The top solar companies for 2016 in residential PV

top residential solar companies

In an industry that now employs well over 200,000 people, it can be difficult to sort through the thousands of solar installation companies that are active in the U.S. in 2017. EnergySage has compiled rankings of top solar contractors across the country on both the national and local level to help homeowners find solar companies near you.

For our national top 20 ranking, we pulled residential data from Solar Power World’s most recent report on the U.S. installer landscape. For the local ranking, we used our own EnergySage installer quality formula to determine the top 10 from our installer database of over 350 vetted installers. Though the top three for national residential solar installers were the same as many years before it, there were many new faces in the top 20 overall, exemplifying the competition and volatility of this industry.

Top 20 residential solar installers in the U.S.

Solar installer Headquarters  Installed Megawatts of solar 2015 
  SolarCity San Mateo, CA 870.00
  Vivint Solar Lehi, UT 230.80
  Sunnova Houston, TX 119.31
  Trinity Wall, NJ 48.26
  Zia Energy Albuquerque, NM 36.50
  Smart Energy USA Coronoa, CA 36.00
  Power Home Solar Mooresville, NC 28.87
  Direct Energy Solar Columbia, MD 18.34
  UniSUN Roseville, CA 18.00
  Horizon Solar Power Temecula, CA 16.99
  Baker Electric Solar Escondido, CA 15.30
  Sun Solar Energy Solutions Bakersfield, CA 15.06
  Kasselman Solar Albany, NY 13.75
  RGS Solar Louisville, CO 13.01
  Vision Solar Provo, UT 12.89
  Amergy Solar Piscataway, NJ 12.00
  Sullivan Solar Power San Diego, CA 11.83
  Power Installs Oakland, NJ  11.52
  Sunline Energy  San Diego, CA 11.00
  Haleakala Solar  Kahului, HI  10.21

Note: This list doesn’t include two of the largest solar installers in the country, Sunrun and Sungevity. According to Solar Power World, their ranking is restricted to companies who allow their data to be independently validated. 

There are a number of new leaders in residential rooftop solar. For example, Zia Energy made the top five in terms of installed MW of PV after not even breaking the top 200 the year before. Eight of the top 20 installers hail from California, the undisputed top state in the U.S. for installed solar, with a surprising second spot held by New Jersey with three of the top 20 residential companies.

The vicissitudes of market share can be attributed to a number of things that have been confirmed by customer activity on the EnergySage Solar Marketplace:

  1. Customers are price shopping more, which means that installers are forced to offer lower prices and thus some companies are going out of business.
  2. The lease model has begun to die out for residential solar. Companies that live and die by third party financing packages have struggled, providing an opportunity for new installers to thrive.
  3. Online platforms like EnergySage are now allowing customers to easily find local installers  rather than just the typical national giants that control more than half of PV market share. Our data has shown that smaller local installers typically offer lower bids than the bigger players in solar.


Comparing the top solar installers by market share and by quality rating

In any free market with strong competition, there will be some dynamic of smaller businesses finding ways to differentiate themselves from the large corporations seeking to monopolize the industry. In the case of solar, it appears that the age of the small local installer has arrived. Homeowners considering solar often find that going with a local contractor for their rooftop installation can be more practical in terms of maintenance and warranty and has historically been more affordable due to the lower prices offered by these smaller companies. With that in mind, we ranked the ten best local EnergySage-approved solar installers in the United States.

The best local solar installers in the U.S. in 2016

Rank Solar company Headquarters States served 
1       GR8 Energy Vista, CA CA
2      SunBug Solar Somerville, MA MA
3      Sugar Hollow Solar, Inc. Fairview, NC NC, SC
4      A&R Solar Seattle, WA OR, WA
5      Apex Solar Power Queensbury, NY MA, NH, NJ, NY, VT
6      SolarUnion San Francisco, CA CA
7      Green Power Energy, LLC Annandale, NJ NJ, NY, PA
8      Ross Solar Group, LLC Danbury, CT CT, NY
9      Direct Energy Solar Columbia, MD  CT, DE, DC, MD, MA, NH, NJ, NY, PA, RI
10    Winona Renewable Energy, LLC Winona, MN MN, WI

Our ranking for the best installers on EnergySage combines favorable review rating, quality of equipment, business accreditation and engagement with customers to generate an overall quality ranking. Similarly to the national ranking by Solar Power World, California came out on top with two of the top 10 installers hailing from the Golden State. No other lead installers notched duplicate states. It’s notable that the only two solar companies to make both Solar Power World’s national top list and our local quality ranking were SolarUnion and Direct Energy Solar.

Solar prices on EnergySage are typically 15-20% lower than in the industry overall as a result of the small players offering lower bids because of the nature of a price auction. On EnergySage, installers compete for your business and don’t typically inflate prices on a national level like some of the industry leaders, which brings us to our…

Three Tips for Solar Shoppers

  1. With solar quotes, the more the merrier

    As with any major purchase, shopping for a solar installation is a long process that should include a lot of research and consideration. Amidst that research process should be a thorough review of every option available to you and every company that serves your area. Of course, in order to find the smaller contractors that cannot afford to put up billboard ads or run TV commercials across your state, you’ll need to use an installer network like EnergySage. If you’d like to get some free quotes from vetted installers in your state or even town, register your property on our Solar Marketplace – homeowners who get 3 or more quotes can expect to save $5,000 to $10,000 on their solar panel installation.

  2. The largest installer will not always offer the best price

    The bigger isn’t always better premise is one of the main reasons we strongly encourage homeowners to consider all of their solar options, not just the brands big enough to pay the most for advertising. In residential solar, a handful of big companies control more than half of the overall market share, and their business model is built on the assumption that homeowners won’t bother shopping around. On the contrary, small installers on EnergySage are aware that they are not the only company offering you a quote and thus they need to offer a fair price to be competitive. If you have offers from some of the major players in solar, make sure you compare those bids with quotes from local installers in your area to ensure you don’t overpay for solar.

  3.  Comparing all your equipment options is just as important

    Just as large installers will not need to offer lower prices because of the nature of reduced competition, they will also feel no pressure to offer a variety of solar equipment – they may even only offer one brand of solar panel and inverter. For this reason, it is equally as crucial to get a diverse array of solar bids so you can compare costs and savings based on the different equipment packages available to you.

    Certain panels will have much higher efficiency ratings than others. Depending on where you live and the roof you have, you may or may not need to pay more for premium solar equipment. There are multiple variables to consider when seeking out the best solar panels on the market. Your roof may best suit a more affordable economy solar panel – the only way to find out is to look at quotes that have varying equipment and financing offers.

For any homeowner in the early stage of shopping for solar that would just like to get a ballpark estimate for an installation, try our Solar Calculator that offers up front cost and long term savings estimates based on your location and roof type. For those looking to get quotes from local contractors today, check out our quote comparison platform.

2 thoughts on “The top solar companies for 2016 in residential PV

  1. Joe Lesich

    I.m in Canada, and all the information provided is geared to the US market, and that’s OK, but have you any information for Canadian Solar enthusiasts?
    If information is available, please send it directly to us or post it in your next issue of Solar News


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