Best Solar Panels for Your Home: SunPower vs Sunrun vs Solarcity vs Sungevity vs Verengo vs Vivint Solar vs NRG

How do we keep this site running? This post may contain affiliate links — the cost is the same to you, but we get a referral fee. Compensation does not affect rankings. Thanks!

1st
2nd
3rd

Tired of high electric bills? Worried about the impact of CO2 emissions on our environment? Look no further than that big ball of energy in the sky. Did you know homeowners save an average of $1,000 per year on electricity by installing rooftop solar panels? The residential solar power industry is steaming hot these days. In 2015 alone, the number of U.S. homes harnessing solar power grew by 66% over the previous year. With ever-evolving financing options and the cost of utilizing solar energy continuing to decline, your choices for an affordable switch-over to solar are better than ever.

How Do Solar Panels Work?

First, it helps to understand how solar panels work. Solar panels contain silicon or other photovoltaic (PV) materials that absorb the sunlight’s energy. Typically when sunlight hits an object, its energy creates heat. But when sunlight hits PV materials, their atoms release electrons that bind together to create an accelerated level of energy. It’s this higher level of energy that provides electricity for your home. Learn more in our How Does a Solar Panel Work article.

What Should You Consider Before Going Solar?

  • Are you a good candidate? Most likely if the expanse of your roof gets at least five hours of direct sunlight each day and you have high electricity bills. Most sun-powered companies give you a free consultation to see if you’re a good fit.
  • Get estimates and consultations from several different companies to compare your options and gauge their customer service. Ask for their residential project references.
  • Solar lease vs buy? Solar panel cost is a major consideration. Many companies give you the option of leasing panels rather than purchasing them outright. A solar panel lease is a good option for people who don’t want a lot of upfront costs and want to break even much sooner than you would by purchasing solar panels. Most leases require at least a 10-year commitment.
  • Know the difference between leasing and power purchase agreements (PPAs). In many ways, leasing and PPAs are the same, but when you lease a sun-powered system, you pay a fixed monthly fee as you would if you’re leasing a car. With PPAs, however, you pay by kilowatt-per-hour similar to your electricity bill, but typically the solar rates are lower.
  • Look into local, state and federal solar rebates and tax incentives that can help you save even more money when you’re considering solar panels for your home.

Our Top Picks for Best Residential Solar Companies

We researched dozens of companies and consumer reviews to help you narrow down the playing field. Here we present our top picks for best solar companies, including locations, financing options, features, customer service and more. But how much do solar panels cost? We don’t include actual pricing due to the wide variety of financing options and the custom-design aspect of installing solar cells for your home. Use the quote form below to get started or read on for individual company reviews.

SolarCity Review

#1

Visit Website

Our number one pick, SolarCity, holds nearly a third of the U.S. market share, making them the one to beat in the residential solar industry. An all-service company, SolarCity is a one-stop shop for financing, designing, obtaining permits and installation with several financing options, including purchasing, loan financing, leasing and PPA. SolarCity gives you one team that takes care of it all, with locations in the District of Columbia and 20 states (AZ, CA, CO, CT, DE, HI, MD, MA, NV, NH, NJ, NM, NY, OR, PA, RI, TX, UT, VT and WA).

Pros

Cons

  • Excellent financing options, including lease, loan and PPA
  • They hire their own installers
  • Solar City monitors your system 24/7
  • Mobile app tracks system’s production and your home’s consumption
  • Battery backup if your grid goes down
  • Award-winning customer service
  • In-person evaluation of your roof
  • Team of engineers designs your system
  • BBB accredited: A+
  • Doesn’t offer energy performance guarantee that several other companies do offer
  • Some consumer complaints about pushy salespeople and installation delays

Coupon

Get your first month of SolarCity free when you click this link. Discuss this promotion and others on our dedicated SolarCity coupon page.

Read our in-depth SolarCity Review

Sungevity Review

#2

Visit Website

Sungevity, the winner of our number two spot for best residential solar company, offers purchase, loan financing, leasing and PPA options. What sets them apart? For every system they install, they contribute to their Empowered by Light program, which provides solar-powered light and solar cell phone charging kits to kids who live off the grid in Zambia. And they partner with many non-profit organizations, like the Sierra Club and the American Diabetes Association, to switch their offices over to solar and help them raise funds for their causes. Talk about making an impact on our world! Sungevity services 12 states, including AZ, CA, CO, CT, DE, MD, MA, NM, NJ, NY, NC, VT, and the District of Columbia.

