With over 200 days of sun on average each year, Montana is primed to be a key state in the United State’s move to solar energy. But how can you as a homeowner make sure you’re getting solar from a trustworthy company?
Homeowners interested in switching to solar and owning their power want to make sure they’re investing in a product that will last. It’s responsible to make sure the person and company installing it know what they’re doing, so you don’t wind up with any issues that might impact your home. But that doesn’t mean the average homeowner knows enough about the nitty gritty details of solar to know how to properly vet a solar installer.
Purelight Power is here to help. Whether you choose Purelight to help you make the switch to clean, renewable energy you own or not, our goal of making solar energy accessible for every homeowner.
Keep reading to learn what things to look out for, and what a reputable solar installer in Montana looks like.
The Solar Industry in Montana
Since 2017, solar in Montana has increased from just 11MW installed to 121.7MW installed! That’s growth of over 1006%. As more homeowners look to solar for energy independence and savings, the last best place will continue to see the solar industry grow.
Not just as a way for homeowners to own rather than rent their power, but as a major part of the economic engine that will help Montana retain its spot as a key provider of energy for much of the Western United States.
Amidst all of the growth of rooftop solar energy, there is the unfortunate reality that some unscrupulous people will take advantage of hardworking homeowner’s desire to switch to solar.
Disreputable (and even completely fake) companies often steal marketing, photos, and more from the trustworthy solar companies. That can make figuring out who to trust a tricky business. But that doesn’t mean you have to just give up on your dream of clean power right on your roof! There are some key things to watch out for.
Shady Solar Company Tactics to Watch Out For
So how do you spot a disreputable company when looking for someone to partner with on your way to having a solar powered home? There are a few red flags to keep an eye out for.
Phone calls and visits you didn’t ask for
While reputable companies will advertise so their communities know they exist, few legitimate companies are going to resort to going from door to door trying to convince people to buy solar from them. Likewise, they won’t be calling up random people from a list they bought to see if they can force a solar sale.
What should you do if a salesperson shows up or calls you without you having requested a consultation from that specific company? The best option is to ask for their information, and tell them you need to look into their company before going forward.
Faking an association with your utility company
Scammers know to use business names people already recognize and trust to get their foot in the door. With solar this often looks like a salesperson pretending to be from your utility company.
If a salesperson shows up at your home or contacts you claiming they’re from the NorthWestern or another power company, and that they have a special solar offer, be wary. You have every right to ask them for their name and credentials. It’s a good idea to call your power company and verify the person actually works for them before moving forward with even a conversation.
Pushy sales tactics
A solar company that’s safe to work with won’t force you into anything. Instead, they’ll willingly provide you with as much information as you need to make your decision. This includes explaining their policies, how the panels work with your home’s electrical, available tax incentives, and letting you take the time you need to think about switching to solar.
If the solar company is being pushy and pressuring you, that sort of behavior is a red flag. It can often be an indication of poor business practices at worst, and just poor customer service at best.
No contract OR a contract that must be signed on day one
Solar is an investment and you as the homeowner should be able to take the time to think about how it will impact your life. You’re being responsible by taking the time to be sure it’s the right investment for you before signing a contract.
If a solar company you’re talking to tries to push you to either forgo a contract altogether, or tells you that you have to sign a contract the very first day you speak to them, you should consider going with a different company altogether.
Trustworthy solar companies want their customers to be informed about what they’re signing, and will never encourage you to have any major work done to your home without a contract detailing terms and warranties on the product and work.
“Sign up with us and we’ll throw in FREE solar panels”
Many companies have special programs to help make solar affordable for homeowners, including special financing. But none of them can offer the whole system for free. When a company says they’ll install your solar system for free, they’re actually leasing you a system.
Leasing a system through what is commonly known as a power purchase agreement (PPA) means you’re actually paying the company you leased the panels through for often over a decade, with no real protections, and no return on the investment you’re putting into the system.
When a homeowner buys a system, whether outright or through financing, you’re able to claim the Solar Investment Tax Incentive on your income taxes. Because you own that system it also increases the value of your home. While not every homeowner is in the position to have rooftop solar panels, that doesn’t mean they’re only option is leasing a system through a PPA. We’d recommend checking into community solar options until you are ready to own your power with home solar.
Bad reviews – especially if those reviews mention customer service ghosting
A great way to check out a solar installation company is to look at the reviews their customers leave. Checking reviews of a company can give you a heads up about issues you might be in for.
Are there complaints about the quality of the panels, concerns about how the salesperson behaved, or notes that everything was great but once the system was installed the company all but disappeared? Solar is a long term investment, and you want a company that stands by their product and will be there to help you if an issue arises.
Can’t show you photos of past installations
A real company that does good work will want to show you photos of past installations. They’ll also have real customers discussing their positive experiences going solar across social media and review sites.
To help customers feel comfortable choosing Purelight Power to help them switch to solar, we share installations and stories across Purelight social media to make it easy to find. We strive to provide a world-class customer service experience for every homeowner we work with, and aren’t shy about sharing how pleased our customers are.
Spotting a Reputable Solar Installer in Montana
We’ve covered some of the red flags to look out for, But what are some green flags that can help you to be sure you’ll be getting a worthwhile partner in your switch to solar?
Another customer recommended them to you
Solar might be a booming industry, but it still grows largely by word of mouth. If a friend, family member, or coworker loves the company they got their solar installed with, that’s a great way to know that the company is reputable and safe to work with. Of course, we all know that one friend who doesn’t always have the most solid judgment. There are a few other ways to confirm that the solar company is as great as they say.
Will show you the contract and explains the terms
A company shouldn’t force you to sign a contract way too quickly, or convince you that you don’t need a contract to protect you. They should be willing to walk you through the terms, and answer as many questions as you have. If the solar consultant will gladly go over the contract and what each part of it means, that’s a positive indication that they not only know what they’re guaranteeing, but stand by the terms, and any warranties and guarantees.
Customers report great post-installation customer service
Even with solar panels rated to last at least 25 years or more, you still should be able to expect the solar installer will be around to help if you need it. Post-installation, you may have questions about your monitoring system, or need to have some work done that’s covered by the warranties and guarantees your system came with.
Read a few reviews to see how current customers discuss their experience with that’s company’s customer service. It’s also worth it to check and see how the company responds to complaints and compliments on social media and reviewing sites. A company with customer service that is responsive and seeks to resolve issues is a sign of a trustworthy solar installation company.
Knows about the current tax incentives available, and can explain how they benefit homeowners
Not every company moves into a booming industry for the right reasons. A company that’s passionate about increasing access to home solar, and dedicated to making solar affordable for homeowners. This should include understanding how net metering with your specific utility company works, and the ways state and federal level tax incentives can increase the affordability and savings of home solar.
Sells you the panels and installation
This is a big one! Home solar works in part because the homeowner gets the benefits of generating electricity right on their roof, which means wiping out their power bill, and seeing their home’s value increase by 4% on average.
A reputable solar installer knows this and wants to help the homeowner make the move to solar in a way that benefits you, as well as them. They won’t try to get you to lease a system from them.
Let Purelight Power Help You Make The Switch to Solar Safely
Why choose Purelight Power? We offer a trio of warranties and guarantees that go above and beyond what is normally offered, and over 2,200 satisfied customers as of December 2021, Purelight Power is your local solar company in Montana. We’re here to help make your switch to solar simple and affordable!
Want to find out if your roof qualifies for our zero down program? Take our quick 30 second survey and one of our team will be in touch asap.