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This Old House Reviews Team Solar Company Methodology

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Author Icon Written by Tamara Jude Updated 04/18/2024

We are committed to providing comprehensive and unbiased reviews to our readers. This means earning your trust with transparent reviews and data to support our ratings and recommendations. We thoroughly researched the solar industry to develop a scoring system based on key metrics and industry standards. We then scored national, regional, and local solar companies to find the best options for homeowners. 

Solar Company Research Process

We began evaluating the best solar companies by establishing which categories would compose our rating system. Our research methods included the following criteria.

Company Analysis

We analyzed features such as product catalog, additional services, and financing options for each provider. Our team reviewed warranty plans, production guarantees, and other benefits that affect a solar power system’s longevity. We looked for inconsistencies in the company’s marketing language and compared business models among providers to better understand the existing industry standards.

Brand Reputation

Customer satisfaction heavily influences a company’s reputation. To learn more about each company’s relationship with its customers, we read over 16,000 reviews from each of the following third-party aggregators:

  • Better Business Bureau (BBB)
  • Best Company
  • Google Reviews
  • Trustpilot
  • Yelp

We noted any common pain points and complaint patterns within the reviews. We gauged each company’s responsiveness to complaints and the initiative taken to resolve reported issues. In addition, we researched each company for any pending or active litigation and recent class action settlements. 

Customer Surveys

We conducted surveys to ask homeowners across the United States about their real-life experiences with solar companies. Our team developed questions for each survey to discover why homeowners converted to solar energy and how they viewed their experiences. The survey questions centered on how they chose a solar provider, the installation process, and their overall satisfaction with their solar power and selected provider. 

Expert Interviews

We interviewed solar company representatives and federal agencies to give us further insight into common customer pitfalls, current trends, and best solar industry practices. 

Secret Shopping

We interacted with company websites and customer support teams to better understand a customer’s experience. We checked for transparency in each company’s product and service details, warranty coverage, and financing terms. We reviewed the responsiveness of support teams via telephone, online chat, and email. We anonymously contacted company representatives to get quotes and ask general questions.

Factors Evaluated To Compare Solar Companies

To rate each solar company, we analyzed the data from our research and created review standards based on our findings. We evaluated each provider in six comparison categories: solar equipment and services, warranty and performance guarantees, brand reputation and certifications, financing options, industry experience, and state availability. 

We rated each solar installer across 18 factors within these categories, each receiving a point value. The value was based on factors most important to homeowners looking for a solar provider. We established a 100-point scale for our scoring system with the categories outlined below:

Solar Equipment and Services

The solar equipment and services category carries one of the highest weights in our provider review. Solar equipment is essential to any solar system, with higher-quality equipment yielding the best results. We check each company’s catalog for diverse equipment offers and add-on accessories. Additional solar services, such as monitoring, help maintain system health, ensuring excellent energy production into the future. 

Solar Equipment

Your solar equipment plays a major role in your system’s productivity and efficiency. Most solar providers offer traditional rooftop solar panels. We awarded additional points to installers, including advanced solar roofing, tiles, or shingles in their product catalog. A larger product selection gives homeowners more ways to customize their solar projects to fit their needs. 

Beyond the solar panels themselves, additional equipment, such as solar storage and electric vehicle (EV) chargers, extend your system’s capabilities. We award points to solar providers offering these add-on options. 


Solar companies often use in-house or third-party installers to complete their projects. In-house installers offer better quality control and communication, leading to a smoother process. With third-party installers, project updates and communication goes through one or more individuals. When researching each solar installer, we noted their installation process and team. Installers with in-house teams received higher points than companies outsourcing to third-party contractors. 


Solar companies received additional points for including performance-tracking apps and monitoring services. These services offer insight into your solar system performance and early indications of technical or performance issues. Additional services, such as roofing and energy audits, were also included in our ratings and received added points if offered.

Warranty and Performance Guarantees

The success of a residential solar system depends on its workmanship and long-term protection. We evaluated each company based on individual system protections, such as workmanship warranties, manufacturer coverage, and panel performance guarantees. This category serves as the second highest weight in our company evaluation, tied with solar equipment. 

Product/Manufacturer’s Warranty

Product or manufacturer warranties cover your solar equipment for any issues or defects caused by the manufacturer. Most high-quality solar panels include a 25-year product warranty to coincide with the typical panel life span of 25 years. We award more points for longer warranty coverage. 

Labor/Workmanship Warranty

With labor or workmanship coverage, you receive protection for issues due to poor or faulty installation. This coverage comes directly from the installer and varies based on their coverage options. Ideally, you should match coverage with the panel’s estimated life span. We also award more points for longer workmanship coverage. 

Power/Production Guarantee

Production (or power) guarantees protect your panel’s linear performance. Over time, solar panels gradually drop in efficiency, which impacts their production. Most solar panel manufacturers include estimated efficiency degradation with their panel information. 

However, some installers provide this added protection to back their products. If your panels fall below these estimated production levels, the company will repair, replace, or upgrade your panels. Some companies even provide monetary compensation for your lost energy production. This coverage is rare, so we awarded more points to any installers that provide it. 

Roof Leak Coverage

Roof leak coverage offers additional protection against damage caused by the installation. Total coverage length varies between companies but is typically five to 20+ years. Since this is another rare coverage option, we award extra points to installers that provide this warranty coverage. 

Brand Reputation and Professional Certifications

Brand reputation ties into a company’s trustworthiness and customer treatment. We checked each provider’s business history and industry experience. Our team conducts extensive brand reputation checks to evaluate customer reviews, review scores, pending lawsuits, and any outstanding negative behaviors. In addition, we review each company’s professional industry certifications. 

