Joined a solar coop 1Bog

Joined 1bog.org to get a good price on Solar. I'm moving to San Diego and wanted to take advantage of the sun. I joined 1Bog and I'm using HelioPower to do the installations. They float the rebate and we also get a 30% Federal credit! A $50k plus system is going to cost us around $34K and will generate about 80-85% energy on a 5,000 sq foot home. I'll keep you posted on developments.

Comments

  • BB.BB. Super Moderators, Administrators Posts: 29,980 admin
    Re: Joined a solar coop 1Bog

    Christine,

    I "broke" the link to the "One Block Off-Grid" site... It is a commercial referral service (nothing wrong with that)--but we don't allow "free ads" on this forum.

    If you want to ask/answer questions about your experiences with the service -- that is fine.

    I am not quite sure I am thrilled with the site as they are hooking people with a tag line that, at best, is confusing--at worst is false advertising:
    Is it really “Off the Grid?

    Nope, it’s a metaphor, we want to take that amount of power out of the equation and make it clean energy instead of often dirty grid power. But understand, the solar systems are still connected to the grid (that’s how you’re able to sell energy back to the utility).

    If it’s not “One Block” and it’s not “Off the Grid,” why are you called “One Block Off the Grid?”

    … Quiet, you… it’s a good name. We like metaphors, and it goes really well with our super cute bogman logo.
    We spend much of our time here trying to educate people about Solar RE and conservation... And sites that do the GT/Off-Grid confusion are not helping.

    -Bill
    Near San Francisco California: 3.5kWatt Grid Tied Solar power system+small backup genset
  • AntronXAntronX Solar Expert Posts: 462 ✭✭
    Re: Joined a solar coop 1Bog
    ChristineF wrote: »
    A $50k plus system is going to cost us around $34K and will generate about 80-85% energy on a 5,000 sq foot home.

    How many KW is your system going to be? I wonder by how much these guys can reduce the price by doing group bargaining.

    Edit: looked around on their site, found price $5.45/W for New Jersey, $5.53/W for SF Bay.
  • myocardiamyocardia Solar Expert Posts: 118 ✭✭✭
    Re: Joined a solar coop 1Bog
    AntronX wrote: »
    How many KW is your system going to be? I wonder by how much these guys can reduce the price by doing group bargaining.

    Edit: looked around on their site, found price $5.45/W for New Jersey, $5.53/W for SF Bay.

    Those are good prices, although if this "service" is anything like all of the others that I've seen like it, their quoted prices mean absolutely nothing. As a matter of fact, my vote is for this thread to be moved where it seems to belong: http://forum.solar-electric.com/forumdisplay.php?f=7
    DoD= depth of discharge= amount removed from that battery   SoC= state of charge= amount remaining in that battery
    So, 0% DoD= 100% SoC, 25% DoD= 75% SoC, 50% DoD= 50% SoC, 75% DoD= 25% SoC, 100% DoD= 0% SoC
    A/C= air conditioning AC= alternating current (what comes from the outlets in your home) DC= direct current (what batteries & solar panels use)
  • BB.BB. Super Moderators, Administrators Posts: 29,980 admin
    Re: Joined a solar coop 1Bog

    I know nothing about the services--So I will let others who may know more than I (Windsun or Niel) move the thread to the Scam/Skeptics/Hype forum if needed...

    Or if anyone else here has experiences one way or another.

    -Bill
    Near San Francisco California: 3.5kWatt Grid Tied Solar power system+small backup genset
  • nielniel Solar Expert Posts: 10,300 ✭✭✭✭
    Re: Joined a solar coop 1Bog

    i think it saying off of the grid and it being gt is grounds enough for anyone to be skeptical.
    i'm moving it.
  • russruss Solar Expert Posts: 593 ✭✭
    Re: Joined a solar coop 1Bog

    As best İ can tell -

    1BOG is simply a for profit corporation - they use volunteers to make money for themselves while telling everyone how wonderful they are.

