We’re hiring! Join our growing team. See opportunities >
Learn about solar & home battery

How to choose a solar provider in Southern California

10 min read

Choosing the company to design and install your solar system is a major decision. We break down the key considerations for you.

Make sure you ask the right questions

Solar energy is a great decision for most homes in southern California, but choosing the right firm to handle your design, specification and installation can be daunting.

At Baker Home Energy, we want every customer to feel100% confident they’ve made the right decision in choosing us as their solar partner. So we’ve created this resource to help you understand key considerations and provide you with some resources you’ll need.

Read the official state guide to going solar


California Solar Consumer Protection Guide

The official state guide about how to select a solar supplier. We insist you read it so you’re confident in choosing Baker Home Energy!

California Solar Consumer Protection Guide

This guide was created by the California Public Utilities Commission (CPUC) to help anyone looking for a home solar solution. It takes you through the benefits solar will bring your household, what to expect in terms of solar costs, how to get solar quotes and how to understand what you’re purchasing.

It’s an unbiased resource and covers all key considerations. By law, you’ll need to sign the guide to confirm you’ve read it before you purchase a system.

Baker has always done business based on these guidelines so we’re particularly pleased this information is now a required step in the solar purchasing process. We believe an informed solar buyer is a happy solar buyer.

In addition to the guide, here’s a list of questions every homeowner should ask when selecting a solar provider:

How long has the company been in business?

The solar industry has seen huge growth over the past three years. This has brought many new players into the solar market — some good, some amateur and some a complete scam. In this highly competitive market, many companies don’t have the competence or financial stability to stay in business. When considering a solar installer, ask yourself, “Will my solar installer outlast my solar system?”

‘Orphaned’ systems are unfortunately common in the industry. These are solar solutions installed by a firm who then goes bankrupt, leaving the homeowner without the warranty cover and support they believed they were paying for. This is why it’s so important to select a supplier with a long track record and stable finances.

Where are they based, and do they have a commercial facility?

At the very least, a solar company should operate from an office with warehouse space for storage of solar panels and equipment. In addition, the company should have internal support staff as well as at least one factory-trained technician. We advise not to partner with a company that can’t afford to warehouse inventory. This important step helps identify a company with financial strength.

What are their reviews like?

Take some time to check sites like Yelp, Google, Facebook and BBB.org to read customer reviews and make sure the solar company you’re considering has a positive track record with customer satisfaction.

Do they do business in any other state?

If so, be sure to search online for complaints filed in the state(s). You might be surprised at the audacity of get-rich-quick companies that move into a city or state, open up a shop, and then proceed to take customers to the cleaners with their inferior products, poor installation and service until their reputation catches up with them.

What licenses and insurance does your company have in place?

This is one of the most important questions to ask. Many companies do not have a contractor’s license, and the only way you can get contractor’s liability insurance and a workers’ compensation policy is if you are licensed. If a company doesn’t have these policies in place, you as the homeowner could be liable for an on-the-job injury.

In California, use http://www.cslb.ca.gov to check the current status of the company’s license. Ideally you want a full C-10 contractor vs. just C-48 licensed.

Ask for a copy of the company’s liability and workers’ compensation policies before signing a contract. And never let anyone perform work on your home or business without first seeing evidence that he or she is an employee or subcontractor of the contractor you are working with, and is covered under the contractor’s or subcontractor’s insurance.

Are the installers part of the same firm, and are they properly trained and licensed?

When you compare solar companies, you want to make sure all of their solar installers are licensed electricians. Our parent company, Baker Electric, has been an electrical contractor for over 75 years, so we send only licensed electricians to complete your solar panel installation. Our solar installers are members of local union IBEW 569. We never subcontract out. Be wary of solar companies that do, as subcontracting solar installers can cause problems for a solar provider and for you.

Our team of solar installers even shows up to your house with their own portable toilet, so they won’t have to use yours during the installation. This isn’t something people normally think about when buying a solar system, but it does save you a lot of hassle.

What warranties are offered?

There are two types of warranty: product warranties and work workmanship warranties. Make sure you get both.

Product warranties vary from manufacturer to manufacturer but most solar panels are under warranty for 20-25 years and inverters are covered for 10-25 years. Each solar installer’s workmanship warranty will vary in duration and coverage.

At Baker Electric Home Energy, we exceed the industry design and installation best practices. We use only premium components through every step of the process and take the extra time necessary to ensure the integrity of both your installation and your roof. We’re so confident you won’t have a problem with our workmanship that we cover it with a 10-year warranty.

What quality of solar panel and equipment is offered?

Not all solar panels are the same quality, and the cheapest on the market do not offer the same performance as quality panels. Likewise, the quality of the fixtures and fittings can vary widely; don’t overlook these.

Choosing good quality products means years of trouble-free energy generation, so be very clear about what is included in your quote. Pay particular attention to the solar panel efficiency rating and warranty period.

Our three panel brands are top quality and are from well-recognized companies: SunPower, LG and Hyundai. We have long standing relationships with our manufacturers, so we can buy panels at great prices that we pass onto you.

Are they transparent and unbiased about the financing options?

