Solar Scams Arizona – How To Protect Yourself
This post is part of a blog series I am writing called “Dishonest Solar Salespeople”.
When I search on Google, I can’t really find any information on the truth about the Residential Solar Industry. The truth just isn’t out there yet because Residential Solar is still so new.
Here’s some facts you need to know to understand this post. Some of the below may sound overly pessimistic or unbelievable, but I guarantee you it is the absolute truth.
- The residential solar industry is completely unregulated. Some cities require licenses for door-knocking, but that is rare, and rarely enforced. No licensure or background check is required to sell solar in the USA.
- Anyone can sell residential solar, including multiple-felons and people that didn’t graduate the 2nd grade.
- The residential solar salesperson can price the solar system (and any additions like roofing, insulation, etc…) at any amount.
- The only limitation is the total loan/lease qualification amount set by the solar finance company. This amount is typically between $50,000 and $125,000.
- The limit set by the loan/lease company has nothing to do with the size of the solar system that is appropriate for that particular customer.
- In cash deals, there is no limit at all.
- The general public does not know how much to pay for residential solar systems and it’s hard to find accurate information online because most of the information posted on the web is from sales organizations or from people that have never sold solar in the market they are writing about.
- Often times, the way the billing of the utility company interacts with solar is complex and convoluted.
- In addition, there is something that is absolutely unbelievable that is the norm for this business. Most solar salespeople, managers, and company owners have never been trained on how the utility company bills after solar, and they don’t care to understand it.
- The solar company owners and managers that do know how the billing of the utility company works often intentionally lie to their new sales representatives when training them so that the sales representatives unknowingly lie to the customers.
- They do this to maximize the amount of profit the solar company makes.
- And, as stated above, most solar salespeople don’t care to know the truth, even if they sense that they are being lied to. They just want to make as much money as possible and don’t care how they make it.
Is Residential Solar a SCAM?
I’ve done a lot of door-knocking over the last several years. By a lot, I mean I’ve knocked on tens-of-thousands of doors and talked with tens-of-thousands of people behind those doors.
A common thing that comes up is that homeowners without solar will say that “solar is a scam”. Even homeowners that have solar will say “solar is a scam”. And I usually say, YES, going solar is a scam 70% of the time. This is because 70% of the time the homeowner went solar with the wrong salesperson and the wrong solar company.
Solar itself is not a scam. If you go with the right salesperson and the right solar company, solar will save you a lot of money on your electricity and also benefit the environment. But since solar is unregulated, and the homeowners are not educated on what to pay, this leaves as lot of room for dishonest salespeople to take advantage. In fact, dishonest salespeople looking to make a lot of quick money literally flock to the residential solar sales business because of this.
Mistakes that Homeowners Make When Shopping for Solar
Only Caring About the Price
Most people reading this are going to get a grid-tied solar system because they live in cities. This means that you will still be hooked up to the utility grid after you go solar. This is because battery technology is not yet at a point where it’s affordable for homeowners to be totally off the grid with solar. Also, most state and city laws require homeowners in cities to be hooked up to the utility grid whether if they have a battery or not. Whether that requirement is, 1) For safety like they claim, or 2) Because the owners of the utility companies are previous and/or future lawmakers, or 3) The owners of the utility companies are in bed with the lawmakers, is debatable.
People shopping for price and nothing else are most likely going to get lied to and ripped off. Dishonest salespeople know it’s easy to give this type of customer the cheapest products and an undersized solar system, which equates to the cheapest total price, because the customer is so fixated on price and nothing else. All the dishonest salesperson has to do is lie to the customer about how much money they will save on their electricity after going solar. The homeowner doesn’t do anything to verify those statements, they go with the cheapest price, and they get angry one year later when they are paying more for electricity AFTER solar than they did BEFORE solar. I’ve met hundreds of homeowners who went solar in this exact situation over the years.
Not Focusing on What Matters
What actually matters when you are going solar is:
- Is the salesperson telling you the truth?
- How long has that salesperson really been in the business?
- Does the salesperson focus on educating you about solar and how it works with your utility, or are they just making bold statements without evidence?
- Is the salesperson making the federal and state tax credits sound like rebates?
- Have you done your research on residential solar: Including the tax credits, how your utility company bills customers after going solar, and everything else?
- Are you getting a competitive and reasonable price?
- How is your payment method going to affect you financially long term? The options are cash, loan, and leases.
- If you want to buy the solar system for cash, do you know when the return on your investment will be?
- What warranties are being offered? How long and inclusive are the warranties vs. what other solar companies offer?
- Will the solar installer you are buying from be around in the the future to service the warranties?
- What kind of solar installer are you buying from?
- Who is the company run by? How old are they? How much experience do they have?
- How long has the solar installer been around?
- What incentives are being offered in your deal?
- Are the incentives actually being given for free, or is the salesperson just saying it’s free and really adding it to the total loan price?
- You likely will have to get your roof under the solar panels replaced in the next 25 years.
- Is your solar installer going to remove and replace the solar system for free in that time period?
- If not, how much is it going to cost you per panel to remove and reinstall your solar system?
- If you’re considering a battery, do you know how a battery will affect your savings and how the battery actually works?
- Is that battery really going to power your entire house if the grid goes down?
- Do you plan to sell your home in the near future? How will buying the solar system affect the sale?
- How long will it take the solar company to install the panels on your roof?
- How long does residential solar permit approval take in your city?
- Is your solar installer even going to get a permit before they install?
- Is the company going to install within a matter of days after the sale and then get the permit afterwards while paying a fine to the city?
Above are the main things to be looking into when you buy a residential solar system, but there are still others.
I will continue this discussion in the next segment of “Dishonest Solar Salespeople”.
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