Updated On

May 26, 2023

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    By investing in solar panels, you can reduce your carbon footprint and save money on electricity bills. Even better, you can finance your solar energy system by taking advantage of state and federal green energy initiatives, like the Federal Solar Tax Credit. With these incentive programs, the decreasing installation cost of solar panels, and their rising efficiency, it’s clear there’s never been a better time to invest in a solar power system.

    To help you find the best company for your home’s solar installation, we’ve reviewed some of the best solar providers in the industry. We use an objective rating system that grades every company on core product and service categories, each with a numeric value adding up to 100. To grade a company’s performance in these categories, our expert review team combed through its contracts, products, services, customer reviews, accreditations, complaints, pricing models, and more. With this information, we rated each company and used that numeric value to assign a star rating.

    The Top 7 Best Solar Companies

    Compare the Best Solar Companies

    Here, we’ve broken down the best solar power companies by cost, the number of panels offered, state availability, and links to set up consultations. Read our reviews of each provider below to learn more.

    ProviderSuperlativeNo. of States AvailableSolar Panels OfferedAverage Cost
    SunPower SolarHighest-quality Panels50 (availability varies by zip code)SunPower Panels, made with Maxeon Solar Cells.$11,500–$41,000
    Blue Raven SolarBest Financing Options22Numerous brands, including Trina and Canadian Solar$21,000–$32,000
    ADT SolarBest Warranty Options23Numerous brands including Panasonic and LG.$22,000–$32,000
    Tesla SolarMost Widely Available50 (availability varies by zip code)Qcells$28,000–$32,000
    Momentum SolarBest Customer Service11Numerous tier-one brands, monocrystalline only$22,000–$33,000
    Sunrun SolarBest Protection Against Damage20 plus Puerto Rico and Washington, D.C.LONGi and Costco, offering monocrystalline and polycrystalline$16,200–$21,400
    Trinity SolarBest Customization Options9Qcells$22,000–$33,000

    SunPower: Highest Quality Panels

    • State Availability: 50
    • BBB Rating: A+
    • Cost Range: $11,000 to $41,000, with an average of $18,000
    Best National Provider

    Why We Chose SunPower

    We consider SunPower one of the best solar companies on the market (4.9 out of 5 stars) because of its high-quality panels. SunPower has been an industry powerhouse for over 35 years; while other companies were still establishing themselves, SunPower was already developing solar technology. Originally, SunPower only produced industrial, concentrated solar panels, but it has since evolved into one of the most recognized companies providing home energy solutions.

    SunPower only offers monocrystalline panels divided into the U, E, A, M, and X series. While its panels are some of the priciest on the market, they have some of the highest energy efficiency and power ratings. Overall, SunPower’s solar panels come at a premium price but will pay themselves off faster due to their unmatched quality.

    Read our SunPower in-depth review if you’re interested in learning more about their solar panels and services. You can also request a free quote if you want a more comprehensive breakdown of SunPower’s costs.

    Pros and Cons of SunPower


    • Available in all 50 states
    • Uses monocrystalline panels
    • Multiple panel options are available
    • Offers prescreening for solar panels


    • Expensive, costing up to $10,000+ more than other companies

    Solar Services, Warranty, and Financing

    Unlike many other solar companies, SunPower is available in all 50 states. While operating areas within each state vary, SunPower has one of the industry’s largest networks of certified installers. After signing on with SunPower, a team will install your solar panels, electric vehicle charging stations, and its solar storage system, the SunVault. All its systems are connected to a mobile app for constant monitoring.

    SunPower provides a 25-year warranty for its panels that protects against installation and manufacturing defects. Most solar companies only offer warranties that last around 12 years, so this warranty is considered generous by industry standards. SunPower also offers a 25-year performance warranty, which ensures the panels continue to operate at peak functionality.

    As for financing, SunPower has three options for purchasing its panels:

    • Full purchase: With this, you can purchase the panels upfront for their full cost. While this option includes a heavy out-of-pocket price tag, it allows you to immediately take advantage of any state rebates and reap the benefits of the Federal Solar Tax Credit.
    • Loan/financing: Easily the most popular choice for homeowners, SunPower’s financing option allows you to pay off a portion of your panels via a down payment, then through small payments over several years.
    • Solar Lease: With a solar lease, you don’t own the panels; instead, you rent the panels from SunPower. You just pay SunPower a monthly fee to use the panels for electricity.
    • PPAs: Under a power purchase agreement (PPA), you allow SunPower to install the panels on your property and directly purchase the electricity they produce. The electricity produced by the panels is typically much cheaper than that provided by a standard utility company. Like a lease, you don’t own the panels and can’t benefit from state or federal incentives.

