Solar Subcontractors: Should I use one to go solar?

By Robert Tseng
April 22, 2019
Solar Subcontractors - are they worth it?

So, you’re interested in starting a solar project and now you’re wondering, "who should be doing the installation work?"

Well, more and more companies are making it easier to find the right person for the job... at least that’s the claim.

Chances are you've met HVACs, Roofers, and General Contractors that are all eager to bundle a "solar panel installation" into their services. Although it’s certainly exciting that more accredited solar installers are jumping on the clean energy bandwagon, here are some things to look out for when you’re deciding whether you should go with Joe Schmoe or one of Pick My Solar's vetted providers.

California's C-10 and C-46 Solar License

If you live in California, the C-10 and C-46 Contractor Licenses are great indicators of an installer's specialty in installing solar.

The C-10 Electrical Contractor License is a specialty classification required to perform any solar projects utilizing electrical energy in any form. 

The C-46 Solar Contractor License can be found in the California Code of Regulations: Title 16, Division 8, Article 3. In short, it is a specialized license to work with thermal and photovoltaic solar energy systems.

Though the type of installation work may not be too different from traditional HVAC installation, the certifications are still separate, for good reason.

Ideally, a contractor would have both of these. If both are missing, we'd definitely look elsewhere for second opinions on your project. Check for your contractor's C10 Electrical and C46 Solar License here.

Review the Installers Workmanship Warranty Procedure

So your installer has the appropriate licenses, what's next?

Make sure that your project has end-to-end coverage as you review the warranty procedure.

If a subcontractor decides to go into another line of work, you’ll be stuck without the aid that you may need, or just be shuffled along to someone else that could just be a handyman with a van, not a professional operation with layers of liability insurance and certifications.

A professional solar installer would typically have at least a 10-year workmanship warranty, saving you from having to find someone to diagnose and repair your system if a mishap takes place down the road. Pick My Solar's TriGuard Guarantee ensures multi-layered protection in installer guaranteed production output, full-service workmanship maintenance, and manufacturer guaranteed production output. 

Scope Out Other Qualifications

Finally, the installer you choose to go with ought to meet a number of criteria before they earn your trust. Anyone can call themselves a clean energy expert and claim that they do everything!

But there's obviously more to a business than its name. A misleading business can purely be hiring subcontractors to do all their work and be hidden behind layers of ambiguous responsibility transfers. You'd be better off paying a handyman.

At Pick My Solar, we conduct a holistic and thorough review for every installer that comes to our platform before allowing them to bid on your solar project. You can be sure that we're working with solar specialists that have sound financials, a large number of installations, years in the business, and fantastic customer reviews.

What are the risks of working with a subcontractor?

Having a lien put on your home

If they aren’t paid in full, subcontractors can put a lien on your home, even if the fulfillment of the financial obligation doesn’t come from you directly. You can steer clear of this risk by choosing a solar specialist, but if you are going to work with a subcontractor, make sure you ask for receipts to make sure that the job is being taken care of and that you have a way to hold your project coordinator in making payments.

Lack of operational infrastructure

The difference between running a professional operation and working with an individual is the accountability of the whole process, from billed hours to recording the kind of work that is being done.

You want full transparency for any kind of project done on your home, so it is better to err on the side of caution in opting for an ongoing operation that has a proven track record of handling any diagnosis or repair of systems that have been installed.


Robert Tseng

Written By

Robert Tseng

Robert Tseng is a Digital Marketing Intern with Pick My Solar. He graduated from USC in 2018 as a World Bachelor in Business.

More articles by Robert Tseng

What's Pick My Solar? We empower our customers to adopt clean energy through transparency and choice. Our free, no-obligation platform provides competing solutions from top providers.

Related Posts

Department of Energy Study Proves Customers Save with Pick My Solar

Better Looking Solar Panels: System Aesthetics Comparison

The Best Customer Experience in Solar


Article Search

    Join Our Newsletter

    Heads up!

    d h m s

    The 30% Solar Tax Credit steps down after 2019.


    Learn More ›

    Recent Posts

    Solar Project Advisor

    Free Solar Analysis

    Chat with an expert to find out your savings potential, financing options, and more.