There are no doubt a number of honest and reputable companies installing residential solar systems in Texas. However, based on the number of folks who call me each month about problems with the company they dealt with, there are a certain number of dishonest and disreputable companies as well.
Residential solar systems are incredibly expensive, often costing between $25,000 and $35,000. Before you spend or finance this kind of money, there are a number of things you can do to make sure you’re dealing with one of the good guys:
- Check out the company’s rating and complaint history at the Better Business Bureau website. In each case where I’ve handled a complaint for a client against a solar system company, that company had numerous complaints listed on the BBB website.
- Get at least two references from the company you are thinking of using and call those references and discuss the company’s performance.
- Get two and preferably three quotes from different companies for your system.
- If the salesman’s representations and promises sound too good to be true, they probably are not true.
- If the salesman is using high pressure tactics (such as a special price it’s only good for 24 hours), then show that company the door.
- Look up the company on the Texas Secretary of State website and see how long they’ve been in business. There are a lot of companies that have popped up recently and that may not be around when you have a warranty claim later.
- These companies often represent that you can sell electricity back to your electric utility. In the experience of the clients I’ve talked to, that almost never happens because they end up using the electricity they generate themselves. However, talk to your electric utility about selling power back to them. There may be regulations and conditions that limit selling power back to the utility.
- Be aware that while a solar system may result in the reduction of your electric bill, compare those savings with the installment loan payment you will need to make each month if you have financed your purchase of the system. The combination of your electric bill and the monthly loan payment may turn out to be a lot larger than the electric bill you were paying.
- Be aware that once the large number of batteries that the systems use have worn out, there are strict regulations on disposal of batteries. In addition, the purchase of replacement batteries will be a significant expense.
- Keep in mind that solar panels have a limited lifespan. It is possible that the panels will wear out, and you will need to purchase new ones, even though your loan is not yet paid off. And no, the loan company will not terminate the loan payments just because your system has died.
- It is a good idea to have an attorney review the sales/installation agreement and the financing agreement, so you will know what you are agreeing to before you sign these agreements.
Following these guidelines will not necessarily guarantee that you will have a perfect experience, but they will go a long way towards that goal.