Selecting a Solar Contractor
Choose a solar contractor wisely. We recommend that you use due diligence as you would with any major purchase:
- Look for an experienced solar contractor with an electrical contractor's license. Hawaii Energy's website, lists solar water heater contractors who participate in the rebate program. For PV contractors, check with others who have installed PV systems and do some research. Ask contractors for references of other installations they have completed or visit PV open houses. Check the websites of professional organizations and resources, such as the Hawaii Solar Energy Association, PV Coalition, Better Business Bureau, the Hawaii Department of Commerce and Consumer Affairs' Consumer Resource Center, and the North American Board of Certified Energy Practitioners (NABCEP).
- Collect bids from several contractors. Compare the generation capacity of each system and the estimated amount of energy it will produce annually based on sunlight conditions in your area. (See Site Considerations for Solar: Sizing Your System).
- Request product specification sheets and information on warrantees. See our Producing Clean Energy page for details on approved inverters and modules.
- Once you've selected a contractor, make sure the work contract specifies the manufacturer, model and size of the solar panels and inverters.
- Determine with the contractor the date when the installation is to be completed and who is responsible for cleanup. Outline how much work is to be done by each progress payment and when final payment is expected. Consider withholding final payment until all county permits have been closed.
- Make sure the contractor obtains all applicable permits from the City and County of Honolulu. Solar water heating and PV systems must be inspected and approved (closed permit application) by county building inspectors to ensure that all work complies with applicable building and electrical codes and that the system is safe for operation.
- Make sure the contractor completes and submits the paperwork required to interconnect your PV system to the utility grid, to apply for Net Energy Metering or Feed-In-Tariff, Standard Interconnection Agreement and to obtain the rebate for solar water heaters. Submitting paperwork in a timely manner is important to manage billing and interconnection.
- Ask the contractor to demonstrate how the system is operated, to provide written instructions, and how to maintain the system.