Well, there is a rush to go green, to be green and yet we all get stopped at the starting post trying to find ‘green’ contractors! While different states and the different levels of government are coming up with green grant incentives, we are still hunting around for information on how to choose a solar contractor.
With solar power being such a new idea, many states have not yet got around to regulating the specifics for a ‘solar’ contractor. However, there is a renewable energy incentive program for every state and this would be a good place to start. There is also a web site for solar energy trade groups, which lists contractors.
Licensed solar contractors in your area will have been educated and trained in installing PV panels. This training will have been followed by field experience, so if you spot some solar paneling installed in your neighborhood, ask who did the work.
Solar contractors need to know more about their job than just installing the panels on the roof tops. He or she should be able to advise you on the size of panel that will work for your home as well as how it works. Hopefully you will know a little about solar energy before you go into it.
You will also need to negotiate some help if you are filling in any forms for grants etc. These must be discussed with the contractor prior to starting an order to make sure that everything will be up to the specification standards required for the grant. The passing of the inspection will be completed before final payment is made to the contractor.
Your contractor will advise you on an inverter which will change the direct current (DC) power from your panels into the alternating current of AC electricity. AC electricity will power your appliances etc and it is compatible with the grid electricity that comes into your home.
You will also need to buy batteries which will store the excess power from sunny days and allow you to use it as electricity on cloudy days. Your contractor will know about metering, grid connections, excess power and if and how you can pump juice back into the grid.
It may be difficult to find a contractor who has years of experience, so be sure to employ one who is knowledgeable, who can show you previous work, and who's references you can check.
Finally, as with most home building jobs, get three quotes - for exactly the same solar system - from different contractors and compare prices.
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