You may have heard that solar is a scam, but is it? Solar technology is not a scam– modern solar panels have been around since 1954. And companies like Disney, Target, Wal-mart and Apple wouldn’t be using it if it wasn’t a solid investment.
What IS a scam are some of the practices solar companies use to sell solar to homeowners. Here are some questionable sales tactics to look out for when you are ready to look into the benefits of solar for your home:
Scam #1: Solar is Free
Solar is not free. . . however, it’s a really good deal. The “solar is free” argument comes from the idea that replacing an electric bill you already have with a solar payment that’s equal or lower, is LIKE it’s free. That said, the tactic is misleading and deceptive. Solar may not be free, but when you work with a reputable solar company, you can end up with a solar system that doesn’t add to your monthly budget, and can even lower your expenses.
Scam #2: See if you Qualify for…
Some companies advertise special government or other programs and urge you to “see if you qualify” for “fantastic savings” on solar. There are no government programs to go solar, with the exception of the federal tax credit, which has been extended through 2024 thanks to the current administration. Simply put, if you own a home in the U.S. and you pay an electric bill, you “qualify.” If you can take advantage of the federal tax credit, that can be a huge plus. But even if your income isn’t taxable, you may still find solar to be a great deal compared with paying your utility. Regardless of your income tax status, solar saves the average homeowner between 30 and 50 percent on their energy costs.
Scam #3: Overpromise, Underdeliver
Whether through willful ignorance or deliberate deception, some solar companies practice the 80/20 rule: Size a system to 80% of what a homeowner actually needs and collect 20% more profits for themselves. A good solar company will size a solar system to make the correct amount of energy to meet your needs and stand by that estimate. Here’s one way to protect yourself– calculate your energy needs, and make sure any quotes you get cover that many kilowatt-hours. Pro tip: solar panel performance is largely comparable. There isn’t one panel that is light years ahead of others, so don’t fall for the “my panels are better than other panels” tactic. They work on the same technology and they produce what they are rated to produce. Period.
Scam #4: Cash Back Incentives
When a company offers you $1000, $2000 or more at signing, don’t fall for it. They aren’t giving you anything. All they are doing is adding the cost to your loan and causing you to borrow more money that they then give back to you at signing. That practice is frowned upon by lenders and it creates a long-term burden for you as a homeowner as a trade-off for cash in hand. If that’s something that interests you, there’s no harm in it. As long as you know… that money is not coming out of their pocket. It’s coming out of yours.
Scam #5: Solar Leases
Some solar companies, usually the larger ones, offer leasing programs and love to tout the benefits of a solar lease over a solar loan. The truth is, a solar lease removes a lot of the benefits of going solar, which is not a scam in itself. Where leasing falls into the scam category is when salespeople make the following promises: 1) that the lease payment will never go up (read the fine print; it does); and 2) that the installation company would be happy to remove the system anytime you want them to (you’ll have to fight for that).
On top of that, some companies go as far as to trick people into leases. A homeowner happily signs all their paperwork, and only when the lease payment goes up do they go back to the contract and discover the terrible truth . . . that the money they invested didn’t actually buy them anything.
Scam #6: “Value-adds”
This one’s a little tricky. The two sides of saving money on energy are 1) creating your own energy using technology like photovoltaic (PV) solar panels and 2) decreasing your energy consumption through efficiencies. Both are valid, and when implemented properly, both are a correct solution. Where this one falls into the scam category is when an inexperienced salesperson simply offers to “sweeten” the solar deal by throwing in a variable speed pool pump, attic fan, or new hot water heater without so much as looking at your current equipment. An experienced consultant needs to understand your energy usage and make appropriate efficiency recommendations based on that information. Not just throw “extras” at you.
Another place where value-adds fall into the scam category is when the salesperson makes claims about the efficiencies that aren’t true. For example, they may claim that an improvement will reduce your energy usage by 25% when, in reality, 5% is a more accurate number. When this happens, a few months later, their customer is wondering why they have a shiny, new solar system but are still paying an electric bill.
Choose a Good Solar Company and Go Solar with Confidence
So is solar a scam? No, but bad sales practices have given it a bad reputation. By being aware of these tactics, you can recognize them if they show up. Your other option is to work with an experienced, professional solar company that won’t scam you. We’re one of those! And we’d love to quote you a system for your home. Fill in the form at www.coronadosolar.net (don’t worry, we won’t sell your information to anyone else) or give us a call at 833-288-4786. We look forward to helping you go solar… the right way!