Choosing a Solar Contractor

Choose a solar contractor very carefully. The fast-paced growth of the solar industry has attracted a number of sales people looking to “get rich quick” and will mislead consumers into making an uneducated purchasing decision. In addition, poor installation practices can mean serious trouble. A properly installed solar PV array will last over 25 years, but if the installer takes shortcuts or uses unqualified workers the system can be a fire hazard, cause roof leaks, or otherwise fail prematurely.

Any installation company should have employees with PV Installation Professional certification by the North American Board of Certified Energy Practitioners (NABCEP). This certification ensures that the installer is trained and tested in the latest approved installation techniques. The sales person or their manager should be NABCEP Certified in PV Technical Sales. You can search for NABCEP certified professionals at

Permits are required for Solar PV projects and that means your contractor must have someone on staff with an Georgia Electrical Contractors License. You can request a copy of this and verify its status at

Buyer Beware

  • Research the company you’re getting a quote from, and not just by reading what they’ve written about themselves. 
    • Check how long they’ve been in business. Beware of newer companies -- 45% of businesses fail within their first 5 years.
    • Request the business license and verify that it is current
    • Are they a local company or based out of state? -- Companies are more likely to abandon customers in states they’re not based in.
    • Ask if they use sub-contractors or in-house installers. -- If they use sub’s they’re simply playing middle-man between you and the installer.
    • Request a copy of their General Liability and Workers Comp insurance. -- Companies without this insurance put their customers and their employees at risk.
    • Check their online reviews (e.g. Better Business Bureau, Google, -- Don’t judge by the letter grade alone. Read the complaints and look for trends (poor communication? Install on time? Do they carry themselves as professionals?).
    • Request references.
    • Read the company’s mission statement to see if their values align with yours.
    • Ask if they are a member of GA Solar as it is very important solar companies support their local advocacy organization.
  • Compare solar contractors and their proposals
    • Get at least three quotes from different solar companies.
    • Beware of high-pressure sales tactics designed to prevent you from getting other quotes and sway you to purchase solar at a premium.
    • One easy way to compare quotes of different system sizes is to find the “price per watt” (total price divided by total system wattage). The price for commercial solar is largely dependent on system size and installation method but roughly ranges between $1.50 to $2.50 per watt (before tax incentives). The price can be even lower if the system is larger than 1MW. Economy of scale is a big factor in solar, so expect higher prices for smaller systems and lower prices for large or commercial systems. 
    • The typical payback period for commercial and industrial solar in Georgia is 5-12 years.
    • Ensure the solar company used power bill information and based their calculations on your actual usage data and utility tariff (rate plan). 
  • What should be included in a solar proposal and what should you look out for?
    • Be aware that sometimes solar companies will only show the monthly payment and exclude the actual contract price (loan principal amount) which makes it difficult to compare proposals. 
    • Know there’s a difference between the pre-tax credit (gross cost) price, and the after tax credit price (net cost after incentives). The tax credit is claimed by the solar purchaser, not by the contractor. So you’ll be paying the full contract amount (unless the system is owned by a third party).
    • The proposal should show the layout of the system on your roof or property.
    • It should list the major components and their quantities (solar modules, inverter and battery [if included]).
    • It should show your Solar Offset - the percentage of your annual electricity that will come from solar based on your historical power usage data. 
    • Monthly power bill savings - how much solar will affect your monthly power bills.
    • Assumptions: losses due to shading (very important this is calculated correctly to calculate system performance), annual increase in utility energy cost (important for calculating the ROI and should be around 3.5% based on the U.S. Energy Information Administration), the azimuth and tilt angle of each section of the solar array, and your current utility rate plan (should match what’s on your power bill).
    • Contract - Always read it carefully and compare the workmanship warranties, project timeline, payment terms, the company should file for the permit, and it's common practice for the solar company to file the paperwork with your utility on your behalf.
    • Three day “right to rescind” contract form - required by law (more info at this link)
  • Watch out for marketing gimmicks and general dishonesty. Some examples we’ve seen are:
    • “Get paid to go solar” -- This is used dishonestly in two different ways. 
      • Some solar companies will charge you extra and then offer a cash rebate to you. You can get into trouble with the IRS for this if you’re getting a tax credit for the full contract amount and then also getting a cash rebate from the power company. 
      • Power companies will pay for your surplus solar power, but they only pay the wholesale rate in most cases in Georgia, which is about 1/5th of the retail rate and doesn’t provide much value to you.
    • “Free Solar” “No Cost Solar”-- First of all, nothing is free. This is usually referring to a method of purchasing solar where it is financed over a long enough period that your power bill reduction is greater than your solar loan payment resulting in a positive cash flow. 
    • “We’re with the ____ Power Company solar program” -- Power companies don’t send people to sell you solar. There are a few rare exceptions but the point is that we’ve seen companies claim to be working in conjunction with the power company when they are not.
    • “Does your property have a smart meter? That means you qualify for a free proposal” -- There are certain qualifiers that make a building a good candidate for solar, but we see companies using very ordinary terms to reel in the masses.
    • “Eliminate your power bill” - This is only a feasible option in states with annual true-up net-metering which doesn’t exist in Georgia. In the sense of literally going Off-Grid, that is very expensive because it requires massive battery capacity and a redundant power source such as a generator.
  • This list is not all inclusive. 


