Top 7 Qualities to Look For When Hiring a Solar Engineer Consulting Firm
Hiring the right solar engineer consulting firm takes more than a quick Google search. With thousands of firms now competing for business in the solar industry, it’s more important than ever to do the necessary research when deciding who to hire.
More than 255,000 Americans now work in the solar industry, generating nearly $33 billion of private investment, according to the Solar Energy Industries Association (SEIA). Part of that growth can be attributed to falling prices for solar installation. The cost to install solar has dropped by more than 50% in the past decade, creating new opportunities for expansion in both residential and utility-scale projects.
Organizations looking to harness the benefits of solar energy for utility-scale projects will often turn to engineering consulting firms like KMB Design Group for expert guidance. If you’re considering hiring a solar engineer consulting firm for an upcoming commercial project, keep these seven qualities in mind.
What Do Solar Engineering Firms Actually Do?
Solar engineer consulting firms play a vital role in helping organizations and developers navigate the complexities of solar projects, ensuring their successful implementation. They are capable of handling everything from energy usage analyses and conceptual design, to CAD drafting, project management, permitting, and more.
However, choosing the right solar engineer consulting firm requires careful due diligence to make an informed decision. In this article, we’ll explore the key factors to consider when selecting and hiring a solar engineering consulting firm for a utility-scale project.
7 Qualities to Look for in a Solar Engineer Consulting Firm
1. Experience with Large-Scale Projects
The first step in due diligence is assessing the expertise and experience of the consulting firm. Look for a professional firm with a strong track record in solar engineering, including experience with projects similar to yours in terms of scale and complexity.
Engineers at the firm should have experience in all aspects of solar energy, such as design, feasibility studies, equipment selection, system integration, and regulatory compliance. Consider the qualifications and certifications of the firm’s engineers and their ability to adapt to evolving industry standards.
The solar engineer consulting firm you choose should have a deep understanding of not just solar technologies, but also the regulatory landscape at large.
2. Solar Expertise
The solar engineer consulting firm you choose should have expertise in the specific type of solar project you’re planning. For example, if you’re planning a commercial solar project, you’ll want to hire a firm that specializes in commercial solar.
Solar engineers should possess technical expertise across various aspects of solar energy systems. Having basic competency in areas such as system design, solar resource assessment, energy yield prediction, equipment selection, electrical and structural engineering, and grid integration should be a requirement when evaluating various firms.
3. Stellar Reputation
Always look for a solar engineer consulting firm with a good reputation. You can check online reviews or ask for recommendations from friends or colleagues.
Reputation is a critical factor in evaluating the suitability of any firm. Seek references from previous clients and inquire about their overall experience, project outcomes, and the firm’s ability to meet deadlines and budgets.
Additionally, it’s wise to consider a firm’s relationships with industry partners, suppliers, and regulatory bodies, since these connections can have a major impact on a project’s success.
4. Clear Communicators
Never pick a firm that won’t return your calls. The solar engineers you choose should be good at communicating, and they should be able to explain the solar process in a clear and concise way.
5. Excels in Project Management
Solar projects involve various stakeholders, intricate timelines, and resource management. A competent solar engineer should demonstrate strong project management capabilities. Inquire about the engineer’s project management methodologies, tools, and their ability to effectively handle project risks and change management. Look for evidence that the engineer has successfully completed projects within specified budgets and timelines.
6. Stays on Budget
Nobody wants to overpay for solar engineering services. While cost is an important consideration when choosing a solar engineer consulting firm, it should not be the sole determining factor. Instead, it’s smart to evaluate a consulting firm’s pricing structure, comparing it with the value they provide. A firm that’s transparent when it comes to cost breakdowns is always going to be a better fit than a firm that lacks transparency.
Rather than searching for the lowest price, look for a company that offers a comprehensive value proposition, including technical expertise, risk mitigation, and long-term support.
7. Innovative Solutions
The solar industry is rapidly evolving, with new technologies and sustainable practices constantly emerging. A forward-thinking solar engineer consulting firm should showcase a commitment to innovation and sustainability. Inquire about their ability to incorporate cutting-edge technologies, such as energy storage solutions or microgrids, into solar projects. Assess their knowledge of local regulations, incentives, and emerging trends in renewable energy to ensure alignment with your organization’s sustainability goals.
Hiring the Right Solar Engineering Firm
Before hiring any solar engineering firm, always make sure to get multiple quotes. Don’t just hire the first solar engineer consulting firm you come across on a basic Google search. Get quotes from several firms, so you can compare prices and services.
It’s smart to ask for references, as well. Speaking with past clients can give you an idea of the firm’s work and customer satisfaction. This will help you understand the process, so you can ask even more intelligent questions when interviewing firms.
Selecting and hiring a solar engineering consulting firm is a critical decision that can significantly impact the success of any solar project. By conducting thorough due diligence, considering factors such as expertise, reputation, communication, project management, innovation, and cost, executives and business leaders can make an informed choice.
Investing time and effort in the selection process will ensure that you partner with a consulting firm that can effectively guide you towards achieving your solar energy goals and realizing long-term benefits for your organization. To learn more about the qualities we recommend looking for in a solar engineer consulting firm, get in touch with the solar energy experts at KMB Design Group. KMB is a full-service solar engineering firm with experience handling all types of commercial and residential solar projects. Contact KMB Design Group today at 855-755-6234.