Whether or not you are trying to do one thing good for the atmosphere, avoid wasting cash or need to rely a bit much less in your utility, 2022 may be your yr to go photo voltaic. The federal funding tax credit score will now offer you 30% of the price of your photo voltaic system again in your taxes, and native incentives (like web metering) are nonetheless sturdy, although there are some efforts to roll them again.
Whereas the US largely averted potential blackouts this summer time, local weather change is anticipated to make the grid much less dependable and enhance the chance of maximum climate occasions. Photo voltaic panels with battery storage and the flexibility to disconnect from the grid can hold the lights on throughout an influence outage.
Photo voltaic panels are a important funding although, to not point out a resolution that requires some cautious thought and analysis. Under are my selections for the very best photo voltaic firms by a number of totally different parameters. Nevertheless, with a purchase order as massive as photo voltaic panels, do not let this listing be your solely cease. Photo voltaic panel firms, as a result of their merchandise require prolonged, skilled set up, are examined a bit in another way than different classes on CNET.
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This listing and the evaluations it attracts from aren’t based mostly on any hands-on testing. There is not any possible solution to do hands-on testing of the acquisition course of, set up or a house photo voltaic panel array after it is put in. As an alternative, these photo voltaic firm evaluations depend on interviews with firm spokespeople, publicly obtainable information and evaluation of traits (like photo voltaic panel costs). Whereas the evaluations are as completely researched as potential, the character of the product means there are some limitations in comparison with one other class like moveable energy stations.
This best list draws from national and notable installers of (mostly rooftop) solar panels. As we publish reviews of more companies, this best list will be updated to reflect our current top choices. These were rated the best solar companies for the variety and quality of equipment and products they offered, their stated warranties and apparent commitments to customer service. (Customer service is difficult to pin down and therefore makes up a smaller portion of the score, even though it’s a significant part of the purchasing process.)
If you’re looking for a solar panel installer, be sure to get multiple quotes including from local installers where possible. The specifics of a solar array could change given the shape and angle of a given roof or the energy usage and habits of a given family. Solar can be a great investment but requires you to do your own research.
SunPower Solar takes the top spot on our best list thanks to its top-of-the-line solar panels and strong warranties. The solar panels SunPower offers have industry leading efficiency marks (22.8%) and a warranty that guarantees at least 92% production after 25 years. It also earns an A+ rating from the Better Business Bureau (companies pay to be rated). It offers strong warranties on batteries as well.
SunPower’s solar panels might be a bit more expensive than others (though accurate pricing industry wide is hard to come by). The company has said it plans to continue rolling out more accessible solar solutions. Read our SunPower review.
Palmetto Solar has strong solar equipment offerings and is trying something different from most solar companies when it comes to customer service. Palmetto offers proactive monitoring and tiered levels of support on a subscription model called Palmetto Protect. While some of the upper tiers might only pay off only in the most extreme cases of failure, solar customers feeling uneasy about their equipment can buy a bit of peace of mind for a small fee.
It’s worth noting that solar panels are typically low maintenance systems. People can monitor their systems through apps available from most installers, including Palmetto. Palmetto also receives an A+ from the Better Business Bureau, which companies pay to receive a rating. Read our Palmetto Solar review.
Tesla’s Solar branch seems to be the least loved of Elon Musk’s ventures. Even Tesla’s Solar Roof seems to get more love. Still, solar panels from Tesla are likely to be the cheapest option where they are available. You can save thousands of dollars, without sacrificing on quality of equipment.
What you might sacrifice is customer service. From delays to price changes, to slow responses, to system malfunctions, social media reports of negative experiences aren’t hard to find, including some who regret their choice. This is true of all solar companies, but the quantity of reports concerning Tesla is concerning. Others describe experiences that aren’t so bad, to be sure. The general consensus is that going with Tesla is a gamble.
Other companies we reviewed
We’ve reviewed other solar companies that don’t appear in our best list above, including some that scored higher overall than Tesla’s solar panels. Given the nature of the solar panel industry, which shifts from state to state and roof to roof, some of these other companies might be better suited to your situation.
