Tips to Avoid Solar Scams

Tips for Avoiding Scams and Selecting a Contractor

As the solar market expands, so do the tactics of dishonest salespeople. Installing solar panels is a significant decision and investment. It's crucial to partner with a credible contractor.

Austin Energy encourages the adoption of solar energy by offering rebates and incentives to customers who use approved participating solar contractors. Only these approved contractors are permitted to assist you in accessing Austin Energy's solar rebates.

10 ways Austin Energy customers can protect themselves and save money on solar:

  1. Seek out an Austin Energy participating solar contractor. To be eligible for Austin Energy's solar rebates, you must work with one of these approved companies.
  2. Research the Company: Before engaging with any solar company, conduct thorough research to determine its credibility. Look for reviews, check its website, and verify its credentials.
  3. Check that the Electrician is Licensed: Ensure the contractor holds a valid electric license, which is critical for safely and legally installing solar systems. Verify these before proceeding.
  4. Take the Austin Energy Solar Education Course: This course can help you in the solar buying process. It covers topics like utility services, solar system design, and financing options. It’s also a required part of the $2,500 residential rebate. Get solar smart!
  5. Ask Questions: A reputable company will answer your questions. Austin Energy has created a helpful list of questions to ask potential solar contractors.
  6. Analyze the Financing: Be cautious of deals that promise “free solar panels” or “$0 down.” Understand the financing terms and evaluate them carefully.
  7. Evaluate Warranty and Maintenance Services: Scammers may offer inadequate warranties or maintenance services. Make sure you understand what’s included.
  8. Beware of Unrealistic Promises: Scammers often promise huge savings or incentives that seem too good to be true.
  9. Check for Local Permits: Legitimate installers obtain necessary permits. If a company avoids this step, be wary.
  10. Trust Your Instincts: If something feels off, trust your gut. Seek a second opinion or consult with a trusted advisor.

Remember, scammers often prey on those who want to go solar but lack knowledge. Stay informed and protect yourself.

  How to Spot a Solar Scammer

  1. They contacted you.   
    When you reach out to a business, you know who's on the other end of the line. However, when someone contacts you first, you can't be certain they're telling the truth.  
  2. They make extreme claims. 
    If claims sound too good to be true—like completely eliminating your electric bills or promising off-grid living—they probably are. Austin Energy customers remain connected to the grid and will continue to receive electric bills.
  3. They give you misleading incentive information.
    Anyone claiming that you can go off grid in Austin is misinforming you. However, Austin Energy does offer a $2,500 rebate for eligible residential customers and electric bill credits for solar energy production.   
  4. They want money upfront for the full amount of a project. 
    Only pay for fully completed work, including all required city inspections.  
  5. They want your personal information.
    You should be on high alert whenever anyone asks for your personal information—such as bank account details or your social security number. Do not give it away quickly or easily, especially to someone you don't know well, as you may become a victim of identity theft.

Need Help or Have Concerns?

If you suspect fraud or have a complaint about a contractor, you can file a complaint with:

Learn More

Visit these additional resources to become more familiar with Austin Energy’s solar incentives, and information for consumers.

Date last reviewed or modified: 07/01/2024