Is Solar Right For Your Home? 7 Things to Consider (2022)
If you're interested in putting solar panels on your home, EcoWatch can help you learn more and find a verified installer in your area.
Whether you’re interested in adopting solar energy to lower your electric bill or to lower your carbon footprint, finding the right company for you can be intimidating.
We’re here to help. EcoWatch has covered renewable energy solutions for decades, and this experience allows us to help guide our readers toward the right decisions for their house.
In this article, we’ll help you understand home solar systems and take the first steps to find the right company in your area.
Already know you’re interested? Complete this quick form to connect with a verified installer in your area.
All EcoWatch solar companies are pre-vetted for your convenience.
Is Solar Worth It? It Depends On Where You Live
The primary factor determining solar’s value will be your location. Evaluating location goes beyond just how much sunlight your region receives, factoring in your electricity costs, the cost of solar by state, local solar incentives and more.
Solar Panels Are Worth It For You If…
- Your house receives a lot of sunlight: If you live in a part of the country that gets lots of exposure to sunlight throughout the year, then you’ll probably get more mileage out of your solar panels.
- You have proper space on your roof: A good solar system will require plenty of surface area on your roof, unobstructed by skylights, chimneys or other fixtures.
- Your roof faces south or west: Homes with roofs facing south, southwest or west will receive more direct radiation from the sun (at least in the northern hemisphere), resulting in more energy generated by a panel.
- You have high electricity bills: The amount of money you save by going solar will be directly proportional to the amount you spend each month on electrical costs.
- Your state or city has solar incentives, rebates or tax exemptions: Net metering specifically can have a great impact on the value you receive for your solar energy.
Solar Panels Are Not Worth It For You If…
- Your home doesn’t get enough sun exposure: If your roof tends to be shaded for long stretches of the day (for example, if your home is in the shadow of a larger building or a lot of dense trees), then your solar panels may not get the sun exposure they need to generate a solid ROI.
- You’re ineligible for incentives and rebates: If your local government or power company doesn’t have its own incentives, or has a poor or non-existant net metering policy, a solar investment may not be worth it for your home.
- You have low costs for electricity: If your electrical bills are already fairly minimal, then installing a residential solar system will yield more modest savings.
- You don’t have the right kind of roof: Certain types of roofs just aren’t as well-suited for solar power installation. For example, older or historic homes, homes that have overly tiled roofs and homes that have larger skylights may not be good matches for solar energy.
What Are The Best Solar Companies?
Every solar company is a little different. They cover different areas of the country, offer a variety of products, and like in any industry, range in the qualities of services offered. The companies below have been vetted by EcoWatch on a number of factors, including service, coverage, and cost of installation.
Best Overall Solar Company: SunPower
If you’re searching for a company that will walk you through the process of upgrading to solar power, making the entire experience easy and convenient, consider SunPower. This company offers:
- A “design studio” app that allows you to virtually design your own solar power system so you can see what the finished product would look like once assembled on your roof.
- Online calculators that make it easy for you to determine how much electricity you will save once you upgrade to solar panels.
- Virtual consultations during which you can chat one-on-one with a solar power expert and ask any questions you might have about how solar panels work or whether they’re a good investment for your home.
SunPower offers some of the best solar panels, batteries and other equipment to homeowners across all 50 states. SunPower’s all-in-one systems make for compatible technology that is easy for you to understand. The company is also the preferred solar partner of many major businesses, including Walmart, FedEx and Lowes. For more details, read our SunPower review.
Why Choose SunPower: SunPower is a reliable solar energy company with an impressive tech portfolio and an extremely easy, intuitive process.
Best Financing Options: Blue Raven Solar
Rather than helping you find a third-party loan provider, Blue Raven Solar decided to simplify the solar loan process and offer flexible, zero-money-down in-house loans. The results make us wonder why solar companies didn’t try this sooner. Blue Raven Solar has much more to offer than just an innovative financing model. Here are some additional facts about the company:
- Blue Raven has a reputation for exceptional customer service and boasts a number of awards reflecting its commitment to quality and innovation.
- The success of Blue Raven Solar prompted SunPower to acquire the company in October 2021 in order to expand its residential services. However, Blue Raven Solar is still operating as usual at the time of publication.
- Blue Raven Solar is one of the fastest-growing solar companies in the country today. Since 2014, it has expanded its staff from three to over 1,400 employees.