    Reputation and Partnerships

    SunPower has received two major awards, the Sustainability Award from PV Magazine and, more recently, a Good Housekeeping 2022 Home Renovation Award. The 2022 award was for its SunVault battery storage system in the Biggest Energy Saver Category.

    SunPower doesn’t have an expansive partner catalog but does partner with the American Automobile Association (AAA). If you’re a AAA member, you may qualify for a $1,000 Visa rewards credit card when purchasing your solar panel system through SunPower. 

    Blue Raven: Best Financing Options

    • State Availability: 22
    • BBB Rating: A+
    • Cost Range: $21,000 to $32,000

    Why We Chose Blue Raven

    While a relatively new entry to the solar industry, Blue Raven has quickly become a trusted provider of high-quality, affordable rooftop solar panels. Founded in 2018, Blue Raven has grown a respectable operating network with over 1,000 employees within 22 states.

    What’s most impressive about Blue Raven is its extremely generous financing options, specifically its BluePower Plus+™ program. Under this program, customers won’t have to pay any payments for the first 18 months, allowing them to save more money with their solar panels right away.

    If you want to learn more about financing options or its high-quality monocrystalline solar panels, feel free to check out a full review of Blue Raven Solar or request a free in-house quote.

    Pros and Cons of Blue Raven Solar


    • 18 months of free solar energy with BluePower Plus+
    • Some of the best financing options in the industry
    • Extremely strong customer satisfaction ratings


    • Limited service areas
    • No leasing options

    Solar Services, Warranty, and Financing

    Blue Raven’s services are limited but well-rated. It currently only offers solar panel and battery installation and maintenance services. When reviewing its customer satisfaction scores from websites like the Better Business Bureau and Google Reviews, it consistently receives positive feedback for its representatives’ and technicians’ professionalism, skill, and politeness.

    Blue Raven has a 25-year manufacturer warranty, alongside a power production guarantee. The manufacturer warranty is industry standard and protects against manufacturing and installation defects, although it has a much longer life span than other similar warranties. The power production guarantee ensures a certain degree of performance from its panels. If your solar system fails to meet predetermined output levels, the company will come out to make repairs or upgrades at no charge.

    Financing options and fair pricing are two of Blue Raven’s strongest features. With Blue Raven’s BluePower Plus+ program, homeowners can begin enjoying the benefits of solar panels with no money down, no penalties for paying off their loan early, and no payments for the first 18 months. The only major downside to Blue Raven’s payment structure is that it currently has no options for leasing.

    Reputation and Partnerships

    In 2021, Blue Raven won two Golden Stevie awards in the 19th Annual American Business Awards. The awards were for the Energy Industry Innovation and Company of the Year (Energy) Categories.

    Blue Raven doesn’t partner with any company, but it’s owned by SunPower, giving it access to SunVault solar batteries.

    ADT Solar: Best Warranty Options

    • State Availability: 23
    • BBB Rating: A+
    • Cost Range: $22,000 to $32,000
    Best Panel Warranty
    ADT Solar

    Why We Chose ADT Solar

    Originally, ADT Solar was a company named Sunpro, founded in 2007. In November 2019, the security company ADT purchased Sunpro, creating ADT Solar. Today, ADT Solar offers a wide array of panel products, 24/7 solar power system monitoring, and one of the most impressive warranties in the industry.

    ADT Solar offers a host of top-rated solar panel brands, from Panasonic to Tesla, Outback Power Systems, Enphase, and Mission Solar Energy. ADT carries a wide range of solar power system equipment, including:

    • Solar power batteries (including Tesla Powerwall and Enphase)
    • Enphase microinverters
    • Monocrystalline solar panels

    As for financing, ADT allows customers to purchase solar panels outright (with options for installation services), along with loans, solar leases, and PPA agreements. You can check our comprehensive ADT Solar review to learn about its financing options. But if you think ADT might be the solar company for you, you can request a free quote.

    Pros and Cons of ADT Solar


    • Comprehensive 25-year labor and product warranty
    • Offers a power production guarantee for the first 25 years of a system’s operation
    • 24/7 solar power system monitoring


    • Limited operation network of 23 states
    • Reviews indicate mixed customer service

    Solar Services, Warranty, and Financing

    When signing on with ADT, it will handle the entire installation process, from the initial consultation to getting the proper permits and corresponding with the utility companies.

