The newness of mainstream consumer solar power poses a challenge. If you want to buy a car, for instance, there are plenty of people who’ve done it and can tell you how the process works. Putting solar panels on your roof costs as much as a car, but the cohort of experienced buyers is far, far smaller. The number of customers who have owned a solar system through its full lifecycle is even more limited.
Besides that, the stakes are high—this is going on your roof, after all. “This is a big one. This is one where you can’t say, ‘well, if I make a mistake, the next time I’ll know better,’” says Jane Weissman, the president and CEO of the nonprofit Interstate Renewable Energy Council, which just released a consumer checklist and other resources for rooftop solar.