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Join 1BOG to score discounts on solar panels

post #1 of 11
Thread Starter 
Sierra Club has a huge piece about 1BOG, which stands for One Block off the Grid, posted right now, and if you're interested in saving money on solar panels I'd take a look.

What's 1BOG?

In short, 1BOG strives to save you money on solar panels.The logic behind their train of thought is that one person has little leverage for negotiating discounts on the cost of solar panels but if you gather a group of interested people together, 1BOG thinks they can help to negotiate big savings on solar panels. It makes sense in theory. Since this appears to be a newer program we'll have to stay tuned to see how it works out. 


At any rate, 1BOG notes that working as a group can help cut down on cost, confusion surrounding solar panels, and finding a trustworthy solar panel installer. According to Sierra Club 1BOG wants to eliminate these issues by... 


  1. Offering group discounts, averaging 15%, to your community by negotiating with solar panel providers
  2. Offering reliable, in-depth information about solar panels on their website
  3. Negotiating with the best installers for low prices and high quality. 1BOG’s solar panel team chooses trustworthy installers for you, so you don’t have to worry about finding an installer yourself.

If you own a home or investment property and you're interested in installing solar panels you can become a 1BOG  member for FREE. 1BOG will run campaigns in any city in the US, so long as 100 people in that area become members.


Currently there are 9 active cities where 1BOG is running campaigns:

  • North Jersey
  • San Francisco Bay, CA
  • Los Angeles, CA
  • San Diego, CA
  • New Orleans, LA
  • Denver, CO
  • Sonoma County, CA
  • Phoenix, AZ
  • Coachella Valley, CA


1BOG will soon be launching campaigns in:
 

  • San Antonio, TX
  • Honolulu, HI


There are 12 cities that are very close to getting the 1BOG program:
 

  • Austin, TX
  • Miami, FL
  • Aspen, CO
  • Boston, MA
  • Brooklyn, NY
  • Philadelphia, PA
  • Chicago, IL
  • Las Vegas, NV
  • Portland, OR
  • Seattle, WA
  • Sacramento, CA
  • Washington DC


Sierra Club notes, "If you live in any of these cities, it’s not too late to join 1BOG and receive discounts on solar panels. If you don’t see your city mentioned above, join 1BOG now so that your city will become an active city in the future."

There's MUCH more information about 1BOG at Sierra Club. Or you can always visit 1BOG directly.

post #2 of 11
1BOG is not one of my favorite organizations. They are a FOR profit organization that is raising VC funds, using volunteer labor to get leads while providing a minimal discount. Kirby (the vacuum cleaner company) must be jealous!

All 1BOG does is pass leads on to the real solar company. They do not engineer or design the system, supervise anything - nothing. They collect leads. Their salesmen are typically a good hearted citizen trying to do something good with little or no knowledge of solar.

Some how they have managed to convince people that is a green business model. The volunteers would be idealistic rather than technical in most cases - there would be pressure to get the system on your roof. 

They use groups who in some cases install their system on your rooftop and charge you a fixed price for electricity on a long term contract.

A 15% discount off list is not that big of a deal. Their promotional material talks about 10 to 25% İ believe. İ have seen no mention of a projected profit margin for 1BOG. Just that they take some amount for each sale.

The one benefit they do provide is that you can dummy up, learn nothing and set a solar system on your roof. They will take care of everything  You don't need to know anything about solar at all! You can fix that old electricity rate for many years to come. İf you made a decent deal then fine - if you made a lousy deal then fine - you are on a signed contract which the bank now owns. 

You can get the same deals by using your head, finding a decent installer to work with. There are tons of information on the net about solar PV. Much of it is first class except for the DİY wind and solar sites where for 200 USD and a weekends work you can have a full system and screw the power company - those guys are scammers and shysters - the lowest of the low - down there alongside whale puckey.

There are blogs where people who know their solar are very helpful and very willing to provide suggestions and say if they think you are getting a good deal or not. They will not engineer a system for you however. Two great sites for solar that İ follow daily are:
www.solarpaneltalk.com
www.wind-sun.com

For wind İ like www.greenpowertalk.org

The moderators and users at the sites İ gave are wonderful - they will do their best to help
post #3 of 11
Thread Starter 
Wow. They seem pretty legit. I know that when we were looking into solar for the house we were building it was less trouble to DIY. I'm not sure if the cost was less, because I haven't worked with a group system. Maybe too many people have trouble with DIY or the research so they want to go with a company who, like you say, allows you to, "dummy up, learn nothing and set a solar system on your roof."

Thanks for the heads up though. I figured if Sierra Club posted them, they'd be ok - most of their pieces have been smack on when it comes to green living issues.

Oh, if you're reading this thread and do want to DIY try checking out one of these books...


The first two were useful when we were researching solar especially Chiras' book. The third book is not so much a solar how to, but useful if you want to see a green DIY sort of home situation with video, not simply text.
post #4 of 11
If you really want to save money on solar panels consider building them yourself.  A lot can be saved and they are pretty easy to put together.  The economics of solar panels gets a lot better when you invest some sweat equity.
post #5 of 11
@Bamboo Jones - DİY solar PV panels are for the person that is very-very handy, has the tools and some electrical background - others need not apply! İt isn't easy and chances of the panels lasting 5 years are minimal. Sealing them against moisture is very difficult for the DİYer. İt makes a great science project but that is about it.

At 2 to 3 USD per watt that panels are available for now it is difficult to save any money.

There are no rebates for the DİY stuff. There certainly is no UL approval so don't put them where they can cause a house fire as you would probably be without insurance.

