On our fourth and final week of our Solar Myth Busters series, we're taking a closer look at how some solar companies use misleading offers and incentives to lure customers. These misleading hooks can sometimes result in a "bait and switch" scenario that ultimately gives our whole industry a bad reputation. Today we're going to share a few tricks to help you spot the bad players and hopefully avoid a bad solar experience before it ever has a chance to take root.
Below we discuss how a few bad players can give an entire industry a poor reputation, but if you do your research and watch for a few common tricks, you can easily find a reputable and qualified solar installer that values honest and long-term relationships above quick profits. Be sure to to subscribe to our blog and check back frequently to stay up to date on our latest myths busted!
Solar is a scam and all solar companies are dishonest.
Every industry has scammers, including solar, and with the ever-changing landscape of solar incentives at both local and national levels, there are plenty of places for the dishonest to hide. But the truth is that there are also plenty of talented and passionate solar installers who are working hard to help people save money while ensuring a cleaner and more sustainable energy future for everyone. Millions of happy customers across the country have aligned with these "good guys" and are reaping the benefits of clean solar energy every day.
The trick is knowing how to separate the good guys from the bad guys. Fortunately, we've been around a while and have watched many so-called "solar experts" come and go. We know their tricks and we're happy to share a few tips to help you avoid a solar scam artist. So, let's get started!
Beware the "too good to be true" offers
Even with the best research, it's easy to get pulled into a discussion with a "solar expert" using misleading headlines or offers. We've all seen these ads that just seem too good to be true:
"Maricopa County Approves $0-down Solar!"
"APS Will Pay You to Go Solar!"
"Click to See if You Qualify for a Special City of Phoenix Solar Offer!"
Sadly, more often than not, these are deceptive ads that should be taken with a heavy dose of skepticism. Sometimes they're phishing scams designed to capture your contact data. More common are the "bait and switch" financing scams where the people who push these misleading ads are counting on the public's unfamiliarity with actual solar incentives to peddle their financing package or lease.
If you are interested in learning about approved solar incentives available to you, we recommend first finding a reputable solar installer. Resources like the Better Business Bureau, Registrar of Contractors, as well as customers review sites like SolarReviews.com, Angie's List, and Yelp are great resources.
Learn if your support team is part of the same company
It's a common practice that many "solar experts" are just salespeople who are subcontracted to operate as a separate, independent sales force to drive leads. In other words, the people you buy your solar energy system from might not be the people who will ultimately install or service it long-term. This approach is most common with "door-knockers" and canvasing teams.
Be sure to find out if the people you're giving your money to are the same people who will be installing and servicing your system. After all, solar panels will operate for many decades, so you are beginning a relationship that will last for a very long time. Ask a few questions, like:
1. Are you an employee of the company who will be installing and servicing my system?
2. Does your company do your own installations, or is that subcontracted? Who is the subcontractor?
3. Does your company operate a service division that I can call if I have issues?
Not all subcontractors are bad—in fact, some are actually quite good. The point is to find out who is "behind the curtain" to ensure you're getting involved with a reputable team that has a good reputation and resources to help if something goes wrong.
Avoid high-pressure pitches and take your time
At the end of the day, it's important to remember that going solar involves a lot of variables. From the various panel and battery options, to incentive programs, financing options, and the best utility plans, it's important to be informed to avoid scams. To vet it all, you'll need to put your trust in the hands of honest people with nothing to hide and resources to deploy on your behalf. Know who you're dealing with, do your research, dig deep, and choose wisely.
If you've been thinking about making the switch to solar, now is the time to act! With the 30% ITC coming to an end, 2019 is surely the most important year for solar in more than a decade. Contact one of our qualified solar integrators to start your solar project today!
Other parts in our Myth Busters series: