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Can You Go Off-Grid With a Solar Energy System? (2022)

We discuss benefits, shortcomings and what you'll need to go off-grid.

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Photo by Alex Bierwagen on Unsplash

I think I speak for everyone here at EcoWatch when I say I've dreamt of living off the grid. Imagine being completely self-sufficient, impact-free and unrestricted by society at large. Even if this thought hasn't crossed your mind, I imagine going off-grid interests those plagued by high energy costs, or those building their own cabin, shed or other DIY solar project.

The way we generate and use energy has shifted dramatically over the last decade. With solar panels and battery storage technology advancing as quickly as it has, the discussion around off-grid living has become much more complex. What does living off the grid mean? Can you go off-grid with solar? Is it legal?

It's not quite as simple as just flipping your breaker panels off, as there are safety concerns, legal considerations and greedy energy corporations to take into account. Let's dig in.

What Does Going Off-Grid Mean?

In theory, living off-grid means you live independently from public utilities, meeting 100% of your own energy needs on-site. Most commonly, this is achieved using solar energy.

Public utilities are the companies that supply you with the energy, water, gas or other services you use in your home every day. The public infrastructure supporting these utilities has been in place for hundreds of years, and it encompasses the production, transportation and distribution of energy throughout a region or community. Any adjustments to this infrastructure require permitting and inspections (and often fees) so that the rest of the grid stays stable and safe.

But now that so many localized renewable energy options are available, people are realizing we can decentralize the power grid. This would eliminate a great deal of public costs — both financial and environmental — surrounding energy and infrastructure. In this article, we'll approach going off the grid from a big-picture perspective, but off-grid living can also mean something more simple, such as independently powering a cabin, shed or vacation home.

Is it Legal to Live Off-Grid?

This is where the conversation gets interesting. Public opinion differs on the legality surrounding off-grid living. In most cases, living off the grid as we know it is done in rural areas more out of necessity than choice. Within more densely populated areas, many jurisdictions require their residents to adhere to local building codes and zoning restrictions, both for safety and for public image.

As a result, you may be legally required to maintain a connection to your city's power grid or sewer systems. Failure to comply with these local ordinances can result in fines or seizure of land or property.

Before renewable energy generation became possible for individual homes, there was really no reason to want to be disconnected from your local utilities. But now that homeowners are capable of generating their own electricity, will the legality of off-grid living change?

Homes with modern solar technologies and solar battery systems are likely to meet all the legal requirements to operate safely and reasonably without connection to outside power sources. With public opinion about outdated utilities beginning to sour, we may start to see modern off-grid living become more widely accepted.

Even if it is already legal to live off-grid in your state or area, remember you'll have to file for the proper permits and inspections before you can completely cut the cord. If you're looking into living off-grid, we advise you to consult your state, city or county to learn about any legal restrictions, permits or fees.

For the sake of discussion, let's proceed on the assumption that you are legally allowed to live disconnected from your public utilities and you've secured any necessary permits to do so.

What Do You Need To Live Off-Grid?

What makes going off-grid unfeasible for some is that their homes weren't built with self-sufficiency in mind. Meeting all of your energy needs on-site necessitates smart planning — energy efficiency, an unobstructed south-facing roof, good insulation and more. The needs of living efficiently go far beyond the question "how many solar panels do I need to live off-grid?" (though that's a valid thing to ask as well).

Solar Panels

Let's say you have a nice south-facing roof that's perfect for a solar array. Even if you packed that roof to the gills with solar panels, you'd still only be able to use that energy while the sun is shining, and the majority of it would actually go to waste.

Energy Storage

This is where backup batteries come into play. The concept is simple: You connect batteries to your home's solar panels that store the excess energy they generate during the day. This allows you to spread out the usage of the energy your panels generate.

But how many batteries do you need to be completely self-sufficient? Even with a battery as powerful as the Tesla Powerwall, most averaged-size homes need at least two batteries to reliably store all the energy necessary to keep a home powered off-grid. (For context, Tesla Powerwalls are about $10,000 each.) If your home is on the smaller side or your energy use is low to begin with, you may be able to get by on a smaller battery closer to $5,000.

Energy Efficiency

Designing or retrofitting a home to be energy efficient can sometimes save homeowners just as much as installing solar panels. If you're designing an off-grid project, prioritize energy-efficient lighting and other appliances to minimize the number of solar panels you need to power your property.

Other Solar Equipment

In addition to panels, batteries and efficient appliances, homes with solar and storage require wiring, charge controllers, inverters, mounting and safety equipment. Most of these can be provided by any solar company (if you're hiring someone to install your system), but if you're set on a DIY solar project, you'll need to acquire all of the above.

Pros and Cons of Going Off-Grid With Solar

Of course, there are a few pros and cons of solar energy to consider when deciding whether to go off the grid.

Pros include:

  • Saving money: With the costs of solar and storage as low as they currently are, most homeowners can save tens of thousands of dollars when they generate their own energy instead of relying on public utilities.
  • Avoiding utility fees: As outdated utilities struggle to make money, many add fees to the bills of customers who install solar on their properties. If you're not part of the power grid, you can avoid these fees.
  • Lowering your impact: Generating your energy with solar, whether on or off the grid, offsets the harmful effects of generating and distributing conventional electricity.
  • Increasing your independence: Living with solar allows you to take control of your energy use. With energy independence, you can more accurately predict your energy use and energy costs and free yourself from rising utility rates.

Cons of going off-grid with solar include:

  • You don't have a backup: To live reliably off-grid, you generally require a system that can provide three to four days' worth of electricity in case of long stretches of cloudy days, changes in your energy use or extreme weather events. Retaining a connection to the grid can provide some peace of mind that you'll never be left in the dark when things don't go as planned.
  • You may pay unnecessary expenses: As mentioned, when living off-grid, you need to ensure your maximum energy use is covered rather than your average energy use. This can make the process more expensive than maintaining a grid-tied system would be.
  • Utilities are always changing: Before saying goodbye to your power company, remember that people can change! Though the changes are coming slower than many may prefer, utilities are shifting toward generating clean energy with a localized approach, which will reduce costs, emissions and power outages in the future.

Final Thoughts

Electrical systems around the world are undergoing rapid changes as we confront the climate crisis and expand our infrastructure. Going off-grid may seem like a satisfying idea, but in reality, it may be too complex for projects larger than a small cabin or shed.

Sooner than seeing homeowners going fully off-grid, we hope to see more promotion of decentralized energy generation through things like:

  • Partial grid-reliance via solar: The most common solar option, partial-grid reliance keeps you connected to the grid — but you meet most of your energy needs with solar and storage anyway.
  • Community solar initiatives: You can join a community solar project by purchasing a share or by paying a subscription. The electricity production that corresponds to your ownership percentage or subscription level will be measured and subtracted from your power bills each month.
  • Smart grids and microgrids: Large apartment complexes or commercial buildings can operate on their own microgrids, capable of disconnecting from the main local grid during an outage and powering themselves via solar and stored energy.

The benefits of a decentralized clean energy system are many: reliability, lower costs, more autonomy and decreased emissions. Every home that installs solar lowers the strain on public infrastructure, which in turns lowers bills and promotes stability in the rest of the community.

So, what's the moral of the story? Keep things local, and only go off-grid if you have to.

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.

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2022 Florida Solar Tax Credits, Incentives & Rebates

See how you can save money on solar panels in Florida.

Reviews
Pitsanu Prom-or / iStock / Getty Images

Florida is well-known as the Sunshine State because of its year-round sunny weather that draws millions of tourists each year, but historically, Florida hasn't actually been a national leader when it comes to solar energy generation. That said, financial incentives like Florida solar tax credit and rebate opportunities have played a huge part in its rise to become one of the top states for solar energy.

To the glee of clean energy advocates across the state, various Florida solar incentives have succeeded in bringing solar power throughout the state. According to the Solar Energy Industries Association, in 2020, Florida ranked third in the nation for solar energy capacity, and it had the second-most installations during the second quarter of 2021.

This progress in the solar field comes from many different sources, not the least of which is Florida solar incentives. For any homes or businesses feeling left behind while the rest of the state goes solar, these types of solar tax credits are still widely available across Florida, which will be discussed in this article.

For most homeowners, the decision to go solar comes down to cost. To see how much you'd pay for a home solar system (and how much you can shave off that price with Florida solar tax credit and incentive opportunities), you can get a free quote from a top solar company near you by using this tool or filling out the form below.

Florida Solar Tax Credits and Solar Rebates

As much as transitioning to clean energy is the best thing for the environment and the fight against climate change, the reality has always been that such changes would be slow to happen (if they happened at all) unless they made sense financially. When solar energy systems are proven to save money for those who pay the high upfront costs to install them, those purchases are better considered a worthy investment.

As such, some of the most effective policies encouraging solar installations have been those making the decision a no-brainer from the budgetary perspective. Let's take a look at some of the top Florida solar incentives.

Florida Solar Incentive Program Overview
Florida Net Metering Programs Credits homeowners when their solar panels produce extra electricity and it is exported to the local power grid
Florida Tax Exemptions Property tax exemptions and sales tax exemptions for solar and other renewable energy equipment
Local Incentives Incentives, rebates and low-interest financing programs at the town, city, and county level that encourage local solar installations

Florida Net Metering Programs

Regardless of the state, one of the most critical types of energy policy for solar panels is known as net metering. Through net metering, homeowners can feed excess electricity produced by their solar panels into the power grid in exchange for utility credits. These credits can be used to pay for the energy a home uses when panels aren't producing (such as at night).

Net metering tends to be a state-by-state policy, as there is no federal policy regarding net metering. Florida is one of the states where there is, in fact, a statewide net metering program, applicable for homeowners regardless of which utility serves their area.

The specific net metering provision covers up to 2 megawatts (MW) of capacity for any customers who generate electricity with a renewable energy source. Florida Power & Light and Duke Energy have the largest net metering programs in the state.

The availability of such net metering serves as an incentive for Floridians to install solar panels on their property. Not only do they benefit by reducing their power bills from pulling energy from the grid less often, but they can even profit when the utility pays them for generating more power than they consume, bringing their solar payback period down.

Florida Solar Tax Exemptions

Another financial mechanism that the Florida state government offers to solar system owners is solar tax exemptions. To start, Florida doesn't want to make the upfront cost to purchase and install solar equipment to be any higher than the open market says it should be, so since 1997, all solar energy systems have been completely exempt from Florida's sales and use tax.

Once a solar photovoltaic system is purchased and installed, there is a statewide property tax abatement that further helps homeowners avoid paying taxes on it. Most home additions, such as a new shed or outdoor patio built in a home's backyard, would be appraised to determine the value it added to the property and thus increase the overall property tax. However, the added home value of solar panels is excluded from the property's taxable value.

Local Incentives

Florida is also a large, diverse state, so in addition to the state solar incentives, many local jurisdictions enact their own policies to encourage and support installation of solar energy systems. At the town, city or county level, Floridians will commonly find low-interesting solar financing options, specific solar incentives or rebates, and more.

You can determine whether your locality offers such incentives by investigating your local government websites or talking to utility company representatives. When you do, you may come across such successful programs as Jacksonville's $2,000 rebate for solar battery installations, Boynton Beach's Energy Edge Rebate Program, or the Solar Energy Rebate Grant Program offered by Dunedin.

Federal Solar Tax Credit

Floridians, of course, can also benefit from all the tax incentives, rebates and credits that are offered at the federal level. Over the past two decades, the federal solar investment tax credit (ITC) has attributed largely to the rapid growth in solar energy across business sectors, geographies and customer types.

For systems installed and operational before the end of 2022, the federal solar tax credit is equal to 26% of the value of the installation, dropping to 22% for systems installed in 2023. It is currently set to expire afterward, though the idea of extending the ITC beyond its current expiration date, as has been done in the past, has been a part of active clean energy policy debates.

FAQ: Florida Solar Incentives

Does Florida have a solar tax credit?

State-wide, there is no specific Florida solar tax credit. However, all utilities in the state of Florida do offer customers the ability to utilize net metering, Florida solar homeowners are eligible for the federal solar tax credit, and some local jurisdictions in Florida may offer their own tax credits.

Is solar tax exempt in Florida?

In Florida, the purchase and installation of a home solar system is exempt from all sales tax, and the value of renewable systems are excluded from 100% of residential property taxes.

How much is the solar tax credit for 2022?

For any solar panel system installed before the end of 2022, the federal solar investment tax credit is equal to 26% of the value of the system.

Is Florida a good state for solar?

Florida is a great state for solar from the perspective of having year-round sunny weather, higher-than-average solar irradiance and a policy landscape conducive to solar installations. Because of these factors, Florida ranked third among all states in terms of solar capacity installed in 2020 (rising to second when looking at the third quarter of 2021), per the SEIA.

How much do solar panels cost in Florida?

