A Letter To Solar Homeowners
Dear Solar Homeowner,
My name is Manny and I am the owner of Solar Service Pros. I am writing this letter to you specifically because I want to share something with you, a solar homeowner.
A lot of people like yourself bought solar panels a couple of years ago during the initial solar boom. This boom was created mainly because of all the federal and local rebate incentives available at the time. Since then, over 370,000 homeowners in California have installed solar on their roofs and back yards.
Most people bought solar because of the true benefits it provides:
- Cheaper electricity
- An increase in property value
- Helping America become less dependent on foreign oil
- And all the environmental benefits…
At the time of the purchase it seemed like a smart investment.
However, since then something has changed. Something about solar doesn’t feel good anymore. I’ll tell you what it is…
It’s the customer service and sense of security that came with solar panels or the lack thereof… It’s the confusing net metering and TrueUp bills that come at the end of the year with a big fat dollar price on it. It’s all the questions about the savings and production that aren’t always clear cut. And sometimes it’s the multiple bills that come from not only the utility company, but also a finance company. It’s the endless phone calls you make to your solar installer that never get answered. Ultimately, it’s the false promises the original installation companies made.
You’re not alone….and here’s why it’s happening.
During the Solar Boom a lot of companies got into this new industry without know anything about it. Big profit margins and inflated prices due to the rebates and incentives allowed them to make mistakes and stay in business without any fallout. Then, just as solar incentives started slowly withering away, easy to qualify loans started coming out such PACE, HERO, Cal First and many more loan options. When the free cash and the easy loan options overlapped it caused even more of a boom of fly-by-night companies.
However, just as it does in every market, the truth started coming out. After a long dry spell, rain came to California. All of a sudden there were tons of service calls due to shoddy work performed by these amature companies. On top of that, people started realizing that they really didn’t understand the financials of their solar program… More complaints started hitting these companies. Eventually, the State of California (CSLB) stepped in and shut down a lot of these fly-by-night companies for various reasons. With every company being shut down it seemed like a win for the consumers, the homeowners, the little guys….But what we later realized was that it was not a win for them. How could it be? Now the solar companies that promised to service and maintain these solar panels were out of business!
From industry research, we know that of all California residential solar systems at least 380,000 are “purchased” systems and not “leased” which means the maintenance and service responsibility lies directly with the homeowner. Additionally, there are 200,000 systems that are warrantied by lease contracts that will have to take the hit.
Furthermore, of all the “purchased” systems we estimate a minimum of 20,000-30,000 in the Southern California no longer have an installer that is in business. Combining this information along with the fact that the solar systems have a lifespan of 25-30 years, means there is a huge population of solar homeowners that are abandoned with orphan solar systems or will inherit them.
So why am I sharing this with you? Because I know that a lot of you think you’re alone and there is nothing left to do. A lot of homeowners like you, have told me they hate solar now. They regret the decision and feel like they have been taken advantage of.
But here is the truth, solar is still a good investment. As long a you take care of the solar panels they will last for more than 25 years and help you save thousands of dollars. I want to help you stay independent and make of the most of your investment.
A lot of the service tasks are simple things, but important. They’re easy to do and easy not to do. Some examples are:
- Washing your panels
- Checking the production on the monthly and yearly basis
- Comparing your production to your electric bill on a monthly basis
- Calling your manufacturer to make sure your warranty information is up to date
- Checking the monitor to make sure all panels are functioning properly
- Making sure no trash, debris, or rain has damaged your roof top components
Over the next couple of weeks I am going to send you tips, how-tos, and tutorials on how to maintain your solar panels. If you have a specific question about your solar write to me and I will address it. Sort of like a Q&A. Maybe other solar homeowners have the same question too.
I hope this letter cleared things up a bit. And remember, solar is a good thing, you just have to know how to take care of it just like a car.
Sincerely your friend and neighbor,
The Solar Service Pro.