    ADT Solar’s warranty is where it truly shines. The company’s warranty covers all products and labor for 25 years, guaranteeing that it will repair or replace the system at no charge if it doesn’t function properly. ADT possesses a power production guarantee that ensures you get what you paid for from your solar panels; if your solar panel system doesn’t produce the amount of power advertised in the initial quote, ADT will pay you the difference. As a bonus, the ADT solar warranty also has a microinverter guarantee, which guarantees your microinverters continue to function without error.

    Reputation and Partnerships

    Since ADT Solar is a relatively new company, it has no major awards or partnerships. However, Sunpro has a strong history of excellent performance in the solar world. For example, in 2016, c received awards for excellent service and quality from the 2016 CSX Environmental Contractors Conference in Savannah, Georgia.

    Tesla Solar: Most Widely Available

    • State Availability: 50, but availability varies by zip code
    • BBB Rating: A+
    • Cost Range: $20,000 to $50,000
    Best Technology
    Tesla Energy

    Why We Chose Tesla Solar

    While it’s one of the newest members of the solar industry, Tesla has quickly become a recognizable name in the U.S. Offering an array of products, from its discrete solar shingles to sleek panels and the incredibly popular Powerwall, Tesla has quickly made a name for itself in the solar sphere.

    We chose Tesla as the most widely available solar company due to its large operating network and product availability. Not only does Tesla install its products directly, but it also acts as a supplier to other companies, making its products widely available no matter where you are.

    You can read this comprehensive review to hear more of our thoughts on Tesla. Or, if you’re interested in purchasing Tesla solar panels or a Powerwall, you can request a free quote.

    Pros and Cons of Tesla Solar


    • Transparent pricing and instant quotes
    • Shingles and solar panels have a low-profile design
    • Price match guarantee


    • Panels and shingles have comparably low efficiency
    • Indications of spotty customer service from review sites

    Solar Services, Warranty, and Financing

    After signing with Tesla Solar, you can expect the following services:

    • Preinstallation home inspection
    • Custom design and configuration of solar panels for your home
    • Procuring permits and permissions from local authorities, HOAs, and housing administrations
    • Obtaining Permission to Operate (PTO) from local utility companies
    • Speedy and efficient installation of panels, solar batteries, and other equipment

    Tesla carries a variety of products, from its high-efficiency 475-watt panels to the Tesla Solar Roof and Powerwall. Alongside this equipment, you can keep an eye on your system with the Tesla monitoring app – this program allows you to have 24/7 information on your solar panel system. The app can integrate with your Powerwall to divert power to your home or electric vehicle in the case of a storm or outage, making power management a breeze in emergencies.

    Tesla offers a 10-year product warranty covering all solar power system components, including panels, batteries, mounting, and inverters. Tesla also has a 25-year performance warranty which entitles you to repairs or replacements if your panels produce less than 80% of their quoted capacity for power production. While the performance warranty is less impressive than some industry competitors, it still provides some protection in the event of waning performance.

    Regarding financing, Tesla has two options, direct purchase or financing. While it’s unfortunate that Tesla doesn’t offer any form of leasing or PPAs, its price-matching guarantee helps homeowners compensate for its above-average prices.

    Reputation and Partnerships

    Tesla has grown to have a reputation for reliability and quality. It only allows certified, Tesla-approved companies to sell and install its products. It has also partnered with another reliable figure in the solar industry, Sunrun, allowing it to install Tesla panels and Powerwalls.

    Momentum Solar: Best Customer Service

    • State Availability: 11, including Arizona, California, Connecticut, Florida, Georgia, Massachusetts, New Jersey, New York, Nevada, Pennsylvania, and Texas
    • BBB Rating: A+
    • Cost Range: $22,000 to $33,000
    Best Customer Service
    Momentum Solar

    Why We Chose Momentum Solar

    One of the smaller companies on this list with 2,000+ employees operating in only 11 states, Momentum Solar trades quantity for quality. With an A+ score on the Better Business Bureau and strong customer satisfaction across multiple sites, it’s clear that Momentum offers an unparalleled service experience. This emphasis especially applies to the labor, repair, and installation technicians, as customer response to its work crews is consistently positive.

    If you’re interested in reading more about Momentum and its great customer service, feel free to check out our full review of Momentum Solar. Or, if you’re located in one of Momentum’s service areas, you can always request a free quote.

    Pros and Cons of Momentum Solar


    • Strong customer satisfaction ratings
    • Offers smartphone app for easy monitoring
    • Doesn’t outsource labor, repair, or installations


    • Limited availability and service area
    • Reviews indicate spotty experiences with sales representatives

    Solar Services, Warranty, and Financing

    Momentum Solar has more limited services than other industry competitors, only offering solar panel and battery installations, repair, and maintenance. Like its service area coverage, Momentum substitutes variety for quality and only uses monocrystalline panels from tier-one providers.

