It’s not difficult to see the appeal of using solar power to meet our domestic energy needs: it utilizes a natural energy source (the sun) and thereby avoids any environmental damage that can result from the energy being generated via traditional means. The use of solar power for the home has become increasingly prevalent in recent years and particularly in dry landscapes that have an abundance of sunshine such as Australia or the state of California. For the majority of home owners however, installing a solar heating system without professional assistance is not a viable option. There are a number of things to consider such as adequate cable size, correct fusing (every circuit should be protected by a fuse or circuit breaker), the positioning of batteries and the correct positioning of the solar panels. Attempting to do all this by yourself and not getting it exactly right will result in a less than optimum performance of your solar power system. As such, it is prudent to call on the assistance of a solar power installer or solar contractor.
The question that then arises is: “How do I go about finding a reliable solar power installer?” There is help at hand depending on where you happen to be located. The California Energy Commission maintains a list of registered installers on its Web site. California’s solar rebates are available only to homeowners who use installers registered with the state, and all those contractors listed on the commission’s Web site will qualify. You could also check the membership roster of the California Solar Energy Industries Association, the trade organization representing solar power installers. Similarly, homeowners in Oregon wishing to receive Energy Trust’s incentives must have their system installed by an Energy Trust approved contractor. The Oregon Department of Energy maintains a list of tax credit-certified solar technicians. Many state-certified solar technicians are also Energy Trust trade ally contractors.
In Australia, in order to qualify for the solar power rebate, the person who carries out the installation of the solar panels must be accredited for design and installation of photovoltaic systems by the Business Council for Sustainable Energy (BCSE). A list of BCSE accredited designers and installers is available from the Clean Energy Council – or alternately you could contact a designer/installer and ask for proof of their accreditation.
As is always the case when dealing with any type of contractor, personal attention and responsiveness are important. If you find that one solar contractor seems to be able to communicate more clearly and is more responsive than others, you will probably want to take this into consideration when making your choice. Ultimately you want to be able to deal with a contractor that can design a system for your home, sell you the solar modules and install them. To do this you will need to find a contractor that has a good track record and a load of good references. The longevity of their business is also important as you’d want to be able to go back to the same installer in the future, should you experience any problems.