With ever increasing start-up solar companies entering the market place, it pays to do a little homework prior to signing on the bottom line. Certainly, in most instances, turning to rooftop solar energy may possibly be the best financial decision for curbing never ending utility rate hikes. There are also other financial advantages with State and Federal money available. But the solar company you select can be a blessing or a curse. Like all home construction projects, a contractor’s reputation is an all important factor.

On top of the list of questions homeowners need fulfilled is warranty issues. Will the contractor be around for approximately 25 years? This question is important to ask because solar power production is guaranteed for that time period providing the system is maintained and operating efficiently. Another question that should be asked and answered is whether a particular solar company provides their own installation or do they sub-contract the work to be performed? If it is the latter then more questions need be answered with regard to the sub-contractor’s business practice and history, longevity and reputation.

Since construction plans and permits are also required for all solar installations, Ken Justo of ASI Hastings Heating, Air & Solar cautions homeowners to not allow any work to be started until permits are issued. “This has been a problem with certain solar companies not following the proper procedures when it comes to submitting plans and pulling permits,” said Justo. “Sadly there have been many homeowners led into bad situations where work was started then halted because of lack of permits. Doing it wrong is by far more expensive than doing it right in the first place. The permit process for the contractor can be tedious while working with cities, counties, and the utility company, but it’s part of the process.”

This leads to another important point. Are all involved in the project properly licensed and insured? Working above ground, in many cases on the second story, combined with extremely high-voltage electricity can be dangerous even for the most experienced. Without company workman’s compensation insurance up to date, the financial responsibility resulting from any injury could ultimately rest on the shoulders of the homeowner. Likewise, if the contractor or sub-contractor is not properly insured, property damage such as roof damage by an inexperienced crew could also become homeowner responsibility.

Requesting verifiable contractor licenses and insurance documents is not unreasonable when it comes to homeowners protecting themselves. Reputable companies will readily provide. All said and done, trust seems the most important element when selecting a solar company.

Locally owned and operated since 1952, San Diego’s ASI Hastings Heating, Air & Solar is one such company.