Tuesday, August 12, 2008

The install

The install took 2 and a half days to complete. With these panels, there's quite a bit involved from multiple professions. I think this may be a reason why it's difficult to find integrators.

Here's my quick list of my perseption of how the job breaks down for the integrator:
  1. roofing : these guys need to cut up your roof and install the panels
  2. plumbing : there's a very good chance, because the tanks are so big, that you'll need modify your existing plumbing
  3. electrical : for the 220v tankless backup and the 110 pump
  4. gas : if you have an old water heater you are replacing, you need someone to plug the gas line.

My integrator took care of the whole install. They were mainly roofers and skylight/solar light installers so the panel installation was top notch. The integrator hired an electrician so that part looked and worked great. However, the plumbing was done by "this guy" that the integrator knew instead of a contracted plumber.

If I were to do this again, I would insist on the plumber. maybe it would bump the price up a couple hundred bucks, but it would have been worth it. First off, I feel that the route they took to get the pipes from my old water heater to the new one (up through the attic) was the wrong way to go since it adds length to the total system (they were very opposed to going through the floor). Second, they had to come out 2 more times to fix minor leaks (one in the attic) which required me to dump 100 gallons of water from the tank into the street each time; not to mention it's just frustrating.

Also, the gas line was not plugged after the main install, but they did come back the day after I pointed it out (think they just forgot). A minor mistake, but potential big problem if one of the kids would have turned on the gas valve hanging at the end of the pipe.

That being said, in all fairness, this was their first install and they were very up front about that and made up for it with a large crew of guys and other incentives. So overall, I'm still very satisfied with how the install went. I'm sure the next time around for them will go much smoother.

However, I figure others out there will be in a similar situation as more contractors do this for the first time so I wanted to post exactly how this went and what I would do different. I guess in the end I would say that paying a little extra for experienced installers would not be a bad idea (if that's an option).

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