Elevate Solar Review: Confusing solar panel installations
There is no information on the Elevate Solar website indicating who owns or runs the business, although the company does disclose it is based out of Utah in the US.
The Elevate Solar website domain (“elevatesmarthome.com”) was registered on the 26th of May 2015, however the domain registration is set to private.
Further research revealed a LinkedIn profile belonging to “Wright Wesley Thurston”, who credits himself as Chairman and Chief Executive Officer of Elevate Inc. and Elevate Solar Inc.
Elevate Solar Inc. appears to be a division of Elevate Inc., which is an MLM opportunity in its own right.
As per Thurston’s LinkedIn profile;
Elevate, Inc. is the only publically (sic) traded Digital Services provider that is meeting customer demand for affordability, variety, and service by leveraging a network of independent, licensed connectivity specialists to sell and service the residential and small business solar, data, voice, video, mobile and security markets.
Mr. Thurston has recruited, trained and deployed more than 20,000 independent reps over the past decade.
His visionary approach to sales training and keen insights into market behavior has led to more than 200,000 subscriber activations for digital services.
Mr. Thurston is the author of the proprietary compensation plan at Elevate, which compensates sales representatives for both new customer acquisitions as well as long-term loyalty, a concept that is revolutionizing the customer experience with digital service providers.
Why none of this information is available on the Elevate Solar website is a mystery.
One final observation is that Thurston’s LinkedIn profile lists his location as California. Whether he runs Elevate Solar from California or commutes to Utah is unclear.
Read on for a full review of the Elevate Solar MLM business opportunity.
The Elevate Solar Product Line
The Elevate Solar product line is a solar utility service, which is sold to customers via the following steps:
- Pre-qualification – customer must be a homeowner, have a credit score of 680 or above and pay an average of $80 or more for utilities each month
- Solar Sale – customer signs an Elevate MyLight contract, installation site is surveyed and passes inspection and signed contract is then approved by Elevate Inc.
- Solar Install – permit application and designs are completed, solar array installed, account is funded (?) and interconnectivity is approved
Areas Elevate Solar installations are carried out in must have at least 25 orders in place, with the area itself limited to a 100 mile radius.
Pricewise each contract is evaluated on an individual basis. For reference, one Elevate Solar marketing presentation video I watched quoted an example installation of $60,000.
The Elevate Solar Compensation Plan
The Elevate Solar compensation plan primarily revolves around the sale of solar installations to customers.
Elevate Solar Affiliate Ranks
There are eight affiliate ranks within the Elevate Solar compensation plan.
Along with their respective qualification criteria, they are as follows:
- Affiliate – make 1 solar sale
- Associate – make 3 solar sales
- Partner – make 5 solar sales and have at least 1 affiliate in your downline
- Market Architect – have at least 2 affiliates in your downline
- Senior Market Architect – have and maintain at least 5 Market Architect ranked affiliates in your downline
- Regional Market Director – have and maintain at least 5 Market Architect and 2 Senior Market Architect ranked affiliates in your downline
- National Market Director – have and maintain at least 5 Market Architect and 5 Senior Market Architect ranked affiliates in your downline
- Executive Market Director – have and maintain at least 10 Senior Market Architect qualified affiliates in your downline
Certified Genius qualification is required for some commissions, with qualification requiring the sale of 10 solar installations.
In order to qualify for commissions, each Elevate Solar affiliate must generate 10 product points every month. Once an affiliate has accumulated 100 product points, they are classified “Elevate 100” and no longer require 10 product points a month (on condition the 100 point balance is maintained).
Product points are generated via the recruitment of Elevate Solar affiliates and sale of solar installations as follows:
- solar installation = 3 points (self-purchase or sale)
- recruitment of BaseCamp affiliate ($47 a month) = 4 points a month and 1 point for immediate upline
- recruitment of Summit affiliate ($197 a month) = 5 points a month and 2 points for immediate upline
Note that no more than 25% of product points from affiliate recruitment counts towards Elevate 100 qualification.
Also note that each solar sale of affiliate recruitment only generates points towards an affiliate’s Elevate 100 qualification once.
The first page of the Elevate Solar compensation plan presents a chart with the heading “Applicable Commissions”. Unfortunately no explanation as to what these commissions are is provided:
Later in the document a “$250 sale commission” is mentioned when a customer signs an “Elevate MyLight Contract”, which I believe is what might trigger an “applicable commission”.
The commissions themselves appear to be paid out via a unilevel compensation structure, paid out down four levels of recruitment:
- Partner – $10 on level 1 (sales made by personally recruited affiliates)
- Market Architect – $10 on level 1 and $2 on level 2
- Senior Market Architect – $10 on level 1 and $5 on level 2
- Regional Market Director – $10 on level 1 and $5 on levels 2 and 3
- National and Executive Market Directors – $10 on level 1 and $5 on levels 2 to 4
If these commissions aren’t tied to the $250 contract commission, then I have no idea what they are paid out on. There’s nothing in the Elevate Solar compensation explaining what’s going on in the first page of the document.
Solar Installation Commissions
A solar installation as defined in the Elevate Solar compensation plan is
a Sale that has been installed and has completed the following steps:
• Permitting & Design is Complete
• Solar Array Has Been Installed On The Home
• Account has been funded
• Interconnectivity Has Been Approved
• Remaining Commission (based on earned rank) is paid
Solar Installations commissions are only payable to Certified Genius affiliates who are at the Market Architect or higher rank.
