The Three Things That cause Bad Experiences with Solar And How To Prevent Them
1. Not Built Or Designed With Your Actual Usage Data
The number one item to look out for when receiving a solar proposal is when a company says a system will cover X% of your usage when in fact it does much less. You’re left with two bills that are more than you paid! Often the sales person will jack up the price to make more commission because you think it’s covering all of, or most of your power.
How to Prevent it:
-Know your annual & monthly average electric usage (kWh) over past 12-36 months
-Triple check their usage, production and offset numbers vs your actual usage
Example: Your actual usage is 12,000 kWh per year as found in your electric provider online portal. They propose a system that can produce 9,000 kWh per year but it offsets 100% of your usage.
Don’t look at the offset! Make sure the kWh matches up!
2. No Interconnection setup or not on buyback plan
This means you aren’t getting any credit for what you’re producing leaving you with a normal electric bill and solar payment. Yikes!
Your utility company requires that any homeowner going solar sign an interconnection agreement or Net Electric Metering (NEM) Agreement to establish the agreed upon rate for buyback of your excess energy and the frequency of reconciliation and method of billing. This document is often mistakenly, or willfully, neglected by install companies before and after install, leaving customers in a position where they think they’ve been scammed when in fact they just haven’t dotted the T’s or crossed the I’s.
How to prevent it:
-Make sure your dealer has you sign an interconnection agreement or Net Electric Meter (NEM) agreement.
-Be sure to call the electric company and change your plan to a renewable buyback plan!
– In deregulated states such as Texas and Delaware, not all providers offer buyback so change your Retail Energy Provider (REP) to one that does!
3. Getting Price Gouged By The Dealer
Surprising news coming, buckle up.
Your dealer, not the solar installer, decides your pricing. Your installer has zero interest in making sure you have a fair price. They simply install jobs as sold. Meaning all that time spent researching the best installer in your area may be for
not if you get the wrong dealer of that installer that shows up. Dealers and their reps largely have freedom of choice in your pricing. The more they charge the more they make, obviously. We recommend you find an honest dealer who will be transparent with pricing. Including disclosing things like 23.25% Dealer fees! Understanding how systems are priced is the first step towards ensuring you won’t suffer from this fate.
Solar systems are priced based on the systems total wattage. Wattage is determined by the panel wattage times the number of panels. For instance a system using 37, 350 Watt Panels is 37×350=12,950 Watts. Multiply the number of watts by your per watt price of say $3.00 giving you a total cost of $38,850.
Another major distinction is between paying cash or financing. You will typically pay $.90-$1.00 more per watt when the system is financed. These fees are know as dealer finance fees assigned by the lender as a risk premium due to the maturity of the solar industry versus mortgages and auto.
Knowing what a fair price is and being able to identify what price per watt you’re being proposed is key to you being able to ensure you’re making a good investment.
How to prevent this:
-Understand How Solar Pricing Works
-Price Per Watt
Our Opinion of Fair Prices
Cash price at or below $3.0/watt.
Financed Price at $3.90/Watt or less
Example: You have a $15,000 system that’s size is 5.45 kw. That equals 5,450 Watts. $15,000 divided by the 5,450 Watts = $2.75/Watt ✔️That would be a good deal cash or financed!