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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?
With multiple 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. We have reviewed the big players in this space and provided a quick and easy way to get free quotes from multiple companies to help you find the best price for the best provider in your geographic location. To get your quote, just click here or simply start with this form:
What Company Offers The Best Solar Panels For Your Home?
We suggest reading up on all the companies, so you are even more informed about getting your energy from the sun. Since availability varies based on your geographical location, it is good to be informed about all of the companies in this space.
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.
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 the 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 this quote form to get started or read on for individual solar company reviews.
Established in 2013, Dividend Solar has made a name for itself with its excellent service reputation. The major catch with this company is that it only offers loan financing and no leasing or PPA options. But Dividend is an excellent option if you’re considering a loan (with no money down).
All customers get a performance guarantee, a 5-year roof warranty, and 20-year equipment and workmanship warranty. And although they outsource their installations, they have strict requirements that their contractors must hold professional licensing and be certified. Dividend Solar services Washington DC and 28 states, including AZ, CA, CO, CT, DE, FL, GA, HI, ID, IL, LA, MD, MA, MI, MO, NH, NJ, NM, NY, NC, OH, OR, RI, SC, TX, UT and VA.
Utah-based ION Solar is a new company resulting from the merger of Vision Solar and Zing Solar in early 2017. It’s too soon to give this company a thorough review, but ION has some good things going for it. They hire their own installers, rather than contracting out locally, and they offer solid warranties for all of their financing plans. These include a 25-year equipment warranty, 10-year labor warranty and 10-year roof warranty.
Unfortunately, ION’s website is pretty bare bones, and you must contact them for many details. ION Solar services eight states, including CA, CO, ID, NM, NV, TX, VA and UT.
Modern Energy is an Ohio-based, family-owned solar company that specializes in residential and corporate solar roof panels. Like other companies in our reviews, they guide you through the process from start to finish with accredited engineers and solar professionals.
Unfortunately, we couldn’t find any information on their website about financing options, their installers and other important information. You have to call or email them to learn more and obtain a proposal. We also couldn’t find any customer reviews online about their services. Modern Energy services five states, including IN, OH, PA, NY and NC.
NRG Community Solar has some of the most weather resistant panels on the market, and when they offered residential installation, they offered a free in-person rooftop assessment and free installation.
We found many customer complaints about long installation delays and non-responsive customer service, especially post-installation. Further, the BBB reports that there is a pattern of complaints “from consumers stating that there were misrepresentations in their sales presentations.”
NRG Community Solar is only available in New York, Massachusetts and Minnesota.
PetersenDean has a long history of being an expert roofing and solar panel company, but they only offer outright purchase or loan options. However, we recommend you get a quote if you’re considering owning your solar panels. Their Freedom Flex payment plan offers $0 down with no payments for 12 months and no pre-payment penalties. Their warranty of 25 years is a plus.
PetersenDean currently services six states (AZ, CA, FL, HI, NV, TX).
Sungevity recently became the second largest residential solar company in California and the fourth largest in the US with the acquisitions of Solar Spectrum and California’s Horizon Solar Power. The company still operates under all three brand names (Solar Spectrum, Horizon Solar and Sungevity), depending on the geographic location. The European division was sold off during Sungevity’s 2017 bankruptcy actions.
Sungevity offers several financing options and a dedicated account representative. So far, the newly combined company gets good customer reviews for their sales and customer service, but it’s too early to get a clear picture of their installation process, system performance and other business practices. But we’re keeping an eye on them.
Sungevity (sometimes under the brand names of Solar Spectrum or Horizon Solar) currently services seven states, including CA, CO, CT, DE, MA, MD, NJ, NY, RI, VT and Washington DC.
Houston-based Sunnova currently ranks as the third largest residential solar company in the U.S. They offer four financing options, including EZ Own (loan), leasing and two different PPA agreements. It’s worth noting that their EZ Pay PPA has a fixed monthly cost (annual adjustment) and a production guarantee. Their regular PPA agreement has a variable monthly cost based on your energy use but no production guarantee.
We’re hesitant to recommend this company, even though they’re a big player — far too many consumer complaints about bad customer service, installation issues, repairs and more.
Sunnova services 20 states, including AZ, CA, CO, CT, DE, FL, HI, IL, IN, LA, MA, MD, MO, NJ, NM, NV, NY, OR, PA, and TX, as well as Puerto Rico, Guam and Saipan.
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 guaranteed an easy installation process. Further, their customer service reviews and BBB rating are some of the lowest we’ve seen.
SunPower used to service seven states, but on the website it is unclear where they offer residential installations today. They seem to be more focused on their corporate arm.
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. The company offers solar panels for purchase, loans, leases and PPAs. Sunrun also offers its Brightbox smart, clean-energy battery backup solution (for an added cost, either via purchase or lease). The company partners with local market installers to encourage community-wide job growth and to provide local customer support.
You can find Sunrun in 21 states: AZ, CA, CO, CT, FL, HI, IL, MA, MD, NH, NV, NJ, NM, NY, PA, RI, SC, TX, UT, VT and WI, as well as the District of Columbia and Puerto Rico.
Tesla (formerly SolarCity), holds an estimated 30% of the U.S. market share, making them the one to beat in the residential solar industry. However, as of August 2018, only 12 solar roofs have been installed under the Tesla name and, this past summer, the company shut down a dozen facilities across 9 U.S. states.
An all-service company, Tesla is a one-stop shop for financing, designing, obtaining permits and installation with several financing options, including purchasing, loan financing, leasing and PPA.
In addition to solar panels, Tesla now offers a solar roof (attractive roof tiles with solar cells) and a Powerwall, a clean energy backup power supply for utility outages. Tesla gives you one team that takes care of it all, with locations in the District of Columbia and 21 states (AZ, CA, CO, CT, DE, FL, HI, MD, MA, NV, NH, NJ, NM, NY, OR, PA, RI, TX, UT, VT and VA).
Discuss SolarCity promotions in our dedicated SolarCity coupon page.
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 Tesla after only seven years in business.
Vivint also sells a clean energy battery backup option in select locations. Vivint Solar offers four financing options in the 21 states it serves (AZ, CA, CO, CT, FL, HI, IL, MD, MA, NV, NH, NJ, NM, NY, PA, RI, SC, TX, UT, VT, and VA). Vivint Solar is a worthy and quickly expanding option for the areas they serve.
VivintSolar occasionally has promotions, find them and discuss on our dedicated VivintSolar coupon page.
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.
A Bright Future For Solar Panel Consumers
The use of residential solar panels in the U.S. continues to increase, in part, because residential installation costs keep dropping (by a whopping 70% 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 in 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 $15,000-20,000+. You’re also helping to offset tens of thousands of pounds of CO2 emissions. If you’re committed to being an Earth’s friend, you can feel good about the potential positive impact.
Can You Go The DIY Route?
Many retailers 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).
Why are you considering solar energy for your home?