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The 5 Best Solar Companies of 2021

Solar power is a popular renewable energy source because of its ability to seamlessly integrate into your home’s existing electrical system. In this review, the This Old House Reviews Team explores the five best solar companies and helps you select a provider that fits your energy needs.

A red brick house with solar panels on the roof. Adobe

The best solar companies offer comprehensive installation services coupled with responsive customer service to protect your solar investment. Because there are many solar companies available nationwide, this guide will help you compare different providers and find a solar energy system that’s right for your home.

Comparison of the Top Solar Providers

Provider Vivint Solar Sunpro Solar Tesla Sunrun Palmetto Solar
Provider Vivint Solar Sunpro Solar Tesla Sunrun Palmetto Solar
Superlative Best Overall Best Protection Best Availability Best Financing Options Best Customer Service
Solar services Solar panel and battery back-up installation Solar panel and battery back-up installation Solar panel and battery sales and installation Solar panel and battery back-up installation Solar panel and battery back-up installation
Service areas Arizona, California, Colorado, Connecticut, Delaware, Florida, Hawaii, Illinois, Maryland, Massachusetts, Nevada, New Hampshire, New Jersey, New Mexico, New York, Pennsylvania, Rhode Island, South Carolina, Texas, Utah, Vermont, Virginia, Washington D.C. Arkansas, Florida, Georgia, Kansas, Louisiana, Missouri, Mississippi, New Mexico, North Carolina, Oklahoma, South Carolina, Tennessee, Texas Nationwide (installation availability varies by zip code) Arizona, California, Colorado, Connecticut, Florida, Hawaii, Illinois, Maryland, Massachusetts, Nevada, New Hampshire, New Jersey, New Mexico, New York, Pennsylvania, Puerto Rico, Rhode Island, South Carolina, Texas, Utah, Vermont, Washington D.C., Wisconsin Arizona, California, Colorado, Connecticut, Florida, Hawaii, Illinois, Maryland, Massachusetts, Nevada, New Jersey, North Carolina Pennsylvania, Rhode Island, South Carolina, Texas
Panels offered N/A LG Tesla LG LG, Silfab, Yingli
Warranty length 10-year workmanship, 20-year power (lease and power purchase agreement plan only), 25-year linear performance warranty 25-year power production, panel, inverter, and labor warranty 25-year performance guarantee 10–25 years 25-year output warranty
Payment options Buy, finance, lease, power purchase agreement Buy, finance, lease Buy, finance, solar subscription Buy, finance, lease, power purchase agreement
BBB rating B+ A+ A+ A+ A-
Years in business 9 10 17 13 8
Virtual Consultation

Vivint Solar: Best Overall

Vivint Solar offers comprehensive warranties, a straightforward installation process, and four purchasing plans that make them the best overall solar provider.

Pros and Cons of Vivint Solar

Pros Cons
Pros Cons
Offers a 25-year linear performance warranty for Solar Purchase and Lease customers Doesn’t offer a power warranty to Solar Purchase and Lease customers
Provides four solar financing options to customers Isn’t available nationwide
Partners with LG to provide customers with a solar battery option

Vivint Solar provides customers with a straightforward process of owning or leasing solar panels. Vivint follows a detailed, five-step installation process that handles all aspects of your new solar energy system, including permitting and inspections. With four purchasing plans, Vivint makes solar panels affordable and accessible to a variety of homeowners.

Vivint partners with LG to offer customers the LG Chem, a compact battery storage device that’s installed in a garage or covered area to provide solar energy on demand. The battery connects directly to your system and stores excess solar energy for use during a power outage or at night.

If you’re looking to work with Vivint Solar, we recommend getting quotes from a variety of providers. Use this tool to get matched up with solar energy providers in your area.

Sunpro Solar: Best Protection

Sunpro Solar offers extended warranty coverage on labor, panels, and inverters, in addition to a 25-year power production guarantee, making them the solar provider with the best protection.

Pros and Cons of Sunpro Solar

Pros Cons
Pros Cons
Offers self-monitoring through Enphase MyEnlighten Available in only 13 states
Protects installation with 25-year power production, panel, inverter, and labor warranty Doesn’t provide pricing estimates online
Provides three financing options

Sunpro Solar offers customers a breadth of financing options and protection to cover their solar panel investment. Sunpro provides customers with a power production guarantee—a rarity in the solar industry—which states that your system will produce a projected amount of energy over 25 years. If it falls short, Sunpro will pay you double the difference in cash.

Sunpro also includes system monitoring through the Enphase MyEnlighten mobile app, allowing customers to measure their system’s energy production remotely.

If you’re considering Sunpro Solar, we recommend using our comparison tool to get connected with the best solar incentives in your area.

Tesla: Best Availability

The solar industry is relatively new and, as a result, there aren’t many companies that provide services nationwide—Tesla is the exception. Tesla offers solar panels and installation services in most zip codes making them the solar provider with the best availability.

Pros and Cons of Tesla

Pros Cons
Pros Cons
Provides online solar panel quotes Offers leasing in only six states
Provides customers with 24/7 solar panel monitoring through the Tesla mobile app Doesn’t provide installation services to all zip codes nationwide
Protects solar panels with a 25-year performance guarantee

Tesla manufactures and installs its own solar panels for customers nationwide. Tesla’s low-profile panels with no visible solar cells blend into your roof’s current design to create a modern solar system. If interested in Tesla solar panels, the company offers online solar panel estimates in under a minute based on your home address and average monthly electric bill.