    İ don't think to much of that type of people - kind of like Google's mantra 'do no evil' while pursuing business as normal.
  • AntronXAntronX Solar Expert Posts: 462 ✭✭
    Re: Joined a solar coop 1Bog

    I think you guys are being a little hard on them. Sure they turn a profit (how big?) but they also save some money to people and most importatnly they encourage more rooftop PV installations.
  • russruss Solar Expert Posts: 593 ✭✭
    Re: Joined a solar coop 1Bog

    Hi AntronX - İt is the model İ object to. İ only recently learned it was a for profit organization (on Bloomberg TV News İ believe).

    From their web site:

    1. We're independent, impartial and on your side. Our team of solar experts picks the best solar installers.

    2. We negotiate a large group discount to make solar affordable for you.

    3. Welcome to the Solar Champions page! Passionate volunteers like you are the reason One Block Off the Grid is so powerful, we can’t thank you enough for your support!

    You have to look hard a be determined to see that they are not providing a free public service.

    They push the volunteer bit hard - why would İ ever volunteer so they can make money?

    They sometimes mention 10% discounts (Susan Kraemer on Cleantechnica) which is nothing when it comes off the top of a jacked up price.

    To hard on them - İ am not too sure but maybe too easy on them is maybe closer.

    Encouraging people who it really benefits or just encouraging people - those are tax dollars going down the drain.
  • System2System2 Posts: 6,290 admin
    Re: Joined a solar coop 1Bog

    I think some of the folks here are being a bit disingenuous.
    First off, Northern Arizona Wind & Sun seems to be for profit. I personally celebrate companies that are making money by transforming the world into a better place. I am not saying that 1BOG is altruistic, but if they can lower the price of solar, while taking hundreds of people off the grid (pretty close to a block folks), then we could use more companies like them.

    And why are you ragging on their name? It sounds like you are newborn babes who take everything to its literal extreme. Do your research. When looking at 1BOG's site, they seemed to me to be pretty transparent about who they are and what they do. So they are not taking one particular block off the grid literally. But if they do help 100+ people to get solar, they are getting an equivalent number of homes as a would be on a block.
  • WindsunWindsun Solar Expert Posts: 1,164 ✭✭
    Re: Joined a solar coop 1Bog
    jimsoceans wrote: »
    I think some of the folks here are being a bit disingenuous.
    First off, Northern Arizona Wind & Sun seems to be for profit. I personally celebrate companies that are making money by transforming the world into a better place. I am not saying that 1BOG is altruistic, but if they can lower the price of solar, while taking hundreds of people off the grid (pretty close to a block folks), then we could use more companies like them.

    Being for profit is not the issue. The issue is that they advertise like they are doing it as a good deed and will save you a lot of money, neither of which is true.
  • System2System2 Posts: 6,290 admin
    Re: Joined a solar coop 1Bog
    Windsun wrote: »
    Being for profit is not the issue. The issue is that they advertise like they are doing it as a good deed and will save you a lot of money, neither of which is true.

    Again, I think you are being a bit touchy here. It does not sound to me like they are claiming that they are doing a good deed, perhaps you are just reading that into it.

    This is from their FAQ

    "How does 1BOG get paid?

    1BOG is free to all participants! The reason it works as a business is that all solar installers pay fees in exchange for customer referrals. When we take a whole community and give a solar installer access to everyone in that group, they are getting a lot of new customers, and they pay us a referral fee per home.

    The referral fee is the same regardless of which installer wins, so it does not affect our selection decision. Our interests and our members’ interests are always aligned. No money changes hands between us and the members, and the fee is a small fraction of the actual discount. Any price we quote in a campaign is the price you see, and the referral is already worked into it."

    As far as saving you money, I have heard that on average, for every 8 visits, an installer gets 1 customer. There is a lot of wasted time and money in acquiring these customers. From what I understand, 1BOG delivers a large group of customers to vetted installers and panel manufacturers who are willing to sell there products for less in order to skip the acquisition step.

