As the global effort to transition to renewable energy sources increases, it’s becoming more common for the scammers to use solar panel installation as a way to extract money and information from unsuspecting customers. We’ve all read the horror stories of salesmen who offer “free” solar panel installations in exchange for up-front costs, only to find out that these costs were never actually refundable. So, how do you spot and avoid getting scammed on a solar panel installation? It’s all about understanding the different types of solar scams, the red flags you need to be aware of, and the right steps to finding a legitimate installation company. Before you make any decisions about your solar-panel installation, make sure you read through this blog post about the potential danger of solar-panel scams and how you can best protect yourself from them.
Unfortunately, there are many solar panel scams that people should be aware of. Be sure to do your research thoroughly and make sure you’re working with a trusted and knowledgeable source before having any solar panels installed or purchased.
What is a Solar Panel Scam?
A solar panel scam is when a person or organization makes false claims or promises related to solar panel technology, installation, and costs in order to benefit financially from unsuspecting solar energy consumers without delivering on its intended service. Frequently, perpetrators falsely advertise services such as very low installation costs, large government tax credits or tax deductions for purchasing and installing solar panels, and guaranteed savings for customers which are either too good to be true or completely untrue.
The unfortunate reality is that these scams are not isolated cases—there are many organizations and individuals that engage in this type of unethical behavior. For example, some sellers may purposely mislead customers about the efficiency claims of their products or fail to disclose hidden charges so they can charge more than you anticipated. Additionally, some companies may also make promises they cannot keep concerning the quality and longevity of their solar panel systems. In addition to monetary losses incurred by buyers as a result of these scams, there have also been cases where home property damage has occurred because of faulty installations due to false claims made by seller companies.
It should also be noted that while these types of frauds disproportionately affect vulnerable populations, anyone looking into taking advantage of the benefits offered through solar energy should be aware that scams do exist in the industry. Therefore it is essential to further investigate any company before agreeing to any services and always look out for warnings signs that something could potentially be amiss. To help protect yourself against potential fraudulent activity, you can take proactive measures such as reading customer reviews, seeking personal recommendations from friends or family who have previously purchased solar systems from reputable providers, asking your local government and reputable industry sources for advice before signing a contract with any provider or installer and carefully evaluating any financial incentives offered by companies before making a final decision. Now let’s look at warning signs that may indicate a potential solar panel scam.
Solar panel scams can cost hardworking people substantial amounts of money if they are not careful – meaning it’s worth taking extra caution when selecting a provider or installer for your new system. By understanding the warning signs associated with solar panel scams, you’ll be better equipped to avoid being taken advantage of by unscrupulous actors in the industry. With that in mind, let’s transition into our next section discussing warning signs of a potential solar panel scam.
Essential Points to Remember
Solar panel scams can cost unsuspecting consumers large sums of money and cause property damage due to faulty installations. Everyone looking into taking advantage of solar energy should take proactive measures such as reading customer reviews and gathering advice from reputable sources before signing a contract with any provider. Warnings signs for possible scams may include false claims about efficiency and longevity of their products, hidden fees, and too-good-to-be-true financial incentives.
Warning Signs of a Solar Panel Scam
To help avoid solar panel scams, it is important to be aware and on the lookout for some warning signs. These can include someone pushing you to make a decision quickly, emphasizing savings or asking for a large upfront payment. Other key indicators can include requests for cash payments only and warranties that are not readily verifiable. Finally, if the educator or contractor is offering guarantees and promises that appear too good to be true, they likely are.
When evaluating any potential solar installation offer, always ensure that the company providing the service is legitimate and can provide evidence of their credentials. Additionally, take the time to look over all the terms and conditions of the agreement before signing anything so there are no surprises later down the line. Take caution and use caution when being presented with opportunities for instant savings or deals that sound too good to be true; in many cases, these may just be sales tactics designed to lure in customers who are unaware of potential risks associated with certain solar installations.
Finally, it is also important to keep in mind that solar energy is an investment, and there are certain risks associated with any investment which must be carefully considered. It is important to conduct thorough research regarding potential investments in order to make an informed decision about whether or not it would be worthwhile for your situation.
While it is possible to save money by investing in solar panels, it’s important to remain vigilant when considering any offer. If a deal seems too good to be true or an installation contractor pushes you into making a decision quickly without much research involved, this should raise red flags and should not be taken lightly as it could potentially be an indicator of a scam. In order to protect yourself financially, always take the time to thoroughly research your options before making any final decisions.
