Take a drive up and down the New Jersey Turnpike or across I-80 or the Atlantic City Expressway. I’ll bet you’ll pass at least several trucks or vans of solar companies. Seemingly, all it takes to claim you’re a solar company is a shrink-wrapped truck with a picture of the sun and grass on the side. There are no other certifications or barriers to entry to the business. While I’m no fan of certifications, you, as the customer, need to do your due diligence. Caveat emptor. Ask your solar company for the list of completed installations. Call these customers, especially the ones where the projects had some unexpected twists and turns. Make sure your solar company has LOTS of experience with your type of project – do you want to be the test case?
Experience counts. It always has, no matter what the industry. Commercial solar installations are very complex. There are a host of things that have to be done just right or the system will be worthless, regardless of what you’ve paid for it. These are complex construction projects, not just a quick equipment installation like some solar companies believe.
We get calls every week from customers who need someone to come out and fix problems caused by solar installers who ‘bit off more than they could chew.’ We’ve seen roofs damaged by improper ballasting, the wrong racking systems and a number of other bad decisions. Fixing these problems isn’t as simple as sending knowledgeable, experienced teams of electricians to the site. The customer usually has to litigate against the company that caused the problems in order to recover the money to fix them. That alone takes a lot of time and money, all the while the system isn’t producing, SRECs aren’t being generated and the roof is leaking, causing who knows what trouble down below. Not a good scenario.
It comes down to something I find myself saying often to our prospective customers – “If you can’t find the time or money to do it right, where do you think you’re going to find the time and money to do it over?” Think about it. Spend the time up front to vet your solar company. You’ll be glad you did.