Based on market research and data from top solar companies, we've found the average cost of solar panels in Florida is $2.53 per watt. However, this is only an average, and prices can vary widely depending on where you live, the number of solar panels you need and more.

To get a free estimate for your own home solar system, you can get connected with a pre-screened local installer by using this tool or entering your home's information below.

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2021 Vivint Solar Reviews: Is Vivint Legit?

Many have heard about Vivint's services, some of which seem too good to be true. Are they legit?

Reviews
Pramote Polyamate / Moment / Getty Images

Considering going solar with Vivint Solar? Many consider Vivint to be one of the industry's top solar companies due to its massive growth, but what do Vivint Solar reviews have to say about the company's customer service as it expands?

As it turns out, all that glitters is not gold. In this article, we'll walk through the pros and cons of Vivint and help you decide whether this is the best company for your solar installation.

Vivint Solar Fast Facts
Year Started 2011
Service Areas 22 states, including AZ, CA, CO, CT, DE, FL, HI, IL, MD, MA, NV, NH, NJ, NM, NY, PA, RI, SC, TX, UT, VT, VA
Service Types Solar panels, backup batteries, energy efficiency packages, electric vehicle chargers
Types of Panels Sold Black-on-black monocrystalline LG solar panels
Backup Battery Options Yes, LG Chem and Tesla Powerwall
Certifications North American Board of Certified Energy Practitioners (NABCEP) technicians
Better Business Bureau (BBB) Rating B+ with no accreditation

When selecting a solar installer, you can save thousands of dollars by shopping around and comparing prices from multiple companies. To start getting free quotes from solar companies in your area — including Vivint — fill out the form below.

Vivint Solar Overview

Vivint Solar is a full-service solar provider offering consultations, custom designs and residential solar installations. Founded in 2011, Vivint's mission is to provide homeowners with simple and affordable clean energy. The company made an early splash in the industry with its modern approach to solar, bringing systems to a whopping 500,000 homes across the country in less than a decade. Its growth attracted the attention of Sunrun, which acquired Vivint in October of 2020.

Vivint's swift success was mainly due to its commission-based direct-to-home sales network, which is able to recruit large numbers of salespeople that go door to door throughout Vivint's service area of 22 states. But how did this method live up to the company's mission of simple and affordable solar energy? Not so well.

Vivint's loose sales structure allowed salespeople to advertise misleading concepts like "free solar panels," and many unassuming customers signed contracts unaware they were locking into a 20-year lease with hefty cancellation fees. To make a long story short, the company is facing some lawsuits for its misleading sales practices, and there are thousands of scathing Vivint Solar reviews online.

Though Vivint's sales practices have been troubling, this review will cover all of what makes Vivint Solar unique. For some, Vivint has been a good choice. Our point remains, however, that if you're considering solar with Vivint, be sure to do your research and understand what you're buying into.

Vivint Solar Services and Installation

Vivint Solar provides exclusively residential solar panel services including solar panels, backup solar batteries, EV chargers and energy efficiency packages. Vivint's full spectrum of services allows for a highly customized experience with some of the finest solar equipment on the market.

Vivint Solar Equipment

Vivint exclusively offers monocrystalline PV solar panels with passivated emitter and rear contact (PERC) solar cells, as it believes these are the most efficient solar panels on the market. PERC panels are typically the best type of solar panel for any residential installation, especially when roof space is more limited.

Vivint's biggest brand partner is LG, which is known for manufacturing quality, high-efficiency solar panels and the LG Chem battery — one of the best on the market. Vivint also provides Tesla Powerwalls for some customers. These devices are all compatible with Vivint's solar and SmartHome options, which can put you in full control of your home's energy.

Solar Panel Warranty

Vivint offers a fairly standard warranty when compared to similar solar providers. The warranty is broken down as follows:

  • 10-year workmanship warranty covering any damages to your home or solar system resulting from improper installation
  • 25-year linear performance warranty ensuring your panels and solar equipment are generating or retaining power at or above a specified degradation rate

Basically, the linear performance warranty is a production guarantee that factors the decline in output that all solar panels experience over time.

All other warranties (such as panels, batteries and inverters) are product-specific but are guaranteed to be at least 10 years.

Vivint Solar Costs and Financing

As we like to mention in our solar articles, bigger companies do not always offer more affordable systems. Vivint is known for its above-average costs due to the customization, technology and quality of products offered. If the low-seeming cost of a solar lease appeals to you, we encourage you to look into financing options for purchasing panels through a local solar provider instead.

Financing Options Through Vivint Solar

As a provider focused only on residential solar installations, Vivint's financing options revolve more around solar leases and purchase power agreements (PPAs). It's still possible to purchase a system through Vivint, but most of its salespeople are known to encourage PPAs. Here is the full spectrum of financing options available through Vivint.

Cash Purchase Solar Loan Solar Lease Solar PPA
System ownership You own system You own system Vivint owns system Vivint owns system
Maintenance included No No Yes Yes
Upfront cost Yes No No No
Added property value Yes Yes No No
Eligible for tax credit Yes Yes No No
Payment due to None Third-party loan vender Vivint Solar Vivint Solar

It is important to remember that when you get your solar through a lease or PPA, you will have two monthly energy bills — one from your utility company and one from Vivint Solar. Most companies issuing solar leases have a guarantee written into the contract that your total monthly energy payments will be below what they were previous to installing solar. Vivint does not offer this same guarantee.

Vivint Solar Reviews

Now that we've covered the basics of Vivint Solar's services and products, let's get into Vivint's customer experience. This is where Vivint has run into some trouble. Due to its commission-based, remote sales structure, many salespeople focus only on securing the sale before moving on to the next potential client. They aren't incentivized to deal with any issues post-sale. Though this has allowed Vivint to grow rapidly, most of this growth resulted from unrealistic expectations set by salespeople.

In the worst Vivint Solar reviews, customers claim to have been tricked into signing a contract after being advertised free solar panels on their homes. Sadly, thousands of Vivint customers have experienced either deceptive sales or increases in their energy bills after signing a lease or PPA with Vivint. What's worse, canceling a Vivint contract early can cost over $20,000. Many innocent customers were, and are still, trapped in bad contracts laid out by unethical sales tactics.

Let's look at both sides of the coin:

Negative Vivint Reviews

Negative Vivint reviews (of which there are many) typically mention customers feeling they were deceived, locked into bad contracts or that the product installed did not perform as expected. Here are a few that we found particularly revealing.

"It took Vivint Solar five months before my system was installed. System was not up and running, and it has failed inspection twice. I then found out the system was not producing. I have called different reps in the company only to get the runaround. I have not received a single call back. I wish I had never signed with this company. They are unreliable and not trustworthy." – Juan via BBB

“Vivint is by far the worst company of any kind I have ever had the misfortune to deal with. They installed panels on my roof in no time and cashed their check quickly. Six months later, I still have ZERO electricity generated and no timetable for when I might possibly have my system online. It is impossible to talk to anyone who knows anything about anything. They are a scam, not a company." – Terry via Trustpilot

Positive Vivint Reviews

This is not to say that all Vivint customers have had bad experiences. Some who have done their research, opted to purchase systems and customized their systems found exactly what they were looking for.

We couldn't help but chuckle at this customer who felt they needed to add that they weren't lied to:

“We have solar in our house in Maryland with Vivint and we have the home security system, too. We [love] it. Our rep was great and never lied about anything to me! Happy Vivint customer." — Julia via Yelp

Final Thoughts on Vivint Solar

We'd like to tell you that after having class-action lawsuits filed against it, Vivint has changed its ways and instilled the importance of proper education and realistic expectations into the solar sales process, but we like to let customers speak for themselves. Vivint Solar has well over 2,000 customer complaints filed against it through the BBB.

Vivint has helped the solar industry make strides in modernization, customization and overall volume of solar installed, but we cannot in good conscience recommend Vivint Solar to our readers. Deceptive sales practices can give the entire solar industry a bad reputation for being a money grab or a method to take advantage of customers burdened by high energy costs.

Vivint Solar Pros Vivint Solar Cons
Virtual consultations, design studios Poor reputation
Wide range of services Customer service
Customizable
Leases, PPA offered

In our research, we found the most frequently asked questions about Vivint Solar to revolve around whether the company is a scam or a pyramid scheme. This is revealing about the overall sentiment among prospective solar customers.

However, if you are still interested in Vivint Solar, we encourage you to read your contract closely and specifically ask what happens if your solar system doesn't produce as promised. We also recommend talking to a few other solar companies whose customers have better things to report.

Solar Energy Provider Comparison

To put all this in context, let's line Vivint Solar up with some of its main competitors.

Vivint Solar SunPower Sunpro Solar
Year Started 2011 1985 2008
Services Offered Solar panel installation, battery installation, monitoring Solar panel installation, battery installation, monitoring Solar panel installation, battery installation, monitoring
Service Areas AZ, CA, CO, CT, DE, FL, HI, IL, MA, MD, NH, NJ, NM, NV, NY, PA, RI, SC, TX, UT, VA, VT All 50 States AZ, AR, CA, FL, GA, IL, IA, KS, LA, MS, MO, NE, NV, NM, NC, OH, OK, SC, TN, TX, VA
BBB Rating B+ A+ A
Payment Options Cash, loan, lease, PPA Cash, loan, lease Cash, loan
Learn More Get Quote SunPower Review Sunpro Solar Review

Frequently Asked Questions

Why is my Vivint Solar bill so high?

If your electricity bill or Vivint bill is higher than expected, the first thing you should do is consider how much energy you're using at home. Since so many homes now serve as remote offices, many customers are using considerably more energy than they have in the past.

That being said, Vivint Solar does not offer a guarantee that your system will produce as first estimated by the representative who sold you your contract. Many customers have run into trouble with poor system performance with Vivint, resulting in higher energy bills than before going solar.

Is Vivint Solar a pyramid scheme?

This is a misconception, but the salespeople of Vivint Solar have been known to advertise "free solar panels" or services that sound too good to be true. Usually, if it sounds too good to be true, it is. Vivint Solar has been faced with charges of deceptive marketing, so it's good to do your research.

Can I get out of my Vivint Solar PPA contract?

It is possible to get out of a lease or PPA agreement with Vivint Solar, but there is typically a very high fee associated with this. Vivint Solar has faced issues with unhappy customers who feel trapped in contracts. Be sure to read your contract closely if you plan to go solar with Vivint.

How does Vivint Solar make money?

Vivint Solar is a legitimate solar company that makes its money through sales, installations, maintenance and service. We believe this question may be coming from the fact that Vivint Solar's salespeople make money strictly on commissions from sales. Though this is somewhat common in the solar industry, the scale at which Vivint Solar operates has led to some deceptive sales processes.

Where is Vivint Solar's service area?

Vivint Solar offers installation services in 22 states, including Arizona, California, Colorado, Connecticut, Delaware, Florida, Hawaii, Illinois, Maryland, Massachusetts, Nevada, New Hampshire, New Jersey, New Mexico, New York, Pennsylvania, Rhode Island, South Carolina, Texas, Utah, Vermont and Virginia.

9 Best Solar Companies in Maryland in 2022

We'll help you narrow down the best installer for your home.

Reviews
The Washington Post / Contributor / Getty Images

Looking for energy freedom in the Free State? There are plenty of installers to choose from, but in this article, we’ll help you narrow down your options by recommending nine of the best solar companies in Maryland.

On track to increase its Renewable Portfolio Standard (RPS) target from 25% to 50% by 2030, Maryland has quadrupled its solar capacity since 2015. One of the biggest drivers of this has been its statewide programs that support residential, commercial and community solar projects. Maryland residents also have access to some of the best solar companies in the nation, offering exceptional value for generating clean energy.

For many readers, the decision of which solar installer to hire comes down to cost. To start getting free quotes from the best solar companies in Maryland, you can use this tool or fill out the form below.

Our Picks for Top Maryland Solar Installers

  1. Lumina Solar
  2. Solar Energy World
  3. SunPower
  4. Celestial Solar Innovations
  5. Edge Energy
  6. Trinity Solar
  7. American Sentry Solar
  8. Energy Select
  9. Maryland Solar Solutions

Comparing the 10 Best Solar Companies in Maryland

Lumina Solar

Lumina Solar logo

Lumina Solar

Location: Maryland, Pennsylvania and Virginia; Based in Baltimore

What We Like: Lumina Solar offers fully integrated solar technology to help its customers make a practical leap to new levels of energy efficiency, conservation and independence. Lumina’s solar panel systems are built with cutting-edge technology, and the company was the first in the state to offer Tesla Powerwall batteries. Though a young company, the team is made up of industry veterans sure to provide an aesthetically pleasing, reliable installation.

What We Don’t Like: Lumina Solar is only a 4-year-old company, albeit an impressive one. Given that warranties are only valid if your chosen company stays in business, we typically advise choosing companies with closer to 10 years of experience and that have a proven, sustainable business model.

What Customers Are Saying: “Lumina installed my solar system a couple of months ago, and I want everyone to know how fantastic this company is. I urge anyone looking to make the switch to call Lumina Solar. From the very beginning of researching solar companies, I was most impressed with customer reviews and they were absolutely right.” — Marsha via Better Business Bureau (BBB)

Lumina Solar at a Glance:

Solar Energy World

Solar Energy World logo

Solar Energy World

Location: State of Maryland; Based in Elkridge

What We Like: Solar Energy World’s excellent industry reputation across the East Coast continues to shine each year, making it one of the fastest-growing independently owned and operated solar companies in the region. In fact, Solar Energy World has ranked as the No. 1 residential solar installer by volume in Maryland five years running. Installing Silfab, Longi, Q Cells and REC solar panels (which are some of the best available), Solar Energy World offers high-quality technology backed by a simple and tested process.

What We Don’t Like: Relative to some competitors on this list, Solar Energy World’s size can cause lapses in organizational presence and individualized attention. Those seeking a highly personalized, hands-on experience may be better off with a smaller company.

What Customers Are Saying: “Every step of the entire process was great — a low-pressure and knowledgeable consultation, a realistic and well-priced estimate (that turned out to match the design exactly), all steps in the process happened on or before schedule, the installation was quick and easy and neat (with cleanup), county inspection and all of the after-sale steps were taken care of quickly.” — Daniel via BBB

Solar Energy World at a Glance:

  • Year Founded: 2009
  • Services Provided: Solar panels, backup battery installations, live energy monitoring
  • Warranty: Product-specific warranties ranging from 20-25 years
  • Financing Options: Cash payments, solar loans

SunPower

SunPower logo

SunPower

Location: State of Maryland

What We Like: SunPower has been an industry leader since 1985, manufacturing some of the best solar panels on the market. With nationwide service, SunPower can connect you with a certified dealer near your home or business to conduct the installation. SunPower's reputation for excellent customer care and all-in-one solar solutions earns it a high spot on our list of the best Maryland solar installers.

What We Don’t Like: SunPower is a national company, working with local dealers in Maryland to install its systems. As a result, the quality of your workmanship will be fairly dependent on the SunPower dealer nearest you.

What Customers Are Saying: “Very knowledgeable, professional and easy to work with. I was pleasantly surprised that the entire staff has been very helpful and not "pushy" like other solar companies.” — Scott via BBB

SunPower at a Glance:

  • Year Founded: 1985
  • Services Provided: Solar panels, backup battery and electric vehicle charger installations
  • Warranty: 25-year all-inclusive warranty
  • Financing Options: Cash payments, solar loans, solar leases
  • Learn More: SunPower Review

Celestial Solar Innovations

Celestial Solar Innovations logo

Celestial Solar Innovations

Location: Northwest Maryland; Based in Frederick

What We Like: A local company with a passion for solar and exceptional service, Celestial Solar Innovations offers flexible solar financing options and knows the ins and outs of Maryland policies to ensure its customers receive the best possible value for their investment in solar power. Its strong Maryland roots make homeowners feel their experience is valued over profits, and stellar customer reviews back this sentiment.

What We Don’t Like: Celestial Solar Innovations only offers services in a small region of Northwest Maryland. This can be advantageous to customers in the area, as it means they receive more attention for their projects, but the majority of Maryland will be left outside Celestial Solar Innovations’ service area.

What Customers Are Saying: “Celestial Solar was a joy to work with. We had numerous estimates before meeting with Jim and CSI. They delivered on every promise. Not a hiccup. The system they installed works very well and is delivering in excess of 100% power. Each month, in addition to a zero-dollar power bill, there is an overage that we are now selling each month as SRECs (they set that up as well).” — Nate via Google Reviews

Celestial Solar Innovations at a Glance:

  • Year Founded: 2013
  • Services Provided: Solar panels, backup battery installations
  • Warranty: Product-specific warranties
  • Financing Options: Cash payments, solar loans

Edge Energy

Edge Energy logo

Edge Energy

Location: State of Maryland; Based in Beltsville

What We Like: A certified master dealer of SunPower solar panels in Maryland, you can trust that Edge Energy installs some of the highest-quality solar technology on the market. Add a comprehensive service range that includes energy solutions, audits and upgrades, and it’s no surprise Edge Energy consistently ranks as one of the best solar companies in Maryland.

What We Don’t Like: SunPower’s solar panels are some of the best in the business, especially when it comes to efficiency. However, this lone offering can be limiting to customers who may not need the most efficient solar panels or who are interested in purchasing a different brand of products.

What Customers Are Saying: “Edge Energy used the best quality solar panels and related equipment. They did a great job of installation. Their system provides an online account that keeps track of solar production and energy usage. I have produced more energy than I use and been paid back by the energy companies for the energy I produce.” — Bryan via Google Reviews

Edge Energy at a Glance:

  • Year Founded: 2006
  • Services Provided: Solar panels, backup battery installations, energy efficiency upgrades
  • Warranty: 25-year all-in-one warranty via SunPower
  • Financing Options: Cash payments, solar loans

Trinity Solar

Trinity Solar logo

Trinity Solar

Location: State of Maryland

What We Like: One of the more established companies in the solar business, family-owned Trinity Solar is the largest privately held residential solar installation company in the nation. With over 80,000 installations under its belt, Trinity Solar is a reliable choice for home and business owners in Maryland.

What We Don’t Like: The Trinity’s size has led to some issues in communication. We’ve seen reviews lately from customers who have struggled to get in touch with customer service.

What Customers Are Saying: “From the very first day someone came out to look at my house ‘til the day it was finished, Trinity was great! Always on time and did what they said they were going to do each and every time. Best part was, they kept me informed all the time. If you're going solar, Trinity is the company you want doing it.” — George via BBB

Trinity Solar at a Glance:

  • Year Founded: 1994
  • Services Provided: Solar panels, backup battery installations
  • Warranty: 25-year equipment warranty, 5-year workmanship warranty
  • Financing Options: Cash payments, solar loans, solar leases/PPAs

American Sentry Solar

American Sentry Solar logo

American Sentry Solar

Location: State of Maryland; Based in Bel Air

What We Like: American Sentry Solar was launched as a division of American Design & Build and specializes in all aspects of exterior remodeling in addition to solar, including roofing, siding, windows and doors. Pairing roofing experts with solar specialists, American Sentry Solar offers residential and commercial installations and upgrades of the highest quality at a competitive price.

What We Don’t Like: Though we love the Enphase Encharge 10, we’d like to see American Sentry Solar offer other solar battery options to its customers.

What Customers Are Saying: “Other than the competitive price offered by American Sentry Solar, we were very pleased with their guarantee, warranty and monitoring plan included with the system. They answered our questions and gave us step-by-step information on what to expect for the whole process. Our panels are neatly arranged and look great on our roof. I love to think of all the money I am saving while sitting by the pool looking up at our panels.” — Jackie via Google Reviews

American Sentry Solar at a Glance:

  • Year Founded: 1993
  • Services Provided: Solar panels, backup battery installations, roofing
  • Warranty: 25-year workmanship and manufacturing warranties
  • Financing Options: Cash payments, solar loans

Energy Select

Energy Select logo

Energy Select

Location: Southern Maryland; Based in Leonardtown

What We Like: Relative to its competitors, Energy Select offers the most comprehensive service we’ve seen when it comes to the overall efficiency and performance of your home or business’s energy system. We love seeing companies that stress minimizing energy use before moving on to installing solar panels. Energy efficiency upgrades can reduce the number of solar panels you’ll need, in most cases greatly reducing overall project costs.

What We Don’t Like: As with American Sentry Solar, we’d like to see Energy Select expand its battery offerings. Currently, it only offers the LG Chem.

What Customers Are Saying: “This service is amazing. All involved were professional and paid great attention to our questions. They are fast and leave the property clean and all trash removed. The difference in the home is amazing. All persons involved from start to finish are the best in their field. I would give them more than 5 stars.” — Frances via Google Reviews

Energy Select at a Glance:

  • Year Founded: 2002
  • Services Provided: Solar panels, backup battery and EV charger installations, insulation, energy efficiency audits and more
  • Warranty: 10-year workmanship warranty, product-specific warranties
  • Financing Options: Cash payments, solar loans

Maryland Solar Solutions

Maryland Solar Solutions logo

Maryland Solar Solutions

Location: State of Maryland; Based in Owings Mills

What We Like: A highly local company, Maryland Solar Solutions comes recommended by regional sources like the Baltimore Sun. Focusing solely on being the best at a few select services (residential and small-business solar electric design and installation), Maryland Solar Solutions can be trusted to deliver you a quality, no-nonsense solar panel installation.

What We Don’t Like: Maryland Solar Solutions’ focused approach can be limiting for customers seeking add-ons like backup battery installations or EV chargers.

What Customers Are Saying: “We were impressed with the quality and efficiency of the panels used by MSSI as compared with other companies. Furthermore, their commitment to customer service is unsurpassed. They were knowledgeable and very helpful through the entire process, from HOA approval to installation to coordinating with BGE to registering to sell the extra energy we produce.” — Wilma via Google Reviews

Maryland Solar Solutions at a Glance:

  • Year Founded: 2008
  • Services Provided: Solar panel installations, energy efficiency audits
  • Warranty: Up to 25-year performance warranty
  • Financing Options: Cash payments, solar loans

How We Chose the Best Solar Companies in Maryland

Our company selection process includes researching the product portfolios, solar services, financing options, customer feedback and industry reputations of every major Maryland installer. Looking at metrics in these categories, we rated and ranked each company to narrow down our list of the nine best solar companies in Maryland. See our solar methodology for more information.

Choosing the Best Solar Installer for Your Home

There’s a great deal that goes into determining the best solar installer for your home, including your region, utility company, electric bills, roof space, energy consumption and more. The following factors might help you consider what to prioritize when choosing the best Maryland solar installer for your home or business.

Services Offered

Solar installation companies in Maryland will vary in service offerings and specializations. For instance, Maryland Solar Solutions chooses to focus strictly on solar panels, while companies like Edge Energy prioritize efficiency and home energy upgrades and use panels only to supplement your home’s energy system. Think about what makes your home or business unique — then find a company that prioritizes those needs. Other things to consider might be whether you need roofing work, EV chargers or backup power systems.

Installation Process

Before you sign a contract, make sure you're confident in your understanding of the installation process. Here are a few questions you’ll want the answers to:

  • How long does permitting take in my area?
  • What is my utility company's net metering policy?
  • Will any add-ons be installed along with the solar?
  • How long will the entire process take?

Permitting and interconnection can vary from city to city, so it's best to be sure you have realistic expectations.

Solar Pricing and Financing

Home solar is a great investment — especially in Maryland. Solar’s payback period can vary anywhere from 5 to 12 years (on average), so think about whether you might need special financing options to fit solar into your budget. Maryland is full of experienced solar installers familiar with the difficulties of high up-front costs, so be sure to ask about flexibility in financing options.

Industry Affiliations

It’s a good idea to hire a company that maintains industry credentials, such as membership in the Solar Energy Industries Association (SEIA), a B Corp certification or affiliation with other professional associations. Memberships and certifications are a great indicator of the company's professionalism, workmanship, reputation and reliability.

Types of Panels

Some types of solar panels are better than others, and each installer will offer a differing portfolio of products. Small homes in confined areas will likely need high-efficiency solar panels, while commercial projects with more space can prioritize the most affordable solar panels. It can only help to ask what brands of panels your company is certified to sell and install. Certifications from some of the best solar panel brands like Tesla, Panasonic, LG or REC might also be a good indicator of legitimacy.

Incentives, Rebates and Tax Credits

Maryland offers some of the best solar incentives in the country. Though effective, these incentives can be difficult to navigate, and finding a solar installer with experience securing the best value from these incentives may provide the best return on investment in the long run. It pays to think locally. Does the company you're looking at have plenty of experience in your community?

Warranty

Most warranty issues with solar don’t stem from the panels themselves, but instead from the workmanship of the installer. As a result, we recommend choosing a solar provider with a robust workmanship or all-in-one warranty to avoid any issues to your roof or home that may emerge months to years after installation. Most reputable solar companies will offer at least a 10-year warranty that covers workmanship.

Cost of Solar in Maryland

As of 2022, our market research and data from solar brands conclude the average cost of solar in Maryland is around $2.77 per watt. This means a 5-kW system would cost around $10,261 after the federal solar tax credit is applied. Keep in mind that a 5-kW system is about the minimum size you'll need for your home.

Luckily for those in Maryland, the state offers a number of helpful incentives (in addition to the federal tax credit) to help reward residents who switch to clean energy. Visit the DSIRE database for more information on incentives in your area.

Maryland Solar Incentive

Maryland Solar Incentive Overview

Solar Renewable Energy Certificates (SRECs)

Maryland rewards its residents with SRECs for contributing to the state’s renewable portfolio standard. SRECs are certificates earned for every MWh of clean energy generated that can be sold through the SREC market to help offset the cost of solar.

Residential Clean Energy Grant Program

A much simpler incentive to understand than SRECs, Maryland’s residential clean energy grant program sends you a direct $1,000 rebate for installing a solar energy system of at least 1 kW.

Sales & Property Tax Exemptions

Solar installations in the Free State are exempt from paying both the sales and property taxes associated with your solar purchase and added property value.

Maryland Net Metering

Maryland has a statewide net metering program that allows you to sell excess solar energy back to the grid in exchange for credits that go toward any future utility bills.

How to Find the Best Solar Installer in Maryland

Maryland's renewable energy incentive structure makes it unique in the solar market, focusing on SRECs, grants, tax exemptions and more. As stated before, these can be very effective but intimidating and difficult to navigate. This is why we stress the importance of finding a solar company with experience applying for these incentives and with a proven history of maximizing its customers’ solar investments.

If you’re ready to take the first step, we recommend comparing quotes from some of Maryland’s top solar installers. From there, you can see which company offers the best rates and ask more specific questions about incentives, experience and more.

To start getting free quotes from the best solar companies in Maryland, you can use this tool or fill out the form below.

FAQ: Best Solar Companies in Maryland

Who is the most reputable solar company in Maryland?

The most reputable solar company in Maryland may be SunPower, due to its size and national acclaim. However, there are plenty of reputable local companies as well, including Lumina Solar and Solar Energy World.

Is there a solar tax credit in Maryland?

Though there is no statewide tax credit, Maryland offers direct payments of $1,000 to homeowners that install solar via its residential clean energy grant program. The federal solar tax credit is also available to residents of Maryland, along with SRECs, net metering, and sales and property tax exemptions.

How do I find a reputable solar company?

If you’re looking for a reputable solar company in Maryland, you’re in the right place. We recommend starting with this list, narrowing in on your region, and gathering free quotes from the providers available to service your energy needs. From there, you can compare quotes to find the best value and speak with representatives to pinpoint which offer seems best for you.

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.
What Is the Best Solar Company in Massachusetts?

We take a look at the 10 best solar installers in the Bay State.

Reviews
Khoblaun / iStock / Getty Images

Are you a homeowner in the Bay State looking to take advantage of the benefits of solar energy? You may be wondering how to find the best solar companies in Massachusetts.

Sifting through lists of solar providers can be overwhelming, so let us help you narrow down the best Massachusetts solar installer for your needs.

Our Picks for Top Massachusetts Solar Companies

  1. SunPower
  2. Green Power Energy
  3. Boston Solar
  4. All Energy Solar
  5. ACE Solar
  6. Solar Rising
  7. Trinity Solar
  8. ReVision Energy
  9. RevoluSun Solar
  10. Future Energy

We understand that the cost of solar will be one of the biggest factors in your decision of which solar company to hire. To find out how much it would cost to install a solar energy system on your roof, you can get a free, no-pressure estimate from some of Massachusetts' top solar companies by filling out the form below.

The 10 Best Solar Companies in Massachusetts

Massachusetts is a bellwether state when it comes to energy policy. A generous net metering program, standardized renewable energy goals, personal tax credits and a wide availability of solar installers have helped the state make solar and energy storage more accessible to a wide range of income levels.

These incentives are effective but complex. This is why, in Massachusetts, it might be a good idea to think locally and choose a company with a proven ability to navigate the state's many solar incentive programs. That said, here are our choices for the 10 best solar companies in Massachusetts.

SunPower

SunPower logo

SunPower

SunPower has over 30 years of experience designing turnkey residential and commercial solar solutions across the nation. Exceptional customer service, panel efficiency and one of the most comprehensive warranties in the business set it apart from a number of its competitors.

SunPower offers virtual consultations with an online design studio to provide customers with renderings of their systems before signing the paperwork. If you're a Massachusetts homeowner looking for reliable installations of high-efficiency solar panels, backup battery systems and even electric vehicle chargers, you can't go wrong with SunPower.

Green Power Energy

Green Power Energy logo

Green Power Energy

This young clean energy provider offers installations of basic panels as well as, energy storage, solar roof shingles and EV chargers in five states across New England. Built on core values of integrity and quality, Green Power Energy seeks to educate its customers on how to get the most out of both their investment and their solar technology. With diverse product offerings and a stellar reputation for customer service across the region, Green Power Energy is a wonderful choice for those lucky enough to live in its service area.

Boston Solar

Boston Solar logo

Boston Solar

Boston Solar is one of the most popular providers of residential solar in Massachusetts, having performed nearly 5,000 installations statewide. It focuses on providing the best solar panels, exceptional customer service and the highest quality workmanship. To put its money where its mouth is, Boston Solar offers a 10-year production guarantee, ensuring your solar system performs as advertised or you'll receive a check for the difference. You'll be hard-pressed to find any customer reviews online that aren't satisfied with the work of Boston Solar.

All Energy Solar

All Energy Solar logo

All Energy Solar

Though headquartered in St. Paul, Minnesota, All Energy Solar has teams located in Massachusetts, New York and New Hampshire. All Energy Solar is one of the few full-service solar energy companies that is licensed as a building contractor as well as an electrical contractor, so you can be confident in All Energy Solar's ability to meet any of your home or business energy needs. Providing solar solutions to government agencies, farmers and large industrial complexes as well as homes, All Energy Solar is a great choice for those with any needs beyond simple solar installations.

ACE Solar

ACE Solar logo

ACE Solar

Headquartered in North Andover, Massachusetts, ACE Solar has been ranked the No. 1 Massachusetts solar contractor by Solar Power World for the fifth consecutive year. If you need more proof of ACE Solar's credibility, we encourage you to check out the provider's impressive collection of work, which spans from powering landfills to liquor stores. Regardless of what your home or business energy needs may be, ACE Solar is sure to find a creative solar solution that lowers your electric bill.

Solar Rising

Solar Rising logo

Solar Rising

Installing solar panels in Cape Cod, the Islands and the South Coast of Massachusetts, Solar Rising is a small yet trusted operation run by solar technicians local to the area. Solar Rising offers an impressive array of services given its size (including backup solar batteries and EV chargers) and is certified to install products from most of the top solar manufacturers. Sparkling customer reviews and an impressive gallery of sleek installations reflect Solar Rising's commitment to high-quality service. If you're a homeowner reading this from Cape Cod, the Islands or Massachusetts' South Coast, Solar Rising may be your best choice.

Trinity Solar

Trinity Solar logo

Trinity Solar

"Providing energy with integrity since 1994" is how Trinity Solar best describes its mission. The biggest privately held residential solar installer in the country, Trinity Solar trailed only ACE Solar in total kW of residential solar installed during 2020. Having completed over 65,000 successful solar projects, Trinity Solar is one of the most reliable choices you can make in Massachusetts.

ReVision Energy

ReVision Energy logo

ReVision Energy

ReVision Energy seeks to empower its Massachusetts customers to end their dependence on fossil fuels by owning their power through solar. ReVision's commitment to JEDI (justice, equity, diversity and inclusion), B Corp certification and employee-owned structure make it an ethical choice if you prioritize supporting solar providers that balance profit with purpose.

RevoluSun Solar

RevoluSun Solar

RevoluSun Solar

Locally owned and operated, RevoluSun Solar sees its customers as its neighbors. The company has provided premium solar and storage technologies with exceptional customer service throughout Massachusetts for a decade and installed over 2,000 kW of solar energy statewide in 2020. RevoluSun's localized approach has proven successful in multiple states, as hundreds of happy customers continue to post five-star reviews and spread the word about RevoluSun through its referral program.

Future Energy

Future Energy logo

Future Energy

Last but not least on our list is Future Energy Solar, based out of Melrose, Massachusetts. Future Energy offers a variety of products from some of the highest-quality solar manufacturers on the market, including LG, Panasonic, Enphase and Q Cell to name a few. With exceptional ratings from customers, Future Energy is a great choice for those wanting a sleek installation and some of the industry's finest solar products.

Choosing the Best Solar Installer for Your Home

As you can see, there are a few options for the best solar companies in Massachusetts. Here are a few considerations to focus on when narrowing down the right installer for your home energy system.

Services Offered

Different solar companies have different specializations within the sector. Some homeowners don't want to deal with the hassle of purchasing or maintaining solar panels and prefer to choose a provider with a lease option. Others may prioritize backup battery power if they live in an area with extreme weather. It's good to do some research on what services the companies you speak to offer. Be sure to ask about add-ons like energy efficiency packages to go along with your solar.

Installation Process

We recommend familiarizing yourself with the solar installation process during your consultation with any Massachusetts solar company. Good questions to ask include: What is my local net metering policy? How long does the permitting process typically take? What brands of products do you install? These are all important topics to raise during the due diligence process and can give some insight on how well your consultant knows their stuff.

Service Areas

Massachusetts is the paradigm for effective solar policies. As a result, it finds itself one of the best states for solar energy and is full of providers looking to expand their market share. As you look for the best solar installer near you, make sure that each company's services are available where you live. A few of the installers we review are only available within certain areas of Massachusetts. Our list of top cities for solar in Massachusetts may also provide more guidance.

Solar Costs and Financing

We understand that the cost of solar is usually the driving factor in decision-making. Some solar providers offer more flexibility than others on the budget front, so look for a company with plenty of solar financing options available.

Something to keep in mind is that bigger solar providers are not always the most affordable. Also, many companies offer frequent sales or specials for new customers, so make sure to ask if any are available. Getting competing quotes from companies in your area can also help you find the best value out there.

Solar Industry Affiliations

To make sure that you choose a trustworthy solar provider, we recommend checking for certifications and industry affiliations. The most common to look for are North American Board of Certified Energy Practitioners (NABCEP) certifications or belonging to the Solar Energy Industries Association (SEIA).

If you have a specific product or brand in mind for your installation, check to see if your provider is certified by that brand. These certifications will usually be on an installer's homepage, as most solar companies are eager to show that they're trusted by top solar brands like Enphase, LG or Tesla.

Types of Panels

To better weigh the pros and cons of solar, it can only help to educate yourself on the different types of panels on the market. For instance, if you have a smaller roof, using a company with high-efficiency panels like SunPower may be a good idea. Ask about product portfolios and, again, see if companies are certified to install leading brands like Tesla, Enphase or Q Cell.

Solar Incentives and Rebates

If you live in a state like Massachusetts, it is especially important to ask your solar provider about the many renewable energy programs, solar tax credits and exemptions available in your area. Any of the best solar providers will help you apply for the federal solar tax credit and local net metering programs, but some may have more knowledge in how to get the best value for your money by taking advantage of all incentives available in Massachusetts.

Warranty

Solar panels are a significant investment, but a solid warranty can provide peace of mind that your energy needs will be met for decades to come. Some solar companies provide a 25-year warranty on their technology and workmanship, while others only offer guarantees that last five to 10 years.

A warranty is one of the most important aspects of your solar purchase, so make sure you ask about what might happen if you experience roof leaks, underproducing panels or critters chewing on your wires. Things happen, after all, and you want to make sure your investment is protected.

Cost of Solar in Massachusetts

Based on market research and data from top brands, we found the average current cost of solar in Massachusetts to be around $2.94 per watt. With this average, we can calculate that, after the federal tax credit is applied, a 5-kW system would cost around $10,878 and a 10-kW system would cost around $21,756.

Any of the best solar companies in Massachusetts should be able to help you apply to receive incentives and solar tax exemptions to reduce any excess costs possible in your investment. However, it's still a good idea to be familiar with these on your own.

Massachusetts Solar Incentive Incentive Overview
Net Metering Massachusetts offers one of the best net energy metering (NEM) programs in the country, crediting solar panel owners for their excess solar electricity.
Solar Massachusetts Renewable Target (SMART) Program The SMART program is an exemplary statewide solar incentive. Customers of select major utilities are paid a fixed rate per kWh of solar energy generated for 10 years. Additional incentives are provided to low-income customers to create a more equitable energy sector. Customers with energy storage systems are also eligible for additional benefits. Visit mass.gov for more details about the SMART program.
Massachusetts Renewable Energy Personal Tax Credit Massachusetts offers a personal tax credit of 15% (maximum value of $1,000) for any eligible renewable energy installations, including solar PV or wind power.
Massachusetts Solar Tax Exemptions Installing solar panels boosts your property's value in Massachusetts, but the state doesn't require you to pay the additional tax increases that would typically come with added property value. Massachusetts also provides sales tax exemptions for solar purchases.

Final Thoughts

Massachusetts is a leader in effective energy policy across the country. With additional tax credits, exemptions, net metering and the SMART program, Massachusetts displays how solar can contribute to energy equity, community building and resilience. Its popularity has spiked as a result.

Where there is demand, supply is sure to follow. There are a large number of solar companies in Massachusetts looking to build a name for themselves by winning over customers like you. This is why we recommend getting quotes from multiple solar companies and comparing their offers. You might secure an extra few thousand dollars of value by taking the time to do so.

To start comparing free quotes from some of the best solar companies in Massachusetts, fill out the 30-second form below.

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.

anatoliy_gleb / iStock / Getty Images

Sunpro Solar has had a foothold in the solar market of the sunny Southeast since 2008 and has stretched its service area across 21 states. But what do Sunpro Solar reviews have to say about the company's customer service as it expands?

In this article, we'll take a look at the Louisiana-based company's reputation, service offerings, pricing and more so you can decide whether purchasing solar panels with Sunpro is a good idea for your home.

Sunpro Solar Fast Facts
Year Started 2008
Service Areas 21 states, including AZ, AR, CA, FL, GA, IL, IA, KS, LA, MS, MO, NE, NV, NM, NC, OH, OK, SC, TN, TX, VA
Service Types Customized designs of solar panel systems, electric vehicle (EV) chargers and backup battery installations
Types of Panels Sold LG, Panasonic
Backup Battery Options Yes, including Tesla Powerwall and Enphase Encharge
Certifications North American Board of Certified Energy Practitioners (NABCEP) technicians; LG, Enphase and Unirac certified installer
Better Business Bureau (BBB) Rating A with accreditation

Read on for our full review, or to see if Sunpro is available in your area and get a free quote, fill out the 30-second form below.

Sunpro Solar Overview

Sunpro Solar is a leading provider of both residential and commercial solar energy solutions throughout 21 states, ranking No. 2 on our list of the best solar installers in the U.S. The company has installed solar on over 25,000 homes, and Sunpro reviews are largely positive, giving it a great nationwide reputation. Sunpro currently holds a BBB rating of an A and holds certifications from NABCEP, LG, Enphase and Unirac.

Headquartered in Mandeville, Louisiana, Sunpro got its start servicing the sunny areas around the Gulf Coast. The company is yet to spread into the Northeast but now services most of the southern U.S. and has become a top solar company in Texas, Arizona and California.

Sunpro opts to exclusively sell renewable energy systems rather than lease solar panels. It also offers high-quality solar storage solutions. What sets Sunpro apart from competitors is its 25-year comprehensive guarantees of power output, workmanship and product longevity.

Sunpro Solar Services and Installation

Sunpro Solar designs, installs and maintains solar panels on commercial properties and residential homes. The provider has over a decade of experience in solar installations and prides itself on its reputation for providing quality service and industry-leading warranties.

Solar Panel Warranty

Unlike most companies, which only offer product warranties and 10-year workmanship warranties, Sunpro offers a comprehensive 25-year warranty guaranteeing the solar system produces at its estimated level for decades after your purchase.

According to Sunpro, if your system does not produce the amount of energy guaranteed, you will receive the difference in cash. More specifically, the 25-year Sunpro guarantee includes:

  1. A labor guarantee that your system is installed properly without any damage to your home or system.
  2. A power production guarantee that your solar energy system produces the amount of power outlined in your initial solar proposal.
  3. A panel module guarantee that your solar PV panels remain functional.
  4. An Enphase microinverter guarantee that your system's microinverters perform without error.

Product Offerings

The right products for your home will depend on your energy needs, but Sunpro comes armed with some of the best solar panel and backup battery options on the market. Sunpro's PV installations are mostly equipped by brands like LG and Panasonic — companies known for making products with exceptional longevity and quality at an affordable price.

Sunpro also offers both the Tesla Powerwall 2 and the Enphase Encharge 10, two of the best solar battery options on the market. Despite Sunpro carrying a mix of brands for its panels and storage systems, the company chooses products that are compatible with each other. For instance, LG panels are known to work well in nearly any solar configuration.

Sunpro Installation Process

Outlining its process in just three steps, Sunpro strives to make solar installations as simple and easy as possible. Relative to its competitors, Sunpro's process is more simple, but this can come at the cost of customizing the look and functionality of your system.

An average Sunpro customer can expect the installation process to look a little more like this:

  1. Sunpro evaluation: To kick off the process, one of Sunpro's solar consultants will visit and evaluate your home to determine if it's the right fit for solar. If eligible, Sunpro will send a quote and rendering of your home's proposed system. Make sure your proposal outlines any local incentives or solar tax exemptions available in your area.
  2. Obtain permits and approvals: Once you've approved the plans and signed the paperwork, Sunpro will handle the details of obtaining your permits and approvals. Most solar installations will require a city permit, and some may require a net metering agreement to ensure a safe installation and that you can sell any surplus energy back to your local utility company.
  3. System installation: After all permits and approvals are secured, Sunpro will install your system. Most Sunpro installations are complete within one to three business days, depending on their complexity. Before you can turn the system on, both the city inspector and local utility need to issue permission to operate (PTO). Sunpro will schedule all required inspections before assisting you in getting your system up and running.

Sunpro Solar Costs and Financing

It's challenging to estimate the average cost of solar for a provider, as prices depend on your location, home and energy goals. We do know that Sunpro offers fairly competitive prices, but local installers may quote just below Sunpro to get a leg up on the competition. This is another reason we encourage our readers to get several quotes from competing companies.

Unlike other industry leaders like Sunrun and SunPower, Sunpro does not offer a lease option. This excludes a small number of homeowners interested in solar, but ultimately Sunpro encourages purchases so that customers can secure the best value for their time and money.

Financing Options

Sunpro offers standard solar financing plans for its customers, all backed by the company's 25-year guarantee.

  1. Full purchase: You own the system and the energy it produces. Purchasing solar panels is the ideal way to go solar. When you purchase panels, you buy the solar equipment from Sunpro in cash. Think of this as paying for 25 years worth of energy upfront, only for far less than you'd pay if you stuck it out with your local utility.
  2. Monthly loan: You own the system and pay for it with a loan. Sunpro can help you secure a solar loan to fund the purchase of your solar panels. Loans require monthly payments and vary in interest rates based on credit scores and loan terms. Payback periods can range from five to 12 years depending on these factors. With a monthly loan, you still own the system outright, which adds to property value, allows you to claim the federal solar tax credit and provides a far greater return on investment than leasing panels.

Sunpro Solar Reviews

There are bound to be mixed reviews for any company with over 25,000 clients. Let's take a look at what real Sunpro customers have to say — both positive and negative.

Positive Sunpro Reviews

Sunpro Solar reviews from happy customers mostly describe a "set it and forget it" solar project: simple plans, a quick installation and a product performing just as it was advertised.

" Great company! I had my solar installed a couple months ago. Everyone and everything was great and went very smoothly. They kept in contact with everything that was going on the entire time. Now I have a new roof, a nice tax credit and a practically non-existent light bill!" — Jeremy via BBB

"Everything went as promised and on time. All the people were friendly and courteous. I am having no problems with the installation and service." — Thom via Google Reviews

Negative Sunpro Reviews

Solar, like any business, runs on sales. And Sunpro's sales consultants work on commission. That's why it's important to find an installer that you can trust to keep you satisfied well after the papers are signed. Solar can be a very challenging issue for homeowners to troubleshoot, and most negative Sunpro Solar reviews stem from customers experiencing issues after the sale was made. Here are a few examples.

"I pretty much have the same complaints as most others. I'd warn all to not waste your time or money with this company. They install the panels very quickly in order to get their money from the lending company. But once they receive their money, you are on your own. They never keep in contact to update you on the status of the activation of the panels. They are not honest at all in the entire process." — Sean via BBB

"I was satisfied when I first got the solar panels installed. However, when I call now to get my panels serviced — as I have 11 panels out of commission — I am being told that it will be awhile… I have yet to get a date that my panels will be serviced. Have not even gotten a call back." — Sandra via Google Reviews

Final Thoughts on Sunpro Solar

Sunpro Solar is a good example of how a solar company should operate; an all-encompassing 25-year warranty, high-quality solar panels and good customer service. Sunpro has helped tens of thousands of homeowners discover the benefits of modern solar energy by keeping its business and installation process simple. We'd like to see better results from its customer service department, however.

If you do go with Sunpro, the chances are that you'll receive a quick, simple and effective solar solution that works for at least 25 years. We noticed most issues arise on the rare occasions that installations don't go smoothly. Whether a minor issue like your inverter not connecting to your network or a major issue like a faulty panel, a comprehensive 25-year warranty only does so much good if you can't get your provider to call you back.

Overall, we happily recommend Sunpro to our readers, but be sure you only sign a contract from a sales rep you trust. Leave no stone unturned in asking questions prior to the sale to make sure your consultant is knowledgeable and will field any of your concerns after you sign a contract. Solar is a significant investment, and you should feel confident in your decision.

Sunpro Solar Pros Sunpro Solar Cons
Large service area Reported communication issues after sale
Strong warranty No lease options
Excellent customer service No online estimates or consultations
High quality of products

Solar Energy Provider Comparison

Now that you know what Sunpro Solar reviews have to say, let's compare the provider to a couple of other well-known national solar companies:

Sunpro Solar Sunrun SunPower
Year Started 2008 2007 1985
Services Offered Solar panel installation, battery installation, monitoring
Solar panel installation, battery installation, monitoring, maintenance Solar panel installation, battery installation, monitoring
Service Areas AZ, AR, CA, FL, GA, IL, IA, KS, LA, MS, MO, NE, NV, NM, NC, OH, OK, SC, TN, TX, VA AZ, CA, CO, CT, FL, HI, IL, MD, MA, NV, NH, NJ, NM, NY, PA, RI, SC, TX, VT, WI, Puerto Rico and Washington D.C. All 50 States
BBB Rating A B+ A+
Payment Options Cash, loan Cash, loan, lease, PPA Cash, loan, lease
Learn More Get Quote Sunrun Review SunPower Review

Frequently Asked Questions

Is Sunpro legit?

Sunpro is a legitimate solar company performing solar and energy storage installations in 21 states. Sunpro is accredited by the BBB and has certifications from NABCEP, LG, Enphase and Unirac. It has carried out over 25,000 installations throughout the country.

Where are Sunpro panels made?

Sunpro installs mostly LG solar panels and is a platinum tier installer of the LG partner program. LG believes solar panels should be made in-house and manufactures all of its panels in its facilities in Gumi, South Korea, and Huntsville, Alabama.

Who is the most reputable solar company?

There are many different opinions about the most reputable solar company. Sunpro, Sunrun and SunPower frequently lead lists of top solar companies, but ultimately, the best company for you depends on your needs.

Where does Sunpro have service?

Sunpro Solar currently offers services in 21 states, including Arizona, Arkansas, California, Florida, Georgia, Illinois, Iowa, Kansas, Louisiana, Mississippi, Missouri, Nebraska, Nevada, New Mexico, North Carolina, Ohio, Oklahoma, South Carolina, Tennessee, Texas and Virginia.

Trending
Freedom Forever Solar: Reviews, Services & More (2022)

Looking to learn more about Freedom Forever Solar? We offer our 2022 review of the growing company.

Reviews
wundervisuals / Getty Images

One of the fastest-growing solar installation companies in the nation, Freedom Forever Solar (not to be confused with Freedom Solar) has expanded to over 24 states in less than five years. In our Freedom Forever Solar review, we’ll discuss the pros and cons of this up-and-coming installer and see if it deserves a spot among the nation’s best solar companies.

Freedom Forever Solar likes to keep things simple and outlines its services in just three steps: solar panel installation, backup battery installation and solar financing. Similar to a number of its counterparts offering national coverage, Freedom Forever offers solar panels for purchase as well as solar leases and power purchase agreements (PPAs).


Freedom Forever Solar Fast Facts

Year Started

2016

Service Areas

25 states, including AZ, CA, CO, CT, DE, FL, GA, ID, IL, MD, MA, NV, NH, NJ, NM, NC, OR, PA, RI, SC, TX, UT, VT, VA and WI

Service Types

Solar panel and battery installations

Types of Panels Sold

Varies depending on location

Backup Battery Options

Yes, including LG Chem and Tesla Powerwall

Certifications

North American Board of Certified Energy Practitioners (NABCEP) technicians

Better Business Bureau (BBB) Rating

A+ with accreditation

Read on to learn more about Freedom Forever Solar, or to see how much a solar system from Freedom Forever Solar or a similar certified installer would cost, you can use this tool or fill out the form below.

Freedom Forever Overview

Founded just six years ago, Freedom Forever Solar is still in its infancy compared to other solar companies of its size. Though a new kid on the block, this Temecula, California-based provider offers a unique approach focused on educating its clientele. With a learning center, a “solar academy,” videos, podcasts and more, Freedom Forever aims to set realistic expectations for its customers when it comes to the big picture of renewable energy and the nitty-gritty of solar financing.

By understanding that an informed customer is the best type of customer, Freedom Forever empowers its clients to increase their independence while reducing their costs via solar.

So, how has this approach paid off? Let’s explore.

