Consumers may have good intentions by installing solar panels on their homes, but some are reporting that solar companies and their sales representatives aren’t making good on their promises. After reports of companies making false guarantees, purposely installing undersized systems, and knowingly signing unbuildable systems, the Solar Energy Industries Association (SEIA) kicked off a consumer education campaign aimed at educating and protecting solar customers from unscrupulous sales and construction companies.
So, if you’re interested in installing some solar panels on your house, here’s what to look out for and where to turn for help.
Here Comes the Sun
The Federal Trade Commission warns consumers to ask friends, family, and neighbors for references when shopping for a solar installation company, and to check a company’s history with state and local consumer protection agencies and state contractors licensing board before signing any construction or purchasing agreements. You should also compare bids from several companies, paying special attention to:
- The expected performance of the equipment and size of the panels;
- The full cost of installation, including any building or electrical permit fees;
- Whether the system is guaranteed to produce a certain amount of energy; and
- What warranties apply to the equipment (such as the panels and inverters) and the installation workmanship.
Also check with your utility company, local ordinances, and homeowners’ association for any restrictions or regulations on solar panel installation and maintenance.
Good Day Sunshine
“We’ve been developing top-of-the-line resources for years – now it’s about spreading the word and getting these resources into the hands of people who need it,” said SEIA president and CEO Abigail Ross Hopper. “Solar is still a new power choice for millions of Americans, and it’s critical that we cultivate a well-informed customer base. By doing their homework and making use of these tools, consumers and stakeholders alike will feel confident and comfortable in the decision to go solar.”
Industry experts say more than 3 million homes will have some sort of solar installation by 2021. That leaves a lot of opportunity for scammers. Make sure to do your research before purchasing or installing solar panels, and if you think you’ve been taken advantage of by a solar company, contact an experienced attorney for help.