San Francisco Department of the Environment

Solar PV Contractors

Selecting a solar contractor can be a daunting step in deciding to install solar. While there are many qualified solar contrators out there, it’s important to note that only GoSolarSF certified installers are eligible to receive the local GoSolarSF rebate.

Find a local installer

  • GoSolarSF certified installers are highly qualified installers that are eligible to receive the local rebate from the City because they hire workers from the City’s workforce development program.
  • The California Solar Initiative’s solar installer database offers a comprehensive list all solar installers serving San Francisco. This database enables you to search for solar constractors in your area who can help determine an optimal PV system and design for you.

SF Environment recommends obtaining bids from at least 3 different solar installers, which are typically provided free of charge.

Understanding bids from solar installers

Solar installers should give you a range of system sizes, costs and savings that are appropriate for your building. You should try to compare bids by similar parameters, such as the kilowatt capacity (DC or AC) or kilowatt-hours generated. Solar panels produce DC electricity, but that electricity needs to be converted to AC electricity by an inverter before it enters your house. Contractors will give you the expected output of your solar electric system in both DC and/or AC watts – make sure you are comparing apples to apples when pricing out bids! Also, be sure to clarify all assumptions used in the bids you receive, such as utliity electricity price escalation (and % escalation rate for PPA bids), discount rate reflecting the time value of money, interest rate and term of a loan if your system will be financed, as well as other considerations. Don't hesitate to contact SF Environment for help understanding your bids.

Before soliciting installer bids, it will be helpful to:

  • Know your budget and financing preference
  • Reduce your energy use first through energy efficiency upgrades
  • Have a monthly summary of your most recent 12 months of electricity usage from your PG&E bills
  • Know which PG&E electricity rate tariff you’re on (A1, A6, A10, E19, E20, etc.)
  • Know which hours of the day you consume the most electricity

Your bid should include the following information:

  • Total gross system cost from start to finish of design and construction. A detailed estimate might include:
    • ​Equipment
    • Labor
    • Permits
    • Tax
    • GoSolarSF Initiative
    • Federal Tax Credit
    • Renewable Energy Credits (RECs), if applicable
  • Projected monthly, annual, and lifetime costs and savings
  • A detailed cash flow analysis with expected kWh production, taxes, incentives, savings, NPV, etc.
  • Make and model number of equipment, as well as warranty information
  • Operation and maintenance options and terms & conditions, if offered
  • System monitoring service cost options, if offered
  • Finance options: cash purchase, solar lease, power purchase agreement, or other