Freedom Forever Services and Installation

Freedom Forever Solar strives to make going solar as easy as possible for homeowners. Offering only solar panel and backup battery installations, Freedom Forever Solar focuses on simplicity in its clean energy services. This model allows Freedom Forever to concentrate its efforts on solar and backup power but may disappoint customers interested in add-ons like electric vehicle charging stations or energy efficiency upgrades. The installations themselves are carried out by authorized partner companies that will vary regionally.

The type of solar panels available for your home will vary depending on your region as well, but backup batteries installed by Freedom Forever include the Tesla Powerwall and LG Chem.

Here’s what the average customer can expect Freedom Forever Solar’s installation process to look like:

  • Receive a free quote by providing preliminary information such as your address, monthly energy costs and credit score.
  • If interested after receiving the quote, Freedom Forever will draw up a full proposal including your custom system design, a rendering of the system’s appearance and estimated energy savings over the course of the system's lifetime. The proposal should factor in local and state solar incentives, so be sure to make note that they are included.
  • Freedom Forever Solar pledges to handle all permits, interconnection agreements and other consents associated with a solar installation in your region.
  • During the permitting process, Freedom Forever will enroll you in your utility company’s net metering program, if applicable.
  • The installation itself only happens after permits and net metering agreements are finalized. Installations with Freedom Forever are typically finished within one day and are carried out by authorized partner companies.
  • Finally, you'll need to pass inspection and turn on your system. Once the system is installed, both the city and your electric company will most likely require inspections. Freedom Forever will schedule and oversee both. Once you pass both inspections, you’ll be ready to turn your system on.

Solar Panel Warranty

Rather than offering workmanship or product warranties, Freedom Forever Solar promises that your system will perform as advertised through its 25-year production guarantee. Should your system underperform or encounter any problems, Freedom Forever will fix it and reimburse you for any lost savings.

Though this sounds like an all-encompassing warranty, it’s not quite that simple. It should be noted that Freedom Forever outsources its labor to local installation crews, and workmanship is not covered by the 25-year production guarantee. This means that any damages to your roof, home or electrical equipment from low-quality workmanship will have to be negotiated with a third party rather than the sales rep you signed a Freedom Forever contract with. Though these situations are rare, they can complicate what should be a simple warranty.

Freedom Forever Costs and Financing

The average cost of a solar system from a certain provider is difficult to assess, as pricing can vary widely depending on your state, your roof and your electric bills. Freedom Forever is a young company up against some industry leaders, so we expect its solar project pricing to be competitive. However, we always encourage readers to get quotes from competing solar companies to make sure you’re getting the best value from your investment.

Much of Freedom Forever’s expansion can be credited to its utilization of solar leases, which allow homeowners to rent solar power systems at a monthly cost. Though leasing panels provides a switch to clean energy with a low upfront cost, purchasing panels provides the greatest value in the long run. Keep in mind that leases will not be eligible for the solar tax credit.

Financing Options

Freedom Forever Solar offers four solar financing plans for customers:

  1. Cash Purchase: Purchasing your solar system outright provides you with maximum long-term value. Making one upfront payment reduces loan fees and interest, allowing you a quicker payback period. Also, solar panels add property value and make you eligible for the solar tax credit. Over time, homeowners will see the largest return on investment when paying in cash.
  2. Home Solar Loan: Freedom Forever Solar partners with third-party loan companies to provide financial assistance with solar power purchases. With a solar loan, you can still enjoy the benefits of system ownership, maintaining eligibility for tax credits, rebates and additional property value. Solar loans will vary in their interest rates depending on credit score, down-payment amount and length of the loan.
  3. Solar Lease: With a solar lease, you make fixed monthly payments to Freedom Forever, essentially renting your solar panels. The costs of leases are typically about 20% less than you pay for grid-supplied electricity. You can still take advantage of energy savings, but you miss out on a number of valuable benefits associated with system ownership, like the tax credit, rebates and an increase to your property value.
  4. Purchase Power Agreement (PPA): PPAs are similar to solar leases in that you make monthly payments, but instead of renting the solar panels, you agree to pay a fixed monthly rate for the electricity they produce. From our perspective, PPAs are the least advisable option.

Freedom Forever Solar Reviews

Given Freedom Forever’s strategy of making solar easy, most positive reviews reflect a quick, seamless and effective installation process, as advertised. The company runs into trouble with its customer support and complications involving third-party installers and loan providers. Let’s take a look at what customers are saying.

Positive Freedom Forever Reviews

Not surprisingly, positive reviews reflect Freedom Forever’s simple process. Satisfied customers report a system performing as advertised, saving them money on their utility bills with no maintenance or support needed post-install.

“I was referred to this company by my neighbor that had their system installed by Freedom, and I’m glad they did so. My experience with Robert (my rep) was amazing and honestly effortless from our consultation to install. Very clear and thorough, and what was said was delivered.” — Tai via Google Reviews

“Great company to work with. Efficient and professional. Our sales rep stayed in contact with us the whole way, making for a smooth installation and transition from the grid. He also gave us a great deal; locked in for 25 years with no money down. Goodbye SDGE.” — Kim via Google Reviews

Negative Freedom Forever Reviews

Generally, we prefer to recommend solar companies that handle their installations and financing in-house, and the negative reviews surrounding Freedom Forever Solar are the perfect examples why. Customers too often experience difficulties with warranties when multiple companies are involved and can receive poor treatment from customer service teams looking to offload their issues on another company.

“Be aware that this company is ONLY a solar panel sales company and only installs material, which is NOT made by them, so warranty can be iffy. They hire private party makeshift companies, which are not affiliated with Freedom Forever or solar panel equipment. Be careful with these multiple companies. They are not reliable.” — Robert via Better Business Bureau

“One star for quick installation of solar panels. Everything else is a mess. Customer service is very slow, sometimes hard to get a hold of, probably because of all of the disappointed customers calling in and waiting for their service to turn on. As we speak, I am already being billed by their finance company and also paying the power company because my system is not operating.” — NA via Better Business Bureau

Our Take On Freedom Forever Solar

Freedom Forever Solar’s modern approach to solar education, wide service area and high volume of installations make it an intriguing new company, but a few too many complications with customer service and unreliable partnerships bog down its overall reputation.

By involving third-party contractors and loan providers, there are too many moving pieces in an average solar installation to be carried out as smoothly and consistently as we’d like to see. Overall experiences depend far too heavily on the team that carries out the installation itself, which is arguably the most important part of a solar investment. As a result, we have a hard time recommending Freedom Forever Solar relative to most other top solar companies that likely offer services in the same area.

Freedom Forever Pros

Freedom Forever Cons

Strong production guarantee

Limited services

Large service area

Outsourced labor

Quick installations

Customer service issues

Flexible financing options

No workmanship warranty

Freedom Forever Solar can be a good and practical choice for customers looking to quickly and simply save money on their energy bills through a solar purchase or solar lease. However, for homeowners looking for attentive customer service and quality workmanship both before and after installation, we advise you to shop around.

You can start getting free quotes from a number of solar installers near you by filling out the form below or using this tool.

INSERT FORM

Solar Energy Provider Comparison

To put this all into context, let’s take a look at what industry leaders SunPower and Sunrun offer in comparison to Freedom Forever. What we see as the key factor differentiating SunPower and Sunrun is industry experience. Freedom Forever only has six years of experience as of 2022, which is not a lot of time to establish a reliable process over a range like 25 states. If slow growth is good growth, Freedom Forever Solar doesn’t appear to have as sustainable a business model as we’d like to see.


Freedom Forever

SunPower

Sunrun

Year Started

2016

1985

2007

Services Offered

Solar panel installation, battery installation, monitoring

Solar panel installation, battery installation, monitoring

Solar panel installation, battery installation, monitoring, maintenance

Service Areas

AZ, CA, CO, CT, DE, FL, GA, ID, IL, MD, MA, NV, NH, NJ, NM, NC, OR, PA, RI, SC, TX, UT, VA, VT, WI

All 50 States

AZ, CA, CO, CT, FL, HI, IL, MD, MA, NV, NH, NJ, NM, NY, PA, RI, SC, TX, VT, WI, Puerto Rico and Washington D.C.

BBB Rating

A+

A+

B+

Payment Options

Cash, loan, lease, PPA

Cash, loan, lease

Cash, loan, lease, PPA

Learn More


SunPower Review

Sunrun Review

Frequently Asked Questions

Is Freedom Forever Solar a good company?

Freedom Forever Solar is a good company, but it lacks the experience and expertise we’d like to see before fully recommending it to our readers. If overall customer satisfaction improves over the next few years (which we certainly hope is the case), we’ll be more likely to recommend it.

How does Freedom Forever solar work?

Freedom Forever Solar makes its money by selling solar contracts, the installations and financing of which are handled by third-party partners. Though you may sign a contract through Freedom Forever’s sales staff, the crews coming out to work on your home and the company you make loan payments to will be subcontracted.

Does Sunrun own Freedom Forever?

Sunrun does not own Freedom Forever, but Sunrun is the primary solar and battery provider of Freedom Forever. This means that Freedom Forever partners with Sunrun, leveraging its brand and services to back the Freedom Forever sales team. If you sign a contract with Freedom Forever, there’s a chance your installation will consist of Sunrun’s technology and be carried out by a certified Sunrun partner.

How long has Freedom Forever solar been around?

Freedom Forever Solar has been around since 2016, expanding to 25 states in just six years. Freedom Forever was able to grow so quickly through establishing a wide network of certified independent installers that it outsources its contracts to.

Where is Freedom Forever solar available?

Freedom Forever solar is available in 25 states, including Arizona, California, Colorado, Connecticut, Delaware, Florida, Georgia, Idaho, Illinois, Maryland, Massachusetts, Nevada, New Hampshire, New Jersey, New Mexico, North Carolina, Oregon, Pennsylvania, Rhode Island, South Carolina, Texas, Utah, Vermont, Virginia and Wisconsin.

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.
Climate advocates gathered at City Hall Park in New York City on Sept. 24, 2021. Erik McGregor / LightRocket via Getty Images
None of America's largest "climate positive" corporations are fully supporting the country's biggest and best legislative opportunity in over a decade to address the climate crisis and move toward alignment with the Paris agreement, a new report shows.
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Trending
Solar Energy Pros and Cons: Is Going Solar Right for You?

Weighing the pros and cons of solar can help you make the best decision for your home.

Reviews
Lourdes Balduque / Moment / Getty Images

The solar boom is underway; the best solar companies are becoming household names, and the benefits of solar energy are taking the spotlight from oil, coal and gas. However, with so much literature to sort through these days, it can be tough to gauge the real solar energy pros and cons — especially since they're so dependent on the customer.

Though a sound investment, solar is a significant one, and we want our readers to fully understand the advantages and disadvantages of solar energy before making a purchase. Of course, using the sun as a renewable energy source can reduce your household's monthly electric bills and minimize your carbon footprint. However, there are some factors that make solar a little less valuable for some than others.

We'll go over the full pros and cons of solar energy in this article, but for many homeowners, the decision to go solar comes down to cost. To see how much solar panels would cost for your home, you can get a free quote from an installer near your by using this tool or filling out the form below.

Pros and Cons of Solar Energy: What You Need to Know

By installing a home solar system, you can use photovoltaic solar cells to capture and convert the sun's clean energy into electricity that can power your home or business. This can partially or completely offset the energy you'd typically purchase from your utility company.

While the advantages of solar energy are well advertised, there are also some drawbacks our readers should be aware of. Consider the following pros and cons of solar energy to help you decide if solar panels are worth it for your home.

Benefits of Solar Energy

Let's begin with the fun part — the biggest advantages of solar energy.

1) You can significantly reduce or even eliminate your household electric bills.

One of the most significant benefits of solar energy is also the most obvious: by generating your own energy, you can partially or completely offset the electricity you purchase from your utility. The average solar system lasts for two to three decades, which means most residents enjoy at least a decade or two of free energy after paying off their system with their energy savings and tax credit.

2) Going solar can reduce your carbon emissions.

The clean and natural energy harnessed by your solar system offsets the energy you'd typically purchase from local utilities. For the most part, local utilities carry a large impact stemming from the generation, transportation and distribution of electricity to your community. By using solar panels to generate your own electricity, you offset a portion of the greenhouse gases associated with fossil fuels, lowering your community's overall environmental impact.

3) Investing in a solar power system can increase the value of your home.

Homes with solar are becoming considerably more appealing, and installing the best solar panels can raise an estate's resale value by a decent amount. Note that this helps offset one of the primary cons of solar energy, which is the steep startup cost of solar panels — but more on that later.

4) Going solar can make you eligible for rebates and tax incentives.

Over the past couple of decades, the federal government has implemented numerous plans to incentivize solar energy, including solar tax credits and rebates. Many state governments have followed suit, particularly those where sun exposure is most consistent. Thanks to this, there are some significant ways to recoup part of your solar investment almost immediately. Again, this can help offset the initial cost of your solar panel system, allowing you to generate savings even before those utility reductions begin to stack up.

