How to Avoid Solar Panel Scams
- Make sure installation is included in the price
- Avoid PPA or Lease Financing. Cash or a straight loan is better to maximize savings.
- Check online reviews for any major red flags with the company you are working with.
- Be weary of companies with aggressive door-to-door or phone sales techniques. Quality solar panel systems sell themselves.
- Solar energy companies should be passionate about the environment & serving their clients. Ask questions to find out if a company has these values.
- Check for a warranty, which will show you exactly how long your panels are guaranteed to last, as well as what parts of the system are covered by it
Are Solar Panels a Scam?
Solar panels as a product are not a scam, but there are many solar-related financial scams out there as some companies will overcharge for very low-quality panels, or take advantage of clients through predatory deals and financial agreements.
The industry is growing quickly and the cost of solar has been dropping significantly. To avoid solar panel scams, spend time researching reliable and professional solar panel installation companies near you. If you are in the USA, California-based Local Solar is a great option for solar power installation services.
What To Look For
A legitimate solar panel installation company will have separate fees for the installation, but it will be included together with the cost of the panels in your quote rather than added on at an extra cost to you.
As you start to shop for solar energy panels, it’s important to understand how the cost of solar energy panels is determined and how that relates to your overall costs. The installed cost of a solar panel system includes the labor and materials required to complete the installation, while an uninstalled system only covers the cost of the equipment.
The difference between these two options has everything to do with where you live. If there’s plenty of sunshine in your area, buying an uninstalled kit may be cheaper than getting a company like Local Solar to put them up for you. But if clouds are more plentiful where you live, then going with an installed option will save money over time because it allows for more efficient use of your investment (i.e., more sun = better bang for your buck).
The average cost of a residential system is around $20,000-$30,000 depending on where you live and the size of your system. For a small home, with a 350-watt system, you can expect to pay between $250-$300 per panel.
The installation costs should never be hidden or be a surprise to customers. On average, the installation fee is $15 - $20 per panel. If the fee is extremely different from this average, you might be dealing with an unreliable solar energy company. We recommend getting quotes from a few different companies to more easily compare any dramatic price differences.
Another common way solar companies take advantage is to offer PPA (Power Purchase Agreement) where a developer pays for solar as part of construction then resells it to the homeowner. In the majority of cases, it makes much more financial sense to do a cash or loan deal to take advantage of the 26% solar tax credit). Despite what shady solar salesmen may try to tell you, the US government is not giving away free solar panels. When this is offered, it usually means the homeowner is renting the panels along with paying for the electricity, so keep this in mind if you’re pitched on “free” solar energy.
Dishonest, Misleading or Pushy Companies
Legitimate companies with experienced solar installers will value the environment and their customers. Solar panels are an incredible product that sells themselves and should never require pushy telephone or door-to-door sales. A reputable company will never use high-pressure sales tactics to pressure you into buying something you might not be ready for. In the solar power industry, a reliable company will explain all of the benefits to you and once you are ready to invest in your home, they will be available to install solar panels for you.
What are customers saying about the solar installer?
A major red flag of a shady company in the solar market is negative online reviews. Look for phrases like misleading claims, upfront cost, faulty equipment, unrealistic prices, solar panels scam, door-to-door solicitations, and any other indication that other consumers have had a less than ideal experience with a company.
Don't be afraid to ask questions to learn as much as you can about the local solar panel company you are working with. It is the responsibility of their team to handle the panels properly and to provide professional installation service. They should have license and registration information readily available, and offer you a service warranty on the installation of your panels. The warranty should show you exactly how long your panels are guaranteed to last, as well as what parts of the system are covered by it.
Now that you know what to look out for, it’s a good time for a reminder of why you should be interested in solar power in the first place.
Solar energy panels save money. With electricity costs rising and fossil fuel prices remaining high, it's not hard for solar power to become cost-competitive with other sources of energy. In fact, many regions are so sunny that their electricity rates are lower than what their neighbors pay for fossil fuels like coal or natural gas. This means that even if you're not concerned about climate change or pollution (which everyone should be), it pays financially to go solar.
Solar panels are among the most environmentally-friendly energy sources you can use. Solar energy is a renewable resource that's free from greenhouse gases and toxic chemicals, meaning it doesn't contaminate groundwater or pollute the air. Panels also have no moving parts to wear down, so they produce little to no noise during operation.
The best part about going green is knowing you’re doing something good for the planet while saving money on utility bills every month. But did you know that installing a solar panel system also reduces greenhouse gas emissions by over 4 tons per year? That reduction alone is equivalent to CO2 emissions as planting 7 acres of trees per home with renewable energy systems installed on them!
Another great benefit of a solar energy system is that you can sell the electricity you produce back to the grid. This is known as net metering, and it's a popular way for homeowners to make money while reducing their carbon footprint. You don't need a new solar system to do this, either. You can reap the benefits with your already existing solar panels!
The price of electricity fluctuates throughout the day based on demand and supply. Electricity during peak hours (like early in the morning or late afternoon) tends to cost more than during off-peak hours (like late at night). If you're producing more energy than your home needs during these peak times, you can use net metering to sell some of it back to your utility company for cash—and then buy less expensive power from them at other times of the day.
Pro tip: research "federal solar tax credit" or government rebates in your state to see which tax credits you can apply for. These tax breaks can add up, especially combined with all of your energy savings.
Solar energy panels are not a scam, however you do have to be careful who you are dealing with to avoid being taken advantage of financially when investing in solar.
With the right company, solar energy is environmentally friendly and is an outstanding option for most people in the US who want to get off the grid, protect the planet and save money on their energy bills
If you are interested in learning more about solar panel installation, contact Local Solar for a free quote.