    Momentum Solar provides a 25-years workmanship and product warranty. This warranty covers any component within your solar panel system should it malfunction. Furthermore, if any part of the installation itself is faulty, such as fasteners coming loose or panels shifting, the warranty will cover any repair or replacement.

    Momentum carries multiple financing options, including direct purchases, loans, leases, and PPAs. This diverse array of payment methods allows you to choose the best solar panels that fit your budgetary needs while enjoying the benefits of going solar.

    Reputation and Partnerships

    Momentum partners with numerous brands for its solar panels, only selecting tier-one providers. This quality standard ensures that Momentum has the highest-grade monocrystalline panels for its customers. Momentum partners with Enphase for its microinverters, which have proven to be more efficient than standard string converters.

    Sunrun Solar: Best Protection Against Damage

    • State Availability: 20, plus Puerto Rico and Washington D.C.
    • BBB Rating: A+
    • Cost Range: $16,000 to $21,400

    Why We Chose Sunrun Solar

    Founded in San Francisco in 2009, Sunrun has become one of the most recognizable and trusted brands in the solar industry. In its 14 years of business, Sunrun has installed over 300,000 residential solar panel systems, offering numerous options for purchasing, leasing, and financing home solar systems.

    One of the major benefits of Sunrun is that its solar power systems are more reasonably priced. Compared to the average costs of other solar companies, Sunrun’s costs are about $10,000 cheaper. Combine this with Sunrun’s excellent financing, leasing, warranty, and high-quality panels, and it’s clear why Sunrun is such a popular choice.

    If you’re interested in reading more, you can check out our comprehensive review of Sunrun. You can request a free quote if you want a personalized price on a Sunrun solar power system.

    Pros and Cons of Sunrun Solar


    • Lower average cost
    • Wide range of financing options
    • Free maintenance on all leased products


    • Customer reviews indicate inconsistent customer service
    • Customer reviews show a slow response time for repairs and maintenance

    Solar Services, Warranty, and Financing

    Sunrun provides “A to Z” service, handling the entire solar installation from the initial consultation to the day your panels begin producing power. For those leasing solar panels from Sunrun, it will take care of any repairs or maintenance required due to normal wear and tear.

    Regarding its equipment selection, it has multiple brands and types of solar panels available. The company sells monocrystalline and polycrystalline panels from reputable manufacturers like LONGi or Costco. Sunrun also offers the Brightbox solar battery service, which provides high-quality lithium-ion solar batteries like the Tesla Powerwall and LG Chem alongside 24/7 monitoring.

    Read a breakdown of the Tesla Powerwall.

    Sunrun provides a basic 10-year warranty which covers both labor and manufacturing defects. It also has a 10-year roof warranty covering any damage that may have occurred during installation. While these warranties aren’t as impressive as others on this list, it does fall in line with industry standards.

    On top of direct purchasing, PPAs, and solar loans, Sunrun provides the following leasing options for its solar panels:

    • Monthly leasing: Under this model, Sunrun installs solar panels but retains ownership. Sunrun will get the tax incentives, but you’ll gain access to the power produced by the panels as if you owned them in exchange for a monthly fee.
    • Full lease: This model functions like the monthly leasing system, except you pay 25 years’ worth of panel ownership upfront.

    Reputation and Partnerships

    Sunrun has multiple awards which speak to its reputation and presence in the solar industry. However, its most impressive achievement is its 2011 award for being a Solar Champion in the innovator category by the Solar Energy Industries Association (SEIA).

    As for partnerships, Sunrun works alongside both Tesla and LG, allowing it to provide some of the highest quality solar products for reasonable prices.

    Trinity Solar: Best Customization Options

    • State Availability: Nine states, including Connecticut, Delaware, Florida, Maryland, Massachusetts, New Jersey, New York, Pennsylvania, and Rhode Island
    • BBB Rating: A+
    • Cost Range: $22,000 to $33,000+
    Outstanding Regional Provider

    Why We Chose Trinity Solar

    Trinity Solar has been in the clean energy industry since 1994, giving it nearly 30 years of providing reliable service. Trinity Solar ensures that each technician has certifications through the North American Board of Certified Energy Practitioners (NABCEP). With its years of industry experience and trained technicians, it’s no surprise that customers report speedy and efficient service. Some reviews have even claimed that customers had their solar panels installed in one day.

    Trinity prides itself on working alongside various nonprofit organizations, many of which are its partners. Trinity aids nonprofits in raising money while assisting its members with no-cost solar installations (usually through a solar lease or PPA). If you’re interested, you can read more in our comprehensive Trinity Solar review or consider requesting a free quote.

