Don’t Sign Anything
If the solar sales person you’re speaking with pressures you into signing any document on the same day you first meet with them, that’s a red flag. Certain less-than-scrupulous solar companies have been known to present property owners with a “permission form” that allows them to inspect their roof, in order to design a plan for your possible solar panel system. If customers read the fine print of this “permission form” they’ll find that in reality, it’s a legally binding contract that locks the property owner into buying a solar panel system that they may or may not want.
To add insult to injury, the unscrupulous solar representative will ask the property owner to get multiple bids from other solar companies, knowing that by the time they receive other offers, it will be too late for the property owner to back out of the agreement they unknowingly signed. Both federal and state “cooling off” laws allow some quick escape provisions that protect consumers from contract decisions that are made under pressure, like deals made with high-pressure door-to-door salespeople.
Never sign anything from a solar sales representative without reading everything first. If anyone pressures you to sign any form or contract after your first meeting, you should walk away and find another solar company.
Outrageous Claims or Over Producing Electricity
When it comes to solar, always get multiple bids. This will help you figure out exactly how much solar you need for your property and have a better idea on pricing. Sometimes a solar salesperson will say, “You will no longer have an electricity bill.” This is never the case, as utility companies still charge monthly interconnection fees for remaining tied to the grid.
Also, if a solar company puts more solar panels on your building than needed, you’re basically overpaying and generating excess electricity. While that extra power will go back to the grid and the electricity company will credit your account for it, the net metering credits earned more than likely won’t be enough to offset your solar expenses.
When quoting property owners pricing for a solar panel system, we always look at how much energy they use through the year and then base our proposals on that information. Instead of aiming to offset 100 percent of their energy needs, we aim for around 85 percent. That will keep you from over producing energy during months when your electricity needs are usually lower (winter and fall), yet offsets much of your monthly bills during hotter months. Trying to offset all of your electricity needs or produce more energy than you actually need will cost more money and delay how long your solar system will take to pay for itself. Another reason solar sales people go for a 100 percent offset is they make more commission dollars with a larger the system.
Consider it a red flag if a solar sales representative tries to quote you a price without looking at your electricity usage. If they only base their quote on the size of your building, that’s a sure sign that they’re more interested in making a buck than helping you come up with a plan that’s right for your goals.
Once you begin searching for information about installing solar on your property, you will encounter several free solar calculators on the internet. While these will give you a general idea of the costs involved with installing solar, they are rarely accurate. Most of these calculators will only use the size of your roof as a guide for measuring how much electricity your building may use and how many solar panels may fit on your roof.
As we’ve said before, solar installations should be sized based on energy usage. If you plan to add an electric car or expect a change in the number of people who will use the building, this should factor into the design of your solar panel system.
Also, many solar calculators are mainly a marketing tool that are designed to create leads for solar installation companies. They will ask for your information and then sell it to several solar companies in your area. If you input any contact information into these calculators, expect to receive several calls from local solar professionals.
Not all solar calculators are bad. If you use them as a starting point in your solar journey, they can give you a general idea of cost, especially if the information they provide is based more on electricity usage than square footage. Take the information you receive from them with a grain of salt. You’ll receive far more accurate information talking to a reputable solar sales consultant.
The “No Payments for the First Year” Fallacy
This sales tactic misleads customers into thinking they will save money. Here’s how it usually works. The solar sales representative quotes you a price for your installation. They then secure a more expensive loan for you with a higher interest rate and/or add on the sum of those first twelve payments you “avoided” to the total amount financed. In some cases, they will cut you a rebate check up front that covers what you would normally pay in the first year, but you still end up paying it back with a higher overall price tag for your new solar system. In the end you pay more interest and finance charges with this type of “deal” and draw out how long it will take for your solar system to pay for itself.
If cash isn’t an option for purchasing a solar panel system, you may want to consider a HELOC loan from your bank or a loan from one of our solar lending partners. You’ll end up with a much better interest rate that will serve you better overtime.
Workmanship and Product Warranties
Be sure to ask solar sales consultants about their warranties. Solar warranties are designed to protect your investment and should be factored into your decision when choosing an installation company. Ask about the warranties for the solar panels, the workmanship and who processes your claims. This is where longevity comes into play. Solar companies with a long track record of service and positive customer reviews should receive more of your attention.
Look for solar installers and designers that are NABCEP certified. NABCEP is a non-profit corporation founded in 2002 designed to teach professionals about renewable energy. The North American Board of Certified Energy Practitioners (NABCEP) certification is the gold standard of education in the solar electric industry. NABCEP is important because it ensures your solar panel system has been designed and installed using the highest standards.
Also, do your research about the materials they plan to install on your property. We are a dealer of SunPower brand solar panels. Several respected publications have rated SunPower as producing the most efficient solar panel on the market, including: Solar Edition, EcoWatch, Solar Reviews, Energy Sage and Clean Energy Reviews. These solar reviewers based their findings on build quality, reliability and most importantly efficiency. No other home solar technology converts more sunlight than SunPower, resulting in more savings over time. Plus the “25-Year Complete Confidence Warranty“ leads the solar industry by covering YOUR ENTIRE SYSTEM for 25 years, not just the solar panels.
Here at Good Energy Solutions, we also offer a workmanship warranty that guarantees your solar panel system will continue to operate as promised for years to come. If there is a problem with your installation, one of our service technicians will troubleshoot the issue and travel to your property to repair it.
The Bottom Line
It’s easy to fall for false promises and end up with a solar panel system that ends up costing you more than expected. When it comes to dealing with solar sales consultants, read the fine print, ask lots of questions, and only work with a company that you can trust. You don’t want to be stuck with a solar panel system that generates more headaches than electricity.
If you plan to install solar on your property, follow these helpful rules before making your decision:
- Avoid High Pressure Salespeople
- Don’t Sign Anything Until You’re Ready to Purchase
- Don’t Believe Anything That Sounds Too Good to Be True
- Receive Solar Bids Based on Energy Usage, Not Square Footage
- Pay Now or Pay Much More Later. Don’t Fall for “No Payments for ____ Months” Deals
- Buy Quality Solar Panels Backed Up By Long Warranties from Companies with Proven Track Records
If you would like to know more or see if your property is a good candidate for solar, reach out to us here or give us a call. We would be happy to look over your electric bill to help figure out how much you could save with a solar power installation.