Is solar a scam??
“You’re going solar? Buddy, I’ve got news for you – solar is a total scam! That’s right. Just a trick
played on nice, unsuspecting homeowners by slick salesmen blown in from out of town looking
to make a buck peddling the pipedream of independent, reliable energy.”
If you’ve been vocal about your journey into solar amongst friends and family, you might have
heard some version of the argument above. Why is that? Why do so many people have it in
their head that solar companies are made up of predatory con artists who have more interest in
tying you up with arcane legal agreements than in providing renewable home energy? Well, as
in any marketplace, there are some bad actors out there in solar. Here are some things to
watch out for so you can ensure the solar provider you choose is the right one for you.
Solar bad actors often represent ‘big box’ solar firms. These companies tend to come from out
of town and tend to have national reach. They are focused on quantity of installations rather
than quality. They employ salespeople who are evangelical about solar (and we get it – solar is
great!), but they also tend to be pushy at the moment of sale. Because these companies are so
large scale, your individual installation can hardly expect to receive top priority. You end up just
being one drop in a big, corporate bucket and miss out on some of the best parts of your solar
Like pollinators in an ecosystem, small, local businesses are a sign of a healthy, thriving
community. If you’re looking into solar, you should start that process by researching and
verifying the companies that operate in your area first. Buy, why? Well, first of all, there is the
accountability factor. A faceless national solar company will send in a series of mercenaries to
handle your installation. After signing your contract, you may never see hide nor hair of the
salesman who sold you your system again. With a smaller scale, local option, you will know the
people handling your solar array on a first name basis so, in case something goes wrong of you
have any new concerns, you know exactly who to call to get a solution.
A smaller scale installer can also offer you a much more hands on experience. Think “boutique”
verses “big box.” There is a lot of personalization that can go into the process of going solar
before the panels even arrive at your front door. The process of working alongside a solar
expert, explaining your needs and lifestyle, the back and forth as the design team sends you
drafts of your solar array for approval, and that moment of satisfaction when you have at last
settled on the tailor-made solar install of your dreams is all part of the journey. You miss out on
this process with one of the less personal, out of town solar installers.
Depending on the local solar installer you choose, you can also consider the post-installation
relationship. You’re joining a community of other people in your area who have gone solar. You
can count on your new, local solar installer friends to provide you with ongoing support. A team
of experts from your town will be with you every step of the way to help you understand how
your solar system works, to answer any last minute questions, and to provide any system

support you could need moving forward into your new solar life! Also, maybe your local solar
installer hosts a Summer Solstice BBQ for clients or has a Christmas card mailing list which you’ll
be a part of!
Moving on to one of the top reasons to keep things local: the cost. Big box solar installers, with
their focus on quantity over quality, are, unfortunately, oftentimes just looking for a mark. For
every ten savvy homeowners who sees through their ruse, there might be one who signs one of
their predatory contracts. These big box bad actors offer solar agreements that, at their worst,
can be predatory. The pricing is higher than what you would be quoted by a local installer
sometimes by a factor of 3 or 4. What’s more, these companies often will steal any local
incentive or tax credit that a homeowner would be entitled to for themselves.
Practices like this are not only hurting individual homeowners; they’re hurting the solar
movement as a whole. With more of a focus on the next dollar than on giving excellent service
and building grassroots support for solar, the big box actors are leaving many of their
customers with the impression that they have been swindled and that the solar industry as a
whole is dishonest and a poor value. The fact is that solar is cheaper and easier now than ever
for individuals to adopt. If you feel like you have been quoted an outrageous price, then it is
likely you have! We always recommend doing research and getting multiple quotes (preferably
from local solar installers) to be sure you’re making the right decision for your household.
A major warning sign that you are dealing with a solar bad actor is pushiness. A good solar
installer will want you to take a few days to think it over and discuss with all members of your
household. Never sign the contract the same day as you receive it unless you are sure you are
dealing with a trusted installer! These agreements can be a bit complex. Make sure you are
positioned to reap the rewards of any tax incentive or net metering mechanism that may be
present in your community. Make sure there is something in the way of a quality guarantee.
And do make sure you’re not getting stuck in a relationship with a big box installer who will only
want to be rid of you as quickly as possible after you sign!
Anyone who is a true devotee to the solar movement (and a good member of their local
community) will not push you into a solar system that is not right for you. Be on the lookout for
anyone that is too eager for you to sign on the dotted line and who ignores your concerns. Are
you dealing with someone who is dismissive of issues such as tree shading? Do you suspect you
are being sold a system that is too large for your needs? Are they unwilling to revise and
redesign an array that isn’t right for your roof? If you have an agent who doesn’t listen to or
address your concerns, that is a huge warning flag that you may want to check out another
solar installer. Your experience across solar companies will vary, but any good solar installer will
want to work alongside you to address each of your concerns. Us in solar want you to feel good
about your decision long before the panels get up on your roof!
The process of going solar is a process of revolutionizing how your home interacts with its
environment. You are upgrading your living space and literally giving it access to the power of
the sun! This neigh supernatural ability is the key to energy independence and reliability. Going

solar should make you feel secure in the face of blackouts. It should make you feel savvy
because you are decreasing the operating costs of your home while simultaneously adding to
its resale value. It should make you feel smart because you are exploring an energy technology
of the future! If you’re not feeling quite right about your solar installer, if you don’t feel a
connection, if you are lacking in the magic that comes with personalized care and tailored
attention, then you might want to look for another, local solar installer. We recommend you
begin this search as close to home as possible!

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