8 Ugly Truths About Solar

Two phrases we hear sometimes are “What’s the catch?” and “Sounds too good to be true.” Solar is growing all over the world, but some solar contractors will breeze right past the facts to get a sale.

We truly believe that all solar is a good thing, but we’re all about education and transparency. So let’s put the cards on the table.

1: Solar panels don’t always produce as much power as they are supposed to.

There’s plenty of light in the sky, but does solar catch it all? Depending how your system is built, or what type of panels you buy, it may not. There are a few reasons this might happen. Using a string inverter instead of microinverters, using panels with too much hardware covering the solar cells, or energy lost through inefficient wiring are examples of why this might happen.

Here at Auric Solar, we dumped those problems years ago. We offer a Production Guarantee on each system we install. Just one way that we do what we say we’re going to do. You’ll get lifetime monitoring and customer service for your solar array, so you don’t have to wonder if it’s working – you can see for yourself anytime.

2: Solar panels are ugly and make your roof look like an industrial power plant.

One of the worst feelings is hiring a contractor to work on your home, and ending up with something you can’t be proud of showing off. It’s true – not all solar panels are created equal. Check out this circa-1979 solar panel on display at our office:


Yes, vintage is “in”, but still… you might not want a couple dozen of those on your roof. Unfortunately, many modern panels still have that 70’s fashion going for them:


Now compare that to our newest black-on-black residential solar panel:


Big improvement? Well, that’s up to you to decide.

We’re in the business of helping people and the planet, but we don’t sacrifice aesthetics to get there. We do sexy solar here at Auric! 

3: Solar is expensive, and taking on debt is bad.

Solar isn’t free. And trying to get away with cheap solar always ends up costing more in the long run, to clean up after corners get cut. It’s true – you may need to invest a pretty penny to get solar done right.

But consider this: how much money are you going to spend on your electric bill? Think of your last year’s worth of power – how much did it total up to be?

What would you rather have done with that money? What would you do with over 20 times that number saved up?

You bought your home so that you could stop paying a rent check. A mortgage isn’t “bad debt” because it’s something you use every day, and it has a final payment somewhere down the road. Solar is the same thing. Stop paying a power bill and start investing in your home.

4: Solar won’t increase the value of my home – in fact, it’s harder to sell a home with solar on it.

As we’ve said before, not all solar is created equal.

If the installer did a sloppy job, it could detract from the visual appeal for potential buyers. Or, it could be something you can’t see from the outside, like the fine print on a lease or PPA. And sometimes appraisers or inspectors simply don’t know how to calculate what solar does, so they just write “zero”. These will all do more harm than good, as far as resale value goes.


Here’s the good news – the real estate industry is getting more savvy about solar. There are a number of studies that show solar improving home value. Best of all, the value is often proportional to the investment or higher, unlike other renovations like tearing up your kitchen or bathroom. Ask your lender if they have a green-certified appraiser to properly evaluate your home with all the energy-efficiency upgrades. We may be able to refer you to one if needed!

Furthermore, Auric Solar uses an exclusive network of top-notch financing providers, so don’t worry about assuming a lease. Many of our customers who have sold their homes paid off the remainder of the solar loan, with cash to spare. No strings attached.

5: The ROI numbers don’t always pan out.

Solar systems of the past took 25 years or more to get the numbers to jive. Even today, if you live in an area with very low utility rates, it could take a while for the math to look good. If you plan to move in the next year or two, it’s unlikely that solar is the best use of your money.

Now, when it comes to calculating return on investment, you have to consider apples to apples. So, what’s the ROI on a rent check? That’s a 100% bona-fide never. Even those old solar systems have a positive ROI, as opposed to a nonexistent one.


Because of incentives and improved technology, the average solar customer can expect a payoff in 10 years or less. If you pay a high power bill, it’s probably closer to 5 to 7 years.

6: Utility rate increases aren’t as bad as some solar companies make it seem.

In most parts of the country, the power company is either a corporation or a co-op. As demand grows, they will adjust to remain operational, but they aren’t going to double your rates overnight. And if you don’t use gigawatts of juice, you may not have much to worry about, in the grand scheme of things.

But let’s get real. Has your power bill ever gone down? (That is, without you turning off every breaker in the house.) How many times in the last 10 years have you been notified of impending savings from the power company, as opposed to impending rate hikes?

20 years ago, would you have locked in gas at $1.50 a gallon, if someone had offered? With a solar payment, you can lock in your rate for good.

7: Solar incentives don’t cover the whole cost of the system, and they’re being reduced further.

The Renewable Energy Tax Credit (IRS Form 5695) returns 30% of the total system cost as a tax credit. It will be reduced to 26% in 2020, then 22% from 2020 to 2022. Some states and local utilities have additional incentives, with similar expiration dates.

For example, Oregon had a state tax credit of $6000, but they cut it off cold turkey in 2017. Utah’s state tax credit was similarly high several years ago, and now it’s capped at $1600. And that’s assuming you still pay income taxes – the truth is, you might not be able to claim anything. Check with an accountant if you’re not sure.

In short, you will generally get around 35-40% of the total cost covered through incentives. The average homeowner needs to have some way to pay for the remainder of the cost. But that’s where our financing comes in. As long as you qualify for the incentives in your area (we can help - act now!), you’re looking at paying around the same average monthly bill or lower. No change in your budget or lifestyle to go green.

8: Advances in technology will render all past and current solar obsolete.

There is really, really fascinating research happening all over the world. Right now, scientists are working with materials you can hardly pronounce to build a future we can barely conceive of. Are we close to someone inventing a spray-on solar cell that instantly powers anything it touches? We have flying electric cars already, so who knows!

That being said – why wait and see?  In 10-15 years, even if solar costs half as much or becomes twice as efficient, you will spend 10-15 years paying power bills for no reason.

Solar technology today is stable and will last for decades. Incentives are good right now. And it doesn’t look like Mother Earth has much wiggle room left for human society to drag its feet going renewable and sustainable. So let’s do this together!


We hope you enjoyed reading up on the facts about solar. We’re here to help to paint a realistic picture about solar for you and your situation. Call us today.

Solar is a good thing, and Auric is here to make it work.