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Top 4 Solar Companies

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December 15
1:26 AM 2021

Your Guide to Finding Great Sustainable Energy 

After hearing a persistent knock on your door, you peer out your window and see another door-to-door solar salesperson.

You're interested in solar, but the companies' offers are starting to blur together. Choosing a solar company is a serious decision, so this top four list will help you narrow down your options of the best solar companies in america.

Why Solar?

Solar energy has become increasingly popular, so it's important for consumers to research and evaluate solar companies.This list takes into account the following factors:

●       Price per watt

●       Transparency

●       Equipment

●       Warranties

Some solar options may appear to be a steal, but without considering these important factors, you may find yourself paying more than necessary.

How the Ranking was Determined

Price Per Watt

Anyone who has spent time researching solar panels knows that it can be difficult to find and compare prices. What needs to be considered? What is a good price?

Price per watt (PPW) is a system's cost divided by its wattage. This is an important metric for comparing solar because you can analyze the value of systems built with different equipment.

With several of the companies listed, it was difficult and sometimes even impossible to find an average PPW. This is a telltale sign that a company's salespeople determine their prices on a case-by-case basis.

Transparency

A company's level of transparency contributed to each ranking since vague pricing information complicates the process and unsettles potential customers.

Inevitably, price variability occurs in the solar industry because of different locations' permit fees and labor costs. However, many solar companies offer the same products and services for inflated prices, based not on equipment and labor costs, but on the related cost per kWhr of the local utility provider.

Choosing solar energy is an investment, and you deserve to feel comfortable and well-informed throughout the process.

Inverters Offered

Whether you're new to solar or an energy sage, it is important to compare products. Inverters, for example, are essential to your system.

Inverters convert the sunlight energy into usable energy for a home. The two most common types are string and microinverters.

A string inverter hooks up all panels to a single point of control, so if there is a single problem with one of the system's parts, it will affect the performance of the whole system.

String inverters typically only come with 10-12 year warranties which can leave buyers out of luck less than halfway through their panels' warranty.

Microinverters, on the other hand, are generally preferred. Many find microinverters worth their higher price because they last longer and are more efficient.

Warranties

With today's great panel options, you shouldn't settle for anything less than 25-year product and performance warranties on your panels. Solid warranties help ensure that you'll receive a proper return on your solar investment 10 year workmanship .

The Top 4 Solar Companies

  1. Project Solar (Best Overall)

  2. Tesla Sun Roof (Great Aesthetic)

  3. Sunrun/Vivint Solar (Great Accessibility)

  4. Blue Raven (Great Products)

1. Project Solar (Best Overall)

At a glance

Project Solar stands out from other options because of its high quality panels, DIY and full service installation options, shockingly low PPW, and standard Enphase reliable microinverters and Q Cells panels. 

Project Solar can sell at such a low price because they've committed to operate without a salesforce, allowing them to remain objective in their advice and not bloat prices with commissions.

Project Solar has a free quote calculator that takes your roof type and energy usage into account and effortlessly provides you with a system size and transparent pricing.

Average Year-1 ROI: 18%

PPW: After the 26% federal tax credit, Project Solar systems averages $1.50/watt fully installed or $1.00/watt with do-it-yourself installation. (Before incentives, full-service installation costs $2/watt, and DIY is $1.50/watt.)

Transparency: ★★★★★

Inverter: Enphase IQ7+ microinverters

Panels

  • Q-Cells 

  • Black-on-black, Tier 1, monocrystalline panels with a guaranteed production value of 85% by year 25

Installation 

  • Easy DIY installation and rooftop delivery can save customers thousands. 

  • Also offers full-service installations through their vetted and double backed install network

Warranty: 25-year product and performance warranties for both panels and microinverters, 10-year workmanship for full service installation

2. Tesla Solar Roof (Best Aesthetic)

At a glance

A departure from clunky panels, Tesla's sleek and durable Solar Roof is bound to catch your eye if you're looking for an aesthetically pleasing and excitingly innovative product. 

Tesla's Solar Roof tiles replace your original roof, so they won't distract from your home's architecture. 

PPW: Averages $6.30/watt

Transparency: ★★★☆☆

Inverter: String inverter (10-year warranty)

Roof Warranty: 25 years 

Downsides

  • The installation can cost 3x more than traditional panels, and a long waitlist makes timing unpredictable.

3. Sunrun/Vivint Solar (Great Accessibility)

At a glance 

In 2020, Sunrun acquired Vivint Solar and solidified its position as the largest national home solar provider. Because of its size, Sunrun/Vivint Solar covers most locations in the United States.

PPW: Average of $3.68/watt

Transparency: ★★☆☆☆

Inverters

  • SolarEdge inverter (a string/micro inverter hybrid) or Enphase microinverters

Panels: Canadian Solar Inc., Trina, Jinko

Warranty: 25 years 

Downsides

  • Some customers have complained about discrepancies between what sales representatives promised and what the company delivered.

4. Blue Raven (Great Products)

At a glance

It's difficult to find specific information about this Utah-based company's pricing on their website. 

Blue Raven's page covering the cost of solar emphasizes that customers will be able to lower their electrical bills but doesn't clearly describe how much will need to be paid to the company.

PPW: A $2.71/watt average (found on a third-party site)

Transparency: ★★☆☆☆

Inverter: Enphase microinverters 

Panels

  • Axitec, SolarWorld, Canadian Solar, Trina

  • Monocrystalline 

Installation: NABCEP qualified installer

Warranty: 25 years for both panels and inverters

Downsides

  • Vague pricing information

  • Some customers have reported communication issues.

Final Thoughts

You're back at your front window, eyeing the new solar salesperson on your porch. Now you know that you don't need to settle for manipulated, unclear prices or vague explanations of products.

Solar is an investment that delivers serious environmental and financial returns. Choosing the right company is the first step on the road to achieving your energy goals. 

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