    Pros and Cons of Trinity Solar


    • NABCEP-certified technicians
    • Wide variety of products and options
    • Fast, efficient installations


    • Short warranty periods
    • No pricing information on its website

    Solar Services, Warranty, and Financing

    Trinity’s services are relatively straightforward, offering solar panel and battery installation. When Trinity begins working, its team handles everything from the preinstallation inspection to communicating with the utility company.

    Amongst all the other companies on this list, Trinity has one of the best selections of quality products. For panels, Trinity uses Qcells, a high-efficiency, tier-one solar panel provider. Qcells are some of the most impressive panels on the market, with an efficiency rating ranging from 17.4% to 21.4%. Trinity’s dedication to quality also applies to inverters, allowing customers to choose from brands like Tesla, SolarEdge, and Generac.

    Trinity’s warranty, unfortunately, is the weakest aspect of the company’s portfolio. As of now, Trinity provides a 12-year parts and labor warranty. While many companies offer warranties from 15 to 25 years, those on the lower end of the industry standard only last 10 to 12 years. So while Trinity’s warrant isn’t amazing, it isn’t the worst out there.

    As for its financing, Trinity offers full purchases, solar loans, monthly leases, full leases, and PPAs.

    Reputation and Partnerships

    Since Trinity has been in the solar industry for nearly 30 years, it has a strong, recognized reputation for quality. One of its most recent achievements was in 2019 when it won Solar Power World’s award for Top Residential-Scale Contractor.

    Final Thoughts

    While solar power systems may be expensive, with the continual innovations in panel technology and current incentives available, there’s never been a better time to go solar. Today, panels pay for themselves faster than ever before — typically between seven to 10 years — an all-time historical low. And, thanks to the help and service provided by solar panel installers like the ones listed above, you can begin transitioning to renewable home energy easily and quickly.

    With the solar industry in a boom period and more companies popping up each year, it can be difficult to pick the best one for your home. However, we can easily recommend any providers listed in this article. Their quality of products, excellent customer service, and proven industry track records show them to be a cut above the competition.

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    How To Find the Best Solar Company for Your Home

    Like any major home improvement project, installing a solar panel system is a serious investment. Even on the lower end, solar panels can cost upwards of $15,000; when looking at a more advanced system, you can be well over $50,000. As such, picking the right company is essential. Below we’ll discuss all the major factors to consider when choosing the right solar company for your next installation.

    Solar installation professional putting a solar panel on a roof
    Kindel Media/Pexels

    Solar Services Offered

    A company’s services are one of the most important things to consider when choosing a solar panel provider and if solar is a good choice for you. Each home’s solar panel installation is different, and your chosen company must offer the right services for your job. Some of the most common services provided by solar panel companies include:

    • Preinstallation home inspection
    • Solar panel, battery, and other equipment installation
    • Repair and maintenance
    • EV charging station installation

    Cost and Financing Options

    Not everyone can afford the $15,000 to $30,000 upfront cost of solar panels. Furthermore, not every homeowner wants to own their solar panels and instead prefers to purchase electricity directly from the solar panel provider (referred to as a power purchasing agreement). When purchasing solar panels, you can choose from the following financing options:

    • Full purchase: You purchase the entire solar panel system, equipment, and related services upfront. This option is the most expensive, but it lets you immediately benefit from your solar panel system.
    • Solar loans: Solar loans function similarly to any other loan; the homeowner pays a portion of the panel’s total cost upfront as a down payment, then the rest in monthly installments. This option is the most common and allows homeowners to invest affordably in solar power systems, especially when combined with state and federal incentives.
    • Solar lease: Under a leasing agreement, you don’t own the panels, nor can you take advantage of any incentives. Using this option, you rent solar panels, typically for 10 to 25 years. You’ll have to pay a monthly fee to use the panels when leasing, but once installed, you can use them to provide renewable energy for your home.
    • Power purchase agreement (PPA): Similar to a solar lease, when using a PPA, you don’t own your solar panels. Instead, you allow a solar company to install its panels onto your home and directly purchase the electricity they produce. This electricity offsets the amount of power you purchase from the utility company and is typically much cheaper.

    Solar Equipment Brands

    When choosing to go with a solar panel company, the brands and types of solar panels, batteries, and other equipment are important. Unfortunately, not all brands are created equal; some are of markedly higher quality. When choosing a solar company, always look into panel manufacturers it works with, and keep an eye out for tier-one providers like Tesla, Qcell, LONGi Solar, and SunPower.

