As solar has become more popular in California, so has the prevalence of solar scams. Unfortunately, there are many techniques that are used to take advantage of homeowners, from dishonest sales tactics and predatory contracts to outright fraud and theft. Because of this, it is important to choose carefully when selecting a contractor for a new solar installation. Here are a few tips that can help you avoid costly solar scams.
Watch for These Common Scams
There are many companies that provide solar installations in the Bay Area, but if the offer seems too good to be true, the company is offering free equipment, a large upfront payment is required, or the company insists your home is perfect for solar without inspecting it thoroughly, you may want to reconsider the offer. It may be a scam, and here is how some of the most common ones work:
- Dishonest sales tactics: Some disingenuous salespeople may exaggerate the benefits of solar or promise that a system will meet all your needs when it is undersized for the load. Or the salesperson may recommend a system installation without checking the size of the roof or its condition. The result is a system that does not perform to your expectations, forcing you to use more costly grid power than you expected.
- Bad contracts: Some companies may offer “free” or “no money down” solar panels, but they will lock you into a costly lease or power purchase agreement (PPA). While leases and PPAs are a helpful way to start saving on your electric bills without needing a large sum of money to buy a solar system upfront, you should read the agreement carefully to ensure you are not paying too much and that there are no hidden fees. Also, always be aware that you do not actually own the panels in such agreements.
- Free solar panels: Some dishonest salespeople may offer you completely free solar panels. They may be attempting to steal personal information or to sign you up for an overly expensive solar lease or PPA. While there are many state, local, federal, and utility company incentives available for solar that can reduce your initial investment, such as the 30% federal tax credit, there are no “free” solar panels.
- Fake solar installers: Disreputable people may pose as solar company representatives to scam you out of money or personal information. This may mean collecting a down payment for a solar system that is never installed or having you fill out fake paperwork to collect information like social security numbers, credit card numbers, or bank account details.
How to Find a Reputable Solar Company
When you want a high-quality solar system that is reliable and long-lasting, it pays to do your research and find a qualified solar contractor. Some of the most important things to look for in a solar company include:
- Industry credentials: Make sure the company is certified by or registered with one of the major industry associations, such as North American Board of Certified Energy Practitioners (NABCEP) or the Solar Energy Industries Association (SEIA). Also, check their credentials with the Better Business Bureau and your local chamber of commerce.
- Good references: Ask for references from any company you are considering, and check them carefully. Read their customer reviews online, and check with any family or friends who may have used the company previously.
- Quality workmanship: Choose a company that will custom design a solar system to meet your specific needs, and one that does all the design and installation in-house rather than using sub-contractors. This helps to ensure high-quality results.
- Transparency: A quality solar company will give you an accurate estimate upfront, detailing any fees or extra charges. They will keep you informed through every step of the process, and they will stand behind their work with a full warranty.
Solar Panel Installations in the Bay Area
For the highest-quality residential solar installations in the Bay Area, choose our team at Simply Solar. We are an NABCEP-certified solar contractor with over 20 years of experience. We feature top-of-the-line solar panels, inverters, and battery storage solutions from the industry’s leading manufacturers. Our solar systems are all custom-designed and installed by our in-house experts, and we stand behind our solar systems with a 25-year workmanship warranty.
Are you ready to go solar in the Bay Area, Fresno, Napa Valley, or Sonoma Valley? Call Simply Solar today at (707) 285-7037 to request your FREE solar estimate.