Nov. 16, 2022

I'm Sorry, Ma'am, But You Can't Go Solar

In this episode of Probably True Solar Stories, a feisty senior citizen is determined to haggle with a solar salesman to buy the solar system of her dreams. But her haggling plans fall through when an honest salesperson refuses to sell an installation at any price. Can they find the solar win-win?

True Solar Takeaways

  • Not every home is a good fit for solar. 
  • The home may have too many trees or other obstacles that block the sun--and solar production. The home may need a new roof. The home's wiring or service panel may need an upgrade. A good installer will make an evaluation and let you know these things in advance of signing a contract.  You can always make these upgrades and go solar in the future. 
  • Solar installed on North-facing roofs will generate very little solar power...unless you live in Australia. Then it's perfect. For the U.S. and Europe, a South-facing roof is ideal. West and East are okay, and in some cases, may be better. Your solar installer should design the best system based on your roof and many factors.   
  • To find a good installer, get a referral from a friend who's already gone solar.
  • Even with a friend's referral, always check out solar installer reviews on the internet. Yelp, Google Reviews, Angie's List, and the Better Business Bureau (BBB) will usually reveal the bad and good installers.
  • After reading reviews and doing your homework, always get at least three quotes. You'll learn something about solar and your home's electricity usage with every quote.
  • Beware of the installer's utility inflation rate when a proposal estimates your payback period and ROI. No one can predict utility rate inflation over the next 25 years. Just because your bill went up 10% for two years in a row does not mean it will go up 10% every year for the next 25 years.  
  • You can find more buying tips on the internet. The most important thing is to get at least three quotes and compare them. If you're confused, ask the installer questions. If they get frustrated or pressure you to just sign without understanding the proposal, costs, and payback period, walk away. 
  • If you're not familiar with computers and the internet, find someone who is. Shopping for solar is complicated. You can't properly shop for a solar installer from ads in the yellow pages, no matter what special discounts are promised. 
  • If you can't go solar, your state may have community solar programs that allow you to go solar by "subscribing" to a large solar farm in your area. Search Google for "community solar in YOUR STATE" to learn about the available programs. 

Hope that helps!

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