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Look out for Solar Scammers

Consumers have good intentions when they install solar panels on their homes, but we’re hearing reports that some solar companies and their sales representatives do not.

The solar industry is ripe with scam artists that aren’t making good on their promises. Their sales pitches are often full of false guarantees about savings and inflated timelines for when a consumer will see a return on their investment. Some retailers undersize systems and knowingly solicit unbuildable systems.

Even worse, some contractors pocket money and then fail to show up to complete the solar panel installation. Contractors that do show up could produce shoddy work, leaving a solar system unusable.

We even heard a story about a couple who paid for an expensive rooftop solar system, only to find out that the “panels” installed on their home where mostly pictures of solar panels printed on copy paper.

While there are certainly some solar horror stories out there, not all solar retailers are bad news. If you’re considering installing solar power at your residence, please take the time to do your research. And remember, if something sounds too good to be true, it probably is.

Selecting a solar installation company

As with any major home improvement project, purchasing from the right contractor is every bit as important as the product you’re purchasing. Due diligence is critical to ensure you get the best system, for a fair price, and that it’s installed correctly and on time.

Ask friends, family and neighbors for references when shopping for a solar installation company, and check that company’s history through state and local consumer protection agencies, such as the Better Business Bureau, before signing any agreement. You should also compare bids from several companies, paying special attention to:

  • Insurance documents, certifications and licenses.
  • Payment options and financing details.
  • The full cost of installation, including materials, labor and any building or electrical permits.
  • The expected performance of the equipment and size of the panels.
  • Whether the system is guaranteed to produce a certain amount of energy.
  • What warranties apply to the equipment and the installation’s workmanship.
  • Whether a maintenance program is available.

It’s also a good idea to ask prospective contractors to provide you with a list of references so you can contact them or check out other installations the contractor has completed.

If you decide to install a solar system, make sure you contact San Patricio Electric Cooperative for installation and interconnection requirements. Most solar systems are designed to provide you with a portion of the electricity you need, but won’t cover 100% of your needs. You’ll still need to be connected to the grid for reliable electricity at night, on cloudy days or whenever your energy use exceeds the solar system’s generation capacity. We will work with your solar installer and help make sure that all safety precautions are followed throughout the interconnection process.

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