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what to ask a shady solar salesman

acrobaticnurse_Eli | Posted in General Questions on
After being told by two different solar companies via email that upon looking at my property online there was too much shade to merit further discussion, I’m curious to have gotten a call from ADT Solar. When I asked why they considered my property to be a good fit as they claimed given that other companies said I had too much shade the salesman on the phone said “due to the darkness of our panels shade isn’t an issue”. I was tempted to hang up right then, but since no more honest company will even talk to me I’m curious what I can learn from them visiting me in person next week. I would have felt better if they said that they use microinverters or optimizers to better manage shade, rather than claiming their black panels can absorb photons in the shade without any issue. 

I’m hoping whoever shows up in person will be able to provide more intelligent information and not just make up a story as to why I should give them money. When I google them it seems ADT Solar is a reputable solar company but I suspect I won’t be giving them any money and am still questioning if it’s worth giving them any of my time. I’d be interested in solar but am unsure my roof can support more than a 1-2kw system without getting into shade issues unless/until trees are trimmed or I add a shed/carport with panels. 

What would you ask a solar salesman if you’re trying to see what solar power is viable for your address, making sure you get reliable information vs lies?


  1. rockies63 | | #1

    I would have a look at some of the videos from Julian Todd Borden on Youtube. He talks about what to watch out for when dealing with solar salesmen and companies.

  2. nynick | | #2

    Having talked to more than a few solar companies and meeting with them to give me quotes on my home, I can tell you this industry is rife with used car salesmen and people only interested in commissions. It's the unregulated wild west out there so be careful. Educate yourself on youtube and elsewhere.

    It's pretty easy to just eyeball your site on a daily basis to see what kind of sun you've got. Southern roof exposures are best, but east and west roofs can work well too. You need 4-8 hours of unshaded sun to generate a good amount of electricity. Companies will cover your entire roof: North south east and west to try to get the Kw's you want or need. I have substantial shading west and no roof facing south, so I'm limited to east. Still, I can get an 8-9 Kw panel system up there.

    These guys want you to hurry up and sign, finance the system, transfer the rebates, own the systems and "pay" you for what you generate. They have all sorts of confusing and convoluted ways for you to pay for the equipment. Think about it like leasing an expensive car you can't afford to buy. It's an expensive way to look like you can afford something you shouldn't buy in the first place.

    Do you homework. Make it work to your advantage instead of theirs.

  3. acrobaticnurse_Eli | | #3

    Thank you both for the advice. I watched several of Julian's videos in preparation for today's meeting. The person that would actually come look at my house for solar called at the appointment time to say they did some pre-work and think with the number of trees I have solar would never make financial sense and that they'd hate to cut the number of trees I would need in order to make it work. He said if I just really wanted solar and didn't care that it would double my bill vs saving money they could figure something out, but that it wouldn't save me anything.

    When I told them what the person on the phone said he said the initial caller's main job is simply to get him to come to the house and then it's up to him to see what makes sense. I'm glad at least he didn't pretend otherwise. Other companies never even scheduled an appointment with me because they looked at satellite images first.

    The initial ADT person that called me also looked at satellite images and described my house to me, but he was set on getting the appointment. Thankfully the person who would have come to the appointment didn't want to make the 45 minute drive to see me ;-)

    1. seabornman | | #4

      My installer brought a device up on the roof that detected possible shading.

      1. acrobaticnurse_Eli | | #5

        That would be helpful. I see that solmetric makes the SunEye 210 and 360 for that but wonder if any local solar installers use something similar. It would seem especially useful for measuring the potential of a spot where a shed or solar car port has yet to be built so the placement can be optimized. When I asked the installer over the phone today they claimed to not know of any way to measure the potential of a roof not yet built, but the suneye 210 specifically says it's designed for that with the extension platform.

        Net metering is about to change in my area to the degree that a grid tied solar setup that would have zeroed out my bill in the past would only reduce my bill by half, while I would still have the cost of the solar setup to contend with, so I wonder how solar will progress in my area over the next few years.

      2. Andrew_C | | #6

        @seabornman - are you saying that your installer was bald?

        JK, I hadn't previously read about devices like the SolMetric products.

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