Over the past ten years, The US Solar Institute has been dedicated to training and developing qualified solar energy contractors and installers and, recently, when someone asked “what’s the best way of choosing among Florida solar contractors when they all claim to be the best”? We were asked, how does one find the Best Florida Solar Contractor?
It starts with how does one become a licensed Florida Solar Contractor?
First, one must have four (4) years as a project manager, superintendent, or engineer in the solar industry – hot water or electrical, it does not matter. The applicant must pass a state exam, be financially solid (i.e. credit score over 680), and a person of good moral integrity (i.e. no criminal record).
One must score at least 70% on the exam to pass with 60% of the questions based on plumbing, while pure electrical code questions represent less than 10%. So, the Florida Construction Licensing Board puts more emphasis on plumbing than high voltage electricity when they issue a license. Worse, electricians cannot install solar panels, but roofers and plumbers can. Let me state this again. Florida electrical contractors cannot pull a permit to install high voltage solar panels. Sad.
Also, there is no real oversight to prove the resumes of applicants who must show over four years of solar leadership experience to receive a solar contractor license. Without oversight and electricians barred, perhaps this is why Florida has so many unqualified, dishonest types, many demanding large deposits before doing any work.
The state of Florida has had its share of carpetbaggers, con artists, and other unsightly characters and the solar industry is no exception. Both Florida Solar One and The US Solar Institute dedicated many hours to keep Florida solar companies honest perhaps that is why so often we are asked how to choose a Florida Solar Contractor.
Many recall The US Solar Institute was the first in 2012 to expose fraud at the Orlando based Advanced Solar Photonics – the solar panel manufacturing company who never made a UL listed solar panel but did manage to steal $19 million from Floridians for hundreds of installation projects they never planned to do before bankrupting, or Electron Solar in Miami that did the same, with $5,000 deposits at a time.
Based on our time in this industry one thing for certain – more are coming. So how does one protect themselves from these types and what is the best way of choosing among Florida solar contractors?
With discussions in Tallahassee to Key West about new laws giving solar energy companies access to the Florida’s growing energy market, many companies from solar gone wild states like New Jersey and California are looking at Florida – the third most populated state, as the “next big market” and so solar contractor licensure applications are on the rise. By next year, there will be hundreds of new contractors, bankers, and salespersons hoping to cash in on Florida Solar Gold. Especially given all the political buzz about new laws, petitions, and ballot items.
Well all politics, petition ballots and their success or failures aside when searching for best Florida Solar Contractor, it is likely going to take more than just a few minutes of searching around on the Internet. Incorporating solar energy into your lifestyle is an important decision, one that requires thought and care.