The latest contestant in this arena is Green DIY Energy, so we intend to do a complete review.
Like any company trying to sell its product, Green DIY Energy makes several impressive claims that, at first glance, may seem too good to be true. What struck us most, however, was how relatively few grandiose claims this product made compared to its many competitors. It seems to be comparatively straightforward-or at least modest-in what its product can do.
Green DIY Energy Review: Construction Time
One of the claims many green energy scams make is that you can build a solar panel or wind turbine remarkably fast, sometimes in a single weekend. While not impossible, it is very unlikely-an experienced electrical engineer in a workshop stocked with all tools and materials needed, working straight through the weekend without and break or distractions, might be able to complete the project in that amount of time. But for the average homeowner in a garage workshop, it will likely take much longer.
We were pleasantly surprised, then, when Green DIY Energy did NOT make any promises of super-fast construction. The only mention of how long it took to construct was a testimonial of a teenager who built a solar panel as a "summer project" by working "every Monday for a few hours."
Another sneaky move by green DIY energy scam websites is only include the cost of materials when quoting how cheaply a solar panel can be built. Their customers may find out later that they have buy specific tools for the job, driving the price up.
Green DIY Energy is the first such website we've seen that acknowledges this distinction. In fact, they caution their customers that "before you try to build your own solar power, you need to have the right tools." Sure, the customer may have to buy some tools for the project, but at least they were warned of that possibility before buying the product.
Solar Panel vs. Solar Power System
Another trick the green DIY energy scam sites use is exploiting people's ignorance of the difference between a solar panel and a solar power system. A solar panel is only one part of a solar power system-but it is the most visible. While the solar panel sits on the roof for all to see, the rest of the solar power system is usually inside the building, hidden from sight. Consequently, it's easy for someone to not realize there's more to the system than the solar panels.
Such bogus sites promise being able to build a solar panel at a low cost. It's not until the customer has bought and read the manual that they realize they also have to buy and assemble the battery banks, the charge controller, DC inverter, etc. The cost of these, of course, was not included in the advertised price, which was just for the solar panel.
Given this, it was a pleasant surprise to find that Green DIY Energy not only acknowledged this difference, but pointed it out to their potential customers. Their DIY manual, they claim, will show you how to build solar panels for $98 apiece. Then it will also show you how to build the rest of the solar power system for $200. This brings the total cost of the project to around $300-which is higher than some of their competitor's claims. Still, $300 for a solar power system is a much more realistic estimate-and it's still an incredibly low price for a solar power system!
Many of these other sites prominently feature promises of how much you can save off your power bill. Other green DIY energy scam sites promise savings of 35%, 50%, and 80%. The truth is that no one can estimate how much a single solar panel can save you, because almost every household uses different amounts of electricity every month. There's a difference in electricity consumption between a bachelor who is rarely home, and a household with three kids and a stay-at-home mother. Some of these sites even claim you can eliminate your power bill completely-which, using a single solar panel, is utter nonsense. Whenever we see DIY green energy sites that quote a specific savings to your power bill, we're automatically suspicious.
We kept expecting Green DIY Energy to quote us a power bill savings... but it never happened. Instead, they took the much more practical approach of quoting how much electricity your homebuilt solar panel will generate (60 to 120 watts, depending on the size and type of solar cells used), and letting each customer do the math on how much they will save.
Green DIY Energy's website also openly states that a single solar panel will NOT power your entire home. Rather, they encourage you to build several solar panels (when they cost $98 apiece to built, why not?), and that the addition of each new solar panel will reduce your power bill further. This is a much more realistic approach to how much their customers will save.
As far as we can tell, Green DIY Energy looks legitimate. They avoid the grandiose claims, lies of omission, fuzzy logic and bad math that we've come to expect from green DIY energy scam sites. The advertising traps and pitfalls designed to bluff customers are simply not there on the Green DIY Energy website.
Their promises, although more modest than their competitors, are also far more realistic. Can you really build a solar power system for $300, as Green DIY Energy claims? Although it's impossible to know for sure until we try it, we can say this: Green DIY Energy appears to be a legitimate, honest, and trustworthy company, selling a solid product. If you decide to try building your own solar panels from a manual purchased online, keep this product on your short list. From what we can tell, they seem more likely to be able to deliver on their promises.
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