Along with its solar panel offerings, Tesla gives customers a solar storage option through its Tesla Powerwall battery. For customers interested in the latest technology, Tesla provides an alternative to solar panels with its Solar Roof, which replaces your current roof with tiles that generate solar energy.

If you’re considering solar panels from Tesla, we recommend using our comparison tool to find local quotes and incentives.

Sunrun: Best Financing Options

Sunrun offers four financing options that provide full-service protection through each plan.

Pros and Cons of Sunrun

Pros Cons
Pros Cons
Protects Brightsave products with coverage for theft or damage Solar and battery availability varies by state
Provides daily monitoring to ensure the health of Brightsave and Protection Plus products Doesn’t detail a variety of products and plans online
Offers customer service through online chat

Sunrun offers customers solar panel installation through four unique financing options, including a monthly solar lease, full-amount solar lease, monthly solar loan, and full-system purchase. Sunrun is unique in that it offers full service to all of its customers, regardless of the purchasing plan they select.

For monthly solar and full-amount solar lease customers, full service is included in your contract, protecting your system from damage, theft, and degradation. Should your system’s efficiency decrease, Sunrun will fix it at no cost to you. For loans and purchase customers, Sunrun includes these services with Protection Plus products.

Before committing to Sunrun, we recommend receiving quotes from multiple solar providers. Use this tool to get matched up with solar energy providers and pricing in your area.

Palmetto Solar: Best Customer Service

Palmetto Solar provides phone, email, and online support alongside a Peace of Mind Protection Plan that offers monitoring and solar discounts to customers and noncustomers alike, making them the best provider for customer service.

Pros and Cons of Palmetto Solar

Pros Cons
Pros Cons
Offers a protection plan to Palmetto customers and other solar owners Doesn’t provide online financing options
Provides an online solar savings calculator Isn’t available nationwide
Protects solar panels with a 25-year output warranty

Palmetto Solar offers customers a full-service solar installation and post-installation services. To help customers understand their solar savings, Palmetto has an online tool that calculates your electric bill savings with solar energy.

Palmetto Solar offers customer support through phone, email, and online chat to give customers a variety of support options. Post-installation, Palmetto offers customers a Peace of Mind Protection Plan. The plan, which is also available to non-customers, includes active monitoring and discounts on services like solar panel cleaning and pest abatement.

Before working with Palmetto Solar, we recommend getting quotes from a variety of providers. Use this tool to get matched up with solar energy providers in your area.

How to Find the Best Solar Companies

To help you decide if you should invest in solar energy, consider factors like financing options, your home’s infrastructure, and solar incentives in your area.

Financing Options

When choosing a solar provider, consider the financing plans they offer. Financial plans from solar providers typically include a loan, purchase, lease, and power purchase agreement (PPA) option. Compare the different plan options below.

Comparison of Solar Financing OptionS

Provider Purchase Loan Lease PPA
Provider Purchase Loan Lease PPA
Purchase option Purchase in full Purchase and finance Pay set monthly payments for installed solar panels Pay monthly payments based on energy generated by the system
Ownership Homeowner Homeowner Provider Provider
Upfront payment Full system cost Some solar loans begin as low as $0 down As low as $0 None

Home Compatibility with Solar Energy

Before selecting a solar provider, determine if your home can support a solar energy system. The main factors that affect a home’s compatibility with solar energy include household electrical demand, your roof, and where you live.

  • Household electrical demand—There’s a delicate balance between a home’s energy production and the need for solar panels. If a home doesn’t use enough monthly energy, choosing solar may be more expensive. However, if you use too much monthly energy, your home could require so many solar panels that it may not be affordable. A solar provider will look into your home’s energy consumption before installation to help you understand the savings provided by a solar system.
  • Size, age, and slope of your roofSolar panels are most efficient when facing south and on a slope between 15–40 degrees. If your roof isn’t south-facing or has a steep slope, solar can still be suitable, but it may be less efficient or more expensive. Additionally, if your roof is old or deteriorating, you should replace it before installation.
  • Location—Although climate matters when installing solar panels, your home’s location determines how effective the solar panels will be. Homes that are obstructed by buildings or tall trees could prevent you from benefitting from a solar energy system.

Solar Incentives

In addition to the 26% federal tax credit applied to solar installation, specific states and municipalities offer their own incentives to help solar energy become more affordable. Before choosing a solar provider, visit the Database of State Incentives for Renewables & Efficiency to view available incentives in your area.

Our Conclusion

The solar provider you select is dependent on your state availability and your home’s unique energy needs. Although Vivint Solar is our best overall solar company because of its comprehensive warranties and extensive installation procedure, we recommend selecting any of the solar providers mentioned in this article.

Frequently Asked Questions About Solar Energy

How do solar panels work?

Solar panels work by using absorbed sunlight to release the electrons stored in solar panels. The free electrons generate electricity, which flows to the solar panel’s inverter, converting it into power that your home can use. Any excess electricity your solar panels produce is stored in your solar battery or sent back to the electrical grid.

What is net metering?

When more energy than needed is generated by your solar panels, the excess energy is fed to the electrical grid. When you “give” energy to the electrical grid, your utility company rewards you with credit on your monthly electric bill, reducing its overall cost.

How often should solar panels be cleaned?

Solar panels should be cleaned twice a year with soap and water.

Do solar panels generate electricity at night?

No. Solar panels can’t produce electricity at night, but you can access solar energy during that time if you incorporate a solar battery into your system.

How does solar energy benefit the environment?

Solar power is a renewable resource and prevents the use of fossil fuels to generate electricity, reducing the amount of pollution in the environment.

To share feedback or ask a question about this article, send a note to our Reviews Team at reviews@thisoldhousereviews.com.