Are We Getting Scammed with Solar?

Undecided with Matt Ferrell
23 Apr 202414:18

TLDRIn this video, Matt Ferrell addresses the controversy around solar panels by examining five common criticisms. He explains that while solar panels do generate less power on cloudy days, they still produce a significant amount of energy due to diffused light. Ferrell also discusses the financial viability of solar, emphasizing that it depends on various factors including electricity rates, installation costs, and available incentives. He counters the notion that solar is only for the wealthy by highlighting community solar projects and the option of DIY installations. Lastly, he acknowledges that solar costs can vary greatly by location, comparing the high costs in the US to more affordable options in Australia, where streamlined permitting processes help keep prices low. Ferrell concludes by stating that the decision to go solar is a personal one, influenced by individual motivations and circumstances.


  • ๐Ÿค” The author questions if he was scammed with his solar panel system based on critical comments, and decides to analyze these comments objectively.
  • ๐ŸŒž Solar panels do generate electricity even on cloudy or overcast days, acting like a diffuser for light and producing a consistent, albeit lower, power output.
  • ๐Ÿ’ก The efficiency of solar panels varies by location, with New England experiencing lower peak solar hours in winter compared to summer.
  • ๐Ÿ’ฐ The cost-effectiveness of solar panels depends on various factors including electricity rates, installation costs, incentives, and personal financial context.
  • ๐Ÿ  The author emphasizes that the decision to install solar panels is personal and depends on individual goals, such as energy security or environmental concerns.
  • ๐Ÿ“‰ Some commenters argue that solar panels are a scam due to high costs, but the author points out that the value of solar also lies in non-financial benefits.
  • ๐Ÿฝ An advertisement for Factor, a meal delivery service, is included, highlighting the author's positive experience with the service.
  • ๐Ÿ’ผ The author discusses the 'rich people' argument, noting that while solar can be expensive, there are programs available to make it more accessible.
  • ๐Ÿก Community solar projects are mentioned as an alternative for those who can't or don't want to install solar on their property.
  • ๐Ÿ› ๏ธ DIY solar panel installation can save money by eliminating labor costs, but it requires personal time and comfort with electrical work.
  • ๐ŸŒ The author acknowledges that solar panel costs vary dramatically by location, with the US often being more expensive due to higher soft costs like permitting and inspections.
  • ๐Ÿ“‰ The US solar market is currently more expensive compared to some other regions, like Australia, which has a more streamlined approval process for installations.

Q & A

  • Do solar panels only work efficiently in areas with a lot of sunlight?

    -Solar panels do require sunlight to generate electricity, but they can still produce power on cloudy or overcast days. Overcast days act as a diffuser, leading to a more consistent, albeit lower, level of power generation throughout the day.

  • How does the performance of solar panels on cloudy days compare to sunny days?

    -Solar panels perform better on sunny days, but they still generate electricity on cloudy days. The light is diffused, resulting in a softer-edged shadow and more consistent, albeit reduced, power output.

  • What is the impact of seasonal changes on solar panel efficiency?

    -Seasonal changes affect the number of peak solar hours received by solar panels. For example, in New England, the average peak solar hours are lower in winter at 2.99 hours per day compared to summer at about 4.27 hours per day.

  • Is it true that solar panels are not cost-effective?

    -The cost-effectiveness of solar panels depends on various factors including local electricity rates, installation costs, available incentives, and personal financial goals. It's a personal decision that requires individual analysis.

  • What are the factors that can make solar panels more accessible to people who are not wealthy?

    -Solar programs offering low or no interest loans, community solar projects, and the option to lease or own a portion of a communal solar farm can make solar energy more accessible to a wider range of people.

  • Why might someone choose to install solar panels even if the financial return is not the primary motivator?

    -Some people value the energy security and independence that solar panels with battery backup can provide, or they may be motivated by environmental concerns and the desire to generate electricity from a non-fossil fuel source.

  • What are the advantages of a DIY approach to solar panel installation?

    -A DIY approach can save money by eliminating labor and market costs. However, it requires personal time, comfort with electrical work, and the ability to troubleshoot any issues that may arise.

  • How do solar panel costs vary by location?

    -Solar panel costs can vary dramatically by location due to differences in the cost of goods, labor, permitting, inspections, and other factors. For instance, the US tends to have higher soft costs associated with bureaucracy and permitting processes compared to places like Australia.

  • Why might the cost of solar panels be higher in the US compared to other countries?

    -In addition to hardware costs, soft costs such as labor, permitting, inspections, and company overhead contribute to the total cost of solar panels. The US has more bureaucratic processes for permitting and approving solar installations, which can increase costs and wait times.

  • What is the significance of location in determining the cost and effectiveness of solar panels?

    -Location affects solar panel costs due to differences in local economies, regulations, and available incentives. It also influences effectiveness based on the amount of sunlight the panels receive throughout the year.

  • How does the author suggest evaluating whether solar panels are a worthwhile investment for an individual?

    -The author suggests considering personal financial goals, local electricity rates, installation costs, available incentives, and the value of energy security and independence. It's important to analyze these factors within the individual's specific context rather than relying on broad generalizations.



๐Ÿค” Evaluating Solar Panel Investment: Scam or Worth It?

Matt Ferrell addresses viewer comments suggesting he was scammed by investing in solar panels. He outlines five common criticisms and aims to analyze them objectively. The first issue raised is the effectiveness of solar panels in various climates, which Ferrell counters by explaining that even on cloudy days, panels can still generate electricity due to the diffusing effect of cloud cover. He also discusses the importance of location regarding solar efficiency, using his home in New England as an example to illustrate seasonal variations in solar production. Ferrell emphasizes that the value of solar panels depends on multiple factors, including regional electricity costs and available incentives.


