Owned and Operated by Sunrun Inc. How We Rank
Solar 101: How to Find the Best Solar Company for You

Solar 101: How to Find the Best Solar Company for You

As you look around for the best solar company in your area, we know that there’s a lot to consider. Solar America is here to put everything you need in one place so you can make the best decision for you and your family.

Before reaching out to solar companies in your area, you’ll want to come prepared with the right questions and information so you can get the right fit for your power needs. Let’s start with the basics.

Going Solar Checklist

  1. Know your home solar panel options.

    Monocrystalline and polycrystalline solar panels are the two primary types of panels on the market today. Knowing the difference between these two types of solar panels can help you find the solar system that meets both your electricity needs and budget.

    Monocrystalline

    Monocrystalline panels are currently the most efficient solar panels available, which means you need fewer panels to fulfill your energy needs.1 These panels are typically black, which gives your roof a sleeker aesthetic. Monocrystalline panels also maintain their efficiency for longer and usually come with a 20- to 25-year warranty.2

    Polycrystalline

    While polycrystalline panels are less efficient, they create less waste in production and are more affordable.3 Polycrystalline panels’ blue tint is likely the most recognizable feature of solar panels today. Like monocrystalline panels, these also typically come with a 20- to 25-year warranty.1 While both types of panels provide clean, reliable solar energy, your solar installer can help you determine the best fit for your home and your budget.

  2. Consider a solar battery.

    The interest in pairing solar power with energy storage continues to grow.4 As you explore home solar power options, you’ll want to consider including a solar battery in your home solar system. Not only can solar batteries help your family keep the lights on in the midst of a power outage and offset peak electricity rates, they also play a significant part in creating a cleaner and more robust energy infrastructure.5

    Despite falling costs, solar batteries can still take a hit on your wallet. Companies like Sunrun can help make the switch to solar more affordable, with solar plans for as little as $0 down.

  3. Know your electricity bill.

    Keep your electricity bill from the past few months on hand when you speak to a solar installer. When you understand your electricity usage and how much you pay for power, it helps you and your solar installer design an installation that maximizes your potential for savings while also meeting your family’s energy needs.

    Make sure to note any future household changes like additional family members, adding a room, or purchasing an electric vehicle. When you anticipate these changes, it helps your solar installer determine the best solar system size to meet your electricity needs now and down the road.

  4. Know your roof type.

    What type of shingles do you use? Is your roof steep-sloped? Find out your roof slope and type to help your solar installer determine the ideal mounting system for your solar panels. The right mounting system can ensure that your solar panels are properly fitted to your home while optimizing sun exposure.

    Be sure to find an installer who has a roof warranty, in the event that your roof is damaged when your solar system is installed. The terms will vary from company to company. Experienced home solar companies like Sunrun include a comprehensive roof warranty in their contract, which protects your roof from leaks or holes.

Choose the Best Solar Company

Once you’ve gone through the checklist, you’ll be ready to find a solar company that best suits your clean energy goals.

The most important part of your solar journey is to find a reputable solar installer. A good solar company will also be able to help you find the right solar system design to optimize your energy output and savings.

We do not recommend purchasing solar equipment or installing a solar energy system on your own. If you install a home solar system without experienced professionals, it can be dangerous and could lead to costly damage to your home and your solar equipment.

How to Find the Best Solar Company

  1. Look up solar companies in your area.

    Solar America connects you to the top solar companies in your area. We rank every solar company against comprehensive ranking criteria such as warranties, installation services, customer support, and products offered so that you can make the most informed decision. Get connected with the top solar companies in your area today.

    You should also make sure that the solar panel manufacturer you choose has a solid track record. They won’t be able to honor your contract if they’re not around anymore in 15-20 years.

  2. Know the terms of your warranty.

    As you shop for solar installers, it is vital to know the terms of your warranty. As mentioned above, monocrystalline and polycrystalline panels on the market today should already come with 20- to 25-year warranties. If not, you may reconsider getting them, as solar panels are not something you want to skimp on.

    Solar panels with less than 20-year warranties will likely be lower in quality. It may be less expensive to purchase a lower-quality system, but it could be more costly down the road in terms of repairs.6

    Although solar energy systems require little regular maintenance, even the best will likely require occasional repair and maintenance costs.2 Some solar providers offer comprehensive maintenance packages for the life of their products to ensure they efficiently continue to generate clean, affordable, and reliable energy for decades.

  3. Make sure roof protection is included.

    You’ll also want to work with a solar company that offers roof protection. For example, Sunrun offers a bumper-to-bumper warranty that includes free equipment replacement, system repairs, and a roof warranty, which protects your roof from leaks or holes. Not all solar companies provide a comprehensive roof warranty, so make sure you’re covered as you review the fine print.

    The best solar companies should only partner with the most trusted equipment manufacturers in the industry. For true peace of mind, Sunrun offers flexible solar plans that include a Solar Guarantee. If anything breaks, they’ll fix it for free for the life of the agreement.*

  4. Make sure there is a service transfer agreement.

    If you’re interested in leasing a solar system, you’ll want to make sure that the solar company can initiate a solar service transfer in case you move before your contract expires. Sunrun’s solar lease includes a streamlined solar service agreement that helps you transfer your contract and pass along predictable energy bills to the new owner.

