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CALIFORNIA SOLAR CONTRACTORS

By James Kennedy, Founder and President Beach Cities Solar Consulting LLC

The California home solar market is a complete mess!  I have been in this industry for seven years and have worked with dozens of California home solar contractors throughout the state.  I have fired them all except one!  Some of the harrowing experiences I have seen include incorrect battery installations (leading to several month long remedies), solar panels being installed on the wrong roof plane (don’t they look at the plans!), plans being improperly drawn up and submitted to the AHJ (the batteries were supposed to be located outside the home and they put them inside the home even though the homeowner told the site technician during the site audit he wanted them outside – this led to a two month delay as all new plans had to be drawn up and resubmitted to the AHJ), permits sitting for months at AHJs (even after approvals), installations being delayed for months simply due to “scheduling”, installations not being completed for weeks (installing only solar panels and not the batteries or electrical panel upgrade), an installation requiring an additional $5,000 of roof work (that was somehow missed by the technician at the site audit and discovered by the install team months later when they showed up to install!), SGIP battery rebates expiring because the installer did not properly process them, and projects dragged out for 7-8 months (the industry average is 3 months) due to horrific (or non-existent) systems and processes in place!

On top of these blatant errors and omissions every single home solar contractor I have worked (except one) has not communicated with us or our mutual clients.  The clients’ and my team’s emails, texts, and phone calls would go unanswered, and no one would know what was going on with our mutual clients’ projects!  When I asked these contractors to make it right by paying our client’s electric bills for the months long delays they caused, the contractors went silent.

Unfortunately, these experiences are par for the course in the residential solar market.  Most California home solar contractors are not equipped to manage workflow for hundreds or thousands of installations per month.  Without the proper systems, processes, and accountability in place, it is inevitable that things will slip through the cracks.  This problem compounds when the solar contractor stops communicating as all parties lose confidence in their ability to deliver the project in a timely manner.

California Solar Contractors

I consulted on this California residential solar project in Torrance, CA back in 2017.

There are so many companies flooding this industry it is hard to know who is good and who is not.  Rest assured if you are choosing your California home solar contractor on price alone you are likely to have an experience like the one I described above.  It is never a promising idea to choose the lowest bid on a home solar project!  Like everything else in life, you get what you pay for!  Unfortunately many homeowners fall victim to this trap.

So, how does a California homeowner go about selecting a home solar contractor?  The first step would be to ask your friends, family, and neighbors who have gone solar for a referral.  These people in your network have already been through this process with the company they are recommending and would not recommend the California home solar contractor unless they had a positive experience.  The second step is to look at the California home solar contractor’s online reviews.  If the company does not have at least fifty reviews they should not be considered (most successful home solar contractors in California are installing at least 500 projects a month).  The third step is to hire a company like BCSC to hold your hand through the process!  After seven long years, hundreds of home solar consultations throughout the state of California, and thousands of headaches we have partnered exclusively with Powur, PBC https://powur.com/as our nationwide home solar and battery provider.  I first found out about Powur back in 2017 and gave them a shot, at the time their model was focused on multi-level-marketing and outsourcing installs and it was not a fit.  In the subsequent years they switched to being the general contractor and installing the projects themselves.  This accountability has been paramount to their success, the company did $200,000,000 in sales last year and sold 14 megawatts of solar on the platform last month!  (For those not in our industry that is roughly $56,000,000 in sales which puts Powur on a trajectory to surpass 1 billion in sales next year – yes, I have stock in the company).  Another factor in this impressive growth is the millions of dollars Powur has invested in its cloud based platform and technology.  With this platform I am able to generate a solar and battery proposal for a home in 19 states (and growing) with real time market based pricing.  This allows Powur’s sellers to work remotely anywhere in the world (great for a firm based in Puerto Rico).  The solar, battery, and roofing platform has complete pricing transparency, digital contracting,  online project notes from a dedicated project manager, and many internal review systems to evaluate the installation teams performance, project manager performance, and customer satisfaction.  While technology, systems and processes, and accountability are critical the most important and impressive thing about this company is the company’s culture to put the customer first (instilled with Powur employees’ mandatory reading of “Winning On Purpose – The Unbeatable Strategy Of Loving Customers”).  I recently saw this first hand with an installation in Hermosa Beach, for a Remax Estate Properties Los Angeles real estate agent referred to us from our exclusive solar affiliate partnership (I consulted on their 15,000 square foot corporate HQ solar project in Torrance back in 2019 – with a commercial only solar provider.  They were so happy with the project and savings that we expanded our relationship to be the exclusive solar affiliate for their state leading 650 + agents and 4.5 billion dollars in annual real estate sales).  Needless to say we give all of these referrals the “white glove customer service experience”.  I was horrified to hear that after waiting for the solar permit for three months (HB is backed up and only has one solar plan checker) the price of the equipment necessary for the concrete trenching component of the project had gone up by $1,700 due to inflation!  Powur had already completed a site audit and the concrete trenching was priced into the contract.  I of course took the customer’s side and immediately rose the issue to senior management.  Within one business day management held a meeting and decided to cover the additional cost!  Every other provider I have worked with would have tried to pass that cost on to the customer at the 11th hour!  Our experience with Powur has been nothing short of outstanding and it is the reason that we work exclusively with them.  Many other providers may offer a lower price but it is not worth my peace, or our clients peace, to save a few thousand dollars and have a horrible solar experience.

Want to see how much money you can save with a home solar panel and solar battery system?  Get your turnkey California home solar panel and solar battery proposal with ROI and financing options by e-mailing us your most recent electric bill (all pages), a picture of the electrical panel outside your home, and a picture of your roof today: info@beachcitiessolarconsulting.com