Finding a Contractor

How to Choose a Contractor

Selecting the right contractor is one of the most important decisions you’ll need to make when installing a generating system. Below are some tips to help you make an informed decision:

For additional tips and information about hiring a contractor, visit the Contractors' State License Board (CSLB) website. You can also check with your local Better Business Bureau to see if the contractor you are exploring has any active complaints against them.

  • Interview a minimum of three potential contractors and obtain written bids from each one for comparison (PDF, 185 KB).
  • Verify that the contractor's license is current and active with the CSLB. It is also important to make sure they hold the proper type of license required to get the job done.
  • Ensure all quotes for the project are in writing and only sign after fully understanding the terms and making sure the costs are within reason.
  • Never provide more than 10% of the system cost for an up-front deposit and do not make final payment until the system is installed and operating properly.
  • Do not hesitate to ask the contractor questions about their business, the system or anything you may not understand.
  • Request references from previous customers to ensure they are satisfied and the systems are performing properly.

Obtaining Contractor Bids

Make sure your contractors' bids reflect the system that will best meet your needs and expectations. This will require an onsite visit as well as a review of your past energy consumption and any future energy needs. After your discussion with the contractor, you should feel confident that your energy system is being sized appropriately.

Some additional areas of discussion/negotiation are:

  • How energy efficiency could help reduce the size and cost of your system
  • How much space/square footage is needed for your system as well as address any aesthetic concerns
  • If there are any factors that will affect performance such as shading, etc.
  • Equipment and workmanship warranty coverage and options

Comparing Contractor Bids

Once you've at least three bids from contractors, it's important to understand and compare what each is offering. Below are some tips that may be helpful when comparing bids:

  • Try to understand all the terminology being used within the contracts. If contractors are using different terms, ask for clarification to make sure you are comparing the same thing.
  • Make sure the bids are as comprehensive as possible. All anticipated work and associated costs should be outlined in the bids. If it is not, ask for a more detailed estimate.
  • Take caution against automatically selecting the lowest cost bid. It may be an indication that they are compromising quality or cutting corners.
  • For solar photovoltaic systems, we have a Bid Comparison Form (PDF, 185 KB) available to help in your purchase decision making process.
  • Learn more about what to expect.

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