  5. Look up customer reviews.

    A reputable and experienced solar company should be able to provide examples of their solar installations. As you explore solar companies, make sure you ask them for current customer references. A great example is Sunrun Stories, which shares customers’ experiences with Sunrun and the ways that home solar power has impacted their lives.

The most important takeaway is to team up with an experienced solar provider! A reputable solar company will be able to help you design the most reliable and efficient solar system for your home.

Finance Your Home Solar System

As you look up solar companies, you’ll see that some only allow you to buy solar systems outright, while others offer the option to lease your solar system at an affordable rate for as little as $0 down. Here’s a breakdown of solar financing options so you can find the best financial fit for you and your budget.

Buying a home solar system

If you’re interested in purchasing a solar system outright, it’s good to have a sense of what it will cost. The cost of a typical installation ranges from $16,200 to $21,420 if one were to purchase outright.7 This doesn’t include the cost of maintenance, which can amount to anywhere between $100 to $3,200 a year.2 A solar lease (more on that later), can offset the cost of maintenance if it includes a comprehensive service package that includes system monitoring and replacement.

The payback period, or the time it will take for you to recoup the cost of your solar system, will depend on where you live and the tax credits available to you in your area.8 Solar America will take your location into account when calculating your quote so you can enjoy maximum savings on solar.

Solar loans

If you’d still like to buy a solar system but can’t pay the out-of-pocket cost for solar, you can seek out a solar loan.9 Some local municipalities offer solar loans at low rates. Solar companies like Sunrun also offer solar monthly loans and competitive rates. Sunrun’s solar loan finances your solar system with fixed monthly loan payments, a competitive interest rate, and little to no up-front cost. You’ll also be able to keep any applicable solar tax credits as you build equity in your home.10

Leasing a home solar system: solar lease vs. PPA

Another popular way to finance a home solar system is through a solar lease or PPA. You’ll likely have seen the terms “solar lease” and “PPA” used interchangeably, and that’s because their functions and benefits are similar.9

The main difference between the two is what you pay for: a solar lease allows you to rent the solar system itself for a fixed monthly rate, while a solar PPA involves purchasing the solar power that the solar system produces at a set per-kilowatt-hour price. This price is usually less than your local utility rate.11

Ultimately, the benefits to both solar leases and solar PPA financing are the same. You’ll have the option to enjoy clean energy at low rates for as little as $0 down, without paying for or maintaining a solar system. Solar companies like Sunrun can take care of the paperwork for any incentives you’re eligible for and work it into your rate for the best value. Sunrun also offers the highest-rated service package that includes daily system monitoring, free maintenance, repairs, and comprehensive insurance.

Solar incentives

If you want to maximize the return on your solar system, you’ll want to know what solar incentives are available to you. Based on where you live, you can cover a substantial portion of the cost of your solar PV system. You may even pay it back in a fairly short amount of time thanks to the federal solar tax credit, local rebates, net metering, and more. Here are just a few of the best solar incentives available in many parts of the country:

  1. Federal Investment Tax Credit (ITC)

    Everyone in the country who owns a home solar system is eligible for the Federal Investment Tax Credit (ITC), otherwise known as the federal solar tax credit. The tax credit can reduce the cost of a solar installation by 22%, including a solar battery purchase.12, 13 That means if you were to purchase a 6-kilowatt system for $18,300, you’ll pay $14,274 after you receive your tax credit.

    After 2021, the tax credit is slated to be phased out. That’s why the best time to go solar is now.

  2. SRECs

    Solar renewable energy credits, or SRECs, can help home solar system owners earn a return on solar. Home solar system owners can sell SRECs through an aggregator like SRECTrade, which bundles up their SRECs and sells them to the electric company.

  3. Net Metering

    When excess electricity is produced by your solar system, it’s sent to the grid and the electric company must buy that energy from you. You can also draw on these energy credits during times when your electricity usage is greater than your solar production, such as a heavily overcast day or during the night.

  4. State Tax Credits and Cash Rebates

    In addition to the federal solar investment tax credit, states and cities might also provide cash rebates for your solar system to further reduce the cost. The size of the solar tax credit will vary from state to state. Visit the Database of State Incentives for Renewables & Efficiency (DSRE) to find tax credits and rebates available in your area.

  5. Performance-Based Incentives (PBIs)

    Your state or your electric company may also have performance-based incentives, or PBIs. A PBI pays you credits for the electricity your solar system produces, and the incentive rate is determined when your system is installed.14

  6. Tax Exemptions

    Your state or municipality might also offer property or sales tax exemptions. Depending on the sales tax rate in your state, a sales tax exemption could result in considerable savings if you purchase your solar system.

Find the Best Solar Company with Solar America

Solar America has been helping Americans across the country go solar for over a decade. With extensive experience in the industry, we’re here to help you on your path towards a cleaner and brighter future for you and your family.

To get started, get your free quote today and discover the best solar companies available in your area. We’re here to help you every step of the way.

*As long as the damage is no fault of your own.