Blue Raven Solar customers now enjoy the benefits of solar panel ownership without having to worry about rising interest rates or late payment fees with their loans. Learn more about it in our full Blue Raven Solar review.
Why Choose Blue Raven: Blue Raven Solar offers one of the most forward-thinking solar financing options for solar customers, increasing the accessibility of solar. If taking out a loan is a deal-breaker for going solar, consider talking to Blue Raven.
Best Solar Technology: Tesla
Some fast facts about choosing solar power from Tesla:
- Tesla offers a price-match guarantee and affordable financing options.
- The company’s advanced solar panel technology fuses a low-profile, sleek design with long-term durability.
- Tesla also makes one of the best solar batteries on the market, which allows you to save your excess solar power and access it on demand whenever you need it.
You probably associate Tesla with electric vehicles, but did you know that the company makes highly regarded solar energy products? Tesla earns a spot among the best solar companies because you can order products and match with a certified installer directly through its website. Depending on your needs and budget, Tesla can hook you up with an array of solar panels, a powerwall or even solar roof shingles, making it easy to cut electricity costs and power your home via the sun’s energy. Learn more about them in our full Tesla Solar guide.
Why Choose Tesla: Tesla sells sophisticated solar products at a surprisingly low price point and with a sturdy guarantee.
Best Regional Coverage: Momentum Solar
A few fast facts on Momentum Solar:
- Momentum Solar and its leadership are highly respected in the industry, earning awards like the 2019 Ernst & Young Entrepreneur of the Year, No. 1 Residential Solar Contractor by Solar Power World in 2020, and more.
- A wide variety of solar financing options, from loans to purchase power agreements (PPAs), make Momentum Solar one of the most accessible solar providers to a wide financial demographic.
- Momentum Solar chooses to operate primarily in states with effective net metering programs and other solar rebates and incentives. If Momentum is available in your state, chances are it can help you secure great value for your investment.
Momentum Solar is an owner-operated solar installer committed to helping customers save money while bettering the environment by switching to clean, affordable electricity. Operating in New Jersey, New York, California, Texas, Connecticut, Pennsylvania, Arizona, Nevada and Massachusetts, Momentum Solar is one of the fastest-growing residential solar companies out there.
Why Choose Momentum: A young but growing solar company, Momentum Solar is moving in the right direction. Sleek products and designs, flexible financing options and policy expertise make Momentum Solar a solid choice for residents in its service areas.
Best Customer Service: Sunpro Solar
A few fast facts about Sunpro Solar’s offerings:
- An industry-leading comprehensive warranty, with guarantees of power output, workmanship and product longevity for 25 years. Most other companies only offer limited workmanship and product-specific warranties.
- High-quality solar and storage solutions for homeowners. With certifications from LG, Enphase and Tesla, Sunpro has earned the trust of some of the industry’s top solar panel manufacturers.
- Exceptional customer service that spans from educating homeowners about solar to creating custom designs of solar layouts for its customers.
Headquartered in Mandeville, Louisiana, Sunpro Solar got its start servicing the sunny areas around the Gulf Coast and now provides services across 21 states. You can learn more in our Sunpro Solar review.
Why Choose Sunpro: Though a number of major solar providers guarantee your system will perform as estimated, Sunpro seems to have the best results in backing that. Sunpro’s leading warranty, high-quality products and customer service make it an excellent choice.
Best for Leasing: Sunrun
Here’s what you should know about Sunrun Solar:
- You can book a virtual consultation with Sunrun’s solar energy experts, making it easy to explore options and determine which solar setup is right for your home energy needs.
- Each system is completely customized to address the customer’s needs. Sunrun doesn’t do “one-size-fits-all” solar panel installations.
- The company’s guarantee, one of the best in the industry, offers extraordinary peace of mind that your solar system will prove durable and reliable.
- Sunrun is one of the best solar companies for leases, so if you’re thinking about leasing solar panels instead of purchasing them, it’s worth having a conversation with this installer.
Upgrading to solar power can seem a little intimidating, but Sunrun is out to simplify the process. The solar panel company’s approach makes it extremely straightforward to select a custom solar energy plan for your household, whether you want to lease or buy a system. You can check out our full review of Sunrun for a thorough rundown of the company.
Why Choose Sunrun: With Sunrun, the name of the game is customization. This is one of the top solar companies for renewable energy solutions that are truly made with your unique home in mind.
