By Abby Berry
Solar energy is booming, and the future is brighter than ever. Through the use of rooftop solar panels, many homeowners can now harness the sun’s natural rays to produce their own electricity that’s environmentally friendly and cost effective.
But with the increasing popularity of solar, unfortunately, some businesses are taking advantage of consumers who are interested in generating their own energy through rooftop panels.
While many solar companies are genuine and truly want to help consumers with a successful solar installation, there are the occasional bad apples.
You’ve likely heard a story or two about solar vendors that promised rooftop panels that would generate enough electricity to power the entire home. Then, after the homeowner has paid thousands of dollars for the installation, the solar panels aren’t working, and the vendor is nowhere to be found. Sadly, this story has been the reality for many consumers.
If you’re interested in solar panels for your home, consider these tips before installation:
- Talk to an energy advisor at your local electric co-op first. We want you to feel confident about any decisions you make about your home energy use, especially decisions about generating energy at home.
- Collect at least three quotes from different solar companies to ensure you’re getting a competitive deal. As with any major purchase, research is key, so thoroughly read customer reviews for each of the three solar vendors.
- If you speak to a solar vendor and they use high-pressure tactics, like an offer that’s only good for 24 hours, run! Any reputable solar company will recognize that you need time to review a proposal and thoroughly weigh your decision.
- You know if it sounds too good to be true, it probably is. So, if a solar company is making promises that sound unachievable and outlandish, they probably are. Remember, if you have any questions, you can always count on your electric co-op for advice.
- Finally, when it’s time to review and sign a solar contract, make sure the language is clear and easy to understand. Ensure any prior verbal (or emailed) promises are also included in the contract.
Going solar is a major decision, so you’ll want to conduct a good bit of research first. If you’re looking for a general starting point, check out the Department of Energy’s Homeowner’s Guide to Going Solar.
Abby Berry is a program analyst for the National Rural Electric Cooperative Association, the national trade association representing more than 900 local electric cooperatives. From growing suburbs to remote farming communities, electric co-ops serve as engines of economic development for 42 million Americans across 56% of the nation’s landscape.