At Ipsun Solar, we have been crestfallen to see the many households and employees hurt by Pink Energy’s closure and bankruptcy. Without warning, the seemingly friendly and dependable installer left a massive number of solar systems inactive while customers were already owing payments with few options for help, many now resorting to legal means to be made whole.
No one could see this coming, but hindsight could help savvy future solar customers stay on the lookout for some warning signs of a solar company on a downbound path.
Here are 6 tips that just might help someone avoid getting duped by a sketchy solar company headed for a crash.
Warning sign #1:
What’s in a name? Choose a company with a title that isn’t trying to fool anyone. When PowerHome Solar, the previous name of Pink Energy, came on the scene, their chosen moniker was awfully similar to a remodeling contractor active in some of the same service areas. At one time the two firms even had similar looking websites, adding to the confusion. Intentional? Maybe. Concerning? For any reasonable customer, yes. To some it looked like the solar installer was trying to capitalize on the builder’s good reputation and pose as its solar spinoff division. Ipsun Solar coined our own name from scratch, and it’s a nod to a Latin phrase that translates roughly as “your own” because that’s what solar panels do – make your own energy.
Warning sign #2:
High worker turnover and signs of overworked (and maybe underpaid) crews. It came out in the maelstrom of news coverage of the Pink Energy collapse that as the company headed into its downward spiral it was unable to hire qualified personnel for nearly every department, from initial intake and sales reps to rooftop technicians and electrical professionals.
Perhaps attractive pay wasn’t on offer there, or perhaps word had already spread that the inevitable end was near. We list staff bios here on our website because our employees boast impressive numbers of years on the job in our industry and customers are benefiting from their knowledge and experience with all the components they use, housing stock in the area, and even familiarity with their coworkers to make every install better quality and more efficient. Their long tenure is directly linked to the speed and accuracy with which they do their work in the field and keeps Ipsun on track to build systems on time.
Warning sign #3:
Lack of training and dishonest practices, from management to electrical to sales. Every action by a staff member reflects on the company. It’s unthinkable to us that there could be such disregard at every level – failure to set realistic expectations in the pitch to go solar upfront, dropping the ball on any help for what to submit for tax credits (more on that later!) and even sketchy (and dangerous) substandard wiring on systems.
Mistakes happen from time to time across all solar installers. It’s a feature of the industry – combining various brands of home energy storage, inverters, panels and racking systems has its challenges, and every home presents different quirks. But it’s a different thing if a company just consistently can’t bring their new hires up on how to do their jobs, and luckily that’s a problem that’s easy to spot and Ipsun has never had. Find testimonials from clients in a wide range of home types and residential areas and see where your installer has a pattern of strengths (or weaknesses).
Warning sign #4:
Not BBB accredited, or lapsed, or bad reviews outnumber the satisfied ones. This is simple but potential customers still overlook it: Reviews platforms allow for pleased and disgruntled customers to loudly share their joys or woes. While a few unhappy stories are to be expected (and have a way of showing the legitimacy of the good ones) there’s a difference between that and a deluge of people with serious complaints. Check Google reviews!
Warning sign #5:
Is your hype meter going off? Enticing offers vs. untrue claims. These days many of us are distracted and it seems that only by resorting to sensationalism can we attract the audience’s attention. Where’s the line between putting a timely and accurate pitch in front of the customer, and misleading someone with a wild claim about what solar can do? There’s a real human solar marketer writing this post, so here’s one example of what I say, what I don’t say, and why:
”There’s a federal tax credit for 30% of the cost of your solar installation. Depending on your taxable income and what you owe, if you have liability it will be reduced. It means there will be less dollars you have to pay when you file.”
It’s not that complicated! Even self tax-prep software now points out where to claim the solar credit and what form to complete and what to attach (it’s Form 5695, it’s pretty simple, and the 2022 version is linked here.)
“You’ll see a zero bill – or only service fees?” Sure, maybe the customer will find that their utility costs have pared down to nothing or only the minimum charges, but the emphasis on that rather than the flat reduction in electric bills is a problem. There is always uncertainty and new appliances, changes in habits, and even the weather from one year to the next can make that bill go right back up. Sometimes the savings from solar are hidden by changes in usage. What matters is solar production, which is visible 24/7 in the customer’s monitoring app and always there to prove the system is working as intended.
Warning sign #6:
Is the CEO a larger-than-life character, or truly involved on the ground? Meet Herve, co-founder and CEO of Ipsun Solar.
He doesn’t look much like defunct Pink Energy’s head Jayson Waller, who, it’s been reported, appears to show little remorse for the over 30,000 customers with faulty or non-existent solar systems, and spent outlandishly on cars and stylish clothes as his business tanked.
What else separates Ipsun Solar’s Herve Billiet from the Jayson Waller type of exec? Herve comes across as an engineer and a typical middle-class home services provider because he is.
If you want to prevent your company from spinning out of control, we’d say one of the best ways is with a CEO who has a hand in everyday operations and never acts like they are above the fray or out of the know when it’s time to address any sudden problems before they become lethal.
We’re here to answer your questions
If the Pink Energy meltdown has shaken your confidence in going solar, we’re here to help restore it. Solar technology and equipment are proven to work as intended and millions of happy solar users attest to the energy savings. There are stable, well-run solar installation businesses all over the world including our region with a vast majority of positive client reviews. You can be a solar success story too, just steer away from shady solar sales tactics and shoddy installation practices, and we’ll see you for an Ipsun Solar consultation soon!