How do I choose among solar thermal system providers?

One way to choose a contractor is to check your list of potential companies for the ones nearest you. Ask them what products and services they offer. Here are a few questions you might want to ask potential vendors.
Has your company installed solar thermal systems for , , or space heating?
Choose a company that has experience installing the type of system you want and servicing the applications you select.

How many years of experience does your company have with solar heating ?
Obviously, the more experience the better. A business that has been working with these systems for a long time will be more professional, know more about current technologies and recent advances, and be less likely to make costly mistakes. Request a list of past customers who can provide references.

Is your company licensed?
Having a valid plumber's or solar contractor's license is required in some states for solar thermal system installation. You can confirm licensing by contacting your state contractor licensing board. Local requirements may also include a local contractor's license. Call your city and county for information on other required licenses.

For you to obtain certain , your contractor may have to demonstrate special knowledge about solar installations through one or more of the following:

  • Possession of a solar contractor specialty license issued by a local building jurisdiction
  • Certification in solar thermal systems by a group such as the state chapter of SEIA
  • A letter from the solar heating manufacturer that indicates that the installer has the necessary experience and training to install solar systems.

Does your company have any pending or active judgments or liens against it?
As with any project that requires a contractor, due diligence is recommended. Your state contractor licensing board can tell you about any complaints against state-licensed contractors. The Better Business Bureau is another good source for such information.