Use our member database to find a local solar professional. Click below and then select “Solar Installers”:

View GA Solar's Online Directory

Solar Helps Manage Business Energy Costs

Energy costs for a business ca really stack up. The falling cost of solar makes it an increasingly popular choice for businesses looking to manage their power bills. Solar can be very cost-effective for businesses of every size. 

Savings potential

The cost of equipment and installation has decreased – more than 70 percent over the past 10 years – and in addition there are tax incentives such as credits and accelerated depreciation.  

  • Most businesses can recover the cost of their investment in about five years or less when purchased outright.
  • There are a wide variety of financing options that can provide a positive cash flow from day 1 of going solar.  
  • The solar panels are typically warranted to generate electricity for more than 25 years.
  • Once solar panels are installed, the cost of electricity never increases, whereas the cost of power from utilities doubles about every 20 years.   
  • Certain utilities offer solar programs but be careful because we found they are not always to your advantage.  

 Site suitability

Consult a professional to determine if the right conditions exist. A professional assessment will look at these details.

  • A flat or sloped roof that faces south, west or east.  Solar can also be installed over bare ground or even as a canopy over a parking lot.  
  • The age and condition of your roof and specifics of your electrical system.  
  • Large trees or other structures that cast shade for much of the day. A good "solar window" is no share from 10am - 3pm.  
  • 12 months of power usage history, how much you're paying for electricity, and any rate plan options may be more suitable for solar.  
Find a Professional

Financing and tax considerations – ITC, depreciation

  • Georgia businesses now can install a solar system by leasing the panels or purchasing the output from a third-party provider at little or no cost for installation.
    • Payment is structured through monthly charges that are lower than conventional utility rates.
    • Under this method, any tax incentives, such as the ITC, can go to the financier which makes solar accessible to non-taxable entities too. 
    • These agreements usually span 15-20 years.
    • The proposed contract should be scrutinized carefully before signing, and thoroughly reviewed by an attorney.
Click here to view a helpful guide from the U.S. Department of Energy


  • The U.S. Department of Agriculture offers grants and guaranteed loans to farmers and small businesses in rural areas to assist with the cost of solar installation. Applications are accepted throughout the year. See details at the link below.

Click here to view information on the Rural Energy for America Program (REAP)

Choosing a solar contractor

  • Check references, online reviews and call the local business and consumer protection agencies to ask about complaints or lawsuits.
  • Installers should be certified by the North American Board of Certified Energy Practitioners (NABCEP) to ensures that the installer is trained and tested in the latest approved installation techniques.
  • Solar Consultants, Sales Reps, and/or their Supervisor should be PV Technical Sales certified by NABCEP.   

GA Solar maintains a searchable directory of professional installers to help you locate one in your area:

View GA Solar's Online Directory