Category Archives for "Residential Solar"

Real Goods Solar Reviews Show Most Customers Enjoy Experience

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The bottom line: what existing customers say about Real Goods Solar

Real Goods Solar (now known as RGS Energy) was founded in 1978 – quite old for a solar installation company. They currently work in 11 states, both installing and financing (via loans, not leases or PPAs) residential solar installations.

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Vivint Solar Reviews: What Are People Saying?

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Interested in purchasing solar through Vivint but not sure if they are getting good reviews?

It's our job to research the major players in the solar industry to save you some of the hours of legwork involved in researching and purchasing your new system. We will take a look at Vivint solar reviews from a variety of sources below, highlight the compliments and complaints, analyze the review trends, and see how they stack up against similar companies in their niche. Numbers are current as of the writing of this post.

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Is Life Without Net Metering a Life Worth Living?

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Net metering makes solar a much more lucrative investment, but what if your state does not have it?

The majority of states in the US offer retail-rate net metering (or NEM, net energy metering), and you’re probably aware of a lot of them: California, Colorado, and Oregon, to name a few. Net metering is a basic building block of solar savings and the fact that this policy is so prevalent across the country is great news for most homeowners.

Today, though, let’s focus not on those that have net metering, but on those that don’t have net metering.Continue reading

What’s So Great About the SolarEdge Monitoring and Inverter System?

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A SolarEdge monitoring system helps you optimize your solar power

SolarEdge is one of the biggest inverter manufacturers operating in the US. The SolarEdge monitoring systems are unique in that they perform three key functions:

First, they convert electricity coming from the panels from direct current (DC) to alternating current (AC, which is used in our homes and electrical grid), just like a more typical ‘string’ inverter.

Secondly, homeowners are able to monitor the installation’s electricity output, both as a whole and on the panel level. This allows you to easily pinpoint any panel issues that might come up in the future.

Lastly, they optimize your solar panels to produce as much electricity as possible. This last function is what really sets SolarEdge systems apart from more basic inverters – and what you’re paying a premium for.

Let’s look a bit more into how SolarEdge monitoring and inverter systems work.

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How Big and Expensive Is a 3 kW Solar System?

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Thinking about installing a 3kW solar system?

If you are not quite sure exactly how big that is, let alone how much it’s going to cost you, we’ve got you covered! Below, we lay out exactly how big a 3kW solar system is, looking at how much electricity it can produce as well as how many panels you’d need. We also take a look at the costs of a 3kW solar system and – most importantly – how much you can save.Continue reading

How Big and Expensive Is a 7kW Solar System?

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Find out how much a 7kW solar system installation can save you.

A 7kW solar system is a medium-to-large sized system that covers close to 100% of the average home’s energy use, depending on the location. But what exactly is a 7kW solar system, how much does it cost, and how much can you save by installing one on your home? Read on to find out!

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Are Solar Panels Dangerous for Firefighters?

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Solar energy is good for the planet, but are solar panels dangerous for firefighters?

Solar panels are a great way to ameliorate the harmful effects of climate change, lower our household energy costs and decrease nonrenewable energy dependence. But is there a downside to all this cheap energy – are solar panels dangerous for firefighters?

Solar panels, typically installed on the roof, are rigid and produce electricity (obviously), potentially making the area unsafe in an emergency situation and threatening firefighters’ ability to respond in a timely fashion. Many governments and first responder organizations have cast a spotlight on this difficult issue.

How do we reduce climate change without creating a hazard for ourselves and first responders?

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SolarCity Reviews: The Good, The Bad, and The Average

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Thinking about working with SolarCity, but wondering what sort of reviews they have online?

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.

#1 Overview of SolarCity Reviews

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:

Best Company: 5.7 out of 10 (326 reviews)

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:

  • 0 stars: 24% of reviewers (ouch!)
  • 1-3 stars: 19% of reviewers
  • 4-6 stars: 4% of reviewers
  • 7-9 stars: 13% of reviewers
  • 10 stars: 40% of reviewers

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?

Consumer Affairs: 3.8 out of 5 (228 reviews)

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:

  • 5 stars: 62% of reviewers
  • 4 stars: 9% of reviewers
  • 3 stars: 6% of reviewers
  • 2 stars: 6% of reviewers
  • 1 star: 17% of reviewers

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….

Solar Reviews: 2.54 stars out of 5 (91 reviews)

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.

Yelp: Reviews Vary Based on Location

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.

#2 What’s Going On?is-solarcity-a-good-deal

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.

#3 Common SolarCity Compliments

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.

#4 Common SolarCity Complaintssolarcity-complaints

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.

#5 How SolarCity Compares to Other Installers

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.

#6 Should You Work with SolarCity?

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?Does the utility charge solar customers any fixed monthly fees? How does that affect your solar savings? What happens if lightning or any other ‘Act of God’ knocks out your system? What if the solar installation doesn’t produce as much electricity as you were promised?

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.

Image Credits under CC License via Flickr - 2, 3 & Wikimedia

Top Six Reasons to Go Solar

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Going solar makes sense on so many levels – and here are some reasons why.

If you’re just starting to look into solar for your home, or you’ve recently noticed you’re the only one on the block without big blue rectangles covering your roof, you might be wondering why solar is so hot right now. What’s the big deal?

It’s an easy question to answer and below we’ve come up with our top six reasons to go solar. Hopefully they inspire you to dig a little deeper into this exciting technology, reap the benefits of green energy, and join the solar movement!

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Common Sunrun Solar Complaints: What’s the Story?

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Concerned about Sunrun solar complaints that are making the rounds?

Are you wondering what homeowners who’ve worked with Sunrun have to say about the company, or about any Sunrun solar complaints they may have submitted? Maybe you’ve heard horror stories of long wait periods or high bills after the installation. Or maybe you’ve heard bad things about the solar industry in general.

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