Going solar is a popular option for providing clean energy to a home or business. As good as that sounds, there are some negative issues within the solar power industry. Keep reading to learn how to avoid solar scammers.
Like many Americans, you probably don't know a lot about photovoltaic (solar energy) or the companies that provide that service. The first tip is to recognize that. Because so few people have an in-depth knowledge of solar energy and how it applies to commercial and residential units, it makes it easy for con artists to trick you. Here is our list of things to consider before you sign a contract.
1. Don't Be Rushed
One tactic scammer's use is to pressure you into signing a contract right now. Don't. If you feel pressured into going solar, you are likely dealing with a scammer. They may tell you that deals are expiring or that there is a limited number of units available. Don't sign. Go slow, do the research, and be at peace with the decision and company you choose.
2. Always Have A Contract In Place
Never allow a solar company to begin work without there being a written contract signed. In short, a contract should spell out what the company has promised and what it should cost. Other essential features include timelines. Without a contract, you have fewer legal options if things go wrong.
3. Check the Contractor and Company's References
Many scammers makeup references and will show letters from satisfied customers. Most of those are fake. Take a few minutes and check out the contractor and the company. At the bare minimum:
- Verify the Contractor's Contractor License Number. They should be in good standing with your state or local consumer protection agencies or local regulation department.
- Verify that the company has a physical address.
- Verify the length of time they have been in business and make sure they have an appropriate business license and number.
- You can look into organizations like the BBB for company reviews - Better Business Bureau.
4. Is there a Warranty?
Be sure to read the fine print. There should be a warranty that covers installation and repairs as well as one that covers faulty parts. How long does the extended warranty last, and does that number match what the contractor has told you? Scammers try to pretend there are quality warranties in place. Verify their information.
5. Don't Fall For Imposters
One way Solar Scammers work is they approach you as though they are from a governmental or utility office. They may appear in a uniform with a company name on it, such as from your local power company. They will give you information about why you need to go solar and present a case with limited options. Just provide the local governmental agency or utility company they represent a call and verify that information.
6. Choose the Best Financing for You
Many Solar scammers try to make you choose a financing plan that benefits them. Take your time and do the math. Be sure to go with a financing plan that fits your needs, not theirs. Should you purchase the unit or finance it? Never go forward until you can answer that question. When you work with a quality solar company, such as SunPower and Vinyasun, you receive the best options without all the games.
7. Do the Tax Credit and Tax Benefit Research Yourself
Tax programs change often, so never rely on the information from the solar company. Find out for yourself what tax benefits are available for homeowners in your area. Be sure to check on both the State and Federal levels too.
If you are a victim of a scammer, go to the police and file a report. Also, be sure to contact your local utility company.