The next section will discuss who the most vulnerable population is when it comes to falling victim to a solar panel scam:
Who Are the Most Vulnerable to a Solar Panel Scam?
Unfortunately, those who are most vulnerable to a solar panel scam are those who lack the necessary knowledge and resources. On one hand, people with limited financial resources or technical background may be defenseless against the schemes of con artists. These individuals have difficulty understanding the identification of quality photovoltaic systems and professional installation, putting them at risk for substandard components and shoddy installation.
On the other hand, those with sufficient financial resources often fall victim to scams in their eagerness to save money on expensive equipment and services. In this case, “bargain seekers” may unknowingly purchase inadequate equipment or incomplete services that end up costing more money in the long run.
Regardless of one’s socioeconomic status, falling prey to a solar panel scam is a hope-shattering reality that not only wastes time and money but can also put an individual at risk of serious harm. To protect oneself from becoming a victim of a solar panel scam, it is important to understand how they operate – which leads nicely into the following section on How to Spot a Solar Panel Scam.
How to Spot a Solar Panel Scam
Since solar panel scams can have detrimental effects on individuals, businesses and the environment, due to the sales associated with unsustainable and often hazardous or faulty equipment, it is important to know the hallmarks of a solar panel scam. One of the most common signs of a scam is an unsolicited call, text or email from a salesperson attempting to pressure you into purchasing equipment that you have not sought information about or requested quotes for. Additionally, potential scammers can be identified by offers of free solar panels that are simply too good to be true as well as aggressive salespeople who display limited knowledge about solar energy systems.
Some may argue that it is possible for legitimate companies to contact people through unsolicited means. However, legitimate companies will allow you plenty of time and provide accurate information without pressuring you into making a quick decision. Legitimate companies also do not offer different prices to different customers; therefore, if one individual is offered one-price while another is offered an alternative price for exactly the same system, it should be treated with suspicion.
Further, it’s important to consider their customer service record. Many companies will have reviews posted online which allow potential customers to assess their customer service levels before signing any contracts with them. For example, if prospective customers find multiple customer reviews complaining about similar issues or discrepancies in pricing when they receive invoices post-installation this could indicate that they’re dealing with a scammer. In cases such as these further due diligence should be exercised – at the very least undertaking independent research into the company to ensure legitimacy.
It pays for people to do their homework before signing any contracts with solar energy suppliers and this starts with researching the company’s background and legitimacy. The next section discusses some strategies to undertake research on companies offering solar panel services and therefore help protect yourself against scams.
Research the Company
When considering investing in solar panels it is vital to conduct thorough research into the company you are potentially working with. This can help ensure that the process is secure and successful, and reduce chances of getting scammed. Researching the company thoroughly can provide vital information about them, and includes finding out about their reputation in the market, how long they have been around, as well as what people are saying about them.
It can also be useful to look at the company’s website for more detailed information. By browsing through a company’s website you can find out products they offer, customer services they have in place, their mission and values, details of qualifications they hold, and other information that can help you decide if they are trustworthy. It may also be valuable to view customer reviews or testimonies to back-up a companies high claims.
It is also worth noting that some companies may not be legitimate and might have had problems with regulators or have faced legal difficulties. For this reason it could help to carry out an Online search of any company’s background including by accessing court records or reading news articles related to them. Whilst any history of legal proceedings may not make a business untrustworthy, understanding these details can provide further insight into a company’s operations and work ethic.
It is therefore important to conduct thorough research on any solar panel system supplier before you commit to a contract or invest in investment schemes claiming to benefit from solar panels. Doing so will allow you to make an informed decision and avoid being scammed by a fraudulent supplier.
Now that you understand the importance of researching a potential supplier, let’s move onto looking at the warranty and services offered as these can also play an essential part in determining whether a system is safe and reliable for use.
Look at the Warranty and Services Offered
When considering solar panel installation services, consumers should spend a lot of time researching the warranty and services offered by prospective contractors. Most reputable companies offer a guarantee or warranty for their workmanship, as well as a specific duration for their warranties on the components. Companies should also provide customers with extensive customer service to answer any questions they may have about the solar panel installation process, product performance and warranty details.
