It is no secret that the solar industry is growing rapidly. It seems like every week a new business begins to offer solar services! With such a variety of companies, it can be difficult for a homeowner to decide whom to hire.

Greentech Media, a solar news and research organization, released an article listing nine questions that a homeowner should ask every solar company. Vetting potential installers by asking the right questions is one of the fastest ways to find the perfect company.

After reading the article, we knew that we had to share it with our readers. Below you’ll find the nine questions you should ask every solar company (and one additional question that’s very important to ask) along with Alltera’s answers.

1. How long have you been in business? How much solar has your company installed to date?

Allterra started in 2004 as an Environmental Engineering Firm that investigated and remediated dissolved contaminants in groundwater. In 2009, Allterra launched its solar division to bring renewable energy to the Central Coast.

As of January 2016, Allterra has installed nearly five megawatts that include over 760 home installations. We have been voted best solar company on the Central Coast five years running as well as best place to work in Monterey Bay. We were awarded a Climate Leadership Award by California’s Air Resources Board and led the Green Business Program’s certification of Kaiser Permanente Arena, home of the NBA D-League’s Santa Cruz Warriors.

2. Are you NABCEP Certified (North American Board of Certified Energy Practitioners)?

Yes. Allterra Solar is a fully licensed and insured engineering and construction firm. Our licenses include A, B, C-10, and C-46. We are licensed for any solar project and, if necessary, a hydroelectric dam. We recruited and now employ a team of engineers, solar designers, NABCEP™ certified professionals, and highly skilled solar and electrical builders.

3. Are you licensed and insured as a solar installer or electrician in my state?

Yes, Allterra is licensed as:

– General Engineering Contractor (A)

– General Building Contractor (B)

– Electrical Contractor (C-10)

– Solar Contractor (C-46)

4. Who will actually come to my home or business to install my system?

Allterra is one of the few solar companies in California who handles the entire solar process in-house – from sales and design through engineering and installation. Rarely will we require a sub-contractor to do specialized electrical or construction work. In those infrequent occurrences, we ensure quality by vetting every company with whom we collaborate through the California Contractors State License Board and strong customer reviews.

5. What are the electrical codes in this area, and how do you adhere to them?

National Electric Code 2013. Our engineering team knows the NEC by heart, and they permit every job. Allterra’s engineering team deals with building department inspection and code compliance all day long. In fact, we do not receive final payment until we pass inspection and complete the job to code.

6. What are the names of the module and inverter manufacturers whose products you use? What are their warranties?

Allterra sells and installs only the best, most reliable equipment built by reputable manufacturers. We offers modules built by Sunpower and Solarworld; Inverters by SMA and Enphase; and Mounts by PV Quickmount. We use other module and inverter options for larger commercial projects from time to time. For homeowners, buying quality equipment is important to realize long-term benefits. Buying lower cost equipment can present more  long-term problems due to reduced warranty coverage and poorly constructed equipment.

7. Can we go over the racking, mounts, and fasteners that will be used?

Absolutely. We use Quickmount PV for mounts and Unirac for rail and fasteners. Racking, mounts, and fasteners are important since they secure your solar system and prevent leaks.

8. Can I have the names and contact information of three references?

Of course! We encourage homeowners to shop and educate themselves. We’ve installed solar on hundreds of homes in the Monterey Bay, so chances are you’ve already seen some of our work. You can take a look at your Yelp profile or our testimonials page to see some reviews by previous clients. We can also provide a list of clients that you can call to get objective feedback.

9. Can I see some photos of systems you’ve installed that are similar to the ones you’ll be installing on my house?

We have lots of photos and videos available on our website, Yelp, and Facebook page. If you want to see more, just send us an email at info@allterrasolar.com.

10. Do you recommend we lease or purchase the solar equipment?

Allterra Solar advocates ownership of solar equipment. Goldmann Sachs, Google, Bank of America, and many other companies have partnered with solar leasing companies and actually may own the solar equipment on a roof. Investors love the long-term revenue streams from solar leases and solar Power Purchase Agreements. Allterra Solar advocates homeowners purchase solar equipment to ensure they receive the  long-term benefit, not investors like Goldmann Sachs. If you are told that PPAs and leases are best, you are likely talking to a publicly traded company focused on profit for shareholders, not long-term savings for families.

Sources:

Going Solar? Here Are 9 Questions to Ask Before Hiring an Installer by Greentech Media