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Jim Bryant
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Location: Piedmont Region of North Carolina
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Hello,

Can someone please tell me their experiences with "Solar TEK" for selling and installing their solar panels for them? We are thinking about using the franchise out of Asheville, NC and are looking for unbiased reviews.

Thank you,

Jim
 
Cristo Balete
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Location: In the woods, West Coast USA
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These are some points to keep in mind, in general, kind of a reality check, when signing a contract with any solar panel leasing company. The main issue that is unresolved is that homeowners who lease panels may be considered a "power producing company" like a sub for the solar panel company, and may be taxed accordingly. See number 10 below, and read all you can about the lawsuit in Arizona.


-----------------

1. To get state or gov refund/rebate (if there is one) panels have to be owned by homeowner and it has to be a professional installation, which can be over $5,000, depending. Leased panels don't qualify.

2. Power companies aren't obligated to buy solar power from homeowners, so if the law changes having panels for grid production only may become obsolete

3. leasing the same panels for 15 or 20 years leaves the homeowner with old technology. Homeowners should be able to sell and upgrade whenever they want, because after all, the whole point is to use the most efficient solar power available.

4. Tesla owner, Elon Musk, says he's working on a new solar panel that will change the technology. Just one more clue that technology is in its infancy and will change rapidly.

5. Living in a rural area where the power goes out, sometimes for long periods after big storms, cuts down on how much power is available to sell.

6. Solar panels by themselves don't require maintenance. So when the leasing company says they will "take care of the panels" they know there won't be anything to do.

7. The selling phrase often used is "Sun Hours" (which are essentiall daylight hours) absolutely DO NOT EQUAL the hours of sunlight that a panel will be able to use. It's one of the first selling points that the solar company sales people mention. The sun needs to be almost directly on, or directly on the panel for it to be able to pull in decent wattages, which means in the winter from 10:00 AM to 2:00 PM, and in the summer from 9:00 AM to maybe 4:00 PM depending on the setup. If the fog doesn't clear until 11:00 or noon it's lost hours, which happens very often in the summer.

8. Solar panel trackers are famous for breaking after just a few months of use, so they are not recommended.

9 Paper wasps LOVE to put nests under solar panels. Ouch! Birds of prey love to sit on the top edge with scratchy talons and poop on the panels. Packrats and mice love to chew on the wires connecting the panels, so all wires should be completely encased. Often they are not because they are manufactured as "weather proof" - not rodent proof.

10. Leasing panels may result in having to pay taxes on money received for producing power. Arizona has a lawsuit regarding leased panels on residential houses are not owned by the homeowner, therefore the homeowner is participating in a business activity by allowing a business to use their roof for a business's panels, therefore they should start paying business taxes on any money they make, and p
ay taxes regarding producing power, which removes it from being a homeowner exemption.

11. Power companies have a tier system that pays the homeowner different amounts of money depending on the time of day. They pay the least during the most direct sun hours of the day. These tier amounts can change daily, if not hourly. They are entirely at the power company's whim.

12. Read the contract very, very carefully. Then research online other contracts for other companies and see how it compares. There are solar forums where people disuss their specific situations which will give you an indication of how it really is to be tied into a long-term contract.
 
Jim Bryant
Posts: 55
Location: Piedmont Region of North Carolina
food preservation forest garden
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Cristo Balete wrote:These are some points to keep in mind, in general, kind of a reality check, when signing a contract with any solar panel leasing company. The main issue that is unresolved is that homeowners who lease panels may be considered a "power producing company" like a sub for the solar panel company, and may be taxed accordingly. See number 10 below, and read all you can about the lawsuit in Arizona.


-----------------

1. To get state or gov refund/rebate (if there is one) panels have to be owned by homeowner and it has to be a professional installation, which can be over $5,000, depending. Leased panels don't qualify.

2. Power companies aren't obligated to buy solar power from homeowners, so if the law changes having panels for grid production only may become obsolete

3. leasing the same panels for 15 or 20 years leaves the homeowner with old technology. Homeowners should be able to sell and upgrade whenever they want, because after all, the whole point is to use the most efficient solar power available.

