What is Blue Raven Solar?
In an industry of soon-to-be brand names, Utah-based Blue Raven is definitely one of the new kids on the block. Were it not for a chance encounter with one of their salesmen last year, I might not even know they exist.
A Blue Raven salesman came to my door and reluctantly told me and wife about what they had to offer, not looking too excited to be there. We said we would be interested, and he said he had to run off to another appointment, but he would circle back around for a more in-depth appointment.
He never came back. We were a little perplexed.
Despite this awkward moment, courtesy of Blue Raven, and having moved forward with Vivint Solar as my solar company of choice, I am still curious about that mystery solar company that canvassed my neighborhood one week and then vanished without a single installation to show for it.
What is Blue Raven Solar? What do customers have to say about them? How are they different from other solar companies? I did a little digging through what little literature there is online about Blue Raven (did I mention they're new?) and uncovered five things you need to know if you're considering getting Blue Raven Solar to do your solar installation:
Just to make sure this is crystal clear, I'm stating it once more: Blue Raven Solar is on the newer end of the solar company spectrum. On their own site, in fact, they state that they've been in business for less than two years and have "gone from 3 employees to over 500 nationwide" during that time. They also claim to be among the top 10 solar originators in the U.S.
To understand just how young this company is, compare it to its competitors. Sunnova has been on the scene for four years; Vivint Solar for five years. SolarCity has nearly 10 years under its belt.
What this means for you as a potential customer is questionable. Is newer better when it comes to solar companies? Not if the following points are any indication.
Last June, Blue Raven Solar left a very long Facebook post talking about how crappy solar leases and power purchase agreements (PPAs, which they didn't seem to offer) are and how great their one BluePower arrangement is:
"With a PPA, you're making a sketchy bet that the current power bill will go up faster than 2.9% each year. With BluePower, you're simply betting that it doesn't go DOWN more than 10% over the next 20 YEARS! Unlike a lease or PPA, BluePower does not have an early prepayment penalty. At any time, you may pay off the loan early and enjoy free power for life! This provides a level of flexibility that is impossible with the inflated buyouts in a lease or PPA. Seriously, take a look at the fine print in some of those contracts. Yikes."
Naturally, I assumed that Blue Raven was all about ownership, but decided to take a look at their website, just to verify. It turns out they have a whole page of the site dedicated to their PPAs. Things have changed.
So apparently, all those critical things they said about PPAs less than a year ago do not represent their current views on the topic.
It seems I'm not the only person to have had a poor customer service experience with Blue Raven Solar. Based on my research of the few existing Blue Raven reviews out there, the company struggles to deliver a quality, or just consistent, customer service experience.
It starts in Sales, with salespeople acting strangely or being outright offensive, such as in this tale, recounted by Kate Hutton on TheBestCompanys.com:
"I do not have their product but their sales people stopped at my home yesterday. When the asked if I had considered solar energy, I explained I am 100% solar powered at my home. Simple mistake not noticing all the big panels all over my garage, right. At this point the company rep. had smart mouth comments about our purchase and the company from whom we purchased. I had been perfectly polite and friendly through the entire conversation. Now, I want the mouthy young man to know that is NO proper sales tactic! I will NEVER recommend his company to anyone who asks me about solar companies!"
Another Blue Raven customer wanted to take advantage of the tax credit owed to him for having a solar system installed. But when he reached out to get the necessary tax information to get his credit, a sales rep called and asked him to call him back. When the customer called back he was put on hold and then hung up on.
"Don't worry, Blue Raven," commented the customer. "I will figure it out myself."
Could Blue Raven Solar be using some sleight of hand to attract customers with promises of paying their down payments? That's exactly what's happening, according to customer Mark's review on our site, posted last December:
"They showed me a proposal where they were giving me a $5000 down payment. They marked up my system $5k and said they are paying for it. They said as long as I give them referrals they wouldn't charge me. Really? Thanks guys. So, a $20,000 system with them costs $25,000 and then they 1099 me for the $5k that they 'gave' me."
Another rumor on the Internet claims that, with the lender that Blue Raven uses, if the homeowner neglects to collect their solar tax credit within the first three years of ownership, the interest rate on the loan jumps up to 17%. To be fair, I should mention this is not verified by any information on their site.
But it is a good reminder to anyone considering getting a solar system. There are a lot of numbers involved, money gained through tax credits and power sold to the utility company and money lost in installation and loan payments. Make sure you read and understand where money is coming and going and watch for any extra padding throw in there by the installer.
When you're talking about a system that will be on your roof for the next 20 years, you want equipment that will last. According the Blue Raven's website, "Top-rated panels and inverters are standard" on their systems. But the aforementioned customer Mark claims that this is untrue.
"They use cheap, silver-framed panels, string inverters," he says.
Word of caution here: it's nearly impossible to validate the few customer reviews that currently exist for Blue Ravel Solar. The company is so new that industry watchdogs and customers alike haven't yet gathered together a critical amount of data on the company. For example, on the Better Business Bureau website, which receives and seeks redress for customer complaints, the typical company will have dozens of complaints filed against them. Blue Raven has only one complaint filed against them.
So until customers and industry watchdogs get more data on Blue Raven, take their claims with a grain of salt.
To see what real customers have to say about Blue Raven Solar, visit the Blue Raven Solar Reviews page.
To see how they stack up against other solar companies, visit the Solar Companies Reviews page.