Tuesday, March 30, 2010

Public Confusion About Solar

There are many things that confuse the public when it comes to solar.  Included on the lengthy list of confusing factors are items such as: incentives, regulations, restrictions, warranties, technology differences and financing options.

But in my mind, the bigger issue comes from the fact that "confusion" translates into "high risk" in the minds of consumers.

Whenever something appears to be more complex or confusing than the status quo (a.k.a. power from the electric utility) most consumers label that item as a source of risk. This perception of risk comes from the potential consequences of making the wrong decision, based on confusing or complex information.

With most consumer products there is little penalty for making a wrong choice. If you buy a pair of blue jeans and they don't look good, the most you've lost is a couple of hours of time and somewhere around $100.

But if a installation goes bad, the consumer is looking at losing thousands of dollars, the potential of roof damage/repair, time without electric power, inconvenience, etc., etc.  In other words a massive and costly disruption in their lives.

The perceived risk of solar in the mind of the consumer presents the biggest barrier to mainstream adoption of solar power.


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