Solar Industry News

How to Navigate the Solar Boom: Questions to Ask a Solar Company

The solar industry is rapidly expanding; it is predicted that the amount of solar installed in the U.S. will quadruple over the next ten years. Our government recognizes that we need solar to combat the climate crisis and is providing incentives to help boost the expansion. The Biden administration recently announced the creation of the Solar for All program, which provides $7 billion to deliver solar to low-income households across the country.  

With this growth comes an increase in the number of solar companies. And, as solar emerges as a profitable alternative to fossil fuels, it inevitably attracts its share of bad actors. In pursuit of profits, some solar companies prioritize their own interests over those of the consumer. Knowing this, potential customers need to be well-informed to avoid being misled by unethical business practices.  

Don’t Get Scammed: Unethical Sales Practices 

Door knocking salespersonBuyer beware! Some solar companies have adopted aggressive sales models to maximize profits and expand their customer base quickly. These models incentivize salespeople to prioritize profits over customer satisfaction and transparency. Some “solar sales bros” take to social media to openly brag about the earnings they achieve through selling solar systems. One video features a door-to-door salesman describing his approach as “being a sheep in the doorstep, and a wolf in the door.” This example highlights a trend towards high-pressure sales tactics in the industry. 

Many solar installers outsource their sales operations to freelance networks that work purely on commission. These networks negotiate a minimum price with installers, which is the lowest amount the installation company will accept to install a system. For example, let's say that minimum price is $3 per watt installed. Networked salespeople are then allowed to mark up the price, often $5 per watt or more, and pocket the difference. This potential gain can tempt salespeople to overpromise the system's capabilities or understate the long-term costs, putting homeowners at risk of making a decision that will hurt them in the long run. 

Regulatory Gaps and Business Ethics 

How do salespeople get away with these unethical sales tactics? One reason is that the business structures of these larger firms often prioritize rapid profit generation. These large solar companies have used complicated financial investment models to accelerate their growth, intensifying the push to acquire more customers. Many national companies package together hundreds of consumer solar leases into asset-backed securities (ABS) to sell to investors, allowing companies to immediately access capital that would otherwise accumulate gradually over the lifespan of the leases. This financial maneuver, while innovative, increases pressure on the company to quickly expand their customer base in order to keep these ABS-based financial models running.   

It’s this pressure for rapid growth that can lead companies to overlook unethical behaviors among their salespeople. There have been many instances where the terms of solar panel leases and loans were obscured by salespeople eager to close deals quickly — regardless of whether the conditions were fully understood or beneficial to the customer. The drive to hit sales targets and the opportunities for financial deals with investors can often take priority over fundamental values of customer service and honesty.  

Inkedimage (17) (1)_LI.jpgAnother common tactic of unethical solar companies is advertising "free" solar panels. This kind of messaging is misleading – there is no such thing as a free solar installation. While a generous federal tax credit and other state-specific incentives are available to residents across the nation, no state or agency will pay for you to go solar.  


The Role of Responsible Business Models 

These issues highlight the importance of choosing a company with a responsible business model. That's the strength of employee-ownership models like ReVision, where employees are owners. This approach helps ensure that employee-owner's interests are aligned with the long-term health and reputation of the company. Our team members work hard to reflect this commitment from the initial site visit to the final system walk-through, upholding our values of responsibility, transparency, and kindness every step of the way.  

Photos-160 (1).jpgWe’re also a Certified B Corp, meaning we prioritize the planet and our local communities over profit. We don’t owe anything to outside investors, so we can make decisions based on what is best for the customer and the long-term health of our environment.   

Also, we’re local! We live and work in these communities with you. We’re not going to scam you because we’re good people, but also because we’d probably just run into you the next week at a farmers' market.  

Essential Tips for Potential Solar Customers 

  1. Research the Company:

    Before agreeing to anything, research the company and check its reputation. Ask your friends, neighbors, and colleagues for recommendations. Look through a company's reviews and social media comments to get an idea of what other customers say about their experience.

  2. Avoid Rush Decisions: Be wary of high-pressure sales tactics such as "today only" offers. Solar is an investment and businesses should understand the importance of their customers making informed decisions.

  3. Read the Contract Thoroughly:Understand all the terms and conditions before signing any documents. Look for hidden fees, cancellation terms, and understand what the contract covers. Do not sign incomplete contracts or those with blank spaces.

  4. Energy Savings Projections:Salespeople might present optimistic energy savings and cost projections. Review these projections carefully and compare them with current utility rates. Understand the factors your salesperson is using to calculate these savings.

  5. Trust Your Instincts:If something feels off or too good to be true, it probably is. Trust your instincts and feel comfortable saying no or asking the salesperson to come back at another time after you've had a chance to think it over.

  6. Ask Questions:Don't hesitate to ask detailed questions about the products or services offered. A credible salesperson should be able to provide comprehensive and straightforward answers. At ReVision, our primary goal is to provide straightforward solar education and work with you to achieve your energy goals. We will never pressure you or force you into a decision that isn’t right for you.

What Questions Should I Ask a Solar Salesperson?


Financing Questions:
  • What are my options for payment?
  • What does it mean if I'm leasing the system?
  • What happens if I sell my house?
  • Will I still get a bill from the utility?
Maintenance Questions:
  • What kind of maintenance is required or suggested?
  • If my system needs maintenance, how long will I have to wait?
  • Will you fix the system if it breaks?
  • What happens if I need to fix or replace my roof?
  • What happens if critters damage my system?
Tax and Incentive Questions:
  • What are the federal tax incentives I may be eligible for?
  • Are there additional incentives or rebates specific to my town?
  • What are Renewable Energy Credits (RECs)?
Warranty Questions:
  • What's the difference between workmanship and manufacturers' warranties?
  • What does your workmanship warranty cover?
  • Do you cover your workmanship warranty, or do you outsource it to a third-party company?
  • What does the manufacturers' warranty cover?
  • Who provides the service for manufacturers' warranties?
  • How long does the warranty last for major components like solar panels and inverters?  
  • Can the warranty be transferred if I sell my home? 
  • Are there any conditions or actions that could void the warranty?

Share this page with friends