Find a contractor to install your renewable energy system
How to choose your contractor
Selecting the right contractor is one of the most important decisions you make when installing a renewable energy system. Qualified, licensed contractors save you time and money. Your contractor can:
- Help select and install the most productive generating system for your home
- Walk you through financing options for purchasing or leasing
- Work with PG&E to ensure that your system is interconnected safely to the grid
- Provide warranty information
- Create a repair and maintenance schedule
- Submit an application for the appropriate PG&E incentive program
Follow these steps for choosing the right contractor
Read the fine print
Make sure you read your energy system installation contract before signing. Review all warranties and maintenance agreements. Ensure that you receive the final price quote in writing. Only sign the contract after fully understanding the terms and total costs involved.
Know the law
Never pay a down payment of more than 10 percent of the contract price or $1,000 (whichever amount is less). This regulation is determined by California state law. Don’t make the final payment until the system is fully installed and operating properly
Select an experienced contractor
Solar energy photovoltaic (PV) contractors: Visit the California Distributed Generation Statistics database of installers, contractors and retailers to search for contractors by ZIP Code. Filter results by the average cost per watt to learn how much other customers have paid.
Visit California DG Stats
Solar water heating contractors: Visit Go Solar California to find contractors in your area who can install a system.
Find a Solar Water Heating Contractor
Verify information about your contractor
Your contractor must have an active A, B, C-10 or C-46 license. When you meet the contractor for the first time, ask to view their Contractors State License Board (CSLB) "pocket license" and a photo ID to confirm they are authorized. Contact the CSLB to verify the contractor’s authorization. Visit the Contractors State License Board or call 1-800-321-2752.
In addition, get answers to the following questions:
- Does the contractor have any Contractors State License Board (CSLB) complaints pending?
- Is the contractor a member of the California Solar Energy Industries Association (CALSEIA)?
- Does the contractor have reviews on the Better Business Bureau (BBB) website?
- Does the contractor have workers’ compensation insurance?
Request bids from at least three contractors
Contractors should visit your home and view your past energy usage and future energy needs. The two most important figures that potential solar contractors can provide are:
- The amount of electricity the system can produce
- The net cost of the system per watt
This information is used to provide an accurate size of the system you need and the total cost. Each contractor is expected to suggest a similar-sized system for your home’s need. If the bid for the system varies greatly, ask the contractors why.
It pays to be thorough and organized when comparing bids. Take advantage of our helpful bid comparison worksheets:
Solar energy: Download Solar Contractor Bid Comparison Form (PDF, 164 KB)
Solar water heating: Download Solar Water Heating Bid Comparison Form (PDF 802 KB)
Tips to help you select the winning bid
- Compare apples to apples. Contractors often use different or confusing terms. Ask for clarification to ensure that you are comparing equal or similar items.
- Dig for details. Each bid must include a full estimate. All anticipated work and associated costs must be detailed. Ask for any missing information.
- Use the "Goldilocks" principle. A low bid may be a red flag that the contractor is cutting corners. Similarly, a high bid can mean an unnecessarily oversized system. To compare average project costs to your bids, visit Go Solar California.
- Ask questions. Don’t hesitate to ask contractors about their businesses, the bid for your system or any terms you don’t understand. Request references from previous customers. Ensure that the previous clients are satisfied and their installed systems are performing well.