Common Residential Solar Myths and How to Overcome Them

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As a solar professional, you know that many homeowners in your area can benefit from a solar system.

Sadly, often they don’t know that.

And it’s not only lack of solar knowledge that keeps them from contacting you, responding to your outreach, or going solar.

It’s often one or more solar “facts” they assume are true:

“I can’t afford to go solar.”

“It’ll be harder to sell my home if it has solar panels.”

“The installers will drill holes in my roof—you can’t tell me that won’t damage it!”

“Sure, solar panels might start out productive, but they’ll get less efficient and need too much maintenance over time.”

“My area’s too cloudy/cold/snowy/dark for solar panels.”

Heard any of these before?

We thought so.

Of course, you already know that none of these so-called “facts” are true. On the contrary, going solar is one of the best financial moves many homeowners can make.

But it can be difficult to reassure prospective solar customers of that. After all, they’re rightfully concerned about making such a major decision for themselves and their house.

So we created this guide for solar installers to educate solar prospects on the truth behind five of the most common and harmful solar myths. Being prepared to address these misconceptions will help you allay leads’ unfounded concerns respectfully and convincingly, earning their trust and helping them to understand the many benefits of going solar.

1. Myth: “I can’t afford to go solar.”

Fact: Solar prices have dropped 70% since 2010.

This is probably the most common myth solar installers hear from concerned homeowners.

And just ten years ago, those homeowners were probably right; residential solar was often prohibitively expensive until the 2010s. But today, solar costs are lower than most people think (having dropped by 70% just since 2010).

Even though solar is much more affordable today, prospects may have heard stories of unscrupulous solar companies that have presented misleading numbers and pressured people into solar purchases that didn’t make sense for their personal financial situations.

So don’t judge solar prospects for being wary of solar’s financial benefits.

Instead, inform them about how technological innovations over the past decade have enabled reductions in both hard costs—like PV module prices—and soft costs, like solar design and installation.

And don’t just inform them.

Show them, with an individualized presentation, that not only are installation costs lower but also incentives (including new state-level clean energy policies) and diverse financing options can help them go solar in a way that works for their budget:

  1. Use a highly accurate solar design program to easily create and present a realistic system’s energy production on your prospect’s individual rooftop.
  2. Estimate how much solar will save your prospect with a thorough, powerful financial modeling tool—one that takes into account how much current solar incentives and net metering policies will save them over the system’s lifetime.
  3. Discuss their financial options: up-front (cash) payment, solar loans, leases, and power purchase agreements. Most homeowners don’t have to pay the entire up-front cost, and can see their systems pay for themselves within 6-9 years.
  4. Remind them that through 2020 they can save 26% on their solar costs with the Solar Investment Tax Credit (ITC), but that the residential ITC is scheduled to phase out by 2022.
  5. Finally, don’t just depend on your own testimony—gather and showcase enthusiastic online reviews of your former customers who are thrilled with their solar savings.

Once you’ve clarified the current costs and savings of going solar with such detail, your newly well-informed prospects will be much more comfortable making this major decision.

Extra Solar Myth-busting: Should I Wait?

Myth: “If solar panels are always getting cheaper, shouldn’t I wait until their price bottoms out?”

Fact: Solar hard costs have already dropped as much as they’re going to with current technology, especially considering the ongoing ITC phase-out.

2. Myth: “It’ll be harder to sell my home with solar panels.”

Fact: Homes with solar panels tend to sell faster and for 4% more.

Residential solar prospects sometimes worry that the appearance or cost of solar panels could lead to trouble selling their house down the road.

You can alleviate these worries by showing them this 2019 study by leading real estate marketplace Zillow, which revealed that solar homes in the U.S. sell for an average of 4.1% more than their non-solar counterparts.

Even back in 2015, when solar costs weren’t as low as they are now, a study by the U.S. Dept. of Energy revealed that solar systems increased home sale prices by an average of $15,000 for a 3.6 kW system (about $24,000 for a 5-6 kW system.)

Show concerned homeowners this study and note its further conclusion that solar homes sold more quickly than comparable non-solar homes.

This trustworthy data will help your prospects see that when they’re ready to sell their home, solar panels can make it more convenient as well as more profitable.

Pro Tip:

When presenting this information, remember to inform prospects that different financing options may impact the ease of their solar home’s sales process.

If they’re considering an option other than cash financing, remind them to ask their financing provider about their policies for transferring the loan, lease, or PPA to a subsequent buyer.

3. Myth: “A solar system would damage my roof.”

(Or “My friend’s cousin’s roof started leaking after they got solar panels!”)

Fact: With proper installation procedures and precautions, solar roofs remain safe and sound.

The idea of holes being drilled into their roof—on purpose—understandably spooks some solar prospects. Perhaps they know someone whose roof started leaking or letting in drafts after they went solar, and are wary of installers who assure that it won’t happen to their roof.

Of course, flat roofs require no holes to be drilled at all. And if penetration-free solar systems are a good fit for a particular prospect’s property, let them know if you offer relevant options such as ground mounts or ballasted racking.

