The Truth About “Free Solar” Marketing

You know the saying — “nothing in life is free.” I’ve always been a little torn on that one. On the one hand, there’s much in life that’s free. On the other hand, you do actually have to put in effort of some sort or another to make the most of life and appreciate what you have.

But when it comes to consumer products, yes, “free” is definitely a trick of some kind. Sort of. Sometimes.

And that includes “free solar.” Sort of. Sometimes.

The thing is, solar panels are obviously not free. Solar panels cost a chunky wad of cash. Ads about “free solar” are clearly not being literal. If you don’t put down up front the several grand or more it costs to get a rooftop solar PV system, then you most likely pay for it over the course of years or possibly even decades. That’s not free.

On the other hand, it doesn’t have to literally be true to be true. “Free solar” is not actually as deceptive as it might seem on the surface.

You have to pay for electricity, from some source or another. It doesn’t fall out of the air and land right in the socket of your laptop or Tesla Model 3. Normally, people pay their utility company for all of their electricity. If you get rooftop solar power, perhaps you pay a bank that loaned you the money for the system or perhaps you pay a solar company that leases you the system or sells you the power. The idea of “free solar” is that you are getting solar power for nothing — or actually saving money — if you pay less for the electricity from that solar system than you would pay your utility in a more common setup.

Since the price of solar dropped off a cliff in recent decades and then kept tumbling lower and lower into a crater of unbeatable opportunity, “free solar” may be clickbait in a literal sense but it may actually be pessimistic when you look at the big picture. A more realistic way of looking at the topic may be that solar can save you money.


In any case, I seem to be back at my dilemma. Does “nothing in life is free” make sense here or does it miss the point?
Solar Savings vs Costs

The story doesn’t end with pedantic philosophy, though. “Solar costs a lot but can possibly save you money” doesn’t really tell you what you need to know. The thing is, people often look around for generic, simple truths, but some matters are just too variable and personal for generic claims. Solar definitely fits that bill.

Whether solar can save you money depends on how much electricity you use, how much you pay for electricity, how much sunshine lands on your roof, how much of that roof can safely host solar panels, how much solar installers in your area cost, and probably other factors.

The thing that is both challenging and wonderful about the solar industry is that this is a hyper localized matter that has to be evaluated by a human or five on a location by location basis. The wonderful thing about this is that it creates a lot of great jobs for our fellow Americans across the country. The challenging thing is that you can’t just order a rooftop solar system on Amazon in a few moments. You need to actually have professionals look at your specifics — and usually your roof — before you can get details on costs and savings.

So, back to “free solar” marketing — I can’t tell you generically if your rooftop solar system would be free, would be costly, or would save you a boatload of cash. Anyone claiming to offer you free solar before actually getting your info is pulling your chain with some deceptive marketing. Get around all of that by getting some genuine, local solar installers to look into your story. You can start that process in a few seconds via the short form on the side of this article.


July 10, 2018

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