Finding an Installer

How do we find a solar installer?

The Solar Foundation and the U.S. Department of Energy have published information on best practices regarding the request for proposal and installation process.

In general, schools should issue a Request for Proposal (RFP) or a Request for Qualifications (RFQ) in order to solicit at least three bids from solar installers. This will help your school get a sense of how large a system can be installed on your building and how much it will cost. Some cities or states also maintain databases of certified contractors, which you can use to identify reputable installers.

Once your school has received bids, don’t hesitate to ask the installers to sit down and explain each component of their bids. They should be able to tell you the cost per watt installed solar ($/W) before and after incentives. You can compare the cost per watt in each bid, but bids may differ depending on the type of equipment the installers plan on using, or on how the system is financed (if your school would like to pursuing financing).

In general you want a solar installer with experience in your jurisdiction and who is familiar with local permitting and interconnection requirements. You also want an installer that matches your values. Many schools embed social values in their installer-selection criteria, such as favoring locally based installers, panels made in the United States, or installers that provide training for local community members.