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How to Spot Solar Scams

Updated: Apr 11

With the growing popularity of solar energy, some companies have attempted to exploit the excitement by confusing and misleading customers.

In this article, we'll shed light on how to identify legitimate companies from the scammers, so that when you decide to go solar, you can feel confident with your choice.

Solar panels on a flat roof in Washington, DC

How to Tell If a Solar Panel Offer is a Scam

Before you choose a solar provider, there's a few steps you should take to make sure that their services are legit.

✅ Research the Company

Before engaging with any solar company, conduct thorough research to find out if their credible. Start by checking their online presence, including their website, social media profiles, and Google or Yelp reviews. Testimonials and feedback from previous clients are always a good way to gauge their reputation and the general level of customer satisfaction. A reputable company will have a solid track record and plenty of positive reviews.

✅ Verify Credentials and Certifications

Professional solar installers must have certain certifications and licenses. Before committing to a solar company, verify their credentials, including licenses, insurance, and industry certifications. Reliable installers are likely to be members of respected trade organizations such as the Solar Energy Industries Association (SEIA) or North American Board of Certified Energy Practitioners (NABCEP). These certifications demonstrate their commitment to quality and professionalism, and are often times displayed on their website.

✅ Analyze the Financing

Make sure to carefully scrutinize the terms and conditions of any financing agreement to ensure that you understand all of the financial implications, such as monthly payments, contract length, and potential escalations. While the cost of solar panels has decreased over time, solar energy systems still require significant investments.

In some cases, solar companies promote "free solar" in connection with financing options, such as power purchase agreements (PPAs). For example, customers who sign up for Solar Solution's PPA pay no upfront costs for the panels and buy the solar power generated at a reduced monthly cost. PPA customers can save up to 50% on their monthly energy bill, while Solar Solution owns, operates, maintains, and insures the panels. A power purchase agreement is an exciting way to access solar energy even if you can't afford the initial costs of the panels.

Some companies may offer entirely free options, like Solar Solution's Power to the People Program. Similar to a PPA, Solar Solution owns the system and receives the government incentives, while offering 100% free electricity provided to the homeowner. However, its imperative to fully read and understand the contract terms. Check for escalation clauses, penalties, or hidden fees. Ensuring your are signing into a long term contract with a reputable installer is crucial!

✅ Evaluate Warranty and Maintenance Services

A legitimate solar company will offer warranties on both equipment and installation workmanship. Be on the look out for companies that don't provide clear warranty terms or lack a solid plan for ongoing maintenance and support. A reputable installer will stand behind their work and be available to address any issues that may arise during the lifespan of your solar system.

🚩 Don't Feel Pressured

Always be weary of high-pressure sales tactics. It's pretty common for scammers to create a sense of urgency to try and manipulate potential customers. They might offer short-lived promotions or claim that government incentives are about to expire (the current federal solar tax incentive will remain at 30% until 2032). Legitimate solar companies will provide customers everything necessary for customers to make an informed decision without feeling rushed or coerced.

The DC Solar for All Program

In the District, Solar Solution and other companies partner with the DC Department of Energy and Environment to help implement the Solar for All program. This local initiative aims to bring free solar panels to 100,000 low to moderate income families. Residents who qualify for free solar panels can expect to see a 50% savings on their electricity bill over 15 years. There are only a handful of authorized contractors so if you're looking to participate in the program, go to the DC Sustainable Energy Utility's website for eligibility criteria and an official list of authorized contractors.

Solar Solution Has Your Back

With over 15 years of operations, and thousands of happy customers in the DMV, Solar Solution is proud to be connecting people with solar energy. We pride ourselves in being a not only a solar provider, but also a resource to our community.

Solar Solution is a Certified Business Enterprise (CBE), an authorized contractor by the D.C. Department of Energy and Environment (DOEE) and D.C. Sustainable Energy Utility (DCSEU) for the Solar for All Program, and NABCEP Certified in PV Sales and Installation Professional. We offer 20 year warranties and outstanding maintenance service on all our installations.

If you'd like to find out more about how we can help you switch to solar, submit your contact information here for a free quote.

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