Should you “tip” your solar installer? 

Francisco CastroMay 20, 201936180

Should Homeowners Tip their Solar Installer?

If you’re not doing the installation of solar panels on your own, you will be hiring a contractor to do it.

The solar installation company you get will take care of the design of your solar array, the permits from the municipality and ultimately the installation of the mounting racking where the solar panels will be placed on your property. 

You should also hire a contractor with certifications in solar installation and with previous knowledge of the permit process for such a work in your area. 

The installer should be willing to visit your home and take the time to give you information about the suitability of solar panels for your home. You can also expect suggestions about how to save energy and how energy efficient your home is. 

In all, the solar installer and his workers provide a valuable service to you, making sure everything is in working order when they leave so you can start saving on your electricity bills.

And yes, they are being paid to do all this. But recently, a person on an online message forum, asked if you should tip your solar installer.

The decision is definitely up to you, obviously, and there is no obligation to do so. 

It is, though, a “nice gesture,” especially if they have gone above and beyond their service agreement and provided you with added work.

“If it’s a good work and they allowed you to check them from the start and they don’t get a bit strained or angry or make bull…t on your roof then I think they will appreciate that and I would be happy as an installer that there is a nice costumer where I installed my best I can and he thank me” for it, said a person who provided an answer on an online message board regarding this topic.

Some others say it’s not really about the quantity. Even $1 given with a nice compliment from a grateful customer can mean as much as $100, as long as pure appreciation from the heart.

However, most people who answered the question suggested that instead of monetary compensation, homeowners should provide cold drinks and lunch - is possible - to the workers setting up your domestic solar power system.

Bob Johnson, a former solar installer, said in this online forum, agreed.

“When I was installing solar systems some customers would set out bottled water, lemonade, or buy the crew pizza. That would always lift spirits and encourage us. And the fact is that when guys are encouraged they do better work. I would say that kind of gratuity reduces the chance of someone forgetting to caulk a flashing or tighten a bolt. Something tangible on the spot would be better than a cash tip that won’t get spent for at least a couple hours,” Johnson said.

Marc Weyl, who describes himself as a “solar advocate and solar power user,” actually did both, gave a tip and provided food.

“I think I did, and my wife made them lunch, and we had cold drinks available for them. They did a good job. I am very happy. I will tip people if they do good. Yes I am paying them, but a few extra bucks directly goes a long way to help those guys,” he explained.

Jim Caster, with over 40 years of experience as a contractor, concurs that it’s a nice gesture and suggests to wait until the last day of work.

“During the job make water, ice, non-alcoholic drinks available is also appreciated,” he notes on an Internet chat forum. “Money is not due but if you have asked for extras AKA can you reinstall that light or whatever give em a twenty and say thanks (sic).”

Yet another person said that sometimes the workers aren’t allowed to take tips, so if you offer them something and they refuse it’s not because they are being rude.

He considers that in such scenarios, the best “tip” you can offer is to “call the company and let them know how well the installers did, or leave a positive review for them” online.

That review is like true compensation in today’s service industry, where online reputation is highly valued and people generally check them when trying to choose a solar installer. 

In a column on tipping, Boston, Massachusetts etiquette consultant Jodi R.R. Smith, noted that it’s appropriate to do so when dealing with the employees, but not the business owners. And when tipping more than one worker, “try to have small bills so you can split the tip evenly among them.”

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