Avoiding Solar Energy Scams: An Insider’s Guide
When it comes to getting a great deal on solar systems, it is similar to any other major home investment… if it sounds too good to be true, it probably is.
Obtaining a solar system can definitely help you save money on utility bills and additionally, it is a great clean energy solution for the environment. Unfortunately, some unscrupulous companies are jumping into the solar energy market to sell solar, and make a quick buck, meaning scams are prevalent.
Avoiding solar panel scams does not need to be difficult. Read through our strategies to avoid these scams, and make sure your solar system performs in high quality for years to come.
1. Ask for licenses, certifications, and references
Solid companies will show you their credentials for solar energy installation as well as licenses for doing electrical work and other skilled trades. They will gladly give you their Registrar of Contractors number (ROC number) and give you the personal contact of your designated solar installer. They will also typically encourage you to check them out with the Better Business Bureau, a consumer protection agency.
2. Understand your contract
Before you even consider signing a contract, make sure to read the contract in its entirety. Any solar scammer will push you to sign before you truly understand everything involved with your contract. If you have questions, a quality solar contractor should always take the time to address them as well as your concerns.
3. Understand the rates
Step one with understanding your rates is to determine how much those solar panels really cost in the first place. Leasing companies may offer low introductory rates but then the rates may go up each year. Know what your long-term cost will be and how much money you will really save with solar. If there is an escalator on your lease agreement, find out how much your lease payment will increase and when. Legitimate companies will always spell the lease details out for you in writing.
4. Don’t cave to high-pressure sales tactics
You might often be approached by a door to door salesman that is trained to simply get you to sign the deal. Although there are many verifiable benefits of going solar, reputable companies will always work with you to see if your home is right for solar energy and design a custom system for your house. The sun will come out tomorrow. So you can sleep on it to make sure you’re doing what’s best for you.
5. Beware of unsubstantiated claims
Claims that your utility bills will increase 7-14% every year for the foreseeable future or that your average utility bill could be 10 to 15 times higher in 20 years. In the last 10 years, Arizona utility customers averaged a less than 3% annual increase to their utility costs.
6. Don’t fall for deceptive marketing schemes
Although many solar installers in Phoenix offer appealing marketing schemes with promises of free solar panels, or solar power, at “no cost to you” this might be simply a ploy to get your business. There is no way a business can operate without making some sort of money off of your sale. Be sure to ask directly how they make their commission, what their benefit is, and why they would be offering you something for free.
7. Know the rules about solar tax credits
Taxpayers are eligible for federal tax credits (for 26% in 2020 and 22% in 2021) on the cost and installation of the power generating components. As well as a 25% Arizona State tax credit up to $1000 maximum. Have your tax preparer verify your tax credit eligibility and calculate the correct figures before you enter into a purchase agreement with the solar company.
8. Read reviews from real customers
Being in the digital age means that anyone and everyone has the ability to write online reviews. Although sometimes difficult customers can leave unfair reviews, for the most part, these reviews can be very helpful in getting a good picture of reputable solar.
9. Work with a local, reputable company
Harmon Solar is a second-generation, family-run company that has been helping to power Arizona’s homes and businesses since 1975. One of the most reputable companies available, Harmon has a long history of community support and will service what they sell.
If you would like a no-pressure consultation to get more information about a solar installation, give Harmon Solar a call at (800) 281-3189!
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