The best solar energy companies offer comprehensive installation and responsive customer service. Use this guide to compare different solar companies nationwide; you may find the perfect match for your home or business.
List of the top solar companies
We have rated and reviewed hundreds of solar companies from all over the United States and collected thousands of customer reviews to help you find the best solar companies in your area. To find the right rooftop solar contractor for your needs, we suggest getting quotes from a few different companies.
If you want to look at the best solar companies in your state, you can use the clickable map to find what you need.
What qualities should a solar company have?
We’ve ranked and reviewed hundreds of solar power companies from all over the United States and collected thousands of solar reviews from customers to help you find the best solar companies in your area.
Look for a solar company with good reviews, long warranties, good financing options, high-quality products, and industry certifications and recognition.
We suggest getting solar quotes from several different companies so you can find the best rooftop solar contractor for your needs.
Types of solar company
There are many kinds of solar companies that can help you go green. Knowing the differences between these types of solar energy companies and what each one has to offer can help you decide which type of company you’re looking for.
Solar manufacturers: These are the businesses that make the solar equipment that is put on your home. Most companies that make solar panels do not offer services to install or finance solar panels.
Solar installers are companies that come to your home and put up the photovoltaic panels made by the manufacturer. Most companies that install solar panels are local and mostly work in one area.
Solar dealers: These businesses have been given permission to sell solar products made by certain companies. Some dealers have their own solar installation teams on staff, while others hire third parties to do the work.
Full-service providers: Other than making the equipment, these companies do everything to get you set up with solar power. Full-service providers sell the solar panels, set them up, and help pay for them.
Vertically integrated companies take care of every step of the solar process, from making the panels to putting them on your roof. There aren’t many companies in the solar industry that do everything themselves, but the ones that do (like SunPower) are huge.
Financiers for solar: These companies do nothing but finance solar equipment and installations. Most of the time, financiers work with solar dealers and installers.
Solar lead generation companies: The main goal of these businesses is to get leads and sales for other businesses in the solar power industry. Lead generation companies don’t sell or install solar panels. Instead, they put together contracts that installers, dealers, and full-service providers then buy.
What customers say
Reading customer reviews is the best way to find out how happy customers are, which can help you figure out what your own experience will be like as a customer.
When reading reviews, you should look at both the good and the bad comments. Listen to what customers say about your customer service, how clear you are about prices, contracts, products, and deadlines, and how you handle problems. Look for keywords that relate to the things you care about most.
Even though it might seem counterintuitive, we don’t think you should write off a company just because it has bad reviews. Even the best companies sometimes fall short. If bad experiences seem to be the exception and not the rule, pay attention to how the company has responded to the review, if it has. Has the company responded with an explanation or an offer to make things right?
List the warranties that are available.
Warranties are important because they help protect both your equipment and your investment. You should know that solar systems come with several different kinds of warranties, including manufacturer warranties, product warranties, performance warranties, inverter warranties, and workmanship warranties.
Some solar contractors use vague language and don’t tell you exactly which warranties will come with the solar system you buy from them. But if you know about the following warranties and what they cover, you’ll be better prepared to ask your solar rep questions and get solid answers before you sign a contract.
Most solar energy systems come with some kind of warranty for 25 years, but it’s likely that a system will still work for 30 to 40 years.
Guarantees from the maker
The company that made the solar panels is the one giving these guarantees. Manufacturer warranties cover both warranties on the product itself and warranties on how well it works.
Guarantees for products
The company that makes the solar panels gives these warranties, which cover the solar panels themselves. If the panels fail or break because of a problem with how they were made, the environment, or early wear and tear, the maker will replace them for free. Most companies that make solar panels offer warranties on their products that cover the panels for 10 to 25 years.
Guarantees of performance
These warranties are offered by the company that made the solar panels. They cover the power output and energy efficiency of the panels, which are sometimes called “performance guarantees.” Performance warranties make sure that your solar panels don’t produce less than they should. During the time of the warranty, the manufacturer will replace any panels that lose more than a certain percentage (usually 10 to 20 percent) of the energy they were supposed to produce. By law, all solar panels must come with at least a 25-year warranty on how well they work.
The company that made the inverter for the solar system gives these warranties. If the solar inverter breaks or can’t handle the amount of energy that was calculated, the company that made it will replace it for free. Depending on the type of inverter (string or micro; see below for a detailed explanation of the difference), the warranty could last anywhere from 5 to 25 years.
