Why Big Solar Companies Make Big Mistakes
The solar industry boomed after the ITC (Solar Investment Tax Credit) was implemented in 2006, offering a 30% tax credit on purchased systems. Companies of all sizes started forming — large-scale commercial and utility firms, and residential solar firms of all sizes. Large public corporations started growing and establishing themselves within the market, as well as smaller “mom and pop” private businesses that catered to homeowners and business owners on a local level. Even traditional energy companies realized they needed to stay ahead of the curve and start offering solar to their customers at an attempt to prevent loss of revenue they have relied on for decades.
When you're deciding to go solar, you’re provided with all of these options, whether it be the “Google” or "Amazon" of solar with thousands of employees, your current electricity or natural gas provider, or your local neighborhood solar installer who is passionate about bettering the environment in their neighborhood. So what's the best option?
Yes, bigger solar companies have a “sexy” vibe — they usually have a much larger budget for marketing and advertising so chances are you are seeing their TV commercials over and over again. But these companies tend to have a much larger overhead for acquisition — so you may find that their pricing isn't that competitive; probably a bit higher than you may have anticipated. If you're going to only save a few dollars a month, or save nothing at all while you're doing you part to help the environment, chances are you'll want to shop around to achieve more savings before agreeing to install something on your home for the next 20-25 years.
When it comes to choosing your solar installer, you can go with that brand name — but that’s essentially what you pay for. Bigger companies have many more customers, so you’re a number, not a name. And due to their aforementioned acquisition overhead, most cannot offer zero out-of-pocket in every region (or at all). These companies also tend to promote mainly solar leasing over any other financial option which, depending on your needs, may not work the best for you and your wallet. Smaller companies are able to offer more financial options to fit the needs of as many homeowners as possible, and help them all achieve the most possible savings when making the switch. The smaller companies will also have the ability, more often than not, to beat the quote your "Google" or "Amazon" solar company offers you. While those larger companies very rarely can budge on their price-per-watt, the neighborhood installer can often offer better pricing on a case by case basis, especially when it comes to beating a big-name competitor. This is due in part to less overhead during acquisition.
If you want a more personal experience with a higher chance of "no money down" and better monthly payments overall — you’ll want to consider that smaller, privately-owned local solar installer. They tend to be better at giving you more personal attention, treating your home like their own, and have better access to not only leases, but loan options as well. Not only that — but if you support a small local business, you’ll be helping boost the local economy which benefits you as well. Your business means that much more to the smaller company, and leadership tends to be more hands-on.
Ultimately — go with the installer that will make you feel at home. We can help you find a company near you that will cater to your needs and help you save as much as you can while adopting your new solar lifestyle. There are many smaller companies out there that will do nearly everything they can to add you to their customer base, while the larger companies won't be that persistent — they'll hang up the phone and move on. When you make the decision to go solar, you're likely signing a 20-25 year lease or PPA agreement unless you have the financial means the purchase the system. Think about that. Do you want the local team down the street that's there for you whenever you need them, or the team that will ask you to "press 1 for more options" and keep you on hold all day? We think you know the answer.