    I would be interested in hearing what you have heard about their not saving you money.
  • SlappySlappy Solar Expert Posts: 251 ✭✭✭✭✭✭
    Re: Joined a solar coop 1Bog

    watched the u-tube videos, it is strange on how all there ratings are disabled! On one of the vids, a 1bog rep was talking to a customer, and I be darn, that customer looks like "or" pass as a very close relative of the 1bog rep!!!, "cough, cough". but when one has a title as "one block off grid." but the customers still gets a power bill, so that is not off the grid??? just nick-picking....lol
  • KamalaKamala Solar Expert Posts: 452 ✭✭
    Re: Joined a solar coop 1Bog

    He did say he was quoting from the 1BOG FAQ...
  • russruss Solar Expert Posts: 593 ✭✭
    Re: Joined a solar coop 1Bog

    They are being cute about the payment part -

    Their statement:
    '1BOG is free to all participants! The reason it works as a business is that all solar installers pay fees in exchange for customer referrals. When we take a whole community and give a solar installer access to everyone in that group, they are getting a lot of new customers, and they pay us a referral fee per home.'

    Whether the money comes from the left pocket or the right pocket it is coming from your pocket. That doesn't sound free to me.

    The use of 'volunteers' is rather strange as well. They never say what their cut is - why?

    İ believe in profit! İ also believe in being upfront which this bunch isn't!

    This sounds more like siding salesmen that something a person really wants to be involved with.
  • loreleclorelec Solar Expert Posts: 200 ✭✭✭✭✭
    Re: Joined a solar coop 1Bog
    russ wrote: »
    As best İ can tell -
    1BOG is simply a for profit corporation - they use volunteers to make money for themselves while telling everyone how wonderful they are.

    That's actually the best description of a non-profit organization that I've heard in a long time! And honestly, a lot of companies (for- or non-profit) would be a lot less green if there wasn't money in it.

    I don't know anything about this company, but I don't see what the fuss is about. OK, so they charge installers a fee to participate -- a referral fee of sorts. They're just serving as a broker for the equipment and services, and negotiating lower prices because they can do it in volume. Nowhere does it say (that I can find) that the end product is free. It's free to participate in their program, that's all, and in return they ask for volunteers to spread the word. Looks to me like they're being upfront, although maybe there's somthing I'm not seeing. If you don't want to volunteer, then don't. Their business model is a LOT less deceptive than many of the non-profits out there. I'm not sure it belongs under the "scam" heading.

    Marc
  • russruss Solar Expert Posts: 593 ✭✭
    Re: Joined a solar coop 1Bog

    To me non profit means you are doing something from the goodness of your heart.

    The impression given by their representatives on other sites is of a free service for the good of society. They often talk about a 5 to 10% discount but how valuable that is depends on the starting price.

    For profit is the standard means of doing business which İ totally agree with.
  • nielniel Solar Expert Posts: 10,300 ✭✭✭✭
    Re: Joined a solar coop 1Bog

    "To me non profit means you are doing something from the goodness of your heart."

    non profit organizations are allowed some profit and it is supposed to be up to a certain percentage, but i have long since forgotten that percentage number. the more common ones like red cross and salvation army are like this as there are some paid employees and some operational expenses. i am in no way defending or vouching for the outfit in question as i don't know this aspect of their company, but sometimes fees may make it not seem to be non-profit and as long as they meet the terms of a non-profit they can charge.
  • russruss Solar Expert Posts: 593 ✭✭
    Re: Joined a solar coop 1Bog

    İ believe they are declared as a 'for profit organization' - İ was watching an interview with one of their people on Bloomberg.

    That is my point İ suppose. from wiki - Non-profit distinction

    Whereas for-profit organizations exist to earn and re-distribute taxable wealth to employees and shareholders, the nonprofit corporation exists solely to provide programs and services that are of self-benefit. Often these programs, services and policies are overlooked and not otherwise executed or enforced by the government. While they are able to earn a surplus, more accurately called a profit, such earnings must be retained by the organization for its self-preservation, expansion and future plans.