On the other hand, shady businesses may avoid providing any kind of warranty or service information. They often make vague claims of solar panels having “lifetime” warranties or similar unsubstantiated claims, in an attempt to pressure customers into signing contracts quickly without researching further. Real warranties are backed up by insurance companies and accompanied with written documentation signed by all stakeholders involved in the purchase and installation of the panels. In some cases, different salespeople will tell customers completely different things about warranties or guaranteed results, so make sure to get all information from someone who is part of upper management in the company.
In sum, be wary of any companies that avoid answering questions about guarantees and service provided with the purchase of solar panels. Carefully review details pertaining to any warranties before making a commitment, and never give in to immediate pressure sales tactics. When in doubt, ask lots of questions; doing so is the best way to protect yourself from falling victim to a solar panel scam.
Now that you know how to look at warranties and services offered when considering solar panel installation services, let’s take a closer look at what red flags you should look out for if you suspect you may be dealing with a solar panel scam.
- According to the Better Business Bureau, solar panel scams have risen by 269% since 2019.
- A 2018 report from the ABC 15 Investigators found that over 400 consumers in Arizona had been defrauded in a solar panel scam with an estimated loss of 5 million dollars.
- A 2016 survey of 330 US Solar Industry Professionals found that 22 % had been a victim of a solar panel scam and another 48% had known someone who had.
What to Do if You Suspect a Solar Panel Scam
If you suspect that a solar panel provider is involved in a scam, it is important to take action quickly. There are several steps you should take if you suspect a solar panel company might be untrustworthy or fraudulent:
1. Do Your Research: Before making any decisions, it is important to thoroughly research potential solar panel companies and their offerings. Read customer reviews, investigate customer ratings, and check out company websites and social media profiles.
2. Ask About Credentials: Legitimate solar panel companies will have the proper licenses and certifications to do business in your area. Ask solar installers to provide proof of licences and other credentials so you can verify them with relevant authorities.
3. Verify Qualifications: Make sure that any potential contractors have the right qualifications for the job at hand. Ask what type of training they have had, how much experience they have, and which certifications they hold.
4. Look for False Promises: Be on the lookout for red flags by staying alert for false promises or unrealistic guarantees from any potential contractors. Be wary of any claims that seem too good to be true or large upfront payments that are requested before work has begun.
5. Contact Professional Organizations: If you suspect fraud, it is also worth contacting professional trade organizations such as The North American Board of Certified Energy Practitioners (NABCEP), SolarEnergyInternational (SEI), and The National Renewable Energy Laboratory (NREL). These organizations can offer advice on spotting potential scams and verifying companies’ qualifications.
These simple but necessary steps can help protect homeowners from getting scammed by untrustworthy companies and ensure that all parties involved receive a fair deal when installing solar panels. With this knowledge intact, we can now move on to looking at how to find a legitimate solar panel company in more detail in the next section.
How to Find a Legitimate Solar Panel Company
Choosing a legitimate and trustworthy solar panel company is one of the most important steps in mitigating the risk of becoming a victim of a solar panel scam. With the increasing demand for renewable energy sources, more and more companies are entering the industry, which can make it difficult to differentiate between trustworthy companies and those which might take advantage of customers.
When seeking out a solar panel company, start by researching any potential business with your local Better Business Bureau (BBB). BBB websites offer in-depth reviews and buyer ratings, so you can get information from those who have used their services. Be sure to look at both the company’s BBB rating as well as consumer reviews.
You should also ask for references from previous customers who have had experience with the specific business you’re considering. Ask for names, contacts and if possible, visit past completed projects to evaluate the quality of workmanship firsthand. This is also an opportunity to ask questions about their customer service process, including any issues they encountered while working with that particular company.
It’s also important to determine whether or not a given company provides a warranty on its services. Reputable businesses will often provide warranties to their customers guaranteeing the quality of their job and production outputs. If a company you are considering does not provide such a warranty, this could be an indication that they may use inferior materials or perform shoddy work that won’t hold up under rigorous inspection.
Finally, make sure that any prospective contractor has adequate liability insurance coverage in place. This will ensure that if anything goes wrong during or after installation, you’ll be protected from costly bills associated with replacing faulty equipment or reimbursing customers for any financial losses incurred due to improper installation or subpar materials used.
Locating and choosing a reputable solar panel company is vital to ensuring your home has safe and reliable renewable energy sources. Doing your due diligence when selecting a contractor can mean the difference between achieving long-term satisfaction with your solar system or becoming ensnared in an expensive and time-consuming project that yields little return on investment.
Now that you know how to find a legitimate solar panel company, let’s move on to how you can protect yourself from solar panel scams.