    Location Availability

    If you want to use the services of a solar company, it will need to operate in your area. Furthermore, not all companies have the same level of quality across all branches and locations, so when choosing one, it always pays off to check the reviews of its local branch.

    Home Solar System Compatibility

    When a solar panel sales representative comes to your home, one of the first things they’ll do is begin a roof and property inspection. These inspections are to ensure that your home is capable of housing and supporting solar panels. Some homes will have certain elements that may make solar panels difficult to install or impede their functionality. Some of the most common factors that can make it difficult for homes to house solar panels include the roof’s:

    • Pitch
    • Shingle material
    • Size
    • Age

    Overhanging trees may also prove to be an impediment.

    Without hiring a roofer or scheduling an appointment with a solar company, it can be difficult for a homeowner to determine if their roof is solar-compatible. Thankfully, some online tools can help you to check your roof and property’s solar compatibility, like Google’s Project Sunroof.

    Warranties and Guarantees

    When selecting a solar company, the final major consideration is its warranties and guarantees. Solar panels are a big investment, and without a good warranty, if something does go wrong, you’ll be out thousands of dollars with no protection. Most reputable companies offer product and workmanship warranties and a power production guarantee. If a company doesn’t provide these, it’s a major red flag.

    What To Look for When Hiring a Solar Installation Company

    Solar companies, like all contractors and service providers, can vary greatly from company to company. When choosing to invest in solar panels, you should always take the time to look into the companies available in your area to find the best one for you. We highly recommend getting multiple in-person quotes to compare prices before making a final decision.

    Reputation and Accreditations

    Unfortunately, not all companies are created equal. When looking into your solar company, always check its Better Business Bureau (BBB) page, paying special attention to both the company’s local branch and national headquarters.

    Industry Partnerships

    In the solar field, having industry partners is important for multiple reasons. Not only does having a diverse array of partners act as a good sign of quality and industry presence, but it also provides access to unique equipment, information, and processes. As such, if the company doesn’t have partnerships, it might be a sign that it’s smaller-scale or new to the solar industry.

    Online Customer Reviews

    Online customer reviews are a great first step in checking the quality of your chosen solar company. We recommend exploring multiple review sites, such as Google My Business, BBB, Yelp, and even Facebook.

    Solar Incentives and Tax Credits

    With the steep cost of installing solar panel systems, it can be intimidating for homeowners to take the plunge into going solar. Thankfully, many state governments have been investing heavily in the renewable energy market, creating invaluable solar initiatives. These incentives most often take the form of tax breaks, rebates, property tax reductions, or other forms of financial relief.

    The most valuable way to help finance your solar panels is through the Federal Solar Investment Tax Credit. The Investment Tax Credit (ITC) was created in 2006 to boost the country’s (at the time) burgeoning solar market. Since then, the solar industry has rapidly grown, with no small thanks to the ITC. Under the ITC, homeowners who purchase a solar panel system are eligible to receive a tax credit equal to a percentage of the total cost of the solar panel system. The credit can only be claimed once and now applies to solar panels and energy storage systems like solar batteries. The percentage amount provided by the tax credit has changed over the years, with solar panel systems installed from 2020 to 2022 providing a 26% credit and all installed from 2023 to 2032 providing a 30% credit.

    The ITC was initially set to expire in 2023 but was renewed by the Biden Administration as a part of the Inflation Reduction Act (IRA) in late 2022. To be eligible for the ITC, you must fulfill the following requirements:

    • Solar panel system must have been installed between 2017 and 2034
    • You must own the solar panel system (leases and PPAs don’t count)
    • Solar panel system must be new or used for the first time
    • Solar panel system must be installed on your primary or secondary residence or for an off-site community solar project

    How Does Solar Installation Work?

    When considering a solar panel installation, you can expect the following process:

    • Contact a representative: To start purchasing and installing solar panels, you’ll need to get ahold of a representative for a solar company. Typically, you’ll follow a link to a free online estimate or call it directly to schedule a free quote.
    • Receiving a free quote: Once the appointment has been made, the company will send a sales representative to your home. This representative will quickly inspect your home to determine the number of panels needed to fulfill its energy usage and ascertain any problems within the roof that may cause complications. Once the inspection is complete, the representative will typically present additional services or equipment you can add to your system, such as solar batters and EV charging stations. Once you decide on add-ons, the representative will create a free quote that gives exact price breakdowns of a solar panel system.
      • Remember that shopping for quotes is a normal and expected part of the solar industry. A good sales representative won’t pressure you into accepting a quote on the spot – we always recommend shopping for multiple quotes to find the best option.
    • Scheduling the installation: Once a quote has been accepted, the company will schedule a time to send out an installation crew. Once at your home, the crew will begin installing your solar photovoltaic (PV) system. This process can take anywhere from one day to a week, depending on the home’s size, system features, and other conditions.
    • Obtaining PTO: Once your system and all its components are installed, you’ll need to obtain Permission to Operate, or PTO, from your local utility company. PTO is the green light from the utility company that your system is safe, installed correctly, and ready to join the local power grid. To obtain PTO, you or your solar panel installer need to contact your utility company and schedule an inspection. Each utility company’s process is slightly different, but most homeowners don’t have to worry about this step, as solar panel companies typically manage communication with utility providers.
    • Turning on your solar panels: Once you have obtained PTO, you’re ready to activate your solar panels and begin benefiting from clean, renewable energy.

