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Dangers of Subcontracted Solar Panel Installations

Updated: Apr 27, 2023

If you are ready for a lifetime of savings on the cost of your home’s electricity, then it's time to switch to solar! Now that you are on board to invest in your home, eliminate your electric bill, and offset your carbon footprint the only thing that’s left to do is install your solar panels.

Choosing the Right Solar Installer

This is where it gets tricky. Obviously, you will want to get a good deal on your home improvement project, after all, installing a solar energy system is supposed to save you money. But secondly, you want to hire a reputable company who will provide a high quality installation that will operate effectively and not damage your home.

Remember, solar panels can last for over 40 years, so your purchase is truly an investment in your home’s electricity. After all, you wouldn’t purchase a car or a new roof just because it is cheaper than its alternatives, right?

For most homeowners, finding the “happy medium” for a solar installer is often a national company with good rates. Security in a brand name backed with an affordable price can be hard to beat when comparing proposals from different solar installers. However, there is a lot of fine print that should be analyzed before singing the dotted line.

What to Look out for in a Solar Contract

When analyzing your options, there are many things to consider when choosing the right solar installer. Above all, the following components should be considered in every solar contract:

  • Solar Panel Brand, Model and Quantity

  • Solar Components (Inverter, Battery, etc.) Brand and Model

  • Hidden Costs of any Kind

  • Approximate Timeline of Installation

  • Company Who Will Be Installing Solar Panels

  • Warranty Periods and Production Estimates

  • Future Solar Maintenance Costs & Timelines

If you consider all of these factors, a full solar assessment requires a knowledgeable representative that can answer any technical or specific questions you may have. For contracts that do not have all of these elements included (i.e. no specific solar panel brand), you may be at risk in overpaying for low quality materials or a poor installation.

Dangers of Using a Subcontractor

Unfortunately, there are many people and companies out there who are interested in selling you solar, but not actually helping you save any money. Solar companies who contract their work are able to “promise the world” in the sense that their job ends when the contract is signed.

For companies that subcontract, instead, everything issue post-sale will likely fall in the hands of a separate, local solar installation company. If any contracted (or spoken) promises remain unfulfilled, then the person who sold you your panels may simply say, “not my problem,. This means that you could be left with a dysfunctional solar system, outrageous maintenance fees, or difficulties in getting your questions answered. . For this reason, warranties, system maintenance practices, and customer service may be at risk when hiring a subcontracted solar installer.

The History of Solar Energy Subcontracting

We wouldn’t be encouraging people to avoid subcontractors if there were not a solid history of it here in Colorado. With all the hype surrounding Tesla’s new “Solar Roof,” it may be easy to forget that the company was once a widely unsuccessful national solar installer.

In the not so distant past, Tesla ran Solar City, which closed a dozen subcontracting operations in 2018. This left many customers (who were already on a nearly year-long maintenance wait-list), completely out of luck. Of course, Tesla isn’t the only “name-brand” solar energy company to sell systems and subcontract the labor.

As Colorado is one of the best states for electricity harnessed from the sun, it attracts many companies to capitalize on the industry's growth. However, the COVID-19 pandemic has forced many out of state solar companies to shut down, restructure, and delay operations.

The Advantage of Using a Local Solar Company

There are many advantages in choosing a reputable, local solar company. In addition to an overall higher level of accountability, better customer service, and shorter timelines for future services. Plus, investing in the local economy is better for overall community economic sustainability.

Apollo Energy is a locally owned and operated solar company in Denver, Colorado. After installing our first annual Megawatt of solar energy in 2019, we continue to serve our neighbors here in Colorado and Wyoming. In addition to providing ongoing system maintenance for our customers, we are also available for free residential and commercial solar energy consultations.


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