How do I choose among solar thermal system providers?
One way to choose a contractor is to check your list of potential companies for the ones nearest you. Ask them what products and services they offer. Here are a few questions you might want to ask potential vendors.
Has your company installed solar thermal systems for solar water heating, pool heating, or space heating?
Choose a company that has experience installing the type of system you want and servicing the applications you select.
How many years of experience does your company have with solar heating installation?
Obviously, the more experience the better. A business that has been working with these systems for a long time will be more professional, know more about current technologies and recent advances, and be less likely to make costly mistakes. Request a list of past customers who can provide references. Purchase thermal heating.
Is your company licensed?
Having a valid plumber’s or solar contractor’s license is required in some states for solar thermal system installation. You can confirm licensing by contacting your state contractor licensing board. Local requirements may also include a local contractor’s license. Call your city and county for information on other required licenses. For you to obtain certain rebates, your contractor may have to demonstrate special knowledge about solar installations through one or more of the following:
• Possession of a solar contractor specialty license issued by a local building jurisdiction
• Certification in solar thermal systems by a group such as the state chapter of SEIA
• A letter from the solar heating manufacturer that indicates that the installer has the necessary experience and training to install solar systems.
Does your company have any pending or active judgments or liens against it?
As with any project that requires a contractor, due diligence is recommended. Your state contractor licensing board can tell you about any complaints against state-licensed contractors. The Better Business Bureau is another good source for such information. Purchase thermal heating.
How do I choose among bids? Is the least expensive the best deal?
It is usually a good idea to get more than one bid for installation of your solar system. Make sure that all the bids you receive are based on the same information and requirements. For example, comparing a bid for a system mounted on your roof with a bid for one mounted on the ground would not tell you how the two bids compare—it would probably tell you more about how the two types of installations compare. One solution is to ask for bidson systems certified by the Solar Rating and Certification Corporation (SRCC). If possible, have each bid specify system type and size, energy output, maintenance requirements, and cost. Cost should include having the system installed and getting it up and running, as well as the cost of hardware, permits, sales tax, and warranties. A system warranty is crucial in comparing bids. A solar rebate program may require a written installation warranty, for example a 2-year parts-and-labor warranty in addition to manufacturers’ warranties on system components. The company may offer other, longer warranties, particularly on the collectors. However, solar systems are more than collectors; active systems include electronic components, pumps, valves, and wiring. Make sure you know what your warranty covers and that the company stands behind the full warranty. If you have several bids, you may wonder if the lowest bid is the best deal. Sometimes it is not. A solar thermal system installer is in business to make money; overhead and operating expenses must be covered. A low price could be a sign of inexperience, or of a company without staying power. Contractors that expect to stay in business must charge enough to cover their products and services plus make a fair profit. Price is not the only consideration. Purchase thermal heating.