4. Tesla owner, Elon Musk, says he's working on a new solar panel that will change the technology. Just one more clue that technology is in its infancy and will change rapidly.

5. Living in a rural area where the power goes out, sometimes for long periods after big storms, cuts down on how much power is available to sell.

6. Solar panels by themselves don't require maintenance. So when the leasing company says they will "take care of the panels" they know there won't be anything to do.

7. The selling phrase often used is "Sun Hours" (which are essentiall daylight hours) absolutely DO NOT EQUAL the hours of sunlight that a panel will be able to use. It's one of the first selling points that the solar company sales people mention. The sun needs to be almost directly on, or directly on the panel for it to be able to pull in decent wattages, which means in the winter from 10:00 AM to 2:00 PM, and in the summer from 9:00 AM to maybe 4:00 PM depending on the setup. If the fog doesn't clear until 11:00 or noon it's lost hours, which happens very often in the summer.

8. Solar panel trackers are famous for breaking after just a few months of use, so they are not recommended.

9 Paper wasps LOVE to put nests under solar panels. Ouch! Birds of prey love to sit on the top edge with scratchy talons and poop on the panels. Packrats and mice love to chew on the wires connecting the panels, so all wires should be completely encased. Often they are not because they are manufactured as "weather proof" - not rodent proof.

10. Leasing panels may result in having to pay taxes on money received for producing power. Arizona has a lawsuit regarding leased panels on residential houses are not owned by the homeowner, therefore the homeowner is participating in a business activity by allowing a business to use their roof for a business's panels, therefore they should start paying business taxes on any money they make, and p
ay taxes regarding producing power, which removes it from being a homeowner exemption.

11. Power companies have a tier system that pays the homeowner different amounts of money depending on the time of day. They pay the least during the most direct sun hours of the day. These tier amounts can change daily, if not hourly. They are entirely at the power company's whim.

12. Read the contract very, very carefully. Then research online other contracts for other companies and see how it compares. There are solar forums where people disuss their specific situations which will give you an indication of how it really is to be tied into a long-term contract.


This is great... I will use it ....
Oh by the way. My experience with SolarTEK?
 
Cristo Balete
Posts: 428
Location: In the woods, West Coast USA
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I don't have experience with Solar Tek, but installing solar panels is not all that complicated for a grid-tie system. Their contract terms are the most important thing. The roof mounts do go through the roof and tie to the rafters, so you need to have a really good roof and framing.

I guess you saw this on their information page,

Floridians for Solar Choice Constitutional Amendment

and it looks like you should wait to find out how this turns out before committing to anything.

I think on their FAQ page they have left it vague about the rebates you get. I believe, if you read the wording in the government or state conditions for the rebate you must own the system. Their FAQ page does not mention this. Unless something is different in Florida, I'd make them put it in writing about rebates on a leased system.

The people I know who have signed grid-tie contracts for leased panels are rarely disappointed by the installer, (like Solar Tek) but are quite disappointed by the power company that buys the power. Power companies have got it rigged so that they can change it at any time, and there are so many levels of how they pay it makes everyone crazy. It's kind of like having a variable interest mortgage, you never know from month to month, year to year how it's going to change. Sometimes the power company is not even up to speed to buy the power in some remote places. And if the law in Arizona changes that makes leased panels a business, then other states will join in and everyone in a long-term lease will be facing changes they never imagined.

If you want an off-the-grid system, then you need to do your homework and find out what panels are good quality, whether you want them on the roof or on the ground (which I prefer), and what kind of batteries last the longest, and what kind of inverters and controllers are good quality. I don't like controllers that only use green, yellow and red lights. They don't tell you enough. I think we need to know the voltage in digital form at any given time. The batteries need to be in a separate building from the inverter and controller because they off-gas.

I've owned panels for 15 years and they are basically trouble free. You can buy panels and sell power to the grid, you don't have to lease them. There's almost always somebody willing to buy used panels if you want to upgrade.
 
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