• Why You Should Go with the Local Solar Installer

    Contract cancellations are an indicator that a company is not doing well, or at least that it did not live up to the expectations of the contract.  That's why it's a bit concerning that solar installation super giants SolarCity and SunRun are being investigated by the SEC for concealing how many of their customers have cancelled contracts.  This is a sign that these companies are not living up to their customers expectations, and aren't disclosing it to shareholders.

    According to a Wall Street Journal report, hundreds of Solar City and SunRun customers have filed complaints with the state attorney general about the sales practices of both SolarCity and SunRun. Consumers claim that the companies deceived them about costs and savings, used extremely aggressive sales tactics, and sometimes didn't even know they were signing a contract.  The result - alot of people stuck in long contracts, saving no money, with no idea of how to get out.  Check out the Yelp pages of either of these companies and you will see plenty of evidence.
    The question of why the companies are concealing the information about their cancellations is more concerning.  SolarCity, with it's massive funding and Tesla backing, has positioned itself as the go-to installer for cities across America.  With this massive PR backing, many people considering solar think SolarCity first, as they've heard about it in the news, online, etc.  The assumption is that such a large company has to be a good company.  If news of hundreds of cancellations surfaced, this could spoil the "save the world" image that Tesla and SolarCity have worked so hard to create. 
  •  What is being revealed is that in order to keep sales flowing and ROI on marketing legitimized, these larger companies have to use these deceptive tactics to get solar on the roofs of Americans - without them fully understanding what they're getting into.  As a result, these tactics have eroded consumers' trust in solar companies in general as the nightmare stories have quickly circulated.  The unfortunate part of this is that they are not hearing from the thousands of solar customers who have had a good experience with a local company.  So many people who could benefit from solar are turned off by what they perceive to be a scammy commodity, just because their neighbor got shafted by SolarCity. 

    Solar is a largely referral based business.  Due to the volatile nature of solar companies, people want to go with a company they can trust, and the first source they will turn to is friends or neighbors who have already been installed.  So when the word gets out that solar is a scam, and that every company is out just to make a buck, it hurts every solar company, and the solar initiative as a whole.  That's why we are trying to fight the stereotype of the typical solar company.  We believe that the local solar company, with it's focus on quality, craftsmanship, and honesty, is the only way to save the industry.  We take pride in serving our local market because we live here, as well as install here.  We are helping our neighbors, not just hoping to make a quick buck.
    If homeowners continue to get scammed by the big companies, trust in the entire industry will erode to the point where no homeowners will get solar, purely based on the poor business practices associated with it.  That's why we plea to the homeowner, if you are looking at solar, go with a trusted local company.  Whether it's us or another great local installer, look before you jump - ask your neighbors and friends, and find out through review sites and word of mouth who really knows what they're doing.  Your roof, and your wallet, will thank you in the end.
  • About the Author

    Michael Powers


    Michael is one of the founding partners of Stellar Solar. In 2001, he helped launch The Home Depot’s national solar energy program which is now offering home solar through hundreds of stores in nearly a dozen states. He is a writer and marketing professional with over 30 years’ experience in the fields of energy, market intelligence and leadership training. He currently serves as treasurer and board member of Global Energy Network Institute (GENI), a San Diego-based non-governmental organization that advocates linking renewable energy resources around the world using electricity transmission.