This is our third chapter of A Solar Horror Story. In our attempt to help consumers make solar decisions they feel confident and excited about, we believe it is our job as Solar Educators to outline a few of the common tricks, traps and scams so you can avoid them. The first article in our series spoke about sales tactics to be aware of and the second chapter outlined scams and tricks that have been known to infiltrate the solar industry. Today our focus is on the quality of the solar installation. Lesser solar companies will skim over the significance of the install. But, we are here to remind you that the installation of a solar array on your home is a construction project. As consumers, understanding and be aware of the quality of solar installation is important. Today, we focus on the solar installation process.
If a solar company is not willing, or actively avoiding, coming to your home for a home assessment prior to your installation, it might be a red flag. Even with the technology that solar installation companies have at their fingertips, it is important that someone comes to check out the roof on your home, reviews your electrical panel/boxes, and ensures that the property reflects the digital renderings of the home provided on tools such as Google Earth. Lack of inspection may result in panels being installed on a roof that needs to be replaced, panels being installed in direct shade or shadows, or electrical boxes needing to be upgraded to avoid electrical fires that could be caused from an overloaded electrical box.
This is a major construction project. Installation teams make it look quick and easy. However, the prep work in an excellent quality solar installation requires planning. A home assessment is one step of the process the creates customer peace of mind.
Here is a great video on the impact of shading one solar cell
Strength of Mounting Solution
Not all mounting and racking systems are made the same. Just as some panels and inverters are poorly designed and manufactured, racking and mounting systems can be victim of the same poor quality. The racking and mounting system is not the most exciting aspect of the solar install. However, a good quality system ensures the longevity and safety the solar panels on your roof. A weak mounting or racking system can result in panels literally falling off of your roof. Not only is that a major safety hazard, it is a major fire hazard as well. Solar panels are electrical equipment and poor installation can be devastating.
A good mount-rack system also provides for additional peace-of-mind for water-proofing. Solar panel installation typically requires drilling holes into your roof, so knowing a powerful water-proofing safety is put in place compounds the quality of the install and maintains the integrity of the roof.
Mounting – Rail – Skirt
Again, although the mounting and rail system are not very exciting, they are major components of your solar installation. A good installation will ensure several things. First, the mounting and racking are both the same color. Lesser solar installation companies will piecemeal the mounting and racking systems together to save money. However, this results in esthetics that are undesirable and unprofessional. While exploring solar companies, look closely at their website and samples of jobs completed. If you see photos where the mount-rack system does not match the solar panel and is not a streamlined color, chances are good that they are using left-over materials to install your system and not ordering full rack-mount systems for your solar installation. Although the quality of the materials is not necessarily diminished, the esthetic of your home will be greatly reduced. Mismatched metals on the roof look incomplete and messy.
Another aspect of a high quality solar installation is the use of solar array skirts. An array skirt is a border that outlines the solar panel array that creates a sleep, enhanced esthetic. The skirt provides a flush, clean line around the edge of an array and gives the system a truly finished, sophisticated look. Additionally, the panel skirt
If you feel like you may have experienced some of these red flags during a conversation or meeting with a solar sales representative, give us a call. Do not add to the list of solar horror stories. Solar is an exciting and important investment. Our Energy Advisers are ready to answer any pending questions you might have and work with you to ensure that the solar panel installation you are researching truly does answer to the energy needs you have.
Joshua Resneck, at Del Sol Energy in Brentwood, CA. He was born and raised in Berkeley and has experience in sales, training and strategy. He stated he picked the solar industry because, “I have always had more interests than I had time to pursue, and solar blends a lot of them together. Finance, construction, technology, people skills, rate schedules, compliance, etc.