But traditional roof solar panels still present the best option for many homeowners, so here’s how to help them realize that:

  1. First, ensure that you and your team are indeed providing the best services. This includes not installing solar on old roofs, damaged roofs, or other poor roof fits.
  2. Recommend that prospects complete any needed roof repair or replacement before installing solar panels.
  3. Explain the process (simply) to your customers. Once they understand the basics of a proper roof-drilling procedure, they’ll be reassured that the process will keep their roofs safe from damage and leaks.
  4. As with Myth #1, third-party social proof goes a long way towards allaying prospects’ anxieties. Positive reviews and glowing testimonials from your happy rooftop customers will let homeowners know that their roof is in good hands.

This establishes trust by showing them that you’re not rushing them towards a decision—you’re genuinely concerned about their long-term benefit.

4. Myth: “As my solar panels age, they’ll get less efficient and need too much maintenance.”

Fact: Solar panels require very little maintenance and stay productive for decades.

Since solar PV systems are unfamiliar to many people, homeowners often assume that they malfunction easily, need frequent maintenance, and lose significant efficiency over their lifespan—thus leaving solar customers with more expenses and larger electric bills.

Fortunately for you and your prospects, these are all misunderstandings. Just as fortunately, you can easily explain the reason in a single sentence: Solar panels have no moving parts.

With no moving parts to malfunction or get worn out, solar systems are not only low-maintenance (probably more so than your prospects’ HVAC systems or cell phones) but also very long-lived. Share these facts with customers:

  1. Your solar panel suppliers’ warranty (Most solar panels are warrantied to produce at over 80% efficiency for 20+ years)
  2. Efficiency reductions from solar panel degradation are less significant than they may expect. Current solar panels will maintain near-consistent energy production for decades.
  3. Even less advanced solar panels installed in the 1980s still produce significant energy today.
  4. Solar panel maintenance is minimal, typically requiring only that panels remain unshaded. Usually, prospects will just need to keep their panels clean of dust, leaves, or heavy snow (depending on your area) and trim shading branches.

5. Myth: “Solar energy is unreliable—my area’s too dark/cold/cloudy/rainy/snowy/shady/etc.”

Fact: Solar panels still produce electricity in cloudy weather and long, snowy winters.

As always, be honest with your prospects: solar systems won’t produce as much energy on a cloudy day, in shade, or in winter. (And none at night.)

But honesty includes letting them know that modern solar panels are 50-80% productive even under clouds and rain, and are worth the investment even in snowy climates. (For example, solar is growing exponentially in Germany, the upper Midwest, and New England.)

Of course, the irradiance of every individual house is affected by a unique combination of different factors—sun exposure, climate, shade, and more.

So the best way to convince individual homeowners that solar is worth it for them, in particular, is to create an accurate 3D model of their property to determine its irradiance. This model must account for all possible factors that will affect their system’s energy production; the right design program will make this much easier (and 30x) faster than you might think.

Extra Solar Myth-busting: Solar Grid Connection

Myths:“Will I have to go off grid with solar?”

“Won’t I be able to go off-grid with solar?”

“Won’t my solar system will give me power during a blackout?”

Fact: No to all three questions, unless your prospects are willing to buy batteries (energy storage).

Homeowners may choose to add a battery backup to their solar system to keep the lights on during a blackout, but let them know that battery systems can cost between $5,000 and $15,000.

How to Inform Prospects

Now that you have all the resources to dispel these solar myths, it’s time to share the realities of going solar with your prospects. But as always, effective communication isn’t just about what you say—it’s how and when you say it.

Here’s a quick guide to sharing these solar facts:

1. Be Proactive

Don’t wait for prospects to ask about these myths before sharing the truth. Some homeowners may be too shy to ask, or be driven away by false solar beliefs even before they contact you.

So instead of letting them take the lead, take it yourself:

2. Share Online

Homeowners almost always research solar energy and local installers online. Don’t let this opportunity go to waste—you can reach thousands of prospects with website articles, FAQ pages, and social media posts that debunk solar myths.

3. Show Evidence

Don’t just assume that prospects will take you at your word. After all, you are selling solar, and they know you’re an interested party.

Instead, make sure to back up your claims by sharing the trustworthy resources and research, such as those we’ve linked to in this article. Even better, showing how and why you’re making certain recommendations and estimates can help build trust.

4. Respect Their Concerns

As a solar professional, you’re intimately familiar with the facts behind these five myths. It might get tiring to explain them over and over again, but remember that prospects don’t realize you’re doing that—to them, these worries are always brand-new.

So never condescend, no matter how obvious the answers seem to you. Treat their objections seriously and patiently—they’re right to ask questions about solar’s long-term effects on their finances and home.

5. Create an Accurate Solar Model—and Tailored Proposal—for Their Property

General solar knowledge and statistics are a great start. But in the end, each homeowner’s main question is, “How will solar help me, in particular?”

The most convincing answer is a clear, detailed presentation that showcases accurate, individualized physical and financial models for your prospect’s home and lifestyle.

If these design and financial models clearly account for everything that might influence a particular solar system’s potential, they will do more than anything else to show your prospect the concrete, tangible benefits of going solar.