“If it sounds too good to be true, it probably is” and “buyer beware” are both old clichés that we have all heard from our elders at some point in our lives. Well, when it comes to buying a small home solar system, we have members finding out that the sage advice should still be heeded today.

There is a vendor hawking home solar systems to Cherryland members that for legal reasons needs to remain nameless in this column. However, the problems that members are encountering warrant a strong warning to everyone.

First, this vendor is NOT anyone who resides in our region. Our region boasts many local installers of home solar systems that are reputable, legitimate and doing honest work with products that bring claimed results. The vendor I am talking about operates on a statewide and national basis like the snake oil peddlers of eons ago.

This entity is sitting down in member homes and making promises that simply are not and will not come true. They are promising solar production and a payback on your investment that is only designed to make a sale. The promises are not based in a reality that involves Cherryland’s actual rates or the region’s actual solar production.

You can find a YouTube video of the company CEO claiming that snow, clouds and generally gloomy days will not have any impact on the solar production of their panels. Any solar installer with an ounce of integrity will tell you that solar production will be limited during our long winter days. They will base the majority of projected returns on the other nine months of the year.

We have members telling us that once the salesman is inside their home, the pitch is relentless. Their goal is to not leave without making a sale because they don’t want to come back. Their business model is based on getting a commitment and moving on to dupe someone else. The honest vendors in our area don’t mind coming back or letting you think about your decision. It is easy for them to follow up because they live here.

The online reviews for the snake oil vendor are great. They encourage their potential customers to look at all the happy customer comments on the web. Please don’t fall for this trick. Ask for the names and numbers of real people within your home county who are using the product. The fly-by-night companies are promising gift cards for good online reviews. Then, after the review is completed, the gift cards are rarely seen.

In other columns, Cherryland has talked about the advantages of large-scale solar projects. I still stand by all the advantages and success of utility-scale installations. However, I also care about every member and am fully aware of the desire of some to have solar on their home. This column should not discourage that desire in any way. My goal today is to simply give members warning that not every vendor can be trusted.

If you are considering installing solar on your home, feel free to call Cherryland’s Energy Use Advisor, Tammy Squires. She is available to you at no cost and can explain our various programs and help you evaluate any proposals you are considering.

Please heed the warning of “buyer beware” and take the time to do your homework. We have a great network of trustworthy vendors in our region. Please seek them out and don’t buy the “eliminate-all-future-electric-bills” promises that some are selling. Your pocketbook will appreciate it and your parents will be happy you remembered the old advice.

Need help choosing the right solar installer for your home? Click here to learn more!