Once burned, twice shy, the saying goes. That’s how I felt about solar power companies after my first two experiences. I’m not going to mention the names, but let’s just say they didn’t provide me with the easiest introductions to getting a solar power array. And if other customers get much the same treatment, I don’t wonder anymore at the rarity of these power systems in the nation. It’s not so much that they gave me bad service, per se: rather, that they failed to accommodate my needs. The first two companies I approached (more so the first) both had “package” designs for homeowners. This is pretty common, I was told later—not least because it reduces the amount of effort involved—both in terms of design and component sourcing. The designs would be designed to fit just about any situation.
“Just about” didn’t cut it for me. In both cases, the design that came nearest to supplying my power needs (it overshot it somewhat, actually) failed to fit my budget. Could it be possible to design a system similar to it but slightly cheaper, if also slightly more powerful?
Answer: no. These were the set packages, and I could only choose from them.
Not the sort of thing you want to hear after being promised designs to fit just about any situation. Power systems of this type, I think, should generally be approached from… well… a non-general perspective.
Homeowners’ needs are specific, just as their budgets (particularly in developing countries like ours) are specific. And foreign technology like this is a hard enough sell without having to alienate local consumers by telling them it can’t be adapted to their circumstances – that they’re the ones who have to do the adapting instead.
Different consumers have different needs. Now, more than ever, customization and personalized service are becoming the markers that set apart successful ventures from ill-received ones. I eventually found a company that offered customized designs and installations for solar power systems—I’ll actually mention a name this time, as I have only good things to say about them—and the folks at UnitedSolar put up exactly the system I wanted, needed, and could afford. At the end of the day, isn’t that the best way to get a customer instead of insisting that he want, need, or afford something other than what he actually does?