Connecting PV into the house system is another big thing. You don't just plug it into a standard socket. İt has to be done correct or you can kill someone. Without the proper disconnects you could manage to kill a lineman and be charged with it. 

İ deleted your wind turbine post and links for good reason - links to well known DİY scammers. What you suggest is not even remotely practical or possible for most people. There is even a post here listing at least some of the parties.

99:5% of the population has no business trying DİY as in building their own PV panels or wind turbines. For those that are interested İ can provide sites where the information is correct and honest. 
post #6 of 11
Thread Starter 
Building your own panels is a HUGE undertaking. My son's dad was an architect and experienced construction home builder AND very knowledgeable about green homes, but he even said he'd buy panels when we were building our house;and I considered him very smart about solar and building - we literally built our house by hand with a couple of helpers only, so for him to be overwhelmed by panels says something. Plus we had a few friends in New Mexico who tried to build panels and none of those projects turned out well or lasted long.

If you really REALLY have tons of time, lots of knowledge on the topic, and are extremely handy you could maybe turn out a decent system on your own, but like Russ said it's most absolutely not a project for just anyone. The rebate point is a good one too. If you're going to green your home, why not get the discounts? 
post #7 of 11
This is quite a topic on a couple of solar/wind sites İ participate in daily. Some people do it and assistance/advice is provided by the moderators. İt is always provided with the caveat that what you are trying isn't impossible but very difficult and probably won't last.

None of the senior guys will recommend DIY PV solar.

The output of a panel is electricity - part of our everyday lives and rather convenient if done correctly. The NEC (national electric code) needs to be followed and adhered to. İt really is possible to burn down a house or kill someone by accident. 
post #8 of 11
1 BOG offers leasing agreements with various parties as an option that requires no payment from the customers pocket. in return you get a fixed electric payment for some time period regardless of grid prices.

This sounds good to some people but be cautious as it can be problematic as well. The solar company will almost certainly sell the contract to a bank or other party. Like siding sales - the sales party dumps the contract off on someone else immediately in most cases.

1) What happens if the company goes bankrupt? Your contract is now null and void and you may have the choice of signing a new contract with the system's new owner at the 'new' rates or having it removed from your roof. You would possibly end up with a damaged roof and no recourse.

2) Their system is on your roof - when can they demand access? Can they demand access 24 hours a day? 

3) How does this affect your homeowners insurance?

4) One of your kids manages to damage a panel trying to retrieve a baseball - what charges are you stuck with?

5) They somehow manage to damage or cause damage to your roof - your homeowners policy will not be happy for sure and why should they pay.

There needs to be control over the contract and the stipulations of that contract by the state. What is offered by an insurance company is controlled by the state - not by the insurance company.

 
post #9 of 11
Hi all,

Joining in this lively thread to say hello and introduce myself! I'm Shannon, the new Director of Community over at 1BOG. Just want to say that like Russ, I tend to be very skeptical when it comes to supposedly green organizations that are actually thinly veiled chop shops for business-as-usual.

1BOG is a different animal altogether. Our team of advisors dazzles me daily with their knowledge of solar (some are former installers themselves) and the amount of time they're willing to spend giving homeowners real information and advice. The head of product over here, Brad Burton, is ridiculously thorough in his vetting of the installers. He spends an entire month looking at every practice and policy, their overall structure/stability as an organization, and he audits actual installations, all of which is a huge benefit to the consumer. In fact, for the average consumer, going straight to the installer would be a little bit like walking into a car dealership without ever having seen a car before, much less having bought one. They'd be at a serious disadvantage. If I were going solar, I would go straight to Brad and ask him a million questions about my potential installer because I know he vets them meticulously. This is especially important as solar becomes more popular and new, less experienced installers are drawn to the business opportunity.

As solar adoption increases, I for one think there's a big role for 1BOG in educating and empowering consumers, acting as their advocate in selecting an installer, and helping them through the whole process. It's true that we get a referral fee from the installation partners we select for each campaign, but that fee is exactly the same no matter which installer we select, so we can be objective about their work. It's also true that we are a for profit company. We didn't start out that way, but found we had to scale up rather rapidly to meet consumer demand for our services, and becoming a for profit was the fastest, most practical way to do that.

Finally, I was quite surprised to hear Russ say that the 15% discounts we negotiate with installers on behalf of homeowners of are "not that big of a deal." If the average system costs in the $18k to $22k range, I'd say that fifteen percent off is a very big deal for most homeowners. Maybe he knows a different set than I do.

 

In any case, I hope this information helps! I'm really excited to help more homeowners go solar. I encourage people to get in touch with me directly if they have any questions at all about what 1BOG does or how we do it.

Let the Solar Begin,

Shannon Coulter
Director of Community
One Block Off the Grid
shannon@1bog.org
 


Edited by 1bog - 4/23/10 at 9:42am
post #10 of 11
Thread Starter 
Shannon - thanks for joining in and letting everyone know your take on the company. It's useful to hear directly from companies.

I guess I'm interested in hearing some consumer feedback though as well. While looking around the web I've seen a few complaints about the company and a few recommendations by actual users. So not much bad or good unless it's from a news site - i.e. not a consumer but a reporter. Maybe as the consumer base grows for 1BOG we'll hear more - either good or bad but it's really hard to base decisions on only what you hear from the company - you know?
post #11 of 11

Four options to save money on solar panels: rent solar panels, buy used solar panels, take advantage of Government Rebates and build your own solar panel!......

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