5) Solar + storage provides reliable backup power.

A solar battery storage system can provide backup power for homes in areas prone to power outages, which seem to be growing each year with the extreme weather brought on by climate change. With a backup battery like a Tesla Powerwall, you can keep your essential appliances powered during a prolonged outage. Even in mild weather, backup batteries let you store and use more of your solar energy, generating more savings.

Disadvantages of Solar Energy

Unfortunately, there are benefits of solar that won't prove effective for all homes. A few of the most notable disadvantages around solar include:

1) Not every roof can accommodate a solar system.

Solar panel installation requires you to have a certain kind of roof. If you have an older home, especially one with slate or cedar tiles on the roof, then you may not be able to buy solar panels for your personal use. Additionally, homes with skylights and other rooftop features may not have the surface area needed for solar panels.

If you don't have a lot of space or you're unsure about your home's solar capability, contact a local solar installer near you for a consultation. Most top solar companies will send out a representative free of charge.

Keep in mind that you can also install a ground-mounted solar panel system if you don't have a suitable roof.

2) Solar energy can be very location-dependent.

You can have a roof that's ideal for solar panel installation and still not be a good candidate for solar energy. Why? Because to take full advantage of solar power, you need to live in a place that gets consistent daily sun exposure. So, if you live in a part of the country that tends to be pretty cloudy, you may not produce the amount of energy necessary to justify your investment. Also, if your roof is partly shaded by trees or by neighboring homes, you may not get the best mileage from a solar energy system.

Location goes beyond just the amount of sunlight you receive, however. Some readers may live within the jurisdiction of a utility company without a favorable net metering policy. In the most unfortunate cases, utilities will charge hefty interconnection fees that can outweigh the savings solar provides.

3) Solar savings tend to correspond with energy bills.

The higher your electricity bills, the more energy you'll be able to offset with solar. But the inverse is also true: if you live somewhere with low utility costs, then the savings from switching to solar energy are going to be more modest. In other words, there are some parts of the country where the financial advantages of solar energy are going to be pronounced, and other places where those financial advantages are going to be nominal. It all depends on the cost of electricity where you live, and how much of it you use.

4) The upfront cost of going solar can be significant.

After adding up panels, labor, inverters and more, the average solar system investment ranges from $10,000 to $20,000. The specific number will vary according to the size of your home, if you need energy storage technology, your household energy use and the type of solar panels you choose. For example, if you make your own DIY solar panels, you'll cut down on installation fees, or if you want to get the most efficient solar panels, they'll cost significantly more.

There are plenty of ways to offset the cost of solar, including tax incentives, utility savings, increased home value and financing options. Still, there's no getting around it: Making the switch to solar is a significant investment.

5) Solar is getting more expensive with supply chain issues.

Worldwide supply chain issues have squeezed the costs of solar materials, shipping and labor. As a result, investing in solar in 2022 is proving a touch costlier than in years past. Still, solar technology itself continues to improve in efficiency and value while declining in price. We wouldn't recommend waiting to install a system, however, as the federal solar tax credit will be reduced in 2023 and will phase out altogether in 2024.

Weighing Solar Energy Pros and Cons

So, do the advantages of solar energy outweigh the disadvantages? Unfortunately, there's no easy answer here, as different homeowners may experience different levels of value when they make the jump to solar.

Before investing in a system, make sure you do your due diligence. Consider local sun exposure, the size and direction of your roof, local tax incentives and your own household energy expenses. Also, think about whether you want (or need) a solar battery.

Getting quotes from a few solar providers can give you more details about how much a new system will cost you. By weighing the pros and cons of solar energy for your home, you can make the best decision possible.

To get connected with a solar installer near you for a free consultation, you can use this tool or fill out the form below.

FAQ: Solar Energy Pros and Cons

When is solar energy a bad choice?

We aren't naive enough to claim that solar is always a good choice. For homeowners with low energy costs, shady roofs or insufficient space, the cost of solar can outweigh its benefits. Your location is important, too — not just in terms of sunshine, but also the financial incentives available to you. Check your local net metering policy and statewide and local incentives to see if you can save money on solar.

What are three disadvantages of solar energy?

The three biggest disadvantages to solar energy include:

  • The long-term nature of the investment: Life happens. Things change. Unfortunately, transferring solar loans or leases over to new homes or homeowners can be tricky. Some solar companies charge to have the panels relocated, and not all new homeowners will accept the solar lease or loan should you wish to transfer it.
  • Not every roof can accommodate a solar system: Small roofs, roofs with obstructions or roofs made with alternative materials can have trouble accommodating solar panels.
  • The cost of solar: Purchasing 25 years' worth of electricity upfront can make a lot of customers uncomfortable — and we understand why! The upfront cost of solar won't be feasible for all homeowners. Luckily, solar leases, flexible loan plans and incentives are making solar accessible to a wider range of home and business owners.

What are the advantages of solar?

Solar panels provide a reliable, low-maintenance way to avoid the carbon dioxide emissions associated with conventional energy generation. In addition to the environmental benefits, solar typically provides a great deal of energy savings for customers weighed down by rising utility costs. When properly designed and installed, solar is one of the best and most sustainable investments you can make.

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.
Average Cost of Solar Panels in Florida: What to Expect in 2021

How much will a solar system set you back in Florida?

Reviews
SandiMako / iStock / Getty Images

With a nickname like the Sunshine State, it's no wonder Florida has become one of the top states for solar energy — only Texas and California installed more megawatts in 2019 and 2020. The cost of solar panels in Florida is below the U.S. average, which makes them affordable for more potential users. There are also a number of solar tax exemptions and incentive programs in the state, which you can combine with the 26% federal tax credit to get costs even lower.

According to the Solar Energy Industries Association, Florida's solar panel costs have dropped by 36% in only five years, which is one reason you may have seen more of your neighbors install solar systems. In fact, total installations in the state are now approaching 100,000.

To find out for sure how much you would pay for solar in Florida, you can start getting free quotes from pre-screened solar companies in your area below.

How Much Do Solar Panels Cost in Florida?

According to the SEIA's most recent Solar Market Insight Report, home solar systems currently have an average price of $3.03 per watt in the U.S. However, based on market research and data from top brands, we've found that the average cost of solar panels in Florida is only $2.53 per watt. In other words, solar prices in the Sunshine State are 16% lower than the U.S. average.

Based on this estimate, the typical price of a 5-kW home solar system in Florida is $12,650. However, when you deduct the 26% federal solar tax credit, the system price drops to $9,361. The following table summarizes the average prices of common system sizes in Florida, before and after the federal solar tax credit is applied:

Size of Solar Panel System Florida Solar Panel Cost Cost After Federal Tax Credit
5kW $12,650 $9,361
6kW $15,180 $11,233
7kW $17,710 $13,105
8kW $20,240 $14,978
9kW $22,770 $16,850
10kW $25,300 $18,722

While these are just average prices, they can give you an idea of what to expect when going solar in Florida. A qualified solar installer can provide an accurate quote based on a professional assessment of your property and its rooftop.

What Determines the Cost of Solar Panels?

The total cost of solar panels — in Florida or elsewhere — depends on many factors. Even two projects of the same capacity using the same solar panel model can have very different prices. For example, some roofs require extra work to install solar panel racking, and the amount of wiring required can change depending on the system layout.

Let's review the main factors that determine the cost of going solar in Florida.

Solar Equipment

The price of a solar installation changes depending on the type of solar panels you pick. In general, monocrystalline panels are more expensive than polycrystalline panels, but their energy conversion efficiency is higher. In other words, you pay more for each solar panel but you also get more kilowatt-hours over time.

Pricing also depends on the brand and complexity of solar panel systems. For example, a 10-kW system with a Tesla Powerwall battery and a smart inverter is more expensive, compared with a basic 10-kW array using a standard inverter and more basic solar battery.

Solar Financing

The cost of solar panels also depends on how you decide to pay for them, and there are three main options: paying in cash, getting a loan and signing a solar lease or power purchase agreement (PPA). Like in any financial decision, each solar financing option has pros and cons.

  • A cash payment is the lowest-cost option over time, but paying for your solar installation upfront is a major expense. For a 5-kW solar system in Florida, the average upfront payment is $12,650, and you must then wait until the next IRS declaration to claim the 26% federal tax credit.
  • A loan makes solar panels easier to pay, since their cost can be split over several years, and utility bill savings can be used to pay off your loan. The downside of using loan financing for solar panels is interest, which consumes part of your savings.
  • A solar lease or PPA gives you access to photovoltaic panels without owning them directly. A solar lease charges you a fixed amount per month, while a PPA charges you based on the electricity output of solar panels. The provider assumes the upfront cost and ongoing expenses, and you sign a lease/PPA contract. However, you cannot claim the federal tax credit in this case, since you're not the legal owner of the solar power system.

Regardless of how you decide to pay for solar panels, you get a source of clean energy that lasts for decades. Keep in mind that solar panels are very durable, and the best solar panels come with a power production warranty of 25 to 30 years.

Installation Company

Even though Florida is called the Sunshine State, the local solar power industry was very small before 2016. However, Florida's solar capacity has been booming since then, thanks to favorable laws and decreasing prices. According to the SEIA, there are more than 480 solar companies in Florida, and total investments in the state now exceed $10 billion.

Having many solar providers in Florida is great news for homeowners and businesses, as competition leads to lower prices and better services. To make sure you're getting a good deal, the best strategy is to compare free estimates from many providers. Ask them to provide a detailed quote, so you can know exactly which solar products are being installed on your rooftop.

Florida Solar Incentives

Florida not only offers abundant sunshine, but also many incentives for solar panels. However, keep in mind that incentives can vary depending on your electricity provider or county. Here are the main benefits currently available to reduce the cost of solar panels in Florida:

Florida Solar Incentive How it Affects the Cost of Solar Panels in Florida
Net metering programs Florida Power & Light, Duke Energy, Gulf Power and Tampa Electric Company all offer net metering. Surplus electricity from your solar panels is exported to the grid and subtracted from your next power bill at the retail rate.
State tax exemptions Solar panels are exempt from Florida's 6% sales tax, and there is also a statewide property tax exemption. In other words, you will not be taxed for the increase in home value after going solar.
Local solar incentives Certain municipalities and utility companies in Florida have their own incentives for going solar. For example, Jacksonville offers a rebate of $4,000 per home on solar battery purchases. Check your local government websites for opportunities in your area.
Federal solar tax credit Officially called the solar investment tax credit (ITC), this benefit is available in all states. When installing a solar PV system, you can claim 26% of its cost as a federal tax credit.

The benefit will be available until the end of 2022, decreasing to 22% in 2023. From 2024 onward, there will only be a 10% solar federal tax credit for businesses (0% for homes).

Before going solar, check your options and make sure your system qualifies for the above incentives. A professional installer can give you an accurate estimate of how much it would cost to put panels on your roof — and help you navigate incentive applications to save money down the line. To connect with a top solar installer near you, fill out the 30-second form below.

FAQ: Cost of Solar Panels in Florida

Are solar panels in Florida worth it?

It's generally worth it to install solar panels in Florida. A 5-kW solar energy system has an average cost of $9,361 in Florida, and it can generate over $25,000 in savings during the 25-year warranty period of most solar panels. In other words, you get around $2.50 to $3 in savings for every dollar spent on upfront installation costs.

How much do solar panels cost for a 2,000-square-foot house?

This depends on your electricity bills, and you can check your annual consumption to get a better idea of the solar capacity you need. With Florida's sunshine, you can expect to generate over 1,600 kWh for every kilowatt of installed capacity (assuming favorable roof conditions).

For example, if your home consumes 12,800 kWh per year, your solar panel system must have around 8 kW of capacity. In Florida, a solar system of this size costs around $14,978 after the 26% federal tax credit.

Does Florida have a solar tax credit?

Solar panels are exempt from sales and property taxes in Florida. This means you save 6% upfront on your purchase, and the increase in home value that results from solar panels is not taxable. Some municipalities in Florida have their own rebates and incentives as well.

Are solar panels free in Florida?

Currently, there are no programs offering free solar installations in Florida. However, you can go solar for $0 upfront by getting a loan or by signing a lease or Power Purchase Agreement. This way, you can start saving on power bills right away, and those savings can be used to pay the loan/lease/PPA.

Leonardo David is an electromechanical engineer, MBA, energy consultant and technical writer. His energy-efficiency and solar consulting experience covers sectors including banking, textile manufacturing, plastics processing, pharmaceutics, education, food processing, fast food, real estate and retail. He has also been writing articles about energy and engineering topics since 2015.


123ArtistImages / iStock / Getty Images

Florida has shown a dedicated investment in solar energy in recent years, leading it to become the third most popular state in the country for solar installations. Because of this, a number of new companies have popped up across the state, leaving it difficult for consumers to narrow the best solar companies in Florida.