- Sunrun: The biggest solar company in America. Sunrun offers quality panels, a choice of a couple of batteries and quality inverters. It also offers strong warranties. Most of its business is in leases or power purchase agreements, and Sunrun provides stronger warranties for power purchase agreements than purchases. Its overall score is higher than Tesla’s, but just missed edging out the others due to its lacking a price-match policy.
- Tesla Solar Roof: Tesla’s Solar Roof is an exciting way to imagine solar. It’s sleek, it’s low profile, but it’s very expensive. Depending on the size of your roof and your location, it can be several times more expensive than solar panels.
- Smartflower: The solar sunflower is a beautiful way to install solar panels. Unless you’re trying to advertise your green commitments or find a statement piece for your yard, it’s likely too much money for too little solar.
- ADT Solar: ADT Solar is a relative newcomer, after ADT purchased Sunpro and rebranded in 2022. The company was forced to find a new panel supplier after LG left the market, but has committed to installing tier one panels. It received high marks for its warranties and price match.
- Trinity Solar: For a while, Trinity was CNET’s top company for customer service and still receives top marks for there. It also offers quality equipment and warranties, though some of its warranties, like its workmanship warranty, are a bit weaker than other companies’.
How we evaluate solar companies
Solar companies are tricky to review. Even if it was feasible to install solar panels from every installer on a single house one after another and compare them, variations in weather and season would affect output. You’d also still be left with the subjective ratings for customer service, which is a major factor in the experience of getting solar panels for a roof.
Even without a laboratory test for solar panel companies, we kept our review as standardized as possible. We evaluated solar companies in three categories: breadth of service, value and customer care. Breadth of service covers things like whether or not a company offered a variety of quality panels, batteries or inverters and if it offered panels for purchase, lease and power purchase agreement. It also takes into consideration the strength of warranties. Value covers price and any other benefits, for example, a highly rated app for customers to monitor their solar panels. Customer care included some anecdotal evidence from online forums and review sites, but also customer satisfaction and care ratings (where available) from reputable sources like the Better Business Bureau.
Solar panel FAQs
How long do solar panels last?
If you buy solar panels today, there’s a good chance they’ll be under warranty for 25 years. You’ll often see that listed as the lifespan of the panels, but that’s not quite accurate. That warranty covers production from your solar panels. Solar panels lose their ability to produce solar electricity as they age for any number of reasons, so a warranty will guarantee a certain level of production after a certain number of years. For example, Q Cells offers a 25-year warranty, which guarantees that your panels will produce at 86% of their rated capacity at that point.
This doesn’t mean those solar panels die at the end of 25 years, they’ll just produce less. Solar panels can produce well after their warranty expires, though given that large numbers of solar panels are just now being installed, we’ll continue to get a better idea of how they age in years to come.
How do I know if the quote I have is a good one?
The best way to tell is to get multiple quotes. With a purchase this big, you should get several, including one or two from local installers who might be able to offer you greater choice.
There are also resources from the federal and many state governments to guide you through the process. You can look out for a few red flags from salespeople, too.
Are local solar installers a good option?
Local installers typically have less costs for advertising and sales than the large, national corporations. That represents possible savings that could be returned to customers. On the other hand, with a long-term investment like solar panels, it may feel safer to have the backing of a large corporation. And larger companies may be able to offer cheaper prices due to the volume of installations they do.
When you’re gathering quotes for a solar panel installation, be sure to contact local installers, too. The solar industry is a competitive one, and checking around could save you thousands.
Will solar panels work in my climate?
Identical solar panels will produce different amounts of electricity when they’re exposed to different levels of sunlight. So, solar panels in sunnier places (like the American southwest) with more direct sunlight (like in the south) will produce more electricity. But other factors make solar a good deal for homeowners.
New England has one of the highest regional adoption rates for residential solar in the US. That’s not because it has a ton of sunshine year round, but because it has favorable solar policies, like net metering and rebates. Solar panels might make financial sense even if they’ll be installed under frequently cloudy skies.