Guarantees for work
These warranties are given to you by the company that sold you the solar system. They are sometimes called “service warranties” or “installation warranties.” These warranties cover problems caused by the installation process, like damage to your roof or other parts of your home or property. Not all companies that install solar panels offer a warranty on their work, but those that do usually cover you for 5 to 10 years.
Figure out the best way to finance your needs.
Solar photovoltaic systems can be paid for in four main ways: outright purchase, loan, lease, or power purchase agreement. The best choice for you depends on where you live, how much money you have, and where you live.
No matter how you choose to pay for solar in your state, rebates and incentives can help make it more affordable.
Straight up buy
If you have the money and want a high dollar-for-dollar return, buying a solar PV system outright is a good option. But the actual return you get on an outright purchase depends on the utility prices and incentives in your state. Higher utility prices and more incentives usually lead to bigger savings over time.
Getting a loan to pay for your solar system is a great way to go solar if you have equity in your home but want to spend as little as possible up front. Many solar companies work with financiers or banks that help solar projects get loans and other types of financing. Depending on your credit score, the length of most solar financing contracts is between 5 and 20 years, and the interest rates range from 1.99% to 4.99%. Plus, if you get a loan for solar, you can still get state and federal tax breaks.
Leasing a solar system can be helpful if you live in an area with high utility costs and want to save money on your electric bill without spending a lot of your own money on solar. With a solar lease, you rent the system from a solar company or a third-party lender for less than what you were paying for power before.
But keep in mind that if you lease, you don’t own the system, so you can’t get solar incentives from the state or federal government. Also, most solar lease contracts are for 20 years, which could be a problem if you don’t plan to stay in your current home for that long.
Purchase of power agreement (PPA)
By signing a PPA, which is like a lease, you can save money on your utility bill without investing in solar by letting someone else put a system they own on your roof.
But a power purchase agreement (PPA) is different from a lease in that you only pay a flat rate for the power that your system produces that you actually use.
Check the product’s quality and how well it works.
Since 1954, when the first silicon solar cell was made, solar tech has come a long way. Even though most rooftop solar systems work the same way, you should look for a company that uses top-of-the-line equipment that looks good and is as efficient as it can be.
Solar panel types
For residential projects, there are two main types of solar panels: monocrystalline panels and polycrystalline panels. Monocrystalline modules are made of one crystal of silicon, while polycrystalline modules are made of more than one crystal of silicon.
The most important difference between these two kinds of panels is their efficiency rating, which tells you how well they can turn the sun’s rays into electricity for your home. Most of the time, monocrystalline panels are more efficient than polycrystalline panels. This means that you need fewer monocrystalline panels than polycrystalline panels to make the same amount of energy.
Monocrystalline panels are probably the best choice for people who have a small roof. But polycrystalline panels should work fine for people who have a lot of roof space.
Solar inverter types
Inverters are an important part of any solar PV system because they change the direct current (DC) electricity that your panels make into the alternating current (AC) electricity that your home and the grid use. String inverters and microinverters are the two main types of inverters used in the solar industry today.
String inverters connect all of the panels in a solar system into a single circuit, or “string.” This means that anything that affects one panel will affect all of the panels. For example, if one panel on the string gets shaded, the production of all the other panels on that string drops by a lot. Most string inverters come with a 10-year warranty.
On the other hand, microinverters give each solar panel in the system its own inverter. Each microinverter works on its own, so shading one panel won’t affect the production of any other panels. Most microinverters have a warranty of 25 years.
A string inverter, which is the cheaper option, should be fine for homeowners who live in places with a lot of sun. But a microinverter is better for people who live in places where there is a lot of shade or cloud cover.
How well solar energy works
Efficiency is a way to measure how well a solar panel can turn light into energy. The panel makes more electricity in a given amount of time the better its efficiency rating. Most solar panels have ratings between 14 and 24 percent for how well they work.
Even though it might seem like the best choice to buy super-efficient panels, you don’t have to unless you have a small roof and use a lot of power. If you have enough roof space, adding a few less efficient panels to your solar array could save you money and give you the same amount of power.
Think about awards and certifications
We think that customer reviews are the most important form of social proof, but recognition from industry leaders is another type of clout that helps a solar company’s reputation.
Look for a solar company that is affiliated with NABCEP (North American Board of Certified Energy Practitioners) and has other certifications, like the Best Company Sustainability Award or a spot in the top 10 ranking.