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Fact Checked

Are Solar Panels A Scam or the Future of Energy? Here's the Answer

Are solar panels a scam? Find out what the good and bad are about solar panels from our team at SmartSolar.org.
Solar Panels
6 minutes
Written by:
Joey Cheek
Updated on:
January 4, 2023

Solar panels: are they a scam? Many people are curious about whether solar panels are effective, how they operate, and why they are a good choice. With the help of a solar panel, you can convert the energy from the sun's rays into power for your house. Solar panel technology is sound; it is true. Although solar panels are not a scam, there are some drawbacks to using them that you should take into account. There are some misleading facts about them that you should be aware of. SmartSolar can assist you in choosing the best solar panel option for your needs. Here are seven things you must know before investing in solar.

1. Do Solar Panels Work?

A solar system is a device designed to capture the sun’s energy. When direct sunlight strikes the surface of the solar cells, this creates a current within the solar panel. That current is then moved into your home, where, after being converted into a usable form of electricity, it can be used to power your home, including meeting your heating and cooling needs, powering your electronics, and anything else you need. The U.S. Department of Energy says that solar panels are a cheap and reliable way to make electricity.

2. Free Solar Panels doesn’t mean Free Power

Installing solar panels on your house will enable you to start producing electricity to power it. When you do this, solar systems will cost you money, either as a one-time fee or as a series of repaid loans.

There is no way to get solar panels for nothing and then keep them. Let’s talk a bit further about how this works.

You must install solar power on your home and purchase solar panels from a solar company if you want to own solar panels for your house. They can be bought by paying a fee up front or using solar financing, which allows you to pay back the cost over time.

What if you want your solar panels installed for free? If you do not want to pay upfront costs for solar power, you may be able to secure a power purchase agreement through a solar lease. 

In this case, the solar power company will maintain ownership over the solar panels. They will install solar panels on your home, which they will then maintain. You then make a payment to the solar power company for the amount of energy you use at a much lower cost than what you may have paid to the utility company.

This is not a solar panel scam. Many people can avoid paying up front and receive free solar panel installation in this manner. Yet, you are not getting free power—your power purchase agreement will outline what you will pay to access solar power.

3. Can You Save Money on Solar Panels?

There are a number of ways to save money when you install a solar power system on your home. One of the most important ways to do that is through the federal tax credits available. This will not let you get free solar, but it will allow you to reduce your power bill through the use of solar and help to lower your federal taxes. Here is what you can expect from solar energy tax credits like this:

You install solar panels on your own property; you cannot use a solar leasing company for this. Depending on the year you put up solar panels, you might be able to get a tax credit. That credit may be up to 30% of the amount you spend to install solar panels on your home. That amount is then applied to your federal income tax, reducing your tax liability dollar for dollar.

Though some solar scams promise free solar or a tax credit that eliminates the cost of installing a system outright, that is not accurate and not likely to be available. However, tax credits will reduce costs and make installing solar panels more affordable for you.

4. Is Net Metering Real?

Another thing that some people may worry about is whether or not net metering is real. With net metering, you can sell the extra solar power that your solar panel system makes back to the utility company. If your panels produce more electricity than your home needs, that extra electricity can be routed to the electrical grid. 

The utility company, if they agree to these terms, can then pay you money or reduce your electric bills further. Representatives can give you more information about whether this is available in your area as well as tell you how much you can save.

5. Can You Save Money Using Solar Power?

Solar power can save money. Even if you use solar leases or solar financing, you can reduce the amount you pay on your electric bills in most cases. One of the reasons for that is that solar energy comes from the sun; you do not pay for access to it. 

After the initial cost of installing solar panel systems, you are then able to get all of the power you need to meet your energy needs from the solar panels on your home. Though you need to make sure the solar panel system meets your energy needs, you are likely to see your power bills fall or even disappear after the upfront cost.

6. How to Protect Yourself from Solar Panel Scams

Solar panel scams are out there, and you do not want to fall victim to them. Solar panels installed on your home can be a very good thing, as they provide a way to take advantage of clean energy. The solar power industry is growing, and with that come some people who may not be as honest. If you are considering any solar companies or solar installers, it will be important for you to choose the right provider. Here are some tips to allow you to tap into green energy:

  • Learn as much as you can about the solar providers, including looking at the Better Business Bureau to ensure the company is legitimate.
  • Avoid companies that use high pressure sales tactics. Solar energy can sell itself since it can help you to lower your costs. You don’t have to trust a door to door salesman who comes to your door. Do your research about the solar providers yourself.
  • Ask the company how much your electricity bill will be. Find out how much the kilowatt hour will cost you if you enter into power purchase agreements PPA with a solar leasing company.

You Have Questions, and We Can Help

SmartSolar can help you avoid solar energy scams by helping you learn everything you need to know about the solar industry and solar panel companies. Let’s talk about the solar market in your area and how we can save you money over paying utility companies for energy usage. Contact us today or take the SmartSolar quiz to learn more.

Joey Cheek

Meet the author:

Joey Cheek

Joey Cheek spent 10 years on the US National Speedskating Team where he competed in two Olympic Games, winning gold, silver, and bronze medals. He attended Princeton before diving into the startup and tech world. In 2011 he launched a livestreaming platform for sports before leading a team of engineers building next-gen news and content apps for Fortune 100 companies. He is the CEO and co-founder of SmartSolar.org, whose mission is to move the earth to cheap, abundant, carbon-free energy.

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