Addressing the Top Concerns of Potential Solar Customers

Solar power has experienced a surge of interest in recent years. It’s eco-friendly and reduces the need to rely on fossil fuels. This renewable energy source provides homeowners the chance to cut down on their electric bill and potentially make a profit selling their excess solar energy back to utility companies.

However, many Americans still have concerns regarding the technology. Understanding the basis of these requires learning about the history of solar power.

The History of Solar Power and How It Relates to Modern Concerns

Scientists discovered the photovoltaic (PV) effect in 1839, but didn’t fully understand its potential until 1905. This ability to use solar cells to harness the sun’s power and convert it into electricity gained government attention during the space race in the 1950s. Still, it only became commercially available and widely promoted in the 1970s. Despite the passage of the Energy Tax Act in 1978 and its commercial investment tax credit (ITC), many Americans did not feel motivated to shift to solar power. 

The early 2000s saw a resurgence in PV support as political leaders recognized the country’s reliance on foreign oil. President G.W. Bush established the Energy Policy Act in 2005 to bring energy policies to the 21st century and reintroduce the commercial and residential ITCs.

The government has extended these credits over the years, with the most recent one set to expire at the start of 2022 unless Congress renews it.

While our understanding of solar energy has existed for over a century, the technology itself is continuously adapting. Solar panels have a somewhat high startup cost, but can pay for themselves over time. As a result, they have only grown in popularity over the last 50 years. 

In 2019, only 6% of U.S. homeowners had installed solar panels. [1] That’s why many Americans still have various questions and concerns about the process. As an industry expert, you can use your knowledge to help your customers feel confident about their decision.

Top Solar Power Concerns

It’s natural for people to have questions before making any significant change. Here are 12 major concerns you’ll want to address with your potential solar customers.

1. They Believe It’s Too Expensive

Cost is one prominent concern when homeowners ask about solar power. The prices associated with installing solar panels vary in each state. Several factors affect the initial cost, such as product brand and government incentives. Nationwide, the government offers 22 to 26% ITCs to those who install PV systems before 2022. [2] However, these perks differ at the state level. Depending on your client’s state, they may be able to save even more during the initial investment.

When discussing money, it’s always best to give your customer the facts. In the last decade, the cost to install solar has dropped by more than 70%. For the average homeowner, that equates to approximately $20,000 investment cost pre-incentive. [3]

That’s still a considerable amount for most homeowners, so emphasize the savings they’ll gain from investing. On average, they would be able to save between $10,000 and $30,000 over their PV system’s lifetime. [4] Consider walking your client through their unique breakdown to show the figures relating to their purchase.

2. They Worry About Roof Damage

Most roof leaks occur in areas where items protrude from the roof. Since many PV owners opt to have their solar panels installed on the roof, it’s natural for homeowners to feel concerned about damage. 

There are several ways to resolve this worry. First, consider installing the panels adhesively. This method will allow the benefits of a PV system without drilling into the roof. If your company does not offer adhesive attachment, address what your insurance policy covers on the rare chance a leak occurs.

Licensed, trained professionals know how to install solar paneling without damaging the roof. However, you should still discuss ways to tell if the roof is leaking, so your client can spot any potential problems and alert you immediately. 

3. They Question the Efficiency

Some customers may ask about the capabilities of current solar panels. In the mid-2000s, the average PV system was only 10% efficient. [5] However, modern panel capability has increased drastically and will only continue to grow. Still, when people hear a product isn’t 100% efficient, they may immediately wonder how much energy their system is losing.

It’s essential to remind potential customers how much money they will save by harnessing the sun’s rays to power their home, even without maximum efficiency. Provide the facts for your region, and emphasize that even low-efficiency models are useful.

4. They Feel It Will Ruin the Property’s Aesthetic 

Adding solar panels to a home changes the exterior aesthetic, but it may not be as dramatic as a property owner envisions. Advancements in solar panel tech have enabled companies to develop solar panels that look like roofing shingles to create a near-seamless finish. It’s also possible to install the PV system on another area of the property.

Ultimately, your client’s change could trigger interest and envy from their neighbors. The investment proclaims they’re environmentally conscious, money savvy and forward-thinking. As an industry leader, focus on the positives and express options for making the integration feel natural on the property.

5. They Think It’s More Hassle Than It’s Worth

Some people believe the myth that going solar is a lot of trouble. The relatively significant startup costs and high-tech installation seem overly daunting, so they refuse to learn more. When you meet a potential customer who feels this way, start by calming their fears. Mention interesting facts and statistics, but also stress the low risk involved. 

A professional company can take care of the installation without disrupting the homeowner’s daily schedule. Some setups are a one-day project, while others will take a bit longer. Discuss the average length of time the entire process would take to help homeowners put the situation into perspective. After all, what’s a day or two of their time compared to 25 years of potential savings?

Remember to keep things simple to ensure they don’t become overwhelmed. If your company handles everything from installation to utility grid approval, stress your full-service approach. Once customers learn how straightforward the process can be, they’ll be much more likely to consider your proposal.

6. They Expect Something Better Will Come Out

Every year, technology advances, so systems will inevitably improve. However, that will always be the case. It’s like any other appliance or piece of technology — at some point, you have to buy if you want to enjoy the benefits. To encourage potential customers to commit to the change, emphasize the governmental ITCs. If they purchase a PV system, they know the available advantages — if they wait, they face the unknown and risk thousands in potential savings.

