Part of my role at Del Sol Energy is to spend time visiting with other local business owners, real estate professionals, and individuals engaged in community education and community development. Many questions pop up during visits and workshops that include questions on finance, installation, and various panels. However, over the recent summer months, one topic seems to jump into the core point of the conversation more than anything else are ads that people see repeatedly on their Facebook and Instagram feeds, ‘Free Solar for California Middle-Class Homeowners’ and “Contra Costa Launches Free Solar For Homeowners.” This article will briefly walk you through the reality of these websites and social media advertisements.
Solar is not Free
Unfortunately, the state of California and the county of Contra Costa have not launched any program that provides free solar systems for California, or Contra Costa homeowners. As our parent’s once told us, “If it seems too good to be true, it probably is.” There are many benefits to owning a solar array – however, do not click and think that you will be provided a free solar installation for your home. The ad is a catchy way to get someone’s attention. It is not honest, and the quote you receive for your “free” system will be dramatically higher than “$0”
“Click-Bait” is a social media tactic that entices people into clicking on to an ad, just to redirect the person doing the “clicking” to a page where their basic information can be collected. Their information may – or may not, be used in a way that aligns with the ad was promoting. For example, if you click on the ad for “Free Solar” – you immediately will be brought to a landing page where you input information such as name, email, and best contact method. Then, someone will reach back to you to give you a quote to install solar. The caveat is, it is NOT FREE SOLAR. It is just a questionable solar company who cannot generate their own business, tricking people into doing business with them under the premise of obtaining a free solar system. This method is shady, at best.
It is a Solar Scam
A week or so ago, we discussed the variety of solar scams that consumer need to be aware of. This is one of those scams. When individuals, or companies, present ideas that are not accurate, they are gaining interest from a false pretense. Getting a population to provide their personal information without being honest as to what the information is being used for is a dishonest business practice. Promising interested consumers something that does not exist to get their personal, sensitive information, is unethical and wrong. Using that information for profit is dishonest.
Find a Credible, Licensed and Insured Solar Professional
Unfortunately, solar is one of those industries that has been infected with scams. And like many other industries that have experienced the same negativity, it takes the honest companies to highlight what is important to look for in reputable companies that are there to provide a service and not just make a quick buck off an innocent consumer.
Remember, always work with a company that is fully a fully licensed and insured contractor. Work with a local installer that has a storefront presence. This is important as a storefront is a sign of longevity and continuing access to the company, even after your installation is complete. If you are looking for solar quotes, ask for recommendations from friends and family, and use smart internet searches with reviews to begin your search.
It is OK to be a bit skeptical of companies that seem too good to be true. Free solar really is not a “thing” – although there are exciting tax incentives and many finance options, free is not one of them. Before you give your information away for free, take a deep breath – ask yourself if you really think that it is credible, ask your friends for advice – and then move forward.
Now is an exceptional time to go solar. Reach out to a local, licensed installer who will answer your questions and give you an honest quote. All the while, be mindful of advertisements that promise the world, knowing that working with a professional is the only way to be confident in your solar decisions.