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Solar power has been on the rise for the past two decades and is one of the cleanest ways to produce energy. As more people switch to solar energy to reduce their impact on the environment or save money, the price keeps dropping, making it more accessible.
According to the Solar Energy Industries Association (SEIA), the cost to install solar has decreased by more than 70% in the past decade. The average cost for residential property is around $18,000, depending on where you live, and it can save you between roughly $10,000 to $30,000 over the lifetime of your solar panels. Plus, the government offers a tax credit of 26% to both residential and commercial properties when owners switch to a solar technology system.
Many companies offer financing, leasing, and direct purchase options to provide to fit a range of budgets and needs when it comes to solar panel installation. Whether you are considering the switch to solar to help preserve the environment or save money, here are the best companies to choose from.
Best Overall: SunPower Corporation
With its headquarters in Silicon Valley, California, SunPower Corporation has been a leading innovator in the field of solar technology since 1970. Since establishing as a company in 1985, it has been offering solar services for residential and commercial properties across the U.S.
SunPower offers a complete system warranty of 25 years and offers tailored product solutions designed to help businesses and homes become energy independent. SunPower provides different financial options to go solar: You can buy your own solar system outright or through a loan, or you can lease a panel, which means SunPower owns the solar system and you just pay a monthly premium to rent it.
To get a quote, you can schedule an appointment to talk to a specialist on the company's website, or you can contact the company's national hotline to speak with an agent. If you prefer, you can use its "SunPower Design Studio," which allows you to see the design of your solar system and how much you can save by switching to solar. All you need to do is input your address and personal information, and you will be able to see an aerial view of your property.
Best Residential: Vivint Solar
Vivint Solar was founded in 2011 with a mission to offer simpler, more affordable ways to provide clean energy to homeowners across the country. The company allows you to purchase your solar system directly or via a loan, with a warranty of up to 25 years of operation and monitoring included. The company also gives customers the choice to lease its solar panels.
Vivint Solar has created a simple five-step process to help you switch to solar. Starting with a consultation, where a crew will make sure your home is a fit, the company will create a design where all solar panels will be installed.
Next, Vivint Solar will make sure all permits with the city are filed and ready to go, so when it’s time to install the system, the team will have everything ready and can show you how to operate the system within about five hours. Lastly, they’ll walk you through the activation process: getting the final permissions needed from your local municipality to operate.
You can request a quote by filling out a form on their website, calling the company’s national phone number, or you can use the website’s live chat to speak with a representative to learn more about your options.
Best Commercial: Sungevity
With locations in California, Colorado, Connecticut, Massachusetts, and New Jersey, Sungevity has been offering solar solutions to help businesses go solar since 2007. It has a variety of solar installations, whether you want your system on your property’s roof, installed as a shade structure, or placed as a ground installation. Sungevity's commercial solar consultants will help you decide what’s the best option for you.
Sungevity provides different financial options for your business to go solar—you can choose from buying or leasing the system, or moving forward with a power purchase agreement (PPA), which means you will pay a monthly flat rate for the energy you use while Sungevity continues to own the system. You will be assigned a project manager for your specific business, who will serve as your point person throughout the entire process.
For your peace of mind, the company also offers a 20-year guarantee for parts and labor, and you can track your power production through a monitoring system on a 24/7 basis. To request a quote, you can fill out an online form on their website or call the company’s national toll-free number.
Best for California: Sunworks, Inc.
Founded in 2002, the headquarters for Sunworks, Inc. is located in Roseville, California, with five offices across the state.
The company offers several solar solutions for residential (new and existing homes), commercial, industrial, nonprofit, public works, and agriculture properties and will work with you to help you find the best option. In addition to solar solutions, it offers electric vehicle (EV) charging systems and solar power storage through its partners.
Sunworks, Inc. handles the entire process from start to finish, including paperwork, permits, design, installation, and maintenance. Offering a 25-year warranty that covers the whole solar system and a 100% customer satisfaction guarantee, the company will take care of any problems that arise with your panels. It offers different financial options to meet your budget needs—from direct purchasing to leasing to PPA.
You can request a quote online by filling out a form on the Sunworks website or by calling your local office directly to speak with a solar specialist. If you prefer to speak with someone in person, you can visit the company's Solar Design Center located in Rocklin, California.
Best for the Northeast: Trinity Solar
With headquarters in Wall Township, New Jersey, Trinity Solar has been offering residential solar services across the Northeast region of the U.S since 1994. With more than 1,800 employees and operations in New Jersey, New York, Connecticut, Pennsylvania, Maryland, Delaware, Massachusetts, and Rhode Island, the company has installed more than 50,000 solar systems in homes across the region.
Trinity Solar handles the whole installation process: designing the best options for your home, getting the work permits, installing the panels, and setting up the systems. Its installers are certified by the Building Performance Institute and the North America Board of Certified Energy Practitioners. The company offers financing options for you to switch to solar, from direct buying to leasing.
Trinity Solar has a stellar Better Business Bureau (BBB) rating and is a proud member of the SEIA. You can get a quote by calling the company’s main office or by filling out an online form to set up a call about an estimate.
Best Innovative: Tesla
Known internationally for its electric vehicles and clean energy products, Tesla was founded in 2003 with headquarters in Palo Alto, California.
Its solar solutions have been quickly expanding across the nation, with its latest addition including the Tesla Solar Roof. Instead of traditional bulky solar panels placed on top of your roof’s regular shingles, the company has engineered an entirely new system that can be used to completely replace your current roof system (shingles and all) with compact, sleek solar panel tiles.
Tesla will complete the home assessment, create a customized design, get the needed work permits, and install the roof system. You can monitor your power production and consumption from anywhere with Tesla's mobile platform.
Tesla has online live chat support, and you can buy the roof system directly from Tesla’s website. Simply input your address, square footage, estimated electricity bill, and the company will provide you with the cost to switch to solar. You can buy the system outright, or you have the option to get a loan.
For your convenience, Tesla will calculate and subtract the federal tax credit from your final bill so you see the benefits upfront.
How We Chose the Best Solar Companies
We took a look at more than 30 solar companies that offer services in different regions across the country. We narrowed down to the top options included here based on services offered for residential, commercial, agricultural, and industrial properties, as well as coverage areas, financing options, and SEIA membership.
For instance, we chose SunPower Corporation for our best overall pick because of its long history of providing solar solutions for commercial and residential properties and for offering coverage across the U.S. We selected Tesla for the best innovative category based on its new roof system technology that replaces bulky solar panels with sleek roof tiles, while SunWorks, Inc. stood out as a regional pick in California, with its multiple offices across the state.
Why Should I Switch to Solar?
Solar electricity reduces the impact on the environment and helps you save money on your monthly electricity bill. It can also make you energy independent, since you will directly produce the energy that you use. Solar energy is cheaper to generate compared to fossil energy that uses oil, coal, or other sources to produce energy.
How Much Does It Cost to Go Solar?
The cost will vary based on your location, type of solar panels you get, and the company you purchase or lease your panels from. The average cost is about $18,000. The government offers a tax credit of roughly 26%, which reduces the cost of your solar system. Some states offer other incentives or event rebates when using Energy Star designated products. Although the upfront costs may be high, in the long run, you will save money if you decide to buy a solar system.
What Is the Federal Solar Tax Credit?
The federal solar tax credit is offered to residential and commercial owners as an incentive when switching to a solar system, and the cost can be claimed on your federal income taxes. For 2020, the tax credit was 26% and in 2021, it will be 22%.