Elevate Solar affiliates who meet the above criteria are paid the following commission on solar installations, based on how the total number of installations they sell that month:
- 1 to 9 installations = $1000 per installation
- 10 to 14 installations = $1250 per installation
- 15 to 19 installations = $1500 per installation
- 20 to 24 installations = $1750 per installation
- 25 or more installations = $2000 per installation
Solar Installation Bonus
If an Elevate Solar Backpack ($25) or BaseCamp ($47 a month) affiliate generates 5 solar customers within 60 days of joining the company, their installation commission is temporarily doubled.
This equates to
- $250 for one to five installations and $500 for six or more for Backpack affiliates or
- $500 for one to five installations and $1000 for six or more for BaseCamp affiliates
Solar Installation Override
The first five solar installation sales made by every Elevate Solar affiliate generate a $500 commission override.
This override is paid to affiliates at the Market Architect or higher rank as follows:
- Market Architect – $200
- Senior Market Architect – $100
- Regional Market Director – $100
- National Market Director – $50
- Executive Market Director – $50
Note that an affiliate is only paid at their rank, with any portion of the total override ($500) paid to higher ranked affiliates further in the upline.
Each rank is payable once per install, with higher ranked affiliates only able to earn their paid at rank override (eg. Executive Market Directors can earn no more than a $50 override per install).
Check Match Bonus
Certified Genius qualified affiliates qualify for a 10% check match on commissions paid to personally recruited affiliates.
Certified Genius Monthly Bonuses
Starting at the Senior Market Architect rank, Elevate Solar affiliates can qualify for the following monthly bonuses:
- Senior Market Architect – $500 car bonus
- Regional Market Director – $500 car bonus, home bonus and peak bonus
- National Market Director – $1000 car bonus, home bonus and peak bonus
- Executive Market Director – $2000 car bonus, home bonus and peak bonus
The “peak bonus” is described as “bonus pool minimums”, suggesting this bonus is applied if an Elevate Solar affiliate earns less than the specified amount from applicable bonus pools at the Regional Market Director rank or higher.
Note that there is no other reference to bonus pools anywhere in the Elevate Solar compensation plan documentation.
LightShare Referral Program
I couldn’t really make out the qualification criteria for the LightShare referral program, so I’ll reproduce what’s in the Elevate Solar compensation plan material below:
50% commission, override and residual on each personal and team referral solar sale only if they participate in the Elevate Summit certification level and be a Certified Genius.
Must Average 5 referrals per customer on your personal and team sales. Compensation on all qualified solar sales 3 levels deep.
25 personal referrals qualifies affiliate for FREE solar power.
It looks like the program is only available to affiliates who pay $197 a month, who are Certified Genius qualified and have an average of five recruits per customers they have sold solar too (???).
If that is met, then they earn a 50% commission bonus, payable down three levels of recruitment. And if they have 25 personally recruited affiliates, LightShare referral program qualified affiliates get “free solar power” (???).
30 days after a customer has signed an Elevate Solar contract, they earn a $5 a day commission for 90 days.
Note that the customer also receives a $5 a day rebate for 180 days.
Joining Elevate Solar
Affiliate membership with Elevate Solar is available at three pricepoints:
- Elevate Backpack ($25 and then $147 annually) – Elevate Solar compensation plan material suggests Backpack affiliates don’t earn residual MLM commissions
- Elevate BaseCamp ($47 a month) – access to “double commissions”
- Elevate Summit ($197 a month) – access to “90-Day Fast-Start Genius Pay”
I’m always wary of ultility-based MLM opportunities, as typically their compensation plans are a nightmare to understand.
Elevate Solar is no exception, with the official compensation plan’s poor presentation only adding to the headache.
The gist of the business model revolves around the sale of solar installations. You’d think this would entail ownership of the panels, but then I saw talk of renting on the Elevate Solar website so I’m not really sure what that’s about.
I also saw the tagline “rent us your roof” in one marketing presentation, suggesting that after paying thousands of dollars a customer doesn’t actually own what they’re paying for.
The business model itself is a mess, largely due to Elevate Solar’s presentation of the compensation plan. I think the current document needs to be scrapped, with a new one drawn up on the assumption the person reading it knows nothing about MLM or solar energy.
I had trouble digesting the information and putting it together for review, and had to make several guess-work attempts where I was left well and truly stumped over something.
The document also appears to be incomplete, with bonus pools referenced by name but not explained.
One thing that stuck out to me was the existence of “pay to play”, which is clearly evident in the doubling of commissions and access to bonuses only at the Summit membership level.
What I will point as a positive is the otherwise grounding in commissions generated by the sale of the solar service to customers.
At first I thought something suss might be going on with affiliate membership packages counting towards product points, but the packages themselves, at least as far as I can tell, don’t appear to be commissionable.
Recruiting each month can qualify an affiliate for commissions (not Infinity 100 but certainly the monthly 10 point quota), however those commissions appear to only be paid out on solar contracts and installations.
That’s what you want to see in an MLM compensation plan, with there being no possible chance for affiliates self-qualifying for commissions or getting paid to introduce new affiliates to the business.
Unfortunately poor presentation of the compensation plan and other little things (such as a lack of disclosure of company ownership), bog down what otherwise might be a decent enough offering.
I’m not sure how Elevate Solar compete in the solar installation market in the US, but as a business opportunity the only people likely to be attracted are those genuinely interested in marketing solar energy.
With a bit of effort on Elevate Solar’s behalf they might have something to run with, but as it stands I personally wouldn’t be getting involved as an affiliate until the issues highlighted in this review are addressed.