Pros

Cons

  • Variety of financing choices, including loans, leasing and PPAs
  • Guarantee that your system will produce the energy they quote or they pay the difference
  • Carefully picked “preferred installers” are local to your market
  • Sungevity monitors your system 24/7
  • PC and mobile apps let you monitor your system’s performance
  • Vast majority of customer reviews we found were very positive
  • Committed to charitable contributions
  • Select Lowe’s locations have Sungevity reps in-house
  • A+ BBB accredited
  • System design based on satellite imaging of your roof instead of an in-person evaluation
  • No backup if your power goes out
  • Lack of detailed information on website about solar panel equipment and systems

Coupon

Use referral code SUN-1861694 and receive a $750 discount on your Sungevity solar installation! Click here to take advantage of this offer. Discuss this promotion and others on our dedicated Sungevity coupon page.

Read our in-depth Sungevity Review

Vivint Solar Review

#3

Visit Website

Vivint Solar rounds out our top three picks. Vivint Solar is an offshoot of the well-established home security company, Vivint. The parent company seems to know what they’re doing – they currently hold the number two spot in solar residential market share, just behind our top pick SolarCity after only five years in business. Vivint Solar only offers PPAs in the 12 states it serves (AZ, CA, CT, HI, MD, MA, NJ, NM, NY, PA, SC, UT, as well as the District of Columbia). Vivint Solar is a worthy and quickly expanding option for the areas they serve.

Pros

Cons

  • They hire their own installers in each market they serve
  • 24/7/365 monitoring of your solar system
  • Uses rail-free Zep technology reducing installation time and cost
  • Use of micro-inverters increases efficiency by 15% or more compared to a centralized inverter, which most companies use
  • In-person free rooftop consultation
  • Overall excellent customer service reviews
  • Can sync with Vivint home security and automation system and monitor via mobile apps
  • No purchase, loan or lease options (only PPA)
  • Some consumer complaints about problems with energy production once system is installed
  • No information on website about battery backup
  • Company isn’t BBB accredited

Coupon

VivintSolar occassionally has promotions, find them and discuss on our dedicated VivintSolar coupon page.

Read our in-depth Vivint Solar Review

Best Solar Panels for Your Home

Below are a couple more solar panel reviews that didn’t make our top three. We suggest reading them as well, so you are even more informed about getting your energy from the sun. One of these companies may be a good fit for you if our top three picks aren’t available in your area.

NRG Home Solar | SunPower | Sunrun | Verengo

NRG Home Solar Review

NRG Home Solar logo

Visit Website

NRG Home Solar has some of the most weather resistant panels on the market, and they offer a free in-person rooftop assessment and free installation. They’re one of a few solar panel companies to provide a performance guarantee — if your system doesn’t produce the level of power they quote in your contract, they’ll refund you the difference. NRG Home Solar has a lot going for it, but they only offer purchase or lease options. And we found many customer complaints about long installation delays and non-responsive customer service, especially post-installation. NRG Home Solar is only available in New York, New Jersey and Massachusetts.

Pros

Cons

  • No upfront costs
  • Performance guarantee that your system will generate the energy they quote or they pay the difference
  • They monitor your system 24/7
  • Battery backup if your system goes down
  • In-person rooftop consultation
  • PC and mobile apps for self-monitoring
  • Leasing is their only financing option (no PPA or loans)
  • No information on website about solar panel equipment, installers, specific energy savings, etc.
  • Many customer complaints about them not returning phone calls after installation
  • No live chat

SunPower Review

SunPower logo

Visit Website

SunPower is one of the oldest manufacturers and providers of residential solar panels in the U.S. Their claims to fame today? Their X Series solar panels deliver 44% more power per panel than most competitors, and their roof panels are more aesthetically pleasing than what other manufacturers offer. Regarding purchasing options and installation, however, SunPower doesn’t quite make the grade. They don’t offer a PPA, which is quickly becoming an industry norm these days. And they outsource most of their installations to local companies that may not meet your customer service expectations. The bottom line with SunPower? Their panels and solar technology are top-rate, but you’re not assured an easy installation process. SunPower is available in seven states (AK, AZ, CA, FL, HI, NV, NC).

Pros

Cons

  • Leading manufacturer of top-of-the-line residential solar panels
  • PC and mobile apps to track your power usage
  • Free consultation for rooftop design
  • Battery backup
  • Live chat, phone and email customer service
  • Charitable giving to encourage solar power use
  • Doesn’t offer PPA financing option
  • Outsources most installations
  • No energy consumption performance guarantee
  • Doesn’t monitor your system 24/7
  • Many consumer complaints about poor customer service

Sunrun Review

Visit WebsiteSunrun logo

Sunrun is a large player in the residential solar industry. In fact, Sunrun pioneered the business model of leasing panels, taking away the high upfront costs incurred if you purchase. Now, they offer solar panels for purchase, loans, leases and PPAs. They partner with local market installers to encourage community-wide job growth and to provide local customer support. You can find Sun Run in 14 states: AZ, CA, CO, CT, HI, MA, MD, NH, NV, NJ, NY, OR, PA and SC.