๐Ÿ’ฐ The Financial Breakdown of Solar Panel Systems

The second theme revolves around the financial viability of solar panels, with critics arguing that the costs outweigh the benefits. Ferrell acknowledges the financial considerations, including loan costs and alternative investments. He stresses the importance of context when evaluating solar panel investments, such as local electricity rates and available incentives. Ferrell also highlights the non-financial benefits of solar energy, such as energy security during blackouts and the desire for a non-fossil fuel energy source. He mentions community solar projects as an accessible alternative for those who rent or prefer not to install solar on their property.


๐Ÿ› ๏ธ DIY Solar Panels: Savings and Personal Investment

Ferrell discusses the DIY approach to solar panel installation, noting that it can save money by eliminating labor costs. However, he also recognizes that not everyone is equipped to take on such a project and that there is value in professional installation and the accompanying warranties. He compares the DIY solar experience to building a custom PC, where the lack of a single point of contact for issues can be a drawback for some.

๐ŸŒ Geographical Pricing Variations in Solar Panel Costs

The final theme addresses geographical pricing differences in solar panel systems, with Ferrell noting that costs can vary dramatically by location. He uses the example of Australia, where solar panel costs are significantly lower due to streamlined permitting processes and lower soft costs. Ferrell points out that soft costs, including labor and permitting, contribute to higher prices in the US. He calls for a more standardized system to reduce costs and waiting times, and acknowledges that while he may not have been ripped off based on his region's costs, there is room for improvement in the US solar market.



๐Ÿ’กSolar panels

Solar panels are devices that convert sunlight into electricity through the photovoltaic effect. In the context of the video, solar panels are discussed as a means of generating renewable energy, with the script addressing common misconceptions about their effectiveness and cost.


A scam refers to a dishonest scheme or fraud designed to deceive individuals for financial gain. In the video, the term is used in the context of questioning whether the purchase and installation of solar panels constitute a scam, addressing criticisms and providing factual information to debunk misconceptions.


Cost-effectiveness refers to the ability of a product or service to deliver value relative to its cost. In the video, the cost-effectiveness of solar panels is analyzed by comparing the initial investment with long-term savings on electricity bills, considering factors such as location, incentives, and financing options.

๐Ÿ’กDIY (Do It Yourself)

DIY, or Do It Yourself, refers to the practice of completing tasks or projects independently without professional assistance. In the context of the video, DIY solar installation is discussed as a potential cost-saving measure, with the script acknowledging both the financial benefits and drawbacks of this approach.


Location refers to the geographical placement or area where something is situated. In the video, the significance of location is highlighted in relation to the cost and effectiveness of solar panels, with different regions having varying levels of sunlight, local regulations, and associated costs.

๐Ÿ’กSoft costs

Soft costs are non-material expenses incurred during the installation or implementation of a project, typically including labor, permits, and administrative fees. In the video, soft costs are discussed as a significant factor contributing to the overall expense of solar panel installations, particularly in comparison to other regions with streamlined processes.

๐Ÿ’กCommunity solar projects

Community solar projects involve shared solar installations that enable multiple individuals or entities to benefit from renewable energy generation. In the video, community solar projects are presented as an alternative to rooftop solar panels, providing access to solar energy for renters or homeowners who cannot install panels on their properties.

๐Ÿ’กEnergy security

Energy security refers to the assurance of a stable and reliable energy supply, often achieved through diversification of energy sources and infrastructure. In the video, energy security is cited as a motivating factor for investing in solar panels, particularly for individuals seeking independence from traditional utility providers or backup power during blackouts.

๐Ÿ’กValue proposition

A value proposition is a statement that articulates the unique benefits or advantages of a product or service to its target audience. In the video, the value proposition of solar panels is explored in terms of their financial savings, environmental impact, and energy independence, with considerations for individual preferences and priorities.


Regulations are rules or laws established by governmental or administrative bodies to govern behavior, standards, or practices within a particular industry or jurisdiction. In the video, regulations are discussed in relation to the permitting and approval process for solar panel installations, highlighting differences between regions and their impact on costs and timelines.


The video discusses whether solar panels are a scam and if the host was scammed with his solar panel system.

Solar panels work even in areas with less sunlight, producing electricity on cloudy and overcast days.

Overcast days act as a diffuser for sunlight, leading to more consistent, albeit lower, power generation.

The host's solar panel system still generated 43kWh on a very overcast day and 14kWh on a gloomy, rainy day.

In New England, the average peak solar hours vary from 4.27 hours per day in summer to 2.99 hours in winter.

The cost-effectiveness of solar panels depends on local electricity rates, installation costs, and available incentives.

The host's December solar production was 748.8 kWh, despite lower winter peak solar hours.

The value of solar panels is subjective and depends on personal goals, including energy security and environmental impact.

Solar panel systems can provide power during blackouts, offering an alternative to diesel generators.

Community solar projects offer an accessible option for those who rent or prefer not to install solar on their roof.

DIY solar panel installation can save money but requires personal time and expertise.

The host appreciates the paradigm shift that allows individuals, not just utilities, to generate their own electricity.

Costs for solar panel systems vary dramatically by location, with factors including local goods, labor, permitting, and inspections.

Australia has a more streamlined permitting process for solar installations, resulting in significantly lower costs.

The US is working on a standardized system to reduce costs and wait times for solar installations.

The host will provide a detailed analysis of his new home's solar system once he has enough real-world data.

The decision to install solar panels is personal and should be based on individual motivations and circumstances.