By  Jeffrey Meitrodt Star Tribune

MARCH 8, 2020 — 2:15P

Darrin Lundeen thought he did everything right when he went shopping for a company to put solar panels on his house.

He looked at online reviews and settled on five finalists. He checked the companies out with the Better Business Bureau. He even decided against hiring the firm with the lowest bid.

But a year after Altaray Solar installed a $28,000 system on his home in New Hope, it still doesn't work. Even worse, Lundeen has to deal with about $6,000 worth of damage to his basement, which flooded last year when power was unwittingly cut to his sump pump. The culprit, Lundeen said: faulty wiring by Altaray.

Unfortunately for Lundeen and hundreds of other Altaray customers, the Utah-based company shut down last year after regulators in Minnesota and Nevada yanked its license because of substandard and incomplete work.

"I just pray that we get what's coming to us," Lundeen said. "But it is hard to trust people at this point."

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