Alabama solar would be a great option if only the state would be a little (okay, a lot) more supportive. It’s got sunny skies and fairly high electricity costs (at least when compared to some of its neighbors), but unlike many other states, it seems like Alabama is actively trying to discourage solar!
There’s no net metering, third-party ownership of Alabama solar is actually banned, and residents are eligible for only scant incentives. Unlike other states with burgeoning solar industries, there’s no promise of solar savings here. You’ll need to do your homework, study your savings and financial estimates, and install as cheaply as possible.
Thankfully, once your panels are up and running, you will actually be producing quite a bit of electricity thanks to Alabama’s great sunlight, but saving money will be a struggle.
Below, we’ve got all the info you need for going solar in Alabama, including savings estimates, as well as info on financing, solar policy, and available incentives.
As we’ve all heard, Trump officially pulled out of the Paris Agreement on June 1st, 2017. Many have lambasted the president for the somewhat sudden move, but what exactly is the agreement and why did the US leave just 8 months after Obama signed it?
All over the country, people are installing solar panels on their roofs to produce their own electricity and save some cash. In fact, residential solar grew about 1,250% from 2010 to 2016 – talk about an explosion! But this wasn’t the first solar explosion. 40 years ago, there was a huge explosion in solar as well.
Back in the late 1970s, at the height of the oil crises, renewable energy was in. President Carter installed thermal solar panels on the White House, the first federally-sponsored renewable energy lab was founded, and both the federal and local governments were actually handing out financial incentives for solar panels.
But it wasn’t the electricity-producing solar panels we so frequently see today that they were subsidizing. They were actually thermal solar panels, which harness the sunlight’s heat to preheat water for home use. Even now, driving throughout the west, you’ll see old thermal solar panels dotting roofs, either pumping away hot water or rusting away as a reminder of those times.Continue reading
If you’re thinking about going solar in Illinois, you’ve come to the right place! We’ve got everything you need to get informed. Below you’ll find info on savings, relevant state policies, and available incentives. In Illinois, solar is a great way to go, so take a look below to learn how.
Interested in ways to drop your total installation cost? Maybe you’ve heard about solar panel grants and are wondering if there’s any you qualify for?
Well, you’ve come to the right place. Today, we’re focusing on grants for solar installations in the United States. Continue reading
Iowa has huge amounts of wind power. In fact, 34% of all electricity generated in Iowa is wind power. That’s a lot of renewable energy!
Unfortunately, solar generates precious little electricity in the state. There’s actually no large-scale solar farms in Iowa and all Iowa solar comes from small installations owned by homeowners or businesses.
Want to throw your name in with the solar lovers? Want to save some money and decrease your emissions? We’ve got all the information below to help you with your quest!
There’s information on solar savings in Iowa, relevant solar policies, and all the tax credits and exemptions you’re eligible for (and it’s quite a lot!). So start reading and then get out there and install your system!
Are you thinking about going solar in Michigan? Are you unsure about where to start? Don’t worry, we’ve got you covered! We’ve compiled all the info you need to decide whether Michigan Solar is right for you.
Below you’ll find savings estimates as well as information on relevant solar policies and incentives. Once you’re through with this article, you’ll have everything you need to make an informed decision on whether going solar in the Great Lakes State is right for you.
Are you drawn to the convenience of solar panels? Does the idea of taking a solar panel with you when you go camping, tailgating, or traveling to charge up all your gadgetry whenever you want appeal to you? If you’ve thought about buying a small solar power system but don’t know exactly where to start, we’ve got you covered!Continue reading
Ever since Tesla unveiled their solar tiles in late 2016, we’ve all been waiting and wondering: when will we find out how much a Tesla’s solar roof costs?
Well, they’ve finally answered. The company published a blog post on the topic in early May 2017 and added a calculator to their website that estimates homeowners’ total cost to install solar tiles on their home as well as the savings they’ll earn over the life of the solar panels.
We at Understand Solar analyzed the cost data and took the solar calculator for a ride to see what we could find out.Continue reading
We’ve done the hard work for you by aggregating review scores from multiple websites below. We also highlight common customer comments (both the good and the bad) and compare SolarCity reviews to other solar installers.
Overall, SolarCity enjoys very average reviews, typically around 2½ to 3 stars (out of 5). Below is SolarCity’s review score from 3 popular online review sites:
SolarCity reviews are very middle-of-the-road on Best Company. This probably doesn’t elicit a strong reaction from you one way or the other, but when you dig a little deeper and break down that average review score, you might be surprised. People’s experiences with SolarCity end up being extremely varied. Looking closer, here’s how people actually reviewed SolarCity:
The vast majority of reviewers had a fantastic experience, but for a full quarter of reviewers, the experience was presumably quite disastrous. What’s going on?
Similar to Best Company, the Consumer Affairs average is actually quite interesting when you dive into the numbers. Although SolarCity’s average rating is about 4 stars, in actuality only 9% of all 228 reviewers gave SolarCity 4 stars. The vast majority actually gave them 5 stars. Here’s how it pans out:
Just like with Best Company, most reviewers loved their experience with SolarCity, but a worryingly high 17% gave just 1 star – that’s almost 1 in 5 reviewers! The plot thickens….
Reviewers on Solar Reviews give SolarCity an average rating of 2 ½ out of 5 stars. Just like the first two sites, many reviewers gave 5 stars and others gave 1 star to SolarCity, averaging out to a very middle-of-the-road score.