    İf 1 BOG wants to be a for profit business that is fine but they should say so up front.
  • loreleclorelec Solar Expert Posts: 200 ✭✭✭✭✭
    Re: Joined a solar coop 1Bog

    One look at a non-profit's IRS 990 form will tell you exactly where their money goes. You can go to http://www.charitynavigator.com to check on your favorite charity. Note that the Red Cross CEO made $565,000 last year (much more than any for-profit business owners that I've known), and that because The Salvation Army is a religious orgnization, it is exempt from filing a 990 at all. I think I'm in the wrong business!

    I also read a Wall Street Journal article a few months ago that explained how, even though most hospitals are non-profit, they are still managing to rake in the money, and charge their "consumers" accordingly (on par or above what for-profit hospitals charge).

    I don't see where you're getting the impression that 1BOG is misleading people. If you read the info on the website, it's clear what they do. Sure, they have a green tint, but then what business doesn't these days? Doesn't stop most people from buying a Prius, even though Toyota's overriding ambition is to make money.

    Marc
  • russruss Solar Expert Posts: 593 ✭✭
    Re: Joined a solar coop 1Bog

    You might note that the Red Cross is a rather large business - far larger than most.
  • cow_ranchercow_rancher Solar Expert Posts: 117 ✭✭✭✭
    Re: Joined a solar coop 1Bog
    russ wrote: »
    You might note that the Red Cross is a rather large business - far larger than most.
    My problem with the Red Cross is that when they go into a disaster area and set up, they charge the refugees for coffee, unless they are half naked and have lost their wallets...

    Rancher
  • loreleclorelec Solar Expert Posts: 200 ✭✭✭✭✭
    Re: Joined a solar coop 1Bog

    Russ,

    I just wanted to make the point that not all non-profits operate on the "goodness of your heart" principle. The Red Cross CEO makes more than 10x what the average middle class American makes, and if you look at organizations like The American Cancer Society, the figures are even worse (their "deputy CEO" took home over a million last year). That's a lot of goodness, all right! Not even the President, the head of the Earth's largest non-profit (well, in theory anyhow :p ), makes half a million. I don't expect these people to work for free (although some do), I just expect their share of the booty to be a little more modest. After all, the people that do the bulk of the grunt work are usually the ones working for free.

    Marc
  • russruss Solar Expert Posts: 593 ✭✭
    Re: Joined a solar coop 1Bog

    @lorelec - Can't disagree with you there! Not bad money though if İ were to do it the pot would be sweeter. Too many headaches, travel and all. They get to go to all the neat places too.

    İ read on green web sites all about the wonderful 1BOG - what a fantastic thing they are doing - gets rather sickening

    İ always remember their statement - '1BOG is free to all participants!' No it is not free to any participant!

    @cowrancher - Care to offer any specific proof or is this what the barbers brother-in-law was told by his buddy who had never been out of Libby, Montana or was that Baker, Oregon?
  • tallgirltallgirl Solar Expert Posts: 413 ✭✭
    Re: Joined a solar coop 1Bog
    My problem with the Red Cross is that when they go into a disaster area and set up, they charge the refugees for coffee, unless they are half naked and have lost their wallets...

    Rancher

    That's not always the case, though I'd heard that from others. I ate many a meal from Red Cross trucks in New Orleans doing Katrina relief, despite being fully clothed, able-bodied, and having a ready supply of rat-infested homes to gut, rewire and sleep in.

    Thanksgiving dinner '06 definitely changed my mind about the ARC forever.