    Solar Panel Efficiency

    When installing solar panels directly or hiring a solar panel company, one of the most important terms homeowners need to understand is efficiency. Efficiency represents the amount of sunlight solar panels convert into electricity. When a solar panel has an efficiency rating of 22%, it will convert exactly 22% of all the sunlight passing through the panel into energy.

    Presently, the most efficient solar panels on the market can reach efficiency ratings of 22% to just under 23%. When choosing your solar panels or a solar panel provider, you’ll want to select companies offering panels with a high efficiency rating. The higher the efficiency, the more value you will generate from your panels. 

    Types of Solar Equipment

    Solar panel systems are complex installations, and it pays off to understand what parts go into making a system function. Below is a quick overview of all the major components of a solar panel system and what they do.

    Solar Panels

    Solar panels, also known as solar cells or photovoltaic cells, are the heart and soul of your solar PV system. It’s the primary piece of equipment that converts sunlight into electricity. Solar panels are comprised of small, square cells of silicone crystal on top of a polymer backing set in an aluminum frame. Solar panels are divided into one of three categories:

    • Monocrystalline panels: These are the costliest but most efficient panels on the market. They’re composed of a solid sheet of crystal silicone cut into individual cells or wafers. These panels are identifiable by their shiny black coloration.
    • Polycrystalline panels: When a monocrystalline cell is cut into wafers, waste material is produced from the cutting (up to 50% of the original silicone sheet). This waste material is then melted and combined into square panels. Polycrystalline panels are much less efficient than pure monocrystalline panels but are also less expensive. These panels are dark blue and are the most common on the market.
    • Passivated Emitter and Rear Contact (PERC) panels: These are a relatively new type of panel that reflects light back into the solar cell, greatly increasing efficiency. These panels are only available with monocrystalline cells and are very expensive.
    • Thin-film panels: These panels are the cheapest and least efficient on the market. Thin-film panels are typically used for industrial machinery and are composed of thin, malleable plastics rolled over surfaces. These panels only have an efficiency rating of 7% to 18%.

    Battery and Battery Backup

    Solar batteries store excess energy for application during low sunlight hours, such as overcast days or at night.

    Many experts in the solar energy industry consider solar batteries the next major hurdle in renewable energy technology. We recommend checking out the video below to understand why solar batteries are so important.

    Mounting Hardware and Cables

    Mounting hardware is the frame that holds the solar panel to the roof. Cables are connective equipment that transmits the electricity the panels produce to your home’s electrical system (or a solar battery.)

    Power Inverter

    A power inverter transforms the energy created by solar panels, known as direct current (DC), into usable electricity or alternating current (AC). Inverters are needed for a solar panel to power your home’s appliances and systems. There are several different types of inverts, including:

    • Centralized inverter: Also known as a string inverter, these are the most common types used in small-scale solar power systems. Each panel is wired together in a string that feeds into a central inverter. These inverters are durable, inexpensive, and easy to maintain.
    • Optimizers: These are a go-between device that preps the DC power produced by solar panels to be more effectively converted by the inverter. Optimizers don’t convert DC to AC power by themselves and must be paired with a central inverter. Solar power systems that utilize optimizers are more efficient but require more upkeep and are more expensive.
    • Microinverter: While string inverters connect each panel to a single central inverter, microinverters attach directly to each panel. The benefit of this is that each panel is optimized directly, allowing all panels to produce optimum amounts of power. With central inverters, if a single panel in the string is less efficient, it can lower the efficiency of the other panels, but not so with microinverters. However, these inverters are significantly more expensive, more difficult to maintain, and more difficult to install.

    Charge Controller

    Charge controllers control and regulate the electrical current from solar PV systems into batteries. Controllers ensure that batteries don’t become overcharged and prevent electricity from leaking out of the batteries back into the rest of the PV system, preventing energy loss. While charge controllers cost a pretty penny — between $1,000 to over $3,000 — they can save you much more in the long run.