Our Methodology for Finding the Best Solar Companies
So, how did we narrow down the industry’s top solar companies? In short, we assessed each company on a vast range of criteria and assigned them a score. Some of the factors we considered include:
- Cost of solar panels and financing options
- Customer service
- Ethics of business practices and solar manufacturing
- Other Considerations
You can read our full methodology for reviewing solar panel companies and installers here.
To Recap, There Are A Few Things To Know About Home Solar
Our team of solar experts has narrowed down these key factors to greatly simplify the process of choosing the right solar company for your needs. Here’s what you need to consider before contacting a solar installer.
- Get a Consultation Before You Buy. This is extremely important. Any good solar company will offer a consultation to go over important details and provide you an opportunity to ask questions. Many will even offer virtual consultations so you can get answers quickly and easily.
- Home Compatibility. Before choosing a provider, a consultation can help determine if your home is a good fit for a solar energy system.
- Where You Live. Your home’s location will determine how effective your solar panels will be. Homes that are surrounded by tall trees or buildings may benefit less from a solar energy system. It’s important to note that, before you purchase solar panels, you should speak with a solar energy consultant from one of the best solar companies in your area who can give you a proposal of both the number and orientation of solar panels that would be most effective for your home.
- Household Electricity Usage. A good solar provider will look into how much electricity your home uses and let you know if your home uses too much or too little electricity to benefit from installing solar panels.
- Roof Size, Age, & Slope. Old or deteriorating roofing may prevent providers from installing solar panels. A good solar provider will check the state of your roof, as well as check the slope of your roof to ensure it’s suitable for solar panels.
- Financing Options. The financing options offered by a provider will play a major role in your decision. Typically, solar companies offer various options including loans, lease, and power purchase agreements (PPA). As you talk with different solar panel companies, don’t hesitate to ask about pricing, sales and specials. The best option for you will depend on several factors, for an easy breakdown of those factors we recommend our Solar Financing Guide.
- Solar Incentives. There is a federal solar tax credit of 26% for solar installations and many states and local municipalities offer their own incentives to help offset the cost of going solar. Find out if you have any additional solar incentives offered in your area.
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All EcoWatch solar companies are pre-vetted for your convenience.
Frequently Asked Questions About Solar Energy
How Much Do Solar Panels Cost to Install?
To answer this question, let’s take a look at the basic price range for solar panel installations. According to a recent report from the Solar Energy Industries Association, in the first quarter of 2021, the national average cost of a residential solar system was $2.94 per watt.
To put this in perspective, this means that after the federal tax credit is applied, a 5-kW system would cost $10,878 and a 10-kW system would cost $21,756. An average residential solar system would sit somewhere between those figures.
The exact price you’ll pay for solar panels will depend on a number of factors and is best found by getting free quotes from local solar companies near you.
Next, you might wonder: What exactly am I paying for? The solar panels themselves usually make up just about a quarter of the total system cost. Remaining expenses include labor costs, solar maintenance and additional parts and equipment (such as inverters, racking, wiring, electric vehicle chargers or batteries).
What are the benefits of solar energy?
Installing solar panels on your home can yield a number of benefits. Examples include switching to clean energy source, lessening your dependence on fossil fuels, and energy independence from your utility company. With the amount of rebates, tax credits and incentives being offered it is a more attractive savings opportunity for homeowners than ever before.
How does a solar energy system work?
The main components of a solar energy system are the solar panels installed on your roof (ground-mounted solar panels are also used in some cases). These panasonic modules absorb the sun’s energy, storing it in what are known as photovoltaic cells. These cells convert sunlight into direct current (DC) energy, which a microinverter changes into alternate current (AC) electricity. AC electricity is what you need to power your home.
What is the largest residential solar company in the United States?
Sunrun claims to hold the spot as the largest residential solar installer in the U.S. Things in the solar industry can change quickly, however, and SunPower and Tesla have invested heavily in their residential solar services. It’s important to remember that bigger does not always mean better. You may have a local solar company in your area that didn’t make our list due to its small service size but that has services comparable to or better than the names we’ve listed here.
Karsten Neumeister is a writer and renewable energy specialist with a background in writing and the humanities. Before joining EcoWatch, Karsten worked in the energy sector of New Orleans, focusing on renewable energy policy and technology. A lover of music and the outdoors, Karsten might be found rock climbing, canoeing or writing songs when away from the workplace.