BBB Rating

We include BBB ratings in each solar company’s reputation review. Higher scores are awards for companies with “A” ratings and gradually drop for lower ratings. Companies designated with an F or No Rating (NR) receive no points. 

BBB Accreditation

We add additional points for solar installers with BBB accreditation. According to the BBB, having accreditation means that “BBB has determined that the business meets accreditation standards, which include a commitment to make a good faith effort to resolve any consumer complaints.” Businesses pay an additional fee for accreditation and ongoing monitoring for compliance and standards. 

Average Review Scores

Along with BBB reviews, we weigh additional review site scores to get a clearer picture of customer experiences. We average scores from at least three review sites, such as Best Company, Google Reviews, Trustpilot, and Yelp. These scores are calculated on a five-star rating scale and awarded points based on their final average. Companies with average scores of 4.5 stars or higher receive more points and gradually scale downs, with 1.5 stars or lower receiving the lowest score. 

Active Lawsuit

In our research of each solar company, we conduct specific searches for any current legal issues that impact customer experience, trustworthiness, and public safety.  We subtract points from any company with major pending or ongoing litigation or class action settlements.

Review Site Alerts

Many review sites will add alerts on company profiles to notify consumers of past or ongoing negative behaviors. This could include long-term customer support issues, poor or delayed installations, lawsuits, or any negative behavior that could impact current or future customers. We deduct points for any active alerts for a solar installer.

NABCEP Certification

The North American Board of Certified Energy Practitioners® (NABCEP®) is one of the most well-respected and widely recognized renewable energy organizations in the United States. Companies that earn the organization’s official certification have taken the extra step to educate their installers on proper solar installations. 

While NABCEP certification is not required for solar installers, it’s a testament to a company’s commitment to staying up-to-date on solar energy technology, installation standards, and overall ethics and professionalism. Our team awards additional points for NABCEP-certified installers. 

Financing Options

We awarded higher scores to solar companies with multiple financing options. Some payment options, such as solar leases and power purchase agreements (PPAs), disqualify homeowners from cost-saving solar incentives, credits, and rebates. We included companies with these options to ensure all readers can find a provider that fits their needs and budget. However, we did deduct points for companies that only have leases or PPAs, since they offer the least financial benefits. 

In addition, we awarded higher points to installers that provide in-house financing options versus third-party lenders. Internal financing options typically provide more flexible rates and payment options than an outside lender. 

State Availability

We looked for companies with larger service areas and resources to serve their customers adequately. We also included smaller solar installers that specialize in regional installations. Typically, regional installers have better knowledge of their specific region than nationwide installers. We want to ensure that our readers have a diverse selection of solar providers for most areas.

Factor Weights for Rating Solar Companies

We assigned all 18 factors a point value for a total possible score of 100. Total scores are divided by 20 for a final 5-point rating scale. Here’s how we weighed each category for our scoring system:

Solar Equipment and Installation (25%)

  • Solar equipment
  • Installation
  • Services 

Warranty and Performance Guarantees (25%)

  • Product or manufacturer’s warranty coverage 
  • Labor or workmanship warranty coverage
  • Power or production guarantee coverage 
  • Roof leak coverage

Brand Reputation and Professional Certifications (15%)

  • BBB rating
  • BBB accreditation
  • Average aggregate review site score
  • Active lawsuits
  • Review site alerts
  • NABCEP certification

Financing Options (15%)

  • Cash payment, loan, lease, or power purchase agreements (PPAs) 
  • Only lease or PPAs payment options offered
  • In-house financing     

Industry Experience (10%)

  • Number of years in business  

State Availability (10%)

  • Number of states covered

How To Interpret Company Ratings

Solar companies that score 4.5 or 5.0 offer excellent warranty coverage, equipment and support services, reputation, and availability. Providers that score 4.0 to 4.4 are good options but may have lost points for a smaller coverage area, limited equipment, or shorter warranty options. However, they still offer excellent value if their services and equipment meet your home’s needs

Providers that score 3.5 to 3.9 may have scored lower due to its limited state coverage or warranty options. We don’t often recommend companies with lower scores unless they are local and regional companies with great warranty options and reputations. You should still consider these companies to find the best fit for your home and budget.

How To Choose the Best Solar Company for You

Consider the following factors when choosing a solar company:

  • Equipment options: Check each company’s product selection and ensure they provide the equipment you need. Advanced solar technology, such as solar roofing, is limited to a few providers. In addition, check for any add-ons you may need, such as solar storage and EV chargers. 
  • Cost and financing: As you review solar quotes, note the estimated installation charges, including labor costs. Companies should provide detailed contracts that outline their pricing. If you want to use solar incentives to lower costs, you must choose cash payment or a solar loan. However, if you aren’t interested in additional savings or system ownership, a solar lease or PPA might be a better option for you. 
  • Reputation, licenses, and certifications: Check customer reviews from third-party sites, such as Best Company and Trustpilot, to better gauge customer experiences. You can check each company’s state licenses and accreditation using the Interstate Renewable Energy Council (IREC) database. In addition, we recommend hiring an installer certified by NABCEP. 
  • Request multiple quotes: When we spoke with solar experts and professional installers, they recommended requesting quotes from at least three companies to find the best options. Compare each quote for equipment options, warranty coverage, labor costs, and financing options.
  • Warranty coverage: Ensure each potential company provides excellent coverage for product and workmanship protections. Additional options, such as power production guarantees, provide added peace of mind for your system’s long-term performance.

About Us

We are an independent editorial team of subject matter experts who champion the categories and home services we recommend. From the beginning stages of research to the published review articles, our team works diligently to center your interests by identifying common pain points, connecting with people with firsthand knowledge and experience, and crafting content that meets the needs of our audience. We aim to help first-time homebuyers, potential sellers, budget-conscious homeowners, and others from all walks of life streamline their decision-making process for selecting their home services.

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