and appliances, $3 to $5 can be saved on the RE system used to power them.
To locate an installer near you, inquire with your local RE organizations. The American Solar Energy Society (ASES) has chapters in 34 states, and your local chapter can provide you with a list of installers and dealers (see Access), as can other local organizations that deal with RE. ASES also cosponsors the “Find Solar” Web site at www.findsolar.com, where you can find detailed listings of RE dealers across the United States and Canada. If you live in the Heartland, the Midwest Renewable Energy Association offers a great resource for finding an installer. NABCEP also has a listing of certified installers on their Web site.
You can also check out Home Power’s Web site for a searchable database of RE dealers and installers, or look in the Installers Directory at the back of each issue. Local installers provide an on-the-ground perspective that online and mail-order suppliers can’t achieve, and will perform comprehensive, on-site solar and load analysis that helps them recommend the most appropriate equipment. In most cases, a face-to-face two-way interview is key to executing a thoughtfully designed and well-planned installation.
When you’re ready to select an RE installer, we recommend that you ask lots of questions (see the “Questions” sidebar). The answers should add up to a reasonable profile of the person you’re interviewing. But this is not a multiple choice test, and in the end, you’ll need to go with your gut and select an installer that is a good fit for you.
Don’t underestimate the importance of finding someone you “click” with. When recommending installers locally, we try not to match a conservative-minded installer with a dreamy tree-hugging client, or a backwoods hippie installer with a yuppie client. While your system is a machine, your installer is not. We’re talking about people, and compatibility matters—so while the installer sizes up the site and the system design, you should size up the installer.
Laurie Guevara-Stone is the International Program Manager for Solar Energy International (SEI, www.solarenergy.org).
Ian Woofenden , Home Power Senior Editor, educates current and potential renewable energy installers via articles, consulting, and workshops.
American Solar Energy Society • 303-443-3130 • www.ases.org
Find Solar • www.findsolar.com
Home Power Business Directory • www.homepower.com
Midwest Renewable Energy Association • 715-592-6595 • www.the-mrea.org
NABCEP • 518-899-8186 • www.nabcep.org