    But on to 1BOG -- if you don't like them, don't use them. If you think you can do better, do it. 1BOG is a radical idea since many of the problems selling solar are education and overcoming HOAs. I have a client with an 8KW DC system that still gets in fights with neighbors -- all because she's being green. Which is stupid. In 10 years =not= being green will be looked on like the way people who used to dump motor oil in their back yards are looked on. Not that, uh, I, uh, did that. Just saying.
  • myocardiamyocardia Solar Expert Posts: 118 ✭✭✭
    Re: Joined a solar coop 1Bog
    lorelec wrote: »
    Note that the Red Cross CEO made $565,000 last year (much more than any for-profit business owners that I've known),

    The median yearly compensation (salary + bonuses) of a CEO of an S&P 500 company is $10.8 million, so the Red Cross CEO makes 5% of what his competitors make.
    DoD= depth of discharge= amount removed from that battery   SoC= state of charge= amount remaining in that battery
    So, 0% DoD= 100% SoC, 25% DoD= 75% SoC, 50% DoD= 50% SoC, 75% DoD= 25% SoC, 100% DoD= 0% SoC
    A/C= air conditioning AC= alternating current (what comes from the outlets in your home) DC= direct current (what batteries & solar panels use)
  • loreleclorelec Solar Expert Posts: 200 ✭✭✭✭✭
    Re: Joined a solar coop 1Bog

    Yes, but a top-500 corporation and a non-profit organization are two completely different entities...subject to to different rules with different standards of conduct. Wall Street exists for one reason only: to make people wealthy. Last I checked, that wasn't the purpose of a non-profit organization. And most people would consider half a million dollars to be quite a bit of wealth, especially if it's skimmed from the generosity of others.

    Marc
  • RoderickRoderick Solar Expert Posts: 253 ✭✭
    Re: Joined a solar coop 1Bog
    AntronX wrote: »
    ... looked around on their site, found price $5.45/W for New Jersey, $5.53/W for SF Bay.

    If this is the price after rebate, one can do better in the SF Bay area. In fact, my neighbor did better than that *before* rebate by going with a small installer (San Jose area). On our house, the cost per watt was more than that before rebate, but $4.12/W after.

    It seems to me that if one is looking for solar, they should first get bids from installers in the phone book, and through the grapevine, then get the bid from the referral site, and see which is best. If one goes to the referral site first, they may have contracts in place to stop you from going direct to one of the installers, just as you can't go direct to the seller of a house, once your real estate agent has engaged with them.
  • dreesdrees Solar Expert Posts: 481 ✭✭✭
    Re: Joined a solar coop 1Bog
    Roderick wrote: »
    It seems to me that if one is looking for solar, they should first get bids from installers in the phone book, and through the grapevine, then get the bid from the referral site, and see which is best.
    Which is actually what 1BOG suggests. They actually recommend you get 2-3 other local quotes along with their installer for the area.
    Roderick wrote: »
    If one goes to the referral site first, they may have contracts in place to stop you from going direct to one of the installers, just as you can't go direct to the seller of a house, once your real estate agent has engaged with them.
    They do not. You have no obligation at all with them after signing up. Having gotten a bid through them, I found the process very seamless, straightforward and both parties (1BOG and their selected installer for my area) very helpful and nearly no pressure.

    Compared to other sales agents I've dealt with regarding work for my house, they were one of the best. A co-worker who also got a bid through them had the same experience. A neighbor got a bid from a non-affiliated company who was extremely high pressure and misleading.

    Of course, your experience may be different, but at least in my experience, if you are serious about getting solar, I don't hesitate to suggest them.
  • WindsunWindsun Solar Expert Posts: 1,164 ✭✭
    Re: Joined a solar coop 1Bog
    drees wrote: »
    Compared to other sales agents I've dealt with regarding work for my house, they were one of the best. A co-worker who also got a bid through them had the same experience. A neighbor got a bid from a non-affiliated company who was extremely high pressure and misleading.

    Of course, your experience may be different, but at least in my experience, if you are serious about getting solar, I don't hesitate to suggest them.

    That is always good to know. It is unfortunate, but both the internet and the yellow pages don't really give any clues about who is a reliable installer and who is not. I did a search and found little or no complaints about 1BOG, so they might be legit - it is so hard to tell anymore...
Sign In or Register to comment.