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Question DetailsAsked on 2/20/2015

Vivint Solar say they can reduce elect. bills by adding solar panels to my home. Any thoughts or experiences?

They contacted me as my home is 100% electric, and my bills are horrible. BBB reviews are not good. Is this legit, or just a scam. Solar in New England doesn't seem like a great option.

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Here is what is probably the link for the Vivent office that contacted you, out of Franklin Ma - Here are a couple of links about the company, which is backed by Elon Musk - the shall we say flamboyent head of Tesla cars and SpaceX - sort of a Donald Trump type character and one who personally strikes me as likely to end up with the same checkered commercial history. The Solar part of the company has 76 BBB complaints in the year or so it has been in business in Utah - did not find a BBB link to the Ma branch. The mother company Viventhas an impressive 3400+ complaints on the website - presumably mostly from the door-to-door security system business (previously APX alarm systems), which generated a LOT of complaints claiming overbilling and false advertising, as well as bad products. You say they contacted you, rather than you contacting them - that is your first red flag. Also, as you say, you are not in a prime area for solar, and buying into such a system (either purchase or lease) commits you to a Major long-term investment that typically takes at least 20+ years to pay off, so even if it did work out to be economic in the long term, unless this is guaranteed to be your forever house you personally would not see the benefit, as in most areas a solar system on a house is a negative rather than a positive come resale time because most people do not want the maintenance costs and reliability issues and hassle of the dual system. Other factors include the fact that most promises about energy savings turn out to be based on highly optimistic and unrealistic assumptions about energy costs in the future and on negligable maintenance cost, ignore the fact that panels have to be cleaned FREQUENTLY to maintain anywhere near their rated output, and in the case of a leased system requires that any buyer assume the lease - and a few I have seen still kept the original signer on the hook for the system cost until paid off, even if the house has been sold to someone else. Also, if put on anything but a brand new roof, you have the issue of having to remove and reinstall the system when the time comes to reroof. With flat-lying systems (as opposed to elevated tilted-up ones), because they shield the roof from the sun, its life drops off substantially and you run the risk of roofing deterioration due to constant moisture and moss growth in the shade of the panels. My recommendation - even large commercial power systems with excellent maintenance are just barely beginning to be economic, and there are many many articles and reviews out there of promises on residential systems falling flat - so I would recommend against it, particularly if you are at all likely to move every 3-5 years like the majority of people do. Add into that the BBB reviews (and AL and Yelp etc) and ....

Answered 5 years ago by LCD

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