We’ve seen that review scores vary from user to user. What’s going on?
Maybe the different reviewers have different experiences depending on the branch of SolarCity they work with? The installer works in over 20 states and so has branches across the US. How do you know if your city’s branch is any good? Check out Yelp!
Yelp allows users to review their specific SolarCity branch instead of simply leaving a review on the company in general. This is great for you, as you can look for common praise or complaints from actual homeowners working with the same SolarCity employees you’ll likely work with. Here are a handful of Yelp reviews for specific branches:
Average reviews vary from branch to branch, but diving into the actual reviews, you’ll still find a wide variety of experiences. Some homeowners love SolarCity, others rue the day they ever signed their solar contract.
You might be scratching your head a little bit right now. If everyone is working with the same company, how can everyone’s experiences be so different? What exactly is going on? Why do homeowners have so many different experiences?
It all boils down to the fact that, yes everyone is working with SolarCity, but in reality, one person is working with Suzy the salesperson, John the customer service rep, and Joe and the Gang of installers, while another is working with George, Patrick, and Lisa.
SolarCity is a big company working 22 different states. Every homeowner is going to work with different people and will have different experiences. This is why Yelp reviews and personal recommendations are so important. You need the inside scoop on your local SolarCity branch. Did your neighbor have a great experience with their sales rep? Get her number and call that same rep so you can also have a great experience!
That being said, there are common issues that homeowners experience with SolarCity. Let’s take a look now.
Of the more positive reviews of SolarCity, reviewers discuss specific salespeople’s honesty or communication, great customer service, and attention to detail during installation.
Here’s a review from a Consumer Affairs user praising SolarCity for their customer service:
I truly appreciate the attention to detail shown by the SolarCity system installers, as well as the concierge service, making any number of call to answer questions and provide needed information regarding the product. Your service was excellent.
And another from Consumer Affairs, highlighting excellent customer service:
Very professional, great customer service. Punctual to all schedule appointments. Always followed up via email.
And one more review from a Yelp user praising her salesperson’s knowledge and tactics:
[Salesperson] was very professional and knowledgeable about the systems, business models, and options for me to consider.
As you can see, all the reviews focus on professionalism, timeliness, and knowledgeability.
For each great salesperson or installation one reviewer experiences, there’s another reviewer who had a terrible experience with their salesperson or installation.
Homeowners commonly cite pushy and aggressive sales tactics, uncommunicative or unknowledgeable staff, and misleading information around utility and solar bills after the installation, not to mention poor customer service. Here are a few highlights from online reviews:
A Yelp reviewer discusses SolarCity’s poor customer service:
Our [salesperson] has a full voice mailbox for weeks now. We called HQ and the service was spotty and disorganized on that end, too. We are growing frustrated with the lack of customer service to get our project finalized.
A reviewer on Solar Reviews expresses confusion about payments:
The bills are confusing. My wife is an accountant and could not track what they were doing on the bill.
And one more from Yelp on SolarCity’s unprofessionalism:
We are planning to go solar before summer and this company was one of the ones we were looking at. No longer. You’d think when they send someone out to survey neighborhoods they would send people with a personality and some semblance of friendliness. Not the guy they sent to our block! Unfriendly, rude and combative. Not the way to sell a product. Years of potentially poor customer service overrides any cost benefit always.
Online reviews for other national solar companies are very similar to SolarCity. Online reviews of Sunrun, Vivint, and Sunnova both praise and condemn the companies for their customer service, communication, and sales and installation practices.
For example, here’s a positive Yelp review of Sunrun, calling out the salesperson’s honesty:
I think what really stuck out for me when dealing with the representative who came to my house was how upfront and honest the [salesperson] was
And here’s a negative review (from Consumer Affairs) on Sunrun’s poor communication:
It took almost 2 years to get a system installed. Very friendly people when you call but nothing gets done. No one calls backed when they say they will.
Sound familiar? This could easily be for SolarCity as well.
All this might be leading you to wonder if it’s worth working with any solar company at all. With reviews so polarized, how do you know if you’ll have a great experience?
Well, online reviews are just one piece of the pie! As we’ve seen, each reviewer’s experience is largely dependent on their local branch and the individuals they work with. Is their salesperson honest and trustworthy? Is the local branch efficient and quick in their paperwork and installation practices?
The best thing you can do is gather knowledge about your local branch. Pretend you’re Agatha Christie, uncovering clues. Read Yelp reviews of your specific branch. Talk to friends and family who’ve worked with the local branch before. If they had a great experience, get their salesperson’s name and give them a call. If it wasn’t so great, you might want to look at other companies.
Of course, the sales and installation are just the first steps in your new solar life. After the installation is complete, you’ll be working with the customer service and billing departments if something goes wrong over the life of your solar installation. Instead of a local office, these departments are likely at a centralized regional or national office, so it’s harder to judge if you’ll have a great experience there.
To set yourself up for a great experience after your installation is complete, be sure to understand everything before signing the contract.
Be sure to know the answers to questions like these: Does your monthly solar payment increase? What will your utility bill be after the installation?
All these questions (and more) are important to know before getting into any solar agreement. The more you know, the fewer unpleasant surprises there will be later on!
No matter who you decide to work with, the first step is contacting several installers to compare savings, customer service, and cost. Once you have all the information you can get, you’ll be better able to make an informed decision.