Solar is a big investment, and most people can’t afford a cash purchase. For most people who need to finance solar, a loan is the best option, though leases can work well in some circumstances. Be wary of any supplier who pushes you down a particular financing route. Some national suppliers make their money from finance rather than designing or installing the system, which they simply outsourced, so they have vested interests in the finance you choose.

At Baker we have a number of different options including loan and leasing. We will help you select an option that best fits your family’s budget.

Will they take the hassle out of dealing with the authorities and utilities?

The end-to-end solar process is very complicated if you’re trying to do it alone or your solar provider is only taking responsibility for part of the process. In particular, look at permitting and utility company approval.

Permitting: getting permission from your town to install your solar system is a complicated and time consuming process when you’re buying a solar system. A good solar installer will be an expert in this area so they’re a huge help to have on your side.

Utility company approval: this is a complicated process to navigate and you’ll need to be able to understand the detailed and highly technical language of your electric company. That’s not a headache we want you to have to deal with.

Will you be properly trained on the use and maintenance of your solar system?

Some solar installers slap a system on your roof and call it a day. But that’s not how we operate. When you compare solar companies, look for ones that also train you on the use and maintenance of your solar system. Because we’ve installed thousands of systems, we have some pretty good advice on how to get the most out of your solar investment. Understanding the ins and outs of monitoring your solar panel output is important, so only compare solar companies that also teach you how to use, monitor and maintain your system.

Customer reviews

J J.
J J.
We originally purchased a solar system about 10 years ago from a different company that has since gone out of business (not sure 100% but they are gone and… Read more
Rob Day
Rob Day
I had a great solar purchasing experience from start to finish. The consultation was thorough and without pressure. Project milestones were clearly communicated via the Baker Solar web portal and the couple questions I had were answered promptly. The installation was clean and Baker was even able to hide much of the conduit after discussing options. Overall pricing was very fair compared to other quotes I received and Baker has been around a long time which also gave me piece of mind. Read more
Mike M.
Mike M.
There are an awful lot of solar installation companies out there now, and they run the gamut from fly-by-night to true pro. I had two concerns during my… Read more
Ray M.
Ray M.
A Baker Electric Solar installation comes in stages. Here we'd like to comment on the roofing team led by JC Solorzono, with teammates Eduardox2, Carlos,… Read more
Terry Inman
Terry Inman
Just had solar installed – Baker Electric did an excellent job. From the initial contact, to the roofing experts, to the installation crew – everyone was knowledgeable and professional. Communication was outstanding throughout the entire project. I would highly recommend this company for a seamless solar installation. Thank you Baker Electric for such a positive experience! Read more
Maurice Y.
Maurice Y.
We were satisfied with solar system installation for our home. Although there were delays due to rainy days, Baker was very communicative via phone calls,… Read more
Kyle C.
Kyle C.
Note: I'm waiting for PTO with my solar system, so this review reflects my experience to date thus far. Had a great experience with Don Inman when I was… Read more
Lynda Damato
Lynda Damato
We are very impressed with the caliber of employees this company employs. It is a BIG investment for anyone who is putting in solar/batteries, etc., so you better get the best and most established company you can. There are solar company horror stories about “here today, gone tomorrow” everywhere you turn, but you won’t be one of them if you go with this 80 year old company. I chose them because they did a huge job for my employer 25+ years ago and I was a part of that build out. The company was very pleased. They’re still providing great service. A VERY special shout-out to Felix Ortiz and Bobby (sorry Bobby, I don’t know your last name). All the other folks who were here were great too. It was apparent that they enjoyed working with each other. Felix offered (and did) to paint the outside conduits to match our house. He was was not required to do it, but he did it to make us happy. You don’t get service like that anymore. Even if we have to swap out a light switch Baker is going to do it! Good job, Baker! Read more
Denise W.
Denise W.
We recently had an issue with our furnace not working and we contacted Baker because we have been so pleased with their work and impressed with their staff… Read more
Tom Hopper
Tom Hopper
I was very impressed with Tom Holmes w Baker Home Electric. He was exceptionally professional, very thorough and knowledgeable at an attractive price/value. Tom went well beyond the call of duty to help me fix my thermostat problems. I’m always sensitive to being sold more than I need when a new service technician suggests options. He was very courteous and made suggestions that were practical and sensible given my situation. I highly recommend Tom and Baker for any HVAC project. He is a hard worker and a genuinely nice and honest guy. Read more
Shanny L.
Shanny L.
We are very pleased with the service we've received, specifically, from the service manager Josh. We ran into some snags, initially, after Baker became… Read more
Jill Tavolazzi
Jill Tavolazzi
Every step along the way with Baker to install solar has been smooth and efficient. They were straightforward, honest, and kept me up-to-date on everything. I researched solar companies and interviewed 3 of them. I was very impressed with Baker, plus they had the best reviews. Their prices were similar to other companies but they gave me an extra $1,000 off (someone referred me) and I am also going to receive $250 for a referral. I also took advantage of their no down, no interest, no payment offer that gives me 18 months to pay my solar installation costs. That allowed me to use my savings for a new roof and fence that I desperately needed. Go with Baker…you will have no regrets! Read more
Based on 873 reviews
Based on 541 reviews

We use cookies to enhance the performance of our website, and to better personalize content for you, our users. By remaining on our site, you indicate that you're ok with cookies. Read more