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Finding the right contractor for any project can be difficult – finding one for your next solar installation can feel even more daunting. Here’s everything you need to know in order to ensure that your PV system will be installed correctly and safely.
Solar contractor licensing started in the 1980s alongside the introduction of solar incentive programs. State regulations and licensing of solar contractors have been evolving as the solar industry has continued to grow. Most states require a licensed electrical contractor for PV installations, and some have even stricter requirements. Further, every state and municipality has different laws, regulations, and rebates for installing solar.
Therefore, finding a local contractor is important, as local installers are likely more familiar with local building and electrical codes. They should have a track record of solar installation projects in your area so that they will know how to follow the rules and will be experienced to safely install your solar panels and provide you with insurance policies. Additionally, a local contractor will be able to easily assist you if there are ever any concerns with your new solar system.
While hiring locally is a must, it is not necessary to hire an installer with a specific solar installation certification (unless required by your state). A certification like NABCEP is nice, but unfortunately is not necessarily an indication of quality work. A certification is a voluntary standard attained as a differentiating factor and sometimes requires as little as one year of experience. In fact, the most important factor when choosing an installer is to look for a licensed electrician – this is crucial so that they know how to manage the wiring and electrical components of your project and ensure the safety of your installation. Solar installations are electrical construction projects, thus requiring licensed electricians. Furthermore, since solar is a relatively new technology, installing it requires knowledge of other building trades.
In conclusion, like with any other construction projects, well-rounded trade knowledge, policies, and required licenses are at the cornerstone of safe practices and peace of mind. Even more so, recent incidents in the solar industry, related to negligence and unsafe practices during the installation phase, should act as a reminder to always conduct due diligence and ensure to hire qualified and licensed installers.