One of the most important decisions you make when installing solar is which company will provide and install your panels. There are a few large solar players who are always mentioned in conversations about solar panel companies and your options for installation. In this article, we’ll take a look at some of these big players and if you should consider working with them for your home solar project.
Overview of popular solar panel companies
The companies listed below are some of the largest national solar panel installation companies in the United States. With a large geographic reach and many thousands of customers, these are considered the biggest players in the American solar industry.
Sunrun has over 130,000 solar customers in 22 states and is one of the largest national solar companies in the country. It was founded in 2007 selling and installing solar panel systems, and is now also involved in the energy storage market. Sunrun offers $0 down leases, PPAs, and ownership of their solar products. Additionally, Sunrun offers solar loans to finance your solar system.
Vivint Solar became its own company in 2011, after separating from its original parent company, Vivint Home Security. It has over 100,000 customers in the 21 states that it serves. Vivint used to install solar panels at no cost to their customers, usually through a PPA-type plan. Like Sunrun, they now offer $0 down plans, PPAs, and full ownership models, as well as a solar loan program.
Headquartered in Houston and serving 21 states and U.S. territories, Sunnova has a unique business model that distinguishes it from other large solar installers. Sunnova has no in-house installation or maintenance teams. Instead, they have regional partners across the country to do installation and maintenance jobs for them. Additionally, all of Sunnova’s solar options are $0 down, with options to eventually own the system or to lease it for a defined period of time.
SunPower is primarily a solar panel manufacturer, and they produce some of the highest quality panels on the market. They partner with local installers around the country, authorizing them to use their products and become a representative of the SunPower brand. SunPower has also begun to work on community solar projects, starting in New York with plans to expand to more states soon.
SolarCity (Tesla Energy)
Recent years have seen SolarCity scale back their residential services significantly, but they are still a major player in the U.S. solar market. SolarCity was founded by cousins of Elon Musk (of Tesla fame) in 2006. The company serves 27 states, and was acquired by Tesla in 2016. The biggest news currently coming out of SolarCity and Tesla is the production of their innovative solar roof, which is being produced at a massive factory in Buffalo, NY known as the “Gigafactory 2.”
What about Sungevity and NRG?
You might be surprised to see Sungevity and NRG missing from this list. In fact, both of these solar companies have recently exited the solar market. Sungevity declared bankruptcy and was sold in 2017. NRG is still operational, but is focusing on commercial solar, and is no longer installing solar for homes.
National solar electric companies vs. local installers
Large national solar panel companies have the experience and resources to perform quality solar installations around the country. However, you may want to consider working with a local installer for your solar project – finding a reputable local solar electric company has many advantages over working with national installers like Sunrun.
Here’s a few of the benefits of going with a local installer:
- Bigger savings – local installers often quote lower prices for the same solar installations.
- Great customer service – with smaller service areas than national installers, local solar power companies have fewer customers to worry about, and can dedicate each one more attention.
- Better equipment – while national solar companies often buy in bulk from equipment suppliers, local companies will usually custom design their systems for individual customers with newer and better technologies.
The bottom line is that every solar installation has unique challenges and requirements that can depend on geography, shading, pricing, and much more.
For some projects, national solar electric companies may be able to provide the best overall package. However, the advantages of working with a local solar provider can often outweigh the security you may feel from working with a name-brand solar company. To understand which provider is right for you, compare options from different installers before making your solar decision.
Finding local solar electric companies is easy on EnergySage
With over 450 installers participating nationwide, the EnergySage Solar Marketplace is the best place to start your search for a solar provider in your area. All installers on the Marketplace must satisfy stringent requirements and quality checks, ensuring you will be connected with reputable local solar electric companies.
Once your property is registered and you are receiving quotes, you can compare them side by side to determine which company has the best offer for your unique solar project. If you have an existing offer from an installer outside of EnergySage, you can upload it for comparison, or even ask EnergySage installers to make a better offer.