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|
|Years in business||9||10||17||13||8|
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
|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
|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
|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
|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
|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.
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
|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|
|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 roof—Solar 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.
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.
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.
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