The Truth About Free Solar Panels – Are Free Solar Panels a Scam?

FREE SOLAR PANELS SCAM OR NOT?

You have probably seen advertisements that say “Free Solar Panels” or “Pay $0 for Solar Panels and Installation”. If you are one of the skeptics out there who thinks this sounds like a scam, this article may help you to understand what customers are actually getting when they sign up for no cost solar panels and installation.

In a nutshell, if  you choose a power purchase agreement (PPA), like our RateGuardian(TM) PPA, or a solar lease, we will put solar panels on your roof for no money down (free) but you will not own the system. We will design and install what is essentially a mini power station on your roof or on your property at no cost to you and then sell you the electricity it produces at a lower rate than what your utility company charges you.

Large, national solar companies offer PPAs and leases too but their agreements usually include a rate escalator so although your rate will initially be lower, your electricity costs will still rise. The difference between the large solar chains and independently owned and operated Solar Energy World is that our company gives you a choice of a fixed rate or an option with an escalator. Depending upon the option you choose your rate should be at least 20% lower than what you paid for electricity before going solar.

Since never-ending utility rate hikes are a fact of life, this is considered a no-brainer for homeowners on a budget because essentially they pay absolutely nothing to lower their energy bills.

Is leasing a solar system or going with a PPA better than owning one?

Solar leases and PPAs are a wonderful option because they make it possible for almost any homeowner to go solar, even if they do not have any cash to purchase a system.  However, many homeowners have found it is more beneficial financially for them to own their solar system because they can see a substantial return on investment.

If a homeowner decides to buy a system they not only save on energy costs as soon as the system is operational, but they also begin to generate profits from the excess energy their system produces and can take advantage of tax credits and grants. Plus they can sell their SRECs (solar renewable energy credits) to earn even more income. In fact, on average a purchased home solar system generates a 125% return on investment in 5-7 years. By year 20, homeowners are earning a 500% return on investment.

Many of Solar Energy World’s customers who own their solar system now pay $0 for their electricity due to the ROI it provides. To see video testimonials of homeowners who purchased a solar system and now have a net zero energy homes, click here.

It’s also less difficult to purchase a solar system then many people think it would be. Buying a solar system is similar to purchasing a car. Most people do not pay cash for a car and most people do not pay cash for a solar system. Solar Energy World offers financing for purchase including an option where a customer can go solar for $0 down and just have low monthly payments.

The difference is that a car’s value depreciates as soon as you drive it off the lot. A solar system starts going up in value as soon as it is online.

Most of Solar Energy World’s customers own their solar energy systems, primarily because we have been in business since 2009 and we just began offering the PPA in 2015. However the number of homeowners who are deciding to go with our PPA is growing quickly because they don’t have to put any money down to begin saving immediately.  Plus if they ever decide to sell their home they will benefit because on average solar panels increase a home’s resale value by almost $6000 per installed Kilowatt.

The bottom line is there might be a free solar panel scam lurking out there, but it isn’t coming from any reputable solar company like ours.

If you would like to know if your home is eligible for solar or if you qualify for a PPA, Lease or Purchase with financing, go HERE or request a free, no obligation solar evaluation by filling out the form below. The detailed evaluation you will receive includes a cost benefit analysis so you will have all the facts to help you decide whether going solar is right for you and which financial option would benefit you the most.

Fill out the form below to learn if you qualify for solar. We can’t wait to hear from you!

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Do You Really Get Enough Sun for Solar?

How your roof’s azimuth angle effects solar panel efficiency.

There is a lot more that goes into what makes a roof ideal for a solar panel system than most homeowners realize. Even if you believe you have enough sunlight hitting your roof to go solar, we may still determine it does not. Although your home may have sunlight that hits a section of your roof at particular hours of the day, it’s possible it may not produce enough electricity due to its azimuth. The wrong azimuth angle reduces the energy output of a solar panel array down to 35%.

Your roof’s azimuth, or it’s orientation relative to magnetic North, and it’s slope, or tilt, determines how much sun you can collect over the course of a year. A South-facing roof will receive more sun than a roof facing any other direction, and a flatter tilted roof will generally produce more than a steep one. The same goes for your property if you are interested in a ground mounted system. The physical size of the system is governed by your roof’s dimensions. Once we know that, we can determine how many panels your roof will actually fit. Solar panels are rated in Watts, just like your light bulbs, except in the case of solar panels, they produce, rather than consume, electricity.

Solar energy production is based on the panel size multiplied by the number of sun hours your roof receives. Solar panel dimensions are, on average, about 3’ by 5’. However, the power rating of panels can range from 250W to over 320W each, based on size and brand. The amount of electrical energy that a system produces over the course of a year is called kilowatt-hours, or kWh (the same unit that’s on your electric bill), and it is determined by the power of the array in kiloWatts (1000W=1kW), and the number of hours your roof or property receives full sun, as discussed above.