Protect Yourself From Solar Panel Scams
Locking down your bank account is the best defense against falling prey to any type of scam. Financial protection against solar panel scams may include setting up multiple accounts with different providers, monitoring credit card activity, and ensuring that all transactions are secure.
It is important to do research before investing in solar panel products and services. Verify that the installer is qualified and experienced in solar panel installation and read reviews from other homeowners or customers when selecting a provider. Do not be swayed by high promises of electricity production output since this may be an indicator that they are attempting to scam the buyer.
In addition, make sure all solar panel warranties are fully elucidated, so you understand what is covered if equipment malfunctions or needs repairs. Homeowners should be able to review contracts in detail, ask questions, and negotiate terms. They should avoid signing any document without first being sure what it contains. If possible, hire a lawyer with experience in contracts to help unravel difficult legal language and advise on any risks associated with the agreement.
Be cautious of deals that promise certain outputs from solar panels but cannot back it up with facts or data from credible sources. Furthermore, watch out for companies who require upfront payment for equipment or installation costs before delivering their product or service–this often indicates false promises and money laundering. Make sure the installer clearly understands your requirements, test communication channels thoroughly ahead of time, and always ask questions. Be aware that additional fees may apply–it’s wise to ask about these before agreeing to anything.
Furthermore, proceed cautiously if a company claims they can lower your electric bill with little or no cost upfront to you–these types of companies are often trying to push solar energy leases that prove to be financially disadvantageous for consumers in the long run. It is also critical for homeowners looking for solar solutions to contact their local utility company prior to signing any contract in order to determine how much electricity they should expect from a solar panel system installed at their home.
Having a solid understanding of your own financings situation will help provide necessary background information and insights into potential opportunities based on current uses and expected future usage patterns. Following these simple steps can equip homeowners with the knowledge necessary to protect themselves from fraudulent solar panel scams while still making sound investments towards sustainable lifestyles.
Most Common Questions
Are there any legitimate solar panel companies out there?
Yes, there are many legitimate solar panel companies out there. You can identify a legitimate company by researching their credentials and verifying they have the necessary certifications. Additionally, checking reviews from past customers can also help you make an informed decision as to whether or not a specific solar panel company is legitimate. Finally, though prices for solar panels may vary significantly across companies, it is important to ensure that any company you consider does not offer their products at suspiciously low prices which may indicate an illegitimate business model. With these steps in mind, you can be sure to make an informed decision when selecting a reliable and legitimate solar panel company.
What should I watch out for when researching solar panel companies?
When researching solar panel companies, you should be on the lookout for any red flags or warning signs that indicate a scam. Start by researching the company’s background and reviews from past customers. It’s also important to make sure the company is licensed by your local government or Housing Authority and insured. Don’t be afraid to ask questions such as: how long has the company been in business; what kind of warranties do they offer; what certified installers do they use; do they offer financing options, etc. Additionally, always stay away from companies that promise unreasonably low prices or guaranteed returns on investment – it could mean they’re trying to bait-and-switch you into buying inferior products. Lastly, don’t sign any contracts unless you have read and understood all of its terms and conditions. All costs and terms should also be clearly laid out in the agreement.
What common fraudulent tactics do solar panel scammers use?
Solar panel scammers often use a variety of fraudulent tactics to take advantage of unsuspecting consumers. Common tactics include:
1. Pressure Selling – Solar panel scammers will pressure potential buyers by using persuasive or pressuring language, such as pushing for quick decisions, making false claims about the savings they can offer, and offering one-time deals or discounts that don’t really exist.
2. Upfront Payment Requests – Legitimate solar contractors do not typically require large upfront payments for the installation of solar panels. If someone requests a high upfront payment in exchange for the installation of solar panels, this should be seen as a red flag.
3. Unverified Credentials – Often times, solar panel scammers will present themselves as certified installers when they are not. Consumers should vet any solar contractor they are considering working with by looking into their credentials and verifying their claims with the relevant organizations in their area.
4. Excessive Promises – Solar panel scammers may promise unrealistic results, such as enormous energy cost savings and significant tax credits, that they cannot actually deliver on. Consumers should research and understand the true capabilities of solar energy before investing in it so that they aren’t taken advantage of by overpromising scammers.
By keeping these common deceptive tactics in mind, consumers can avoid becoming victims of solar panel scams and invest wisely in solar energy solutions.