The decision to switch to solar power involves many choices.  We always encourage homeowners to do their research and due diligence before signing a contract – as well as obtaining quotes from at least 3 solar installers.  Taking the time to make the decision will save you stress and worry, and lead you to a happier experience.  Before making a decision on your installer, take a moment to ask the following questions.


Do you conduct a home inspection before quoting a solar PV installation?

The first step we take when a homeowner is interested in solar is to provide them with a preliminary quote.  This quote is based off the home’s consumption and electrical utility bill.  The preliminary quote is a way of giving information to the homeowner, which includes: the types of components, estimated system size and output, and financial information (cost, incentives, tax credits, levelized energy cost).   The next step is the site evaluation/assessment with the home owner.  This step will produce an in-depth proposal and financial analysis.  This is the time to get into the nitty-gritty details and information sharing/photovoltaic education.  Also, this stage helps the homeowner to understand if any energy-retrofits should be made, as well as reflect on the energy decisions they are making.


Why are energy retrofits important to me?

Energy awareness can help drive down the system cost.  Efficiency upgrades are the most affordable way to offset usage.  Energy retrofits are about changing how we live in a space, our patterns and daily routines.  We can minimize costs of a solar PV system by efficiently using the energy available and identifying energy conserving opportunities.  Often times, when homeowners install solar, they find the guilt-free freedom to use even more electricity.  We have noticed that consumption actually can increase after a solar installation!


What type of maintenance will be required for a solar array?

With residential solar PV installations, there is very little maintenance required.  That is one of the beautiful aspects about solar PV!  There are no moving parts (as long as it is not tracking) and a long system life.  Here are the 4 simple ways to maintain your solar system:

  1. Wash panels and dust off every 3 – 4 months.
  2. Check for shading or any obstruction.
  3. Look under your panels – to ensure the wiring is intact.
  4. Monitor your system – check that your power output coincides with what your system should be producing.


What is the most important thing to know about sizing a PV Solar System?

For PPC Solar customers, we always initially ask for the homeowner’s electric utility bill.  Our goal is to design a solar PV system with “optimal system sizing” in mind.  This means that we design systems to offset all of the homeowner’s electrical usage.  In other words, we size the system to produce the same amount of power in a 1 year cycle that is on record for your electrical consumption.  In some cases, a combination of energy conservation, appliance efficiency, and load shifting (powering energy loads using different sources) can significantly reduce the size and cost of a photovoltaic system.


When it’s time to start asking your solar integrator questions about your solar installation, make sure you cover all the bases.  Our next article will cover more information about relevant and helpful questions to ask your potential solar installer.  Being informed is a smart way to start your adventure into solar electricity, and knowing the right questions to ask is key.  Stay tuned for a continued discussion on this topic “Top Questions for your Solar Installer – Before the Installation Part 2”.