Pros

Cons

  • Financing options include loan, lease and PPA
  • They pay the difference if you’re not producing what they quoted you
  • Sunrun monitors your system 24/7
  • PC and mobile monitoring give you your stats and environmental impact
  • Rates locked in for 20 years
  • BBB accredited: A+
  • Sunrun outsources some installers
  • No battery backup if your power goes out
  • Many customer complaints about poor customer service and panels not producing the energy they quoted
  • System design based on satellite imaging of your roof instead of an in-person evaluation

Verengo Solar Review

Verengo Solar logoVisit Website

Verengo Solar is the sixth biggest solar power company in the U.S. today but currently only focuses in California. Verengo offers purchase options for its customers, as well as loan financing and PPA’s. If you live in California, it’s worth reaching out to get a quote to compare to our top picks.

Pros

Cons

  • 25-year guarantee covers maintenance, inverter replacement, and insurance for the entire system
  • Ability to lock in solar rates for 25 years
  • A+ BBB rating
  • Minimal information on their website about their financing, panel equipment, process, installers, etc.
  • Some complaints about aggressive sales people
  • Reports of their customer service lacking

How Does the Installation Process Work?

Wondering how the whole process works from the design phase to installation? Watch this helpful video by Vivint to give you a better idea of what to expect when they transition your home from standard electricity to sub-generated power.

Can You Go the DIY Route?

A number of home supply stores, like Lowe’s and Costco, sell solar panel kits that include most of what you need to install them yourself. But you need to make sure you acquire all the necessary permits — and verify that your state doesn’t require a certified company to install the panels for you (some states do).

A Bright Future for Solar Panel Consumers

The use of residential solar panels in the U.S. continues to increase, in part, because residential costs keep dropping (by a whopping 45% since 2010), according to the Solar Energy Industries Association. That’s great news for anyone considering making the switch to solar. Energy costs aside, when you install sun-powered panels for your home you’re investing in the equity of your home. In hot markets, like California, you can increase the value of your home by $10,000 or more. You’re also helping to offset tens of thousands of pounds of CO2 emissions. If you’re committed to being Earth’s friend, that’s an impact you can feel good about.

Why are you considering solar energy for your home?

Sally is a huge fan of fresh, organic food. One of her favorite hobbies is cooking with as many fresh herbs, spices and veggies as possible. And she's devoted to her all-natural skin products and cosmetics. It's saved her and her daughter from the curse of skin allergies. When she's not writing and researching (and being a Mom), you can find Sally getting down to earth in her home garden.

Leave a Reply

6 Comments on "Best Solar Panels for Your Home: SunPower vs Sunrun vs Solarcity vs Sungevity vs Verengo vs Vivint Solar vs NRG"

avatar
Sort by:   newest | oldest | most voted
Chris Morgan
Chris Morgan

Talk to more Vivint customers like I’ve done there’s no way they are #3. Their Cons: No Guaranteed Production, Paying for overproduction, Hard to reach customer service or closing rep after point of sale. Long story short research and then report back. My advice whoever can inform or alleviate your questions about solar is who you should go with , because all in all there’s no wrong way to go solar unless you’re are not going solar at all. Almost forgot Pro’s: Quick Setup, Great Salesman with advantage to bring solar up to through emergency alarm service review.

Guest
Guest

I have quotes from Sungevity and Sunrun for purchase. Both are more or less same. Sunrun gives only 10 years warranty on the panels whereas Sungevity gives 20 years warranty on the equipment. I live out of the country for 3 months in Winter, so need your guidance which company to choose?

Sadie Cornelius
Admin
Sadie Cornelius

Sungevity is our #2 pick and they have a better warranty – so that would be our suggestion, however every home and financial situation is unique so we can only offer our unbiased review & recommendation.

Jason Dunham
Jason Dunham

Hello, just want to clarify a few items about Sunrun. Sunrun is the only solar company partnered with Costco, one of America’s most trusted retailers. Through Costco Sunrun only offers a purchase program (no PPA’s or leases). If a homeowners signs up for a free consultation through Costco and Sunrun and consultant will come to the customers home and give a free detailed estimate to the homeowner.

Sadie Cornelius
Admin
Sadie Cornelius

Hello Jason, thanks for letting us know!

Sandra Beckman
Sandra Beckman

Result is awesome. When I heard about solar panels Los Angeles, I couldn’t imagine these kind of advantages.

wpDiscuz