You can also point out that with technological advancements and inflation, the cost of installing solar panels may rise over time. Be persuasive, but honest. They could be waiting indefinitely for the best version to release. The longer they delay their decision, the longer they must wait to enjoy the benefits.

7. They Assume It’s Impractical for Their Region

If you live somewhere that sees a lot of overcast, rainy days, potential customers may be questioning how much value they’ll gain from solar panels. In this situation, it’s best to evaluate the facts. In regions with shade, extreme heat or snow, the system will be less efficient — it will still produce electricity, but not as much as it would in ideal conditions.

In the U.S., Washington and Oregon are two of the cloudiest states. However, PV systems in these locations still produce electricity and save homeowners thousands of dollars during their lifetime. Potential customers may find they can still enjoy the benefits, despite living in a region that gets less sunshine.

Emphasize how quality installation can optimize the panels to have the most significant impact. Professional installers have the know-how to choose specific angles to harness maximal solar energy. 

8. They Intend to Sell Their House

If homeowners eventually plan to move, they’re likely questioning why they’d want to make such a significant investment. Reassure them by explaining how solar panels can increase the property’s value by almost $10,000. [6] The owners could recoup their investment and profit from the arrangement when they sell.

In many ways, it will also provide the homeowners with a trial run to decide how they like operating on solar power. When they choose to buy their dream home, they’ll already know what to expect and what they might like to do differently. Perhaps on the next house, they’ll switch to another brand or upgrade to a more extensive solar array, so they can sell the excess energy back to the utility companies.

Homeowners can also choose to install PV systems on rental properties. They can enjoy long-term savings, even while renting their properties to other people. If they decide to install the panels, you should make them aware that separate rules apply regarding claiming ITCs for rentals.

9. They Lack an Understanding

When you simplify the matter, one of the most outstanding issues you’ll experience is people who don’t understand how PV systems work. After all, solar panels are still rare enough that they may not know anyone else who has invested in this green technology. As ownership grows, you’ll face clients who are more familiar with the process. In the meantime, encourage people to do research related to their area. Take the time to make your discussion educational and streamline the process for them. Clarification will ease their concerns.

Knowledge is power. Teaching others can help them appreciate the practical value of investing in solar energy. With honesty, you’ll gain their respect.

10. They Fear Weather Will Damage the Investment

If the potential customer lives somewhere that frequently experiences storms and extreme weather, they may be concerned about damage to their investment. Luckily, most homeowners’ insurance policies cover solar panels as part of the home’s permanent structure. Many PV systems also come with an extended warranty.

If it would ease the client’s concerns, ask them to contact their insurance company before proceeding with the sale. Or, save everyone time by providing a list of all the major insurance companies that cover solar panels as part of their policy.

11. They Wish the Average Lifespan Was Longer

Some people are under the impression that solar panels are the investment of a lifetime — and will last equally as long. However, solar panels have an average life expectancy of about 25 to 30 years before they begin to malfunction. [7] When customers learn this, they may question if it’s a worthy investment. 

It may be helpful to compare the system to a car. Even used cars can cost upwards of $20,000 and typically need replacing after only 10 years of driving. When you frame the situation using this comparison, a PV system’s lifespan suddenly looks much more worthwhile.

Use this as an opportunity to highlight that most setups pay for themselves in less than a decade, and after that, it’s pure savings. [8] Fifteen to 20 years is a substantial amount of time, and homeowners would save thousands of dollars before replacing the panels.

12. They Want Something Low-Maintenance

Many consumers mistakenly believe PV systems are high-maintenance. As a professional, it’s merely a matter of assuring them that the most upkeep they’ll need to do is regular light cleaning to remove dust and debris from the panels. Many weeks, rain may even take care of this step for them!

Additionally, the solar panels’ heat will melt any snow that falls, so homeowners can enjoy staying indoors and not having to undertake the risky task of sweeping snow off the roof during those cold days.

Solar Power Will Bring a Brighter Future

When discussing solar power with potential customers, remember to address these 12 concerns. You’ll put your clients’ worries to rest before they can compromise the sale. Keep in mind that PV systems are still relatively new for residential use, so it’s natural for customers to have plenty of questions. Your knowledge and experience will be reassuring to those who are beginning to explore the technology.

Resources:

1. https://www.pewresearch.org/fact-tank/2019/12/17/more-u-s-homeowners-say-they-are-considering-home-solar-panels/

2. https://www.energy.gov/sites/prod/files/2020/01/f70/Guide%20to%20Federal%20Tax%20Credit%20for%20Residential%20Solar%20PV.pdf

3. https://www.seia.org/solar-industry-research-data

4. https://www.solar-nation.org/can-switching-to-solar-panels-save-me-money

5. https://www.nae.edu/7620/OrganicSemiconductorsforLow-CostSolarCells

6. https://www.cnbc.com/2019/10/05/solar-power-can-boost-a-homes-value-in-these-10-states-the-most.html

7. https://greencoast.org/solar-panel-lifespan/ 

8. https://insideclimatenews.org/news/11062019/rooftop-solar-net-metering-rates-renewable-energy-homeowners-utility-state-law-changes-map

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