    How Much Do Solar Panels Cost?

    The exact cost of your solar panel system will depend on the size of your home, your installer, local regulations, and the specific types of panels and equipment you choose. On average, you can expect to pay between $18,000 and $22,000 for a solar panel system for a 2,000-square-foot home. Thankfully, numerous rebates available on the state and federal level can help offset its steep cost, along with financing options provided by most solar companies.

    If you want to read more about the specific cost of solar panels, including labor rates and the average price for panels by state, feel free to check out our solar panel breakdown and cost guide.

    Get a Free Solar Installation Quote in Your State

    Today’s Homeowner’s Solar Ranking and Review Methodology

    At Today’s Homeowner, transparency and trust are our most important values for the reader. That’s why we took the time to create an objective rating system and score each solar energy company/service according to our methodology.

    Our research team dug deep into the fine print of contracts, combed through more than one hundred customer reviews, and thoroughly investigated each solar energy company’s services, costs, and products. We’ve done the homework for you by researching nearly all the solar energy companies on the market so you can have the information you need to make the best choice for your home.

    We developed a formula to objectively determine the best solar energy companies and give each a score out of 100 based on the following criteria:

    • Plan Options (30): Do they provide various plan options? We looked at the number of plans each solar energy company offered and the flexibility of adjusting the plan.
    • Services (20): How many services are offered in each plan? We looked at whether the company manufactures its solar panels, whether it contracts out installation, and what additional products each company offers.
    • Trust (10): What do customers say after installing solar panels? Does this company offer a guarantee? We considered how satisfied customers are post-service if the company does what it says it will, BBB accreditation, and service guarantees.
    • Prices (10): How reasonable are the costs of the plan or service in comparison to the industry average? We compared the costs of each company to competitors that offer the same solar energy services.
    • Unique perks (10): Does the company offer discounts or special services such as financial incentives, rebates, or a useful mobile app? We looked for extras each company offers that set them apart from the competition.
    • Customer Service (10): How is the customer experience when contacting the company? We considered the speed of response, weekend/holiday availability, and ease of communication through phone calls, email, and online chat functions.
    • Nationwide availability (10): How many states does the company offer its services? Companies that operate nationally and in all zip codes are favored over those with limited availability.

    Frequently Asked Questions

    What Is Net Metering?

    Net metering is the process of funneling the excess energy from your solar PV system back into the power grid for credits. These credits are then used to offset your electricity bill during low-sun hours. Net metering is one of the primary ways that solar power systems allow homeowners to save on their electricity bills. Each state has different laws and policies regarding net metering.

    Does Solar Increase My Home’s Value?

    Yes, but the value it will add to your home will depend on various factors, including region, home type, solar panel system type, and much more. According to a Zillow study, most homes sold for an average of 4.1% more with solar PV systems installed.

    What Is the Best Type of Solar Panel?

    On average, monocrystalline panels produced by tier-one suppliers are the best on the market. Monocrystalline panels are more durable, last longer, and have higher efficiency ratings than other panel types.

    How Do I Know if I Have Enough Sunlight for Solar Panels?

    Most homes require at least four hours of direct sunlight daily to meet minimum requirements. However, the amount of sunlight needed to power your home will depend on its size, panel voltage and efficiency, and region. Your best bet is to get a solar consultation to determine the power you use annually and the amount and type of panels needed to fulfill those energy needs.

    How Do Solar Panels Generate Electricity at Night?

    They don’t – solar panels need either direct or ambient sunlight to produce power. You’ll need a solar battery or connection to the local power grid to receive electricity at night.

    Editorial Contributors
    Sam Wasson

    Sam Wasson

    Staff Writer

    Sam Wasson graduated from the University of Utah with a degree in Film and Media Arts with an Emphasis in Entertainment Arts and Engineering. Sam brings over four years of content writing and media production experience to the Today’s Homeowner content team. He specializes in the pest control, landscaping, and moving categories. Sam aims to answer homeowners’ difficult questions by providing well-researched, accurate, transparent, and entertaining content to Today’s Homeowner readers.

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    Lora Novak

    Senior Editor

    Lora Novak meticulously proofreads and edits all commercial content for Today’s Homeowner to guarantee that it contains the most up-to-date information. Lora brings over 12 years of writing, editing, and digital marketing expertise. She’s worked on thousands of articles related to heating, air conditioning, ventilation, roofing, plumbing, lawn/garden, pest control, insurance, and other general homeownership topics.

    Learn More