I will start by saying the system we have installed is working well, and after our first full month of production we are pleased we chose to go solar. At every step and turn along the journey, though, I wished I had not chosen Solar SME.
We were preparing for an interstate relocation, and we wanted solar installed on our new home. I was doing the research and looking for an installer that served my new state, and Solar SME's quote looked like the value, for the % of need met and payback period (I now believe the others were just better, more informed, more accurate proposals.)
They are attentive and responsive until you've signed the contract, and you only learn later how tenuous their commitments and capacity are.
Solar SME doesn't really serve Missouri, and everything was done entirely remotely. Every step of the process felt like it took 2-4x as long as it should have, and getting information required constant follow-up and was met with defensive, adversarial responses. Even after I was assured by their senior manager that he would become my point of contact, the old, problematic staff were interacting with me and the local planning commission again within days.
And what a journey that was. Solar SME started by insisting to local authorities, against all photographic evidence, that the project didn't need a permit. That argument alone costed weeks, as they resisted submitting permitting paperwork. They twice submitted plans that weren’t compliant with local code, first with a non-compliant design, and again because of non-compliant equipment. They clearly had not looked at local code before trial-and-erroring through the process, with each step adding another government review cycle and in-person hearing (that they were not present for and did not support me to prepare for). Instead of facilitating the process with the local planning commission, they seemed resistant, aggressive, defensive, and generally counterproductive. I ended up having to interact repeatedly with the local authorities myself, smoothing things over and assuring them that I, at least, was not trying to sidestep regulations or cut corners.
I estimate we lost at least three months with no progress at all because of this dynamic, adding to an already slow local permitting process. $5000 worth of state incentives expired along the way.
Installation ended up being done by a local company I could have easily hired directly, and the same dynamic of opacity, misrepresentation, inefficiency marked the whole process. In the vacuum, I ended I ended up dealing directly with the subcontractor, highlighting just how little I was getting from Solar SME--and at what cost. After installation, the equipment sat dormant and depreciating on my roof for several weeks, as the need for repeat inspections and process missteps delayed activation.
By the end, more than a year after I signed the contract, I felt like I had been oversold, overcharged, and overburdened by Solar SME. Caveat emptor.
UPDATE: A few months after I issued my final payment to Solar SME, their subcontractor--the ones who actually installed the system and provided any sense of responsible service--showed up asking me for access to my roof. It seems they had not been able to collect their final payment from Solar SME, because almost 20% of my panels--south-facing ones, of course--were not online. Solar SME had never advised me that my system wasn't fully functional, but suddenly I had desperate local subcontractors on my roof for several days trying to diagnose a problem.
It has been months since this new round of communication and service failures started, and it's still not resolved. We've had occasional, unannounced visits from the subcontractors and, no matter how many times I asked them to keep me informed, no proactive communication from Solar SME. When I communicate with them, they repeat what I already know and ignore questions about how they mean to reconcile collecting final payment from me before I have a fully functional system. At this point I'd just be happy to have my panels producing at full capacity, but I'm flying blind on when that will happen.
I gather from the subcontractor they've finally diagnosed the problem, and now we're waiting for parts. Of course, that was three weeks ago (or more... it all begins to blur), and I've heard nary a word from them or Solar SME.
These guys are actively, aggressively, willfully terrible.