In general,  a one kilowatt of solar panels produces about 1,000 kilowatt hours (kWh) of electricity a year. So the total size of the system will be based on the number of solar panels required to produce enough electricity to equal or exceed your power usage. For example, if you use 20,000 kWh a year (from your electric bill), you’ll need a system that is roughly 20kW to meet your needs.

Sadly, some companies will still sell solar panel systems to homeowners that will not produce enough sunlight to offset the cost of a system – thus making the system extremely expensive and inefficient. However, Solar Energy World will never do that. We prefer to install fewer solar systems that will actually save money for our customers, to installing solar systems to anyone who asks us.  We want what we install to work at the optimum level for our customers. Our integrity is one of the main reasons why we are the fastest growing, locally owned solar panel system design and installation company in Maryland.

How Solar Energy Can Help the Economy

One of the many benefits of solar power is that the industry has the potential to help boost the economy. But how exactly could this happen, and what is the reasoning behind this statement?

For current pricing on solar panels and installation click HERE.

Solar Creates Jobs

A demand for solar power means that more materials will need to be manufactured, and more systems will need to be designed and installed. These tasks all require skilled and specially trained employees, which means that higher demand for solar power will lead to job growth in the renewable energy sector. In fact, various news sources have recently reported that job growth in the solar energy industry has outpaced the overall growth rate.

Solar Power Reduces Energy Dependence

A buzzword in the recent election was “energy independence”. The sun belongs to no one, and its energy is present everywhere. The sun cannot be taxed or tariffed, and once your solar panels are installed, there are no price fluctuations or negotiations about the cost of fuel. Solar energy is not owned or supplied by any entity in particular. Therefore, using the sun to our advantage is a step toward energy independence.

Solar Power Saves Money

No one enjoys paying bills, and your electric bill is probably a large expense. The cost of heating and cooling your home will make up the largest portion of your energy bill, and, depending on how energy efficient your home may be, the heating or cooling system may be running most of the time. These necessary expenses add up quickly, and that means that homeowners have less of their hard earned money to spend on other goods and services, because it must be paid to to gas and electric companies.

Solar power can free up more spending money, because it can significantly reduce or eliminate an electric bill. This means that homeowners that choose solar will have more money to spend, instead of being tied to rising electricity rates. Just imagine how much money could be saved by homeowners with a home solar system, and an electric vehicle!

Solar history: Bell Labs and the first modern silicon solar cell

Technological advances, such as updates to the photovoltaic cell,  continue to push solar energy forward and help it join mainstream society. Perhaps the largest breakthrough in thrusting solar energy onto the main stage was the invention of the modern silicon solar cell, which by all accounts, was a mistake.

Early inventions paved the way for the modern silicon cell, most notably by French physicist A. E. Becquerel in 1839 who discovered the photo-electric effect- the birth of the photovoltaic cell.  It was in 1883 that the first cell was built by Charles Fritts. These cells used a layer of gold to form junctions and were about 1% efficient.

A few iterations later, the modern silicon cell was stumbled upon by Bell Labs in 1954. While researching semi-conductors, scientists realized that when silicon was combined with certain “impurities” it became highly sensitive to light.

Daryl Chapin, Calvin Fuller and Gerald Pearson, all of Bell Labs, converted the accidental discovery into the first practical device that converted sunlight into energy, the beginning of modern solar energy. Dubbed a solar battery, the first modern silicon cells debuted by powering a toy windmill and a radio, reaching an efficiency level of 6 percent.

The silicon cells became the basis for launching the solar energy industry. One year later, Western Electric licensed commercial solar cell technologies, and in 1957 the three scientist received a U.S. patent for a “Solar Energy Converting Apparatus.”

Shortly thereafter, in March of 1958, the scientists at Bell Labs reached true “stardom,” as the U.S. satellite Vangard I was launched with solar panels. This use of solar energy helped to spur government investment into solar energy, further bolstering the creation of the solar energy industry.

Today, new technology is starting to eclipse the use of the silicon cell, but many solar panels you see still use, or are based on, the silicon cell model as a means of converting natural sunlight into clean energy.

Solar history: Alexandre Edmond Becquerellar

Born in Paris, Edmond Becquerel (1820-1891), a French physicist in 1839, is known for his studies in the solar spectrum, magnetism, electricity and optics. He is best known for his discovery and unraveling the key principle to solar energy cells, the photovoltaic effect. He received his doctorate from the University of Paris, and eventually took a professorial position at the Agronomic Institute of Versailles. He was especially interested in phosphorescence and luminescence, chemical reactions caused by exposing certain substances to light. In the1840s he found that these reactions could produce an electric current in both liquids and metals. The connection between light energy and chemical energy was seized upon by many scientists in the following years, and research has led to the development of the photoelectric cell.

Photovoltaic effect

The photovoltaic effect is the basic physical process through which a photovoltaic cell converts sunlight into electricity. Sunlight is composed of photons which are packets of solar energy. These photons contain different amounts of energy that correspond to the different wavelengths of the solar spectrum. When photons strike a photovoltaic cell, they may be reflected or absorbed, or they may pass right through. The absorbed photons generate electricity.