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Guide to Going Solar: Avoiding solar energy ripoffs

Shopping for a solar energy system can be an exciting time. However, as with any investment, you need to be careful who you deal with.

Unfortunately, the solar energy industry is one that attracts salespeople and companies that appear to have no other motive than chasing your money.

Over the years, we’ve heard of countless experiences from customers ranging from leaking roofs after installations to homeowners being so deep into a lease they can’t sell their home.  Combine this with paying for a system that’s priced 3 times more than it should be, and it’s no wonder why the solar industry is getting a bad name.

As a family owned and operated company, we understand the importance of providing a quality solar system at an affordable price. We also value high ethical standards, and hate to see consumers being ripped off left and right.

This is why we have made it our company mission to educate consumers not only on solar energy technology, but on unethical sales approaches that do more than give solar a bad reputation.

Avoid High Pressure Tactics

Almost daily you hear terms like “offer ends soon” or “while supplies last” from companies trying to sell you something. They use these high pressure tactics because they know that consumers don’t like to miss out on a good deal.

It also gives them a greater opportunity to walk away with your signature. Sales reps don’t want homeowners comparing offers from multiple installers because they know there’s a good chance they’ll find a better offer, and lose their business.

However, ethical sales people won’t put you under this type of pressure, especially when dealing with a substantial investment like solar.  Don’t get pulled in by this tactic!

Demand time to do your research and think things over.  Better still, if you come under this sort of pressure, see it as an indication of what the company is like and avoid them altogether.

Remember, if it’s a good deal today, chances are, it will be a good deal tomorrow.

Be Cautious of Home Assessments

Free home assessments can provide many benefits in your search for the right solar energy system. Most of the time however, they just open the door to pushy salesmen who only want the sale.

Instead, contact companies directly and have them provide assessments over the phone or through email. With access to Google earth, it makes home assessments fairly easy.

Do be aware that this type of assessment doesn’t offer the most accurate estimate of cost, but should give you a decent estimate to narrow down your search for a solar energy company. When you’re ready to be more committed, be sure to have the company come to your home and provide a more accurate bid.

Point Zero Energy offers free, no obligation quotes and assessments via both phone and email.

Don’t Ignore Energy Efficient Solutions

A solar energy company who is genuinely committed to helping you will look for ways to provide for your wants and needs.

This includes offering ways to save money on your energy bill so you can decrease the cost of acquiring a system, as well as see a return on your investment sooner.

A home energy audit can help you identify how much energy your home consumes and therefore, what measures you can take to make your home more energy efficient.

For example, if you still use inefficient lighting, an ethical company will point out that upgrading your appliances, or spending a hundred dollars on switching to compact fluorescent or LED’s could save you thousands of dollars on the extra solar panels needed to cover the energy inefficiencies.

On the other hand, an unethical company will see this as a good opportunity for the sale of a larger system.

Beware of Package Deals

Package deals are a great way to save cash, but not all packages are created equal. For example, a company might use top quality solar panels, but skimp on the quality of the other components in the hopes that the panel name will dazzle you and you’ll ignore the rest.

Packages that are touted as “compatible” does not necessarily mean optimal. Mixing good quality panels with poor quality inverters or wiring, or vice-versa, will have an effect on a system’s performance and possibly, safety.

Here at Point Zero Energy, we understand how critical it is to have a quality and efficient solar energy system. Because of this, we have qualified engineers go over every detail in each system before it is approved for sale to our customers.

Beware of Cheap Components

Designing an optimum solar energy system is no simple task. Everything must be taken into consideration.

Not all solar components are created equal, and it’s important to understand that the quality of your system’s components will have a direct impact on the way the system performs.

Not only will cheap components not last as long as their quality competitors, but they are much more inefficient. This inefficiency will require you to spend more money on a bigger system to make up for this efficiency loss.

You’re better off spending a little more money upfront and get good quality components that will do what they’re designed to do.

Extra Costs

While it’s not unusual for prices to vary based on the type of structure upon which a solar power system is mounted, these extra costs should be clear upfront and not hidden in the fine print.

Extra costs for installation could include:

  • Type of roof you have
  • Type of array that will be installed
  • If the company needs lifting or access equipment
  • Cost of moving or replacing a previously installed system
  • Updating the electrical on a older home
  • If there are travel costs associated with the installation

Fine-print extras can add thousands onto the final cost of a solar energy system; so be sure to read over quotes and contracts carefully before committing to purchase.

Warranty issues

With the increase of solar demand, we have also seen an increase of solar manufacturers, particularly within the last few years.

While the warranties of these new companies can be the same duration as the more recognized brands; the warranty will be of little value if the company disappears.

Solar PV manufacturers disappear often; sometimes to re-emerge under another name, but without assuming the responsibility associated with its previous products.

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