Business Columns & Blogs

Shining a light on solar energy as summer nears

Veronica Craker
Veronica Craker

With all the abundant sunshine we receive in the Treasure Valley, some homeowners look to invest in solar energy. This renewable source of energy requires low maintenance, and the panels are easy to install.

However, not everyone is a fit for solar panels. Doing research beforehand will keep you from investing in the wrong home improvement project.

Better Business Bureau Northwest + Pacific recommends homeowners keep the following in mind when considering going solar.

Determine if a solar system is right for you. Discuss with your energy company beforehand to calculate the number of sunny days in your area and your current energy needs. Be sure to ask about local, state and federal laws concerning the standards and codes of solar panels.

Find a reputable installer. Ask around for recommendations from friends and family. Sometimes word of mouth is the best way to find a business you can trust. You can also check with BBB at to read reviews. Determine how long they’ve been in business and what type of complaints, if any, they have.

Get proper permits. There are a few steps you will need to go through with the state in order to install solar panels. You will need to have your plans reviewed, and you will be required to pay plan review and permit fees. After installation is complete, a field inspector will need to come out to review the work.

Know whether you want to buy or lease. Solar companies offer the choice to buy or lease the solar panels, and that may determine what company you decide to hire. Compare costs and how much energy you use to determine what option is right for you. Call around and ask questions, or get recommendations from people you know have had solar panels installed.

That pesky sun. You obviously will need adequate sunlight to generate electricity, so find out how many days of sunshine your home receives annually. Solar panels facing south with no shade obstructions is recommended, as there is more sunlight throughout the day.

Make sure your roof is equipped to handle solar panels. A properly installed solar system should not damage your roof, but you need to be sure your roof is in good condition before beginning installation to avoid any future problems.

If you ultimately decide to go ahead with the installation, make sure you thoroughly read over the contract before signing. Don’t sign unless you are 100 percent satisfied with the wording. Also, ask what will happen if the business promises a certain percentage of savings from your utility bill and those savings aren’t achieved.

Veronica Craker, veronica.craker@, is the content and communications director for Better Business Bureau Northwest + Pacific. To check a business, do research or report a scam, go to or call 208-342-4649.