Tag Archives for " solar 101 "

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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Nevada Solar – Everything You Need to Know

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Information about Solar Panels in Nevada

Nevada solar has had a rocky road over the last few years, due to serious net metering changes and ensuing controversies, resulting in the solar industry going dormant and big solar installers leaving the state.

That’s not the whole story though – there’s a glimmer of sunshine through the clouds. With the state beginning the process of reintroducing net metering in June 2017, the solar industry is poised to explode once again.

If you want to jump on the bandwagon, but don’t know where to start, read on for info on the current status of net metering in Nevada as well as other info on relevant policies, incentives, and savings estimates.

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Washington Solar – Everything You Need to Know

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Information about Solar Panels in Washington state

Installing solar in Washington is unlike any other state. With the lowest electricity prices in the country, homeowners interested in installing solar will need to choose their financing carefully and take advantage of all incentives available. Thankfully, Washington homeowners are eligible for some fantastic incentives - including the wonderful state-wide performance payment program that was restructured and updated in July 2017.

We’ve got all the information you need for Washington Solar! Take a look below at savings estimates for both cash purchase and loans, as well as information on solar policy and available incentives.

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Alabama Solar – Everything You Need to Know

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Information about Solar Panels in Alabama

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.

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Iowa Solar – Everything You Need to Know

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Information about Solar Panels in Iowa

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!

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Michigan Solar – Everything You Need to Know

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Information about Solar Panels in Michigan

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.

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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

Georgia Solar – Everything You Need to Know

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Information about Solar Panels in Georgia

Let’s not beat around the bush: it’s hard to save money going solar in Georgia. The once-wonderful GA solar state tax credit is now expired, utilities aren’t required to offer net metering, and there are very few financial incentives or rebates to drop the total investment cost.

However, with some good planning and by taking advantage of the federal tax credit, you can still save money going solar in Georgia. Take a look below for savings estimates as well as information on solar policy and incentives to help you on your solar journey.

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Idaho Solar – Everything You Need to Know

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Information about Solar Panels in Idaho

Idaho is famous for its beautiful mountains and clean air. You might not know that it’s also a haven for clean, renewable energy (80% of its electricity is from hydro)! With all this in mind, producing your own clean energy from ID Solar just seems to fit!

Even with the state’s low electricity rates and shaky net metering policies, you can still save thousands going solar by wisely choosing your financing and taking advantage of the federal and state tax incentives.

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