Article by:
Austin Young
August 18, 2022
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How to Pick the Right Solar Installer for Your Project

Planning and figuring out your multifamily solar project can be time-consuming and very complicated. Before investing in solar on multifamily housing, property owners need to confirm revenue potential, assess residents’ energy usage, and incentivize residents to participate as solar energy users. Owners also need support during solar project design, installation, and administration to make shared solar seamless for property management. Ivy takes the guesswork out of the solar investment by collecting residents’ historical energy usage data, providing long-term revenue forecasts, and a satisfying simulation of the customer experience. By removing upfront risk, we shorten the path to sustainable living and hassle-free financial gains. While Ivy is not a solar installer, we are very experienced in the solar space and have a network of trusted installers we can refer you to. You don’t have to work with an Ivy-referred installer to use our software, but these are some of the main things to consider when choosing your installer.

Narrow Down the List of Top Solar Installers

There are a lot of solar installers out there, but not all of them will be able and willing to work on your multifamily solar project:

  1. Not all installers install on multifamily properties and not all installers are familiar with virtual net energy metering “VNEM.”
  2. Your roof type could limit your installer options. Many installers will work with any and all roof types, but some avoid certain roof types. It is also important to ensure that your solar contractor has experience with multiple rooftop obstructions.
  3. Electrical gear upgrades can be very complicated depending on what your building is equipped with, so making sure your solar contractor is an expert with various electrical upgrades can be very important.

These are some of the first key questions you should ask an installer. Working with an installer that is well experienced in these areas is crucial. 

How to Evaluate a Solar Installer Beyond the Quote

Going for the lowest price per watt or cheapest upfront cost is not a good plan when it comes to multifamily solar. Exceptionally low bids can be a red flag, and you should do more research before signing the contract. Solar installers offer a variety of warranties that you must factor into your decision, including warranties for the equipment, performance guarantees, and a roof and leak warranty. If you go with the cheapest bid and there are no warranties, you may spend a lot more money to repair a roof leak than if you went with a more expensive installer. Additionally, you want to consider the installer's experience, certifications, track record, and reviews before making your decision.

Questions to Ask Your Potential Solar Installer

  • Are you licensed and insured in my state?
  • What warranties do you offer for equipment, performance guarantees, and for my roof and leaks?
  • Do you install on my roof type?
  • Do you install solar canopies? 
  • Do you have experience with electrical upgrades? 
  • Do you have experience with line-side interconnections (VNEM)?
  • What brand of solar panels and inverters do you work with?
  • What is the expected energy production of the solar system in my quote?
  • How many years of experience does your company have?
  • Can I look at some of your installed multifamily systems in person?
  • Can I have the datasheet for the solar panels and inverter in your quote?
  • Are you NABCEP Certified? (This is a voluntary certification from the North American Board of Certified Energy Practitioners.)
  • Do you subcontract any of the installation work?
  • Do you have quality control systems in place for the installation process?
  • How many certified electricians will be on the job site versus solar installation laborers?
  • Can you provide ongoing maintenance of my system?

While this may seem like a long list of questions, it will ensure that you get all the information you need to make the best decision for your multifamily real estate community.

Take the Next Step to Renewable Energy for Your Multifamily Property

Multifamily solar is an investment in your property that will immensely benefit you and your residents. Take your time to choose the right solar installer for your project, and don’t let a limited-time offer or incentive pressure you. It is important to find a solar installer who makes sense for you and your project and that offers quality service backed by a strong track record. If you don’t know where to start with finding an installer, contact us for a referral to a trusted installer in your area. Or, if you have a quote for solar and the company checks all the boxes, we can run a revenue simulator to show you the NOI revenue potential of your multifamily solar project.