In this article, we'll introduce you to the top 10 Florida solar installers so you can make the best decision for your home's clean energy needs.

Our Picks for Top Florida Solar Companies

  1. SunPower
  2. Sunpro Solar
  3. Solar Source
  4. SunVena
  5. Goldin Solar
  6. Solar Bear
  7. Blue Raven Solar
  8. Solar-Ray
  9. Unicity Solar
  10. May Electric Solar

For many Florida homeowners, the decision to go with one provider over another comes down to solar panel costs. Interested in seeing how much you would pay to install a solar system on your roof? Fill out the form below to get a free, no-obligation quote from a top Florida solar installer that services your area.

Comparing Top Florida Installers

Florida is the perfect example of bigger solar companies not always being better.

Industry giants like SunPower and Sunpro Solar may top our list, but a large number of local providers in Florida have decades of experience tailored to the climate of the state. Some customers with older roofs may prefer to work with technicians experienced in preventing rain or wind damage, for example. Whether you're looking for a nationally recognized top solar company or a family-owned installer, pay special attention to each provider's customer service and warranties, which are of particular importance in Florida.

SunPower

SunPower has been an industry leader since 1985, designing all-in-one residential and commercial solutions backed by personalized customer service and the industry's most comprehensive warranty. Over 35 years of professional solar experience makes SunPower one of the most trusted solar installers available in Florida. Offering both an online design studio and virtual consultations, SunPower has an industry-leading process that provides customers with reliable installations of custom-designed solar energy and backup solar battery systems.

Sunpro Solar

Sunpro Solar is another national solar provider with an excellent track record in Florida. Sunpro has a proven history and reputation for providing attentive service, long-lasting warranties and comprehensive solar solutions. We recommend Sunpro if you're looking for top-notch customer care throughout the entire lifespan of your solar panels.

Solar Source

The first installer on our list that operates solely within Florida, Solar Source is a favorite solar company of local roofers, builders and homeowners. A commitment to top-quality products, exceptional service and reliable support has earned the company many positive reviews from customers. In a region frequently hit by tropical storms and severe weather, this solar installer offers 37 years of expertise you can trust to install your system securely.

SunVena

SunVena is another one of the most local Florida solar installers. SunVena's goal is to deliver an exceptional solar experience without any lengthy, confusing sales pitches. An educational, friendly and simple process is essential in making customers feel comfortable in making a sizable investment; SunVena's stellar customer reviews prove the company has this down pat.

Goldin Solar

Goldin Solar is a young company that has made a quick impact. Since 2014, its installations have generated over 65 million kWh of energy, helped homeowners save over $8 million in electric bills and offset over 100 million tons of emissions. With $0-down financing options, comprehensive energy storage solutions and exceptional customer reviews, we expect Goldin Solar to quickly rise in the ranks of the best solar companies in Florida.

Solar Bear

This family business has grown from serving just the Orlando and Tampa Bay areas to the entire state. Solar Bear evolved from home energy contracting into renewable energy services, now offering solar PV, storage, solar thermal and even geothermal heat pumps in Florida. The most reviewed solar provider in the state, customers can trust Solar Bear's transparency in its business practices. For customers looking to support local, family-owned businesses without sacrificing quality, Solar Bear may be the option for you.

Blue Raven Solar

Recently purchased by industry titan SunPower for its promising growth, Blue Raven Solar still operates in Florida, along with 16 other states. The company offers innovative financing models structured with $0-down and flexible payment methods, making it an exceptional choice for customers interested in solar financing and a low solar panel payback period.

Solar-Ray

Solar-Ray is a local solar installer committed to superior customer service and providing the best PV equipment available at the lowest price possible. A preferred solar service provider of Duke Energy, Orange County Public Schools, Orlando Utility Commission and the University of Central Florida, Solar-Ray has 14 years of local knowledge and experience to ensure Floridians secure the maximum value from their solar investment.

Unicity Solar

Unicity Solar's focus on providing customers with simple, affordable solar panel systems has made it a leader in Florida's renewable energy space. Unicity's strengths come in providing some of the best solar panels in the industry and guaranteeing 25 years of no-cost warranty protection for all products and installations. The Unicity Guarantee makes the company an ideal choice for Florida residents primarily concerned about the longevity of their solar power system.

May Electric Solar

Our final best Florida solar installer is May Electric, which is local to Central Florida. Founded in 2004, May Electric has grown into a full-service solar installer rooted in values of quality workmanship and solar industry expertise. Offering comprehensive warranties, product assurance and high-quality customer relations, May Electric has yet to receive a review below a five-star rating on its Better Business Bureau profile.

How We Chose the Best Solar Companies in Florida

There are a number of factors that differentiate the quality and benefits offered by different solar providers. These are some of the considerations we used to evaluate the best Florida solar companies.

Services Offered

Different solar companies may provide varying services. We understand that every customer has unique energy needs, so we tend to favor companies that offer a breadth of services and product options. Before speaking to a company, consider add-ons you may be interested in like backup solar batteries, panel monitoring services, home energy efficiency packages and electric vehicle chargers.

Installation Process

We checked out each company's solar installation process, but when doing your own due diligence and meeting with consultants from various solar companies, we recommend asking questions such as: What kind of customizations can you expect? Does the provider hire subcontractors or install with in-house technicians? How often will you be updated on the status of permits and other paperwork? These answers can further inform you on how knowledgeable the company is.

Coverage Areas

Florida is one of the most popular states for solar panels, so there are a lot of regional providers to choose from. You can narrow down your search by looking for the best solar installer near you. If you live in Miami, it doesn't do you much good to research a solar company that's active only in Jacksonville. The companies discussed in this article have wide service ranges, so you're more likely to find one that fits your needs.

Pricing and Financing

The initial cost of solar panel installation can be significant. Some solar companies are certainly more affordable than others, and you can also ask about solar financing options that are available through your installer. Some companies on our list, like Blue Raven Solar and Goldin Solar, focus their businesses on catering to customers who prioritize flexible financing.

Industry Affiliations

To guarantee that the renewable energy provider you select is reputable and has both the integrity and the expertise you require, we've assessed each company's status in the industry. The simplest way to do this is to check to see whether the company has North American Board of Certified Energy Practitioners (NABCEP) technicians or belongs to the Solar Energy Industries Association (SEIA) or other industry groups.

Types of Panels

To make sure you have a wide variety of options to choose from, our researchers looked into the types of panels and products our top Florida solar companies offer. If you're interested in learning more, during your consultation, don't hesitate to inquire about a company's tech portfolio and see if it is certified to install leading brands like Tesla, Enphase or Panasonic.

Rebates and Tax Credits

Most top solar providers give guidance navigating different savings opportunities you're eligible for. The reputable solar providers on this list offer assistance in applying for the federal solar tax credit and local incentives.

Warranty

Going solar is a big investment, but a warranty can help you trust that your system will work for decades. A lot of solar providers provide a 25-year warranty on their technology and workmanship, but you'll definitely want to ask about this on the front end.

Cost of Solar in Florida

We found the current cost of solar in Florida to be about $2.53 per watt. This means that, after the federal tax credit is applied, a 5-kW system would cost around $9,361 and a 10-kW system would cost around $18,722.

Floridians can also use the following incentives and solar tax exemptions to reduce costs:

Florida Solar Incentive Florida Solar Incentive Overview
Net Metering Net energy metering (NEM) credits solar panel owners for any excess electricity fed back to the energy grid. In Florida, Duke Energy and Florida Power & Light offer the best net metering programs.
Solar Sales
Tax Exemption
Florida offers exemptions from the 6% sales tax when you purchase a solar energy system.
Solar Property
Tax Exemption
Installing solar panels increases your property's value, but tax exemptions in Florida allow customers to avoid paying local property taxes on that added value.
Florida PACE
Loan Program
With the PACE program, loans are available to fund the cost of solar in certain areas, sometimes in full.

How to Find the Best Solar Installer in Florida

Given the high number of solar panel companies operating in Florida, it can be difficult to find one that stands out for your needs. This is why we advise readers to get quotes from several competing companies. Not only can you see the benefits each offers in its proposals, but you can secure the most competitive price available in the crowded Florida market.

To start getting free, no-obligation quotes from the best solar companies in Florida, fill out the 30-second form below.

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.

EcoWatch is a community of experts publishing quality, science-based content on environmental issues, causes, and solutions for a healthier planet and life.
Can You Go Off-Grid With a Solar Energy System? (2022)

We discuss benefits, shortcomings and what you'll need to go off-grid.

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Photo by Alex Bierwagen on Unsplash

I think I speak for everyone here at EcoWatch when I say I've dreamt of living off the grid. Imagine being completely self-sufficient, impact-free and unrestricted by society at large. Even if this thought hasn't crossed your mind, I imagine going off-grid interests those plagued by high energy costs, or those building their own cabin, shed or other DIY solar project.

The way we generate and use energy has shifted dramatically over the last decade. With solar panels and battery storage technology advancing as quickly as it has, the discussion around off-grid living has become much more complex. What does living off the grid mean? Can you go off-grid with solar? Is it legal?

It's not quite as simple as just flipping your breaker panels off, as there are safety concerns, legal considerations and greedy energy corporations to take into account. Let's dig in.

What Does Going Off-Grid Mean?

In theory, living off-grid means you live independently from public utilities, meeting 100% of your own energy needs on-site. Most commonly, this is achieved using solar energy.

Public utilities are the companies that supply you with the energy, water, gas or other services you use in your home every day. The public infrastructure supporting these utilities has been in place for hundreds of years, and it encompasses the production, transportation and distribution of energy throughout a region or community. Any adjustments to this infrastructure require permitting and inspections (and often fees) so that the rest of the grid stays stable and safe.

But now that so many localized renewable energy options are available, people are realizing we can decentralize the power grid. This would eliminate a great deal of public costs — both financial and environmental — surrounding energy and infrastructure. In this article, we'll approach going off the grid from a big-picture perspective, but off-grid living can also mean something more simple, such as independently powering a cabin, shed or vacation home.

Is it Legal to Live Off-Grid?

This is where the conversation gets interesting. Public opinion differs on the legality surrounding off-grid living. In most cases, living off the grid as we know it is done in rural areas more out of necessity than choice. Within more densely populated areas, many jurisdictions require their residents to adhere to local building codes and zoning restrictions, both for safety and for public image.

As a result, you may be legally required to maintain a connection to your city's power grid or sewer systems. Failure to comply with these local ordinances can result in fines or seizure of land or property.

Before renewable energy generation became possible for individual homes, there was really no reason to want to be disconnected from your local utilities. But now that homeowners are capable of generating their own electricity, will the legality of off-grid living change?

Homes with modern solar technologies and solar battery systems are likely to meet all the legal requirements to operate safely and reasonably without connection to outside power sources. With public opinion about outdated utilities beginning to sour, we may start to see modern off-grid living become more widely accepted.

Even if it is already legal to live off-grid in your state or area, remember you'll have to file for the proper permits and inspections before you can completely cut the cord. If you're looking into living off-grid, we advise you to consult your state, city or county to learn about any legal restrictions, permits or fees.

For the sake of discussion, let's proceed on the assumption that you are legally allowed to live disconnected from your public utilities and you've secured any necessary permits to do so.

What Do You Need To Live Off-Grid?

What makes going off-grid unfeasible for some is that their homes weren't built with self-sufficiency in mind. Meeting all of your energy needs on-site necessitates smart planning — energy efficiency, an unobstructed south-facing roof, good insulation and more. The needs of living efficiently go far beyond the question "how many solar panels do I need to live off-grid?" (though that's a valid thing to ask as well).

Solar Panels

Let's say you have a nice south-facing roof that's perfect for a solar array. Even if you packed that roof to the gills with solar panels, you'd still only be able to use that energy while the sun is shining, and the majority of it would actually go to waste.

Energy Storage

This is where backup batteries come into play. The concept is simple: You connect batteries to your home's solar panels that store the excess energy they generate during the day. This allows you to spread out the usage of the energy your panels generate.

But how many batteries do you need to be completely self-sufficient? Even with a battery as powerful as the Tesla Powerwall, most averaged-size homes need at least two batteries to reliably store all the energy necessary to keep a home powered off-grid. (For context, Tesla Powerwalls are about $10,000 each.) If your home is on the smaller side or your energy use is low to begin with, you may be able to get by on a smaller battery closer to $5,000.

Energy Efficiency

Designing or retrofitting a home to be energy efficient can sometimes save homeowners just as much as installing solar panels. If you're designing an off-grid project, prioritize energy-efficient lighting and other appliances to minimize the number of solar panels you need to power your property.

Other Solar Equipment

In addition to panels, batteries and efficient appliances, homes with solar and storage require wiring, charge controllers, inverters, mounting and safety equipment. Most of these can be provided by any solar company (if you're hiring someone to install your system), but if you're set on a DIY solar project, you'll need to acquire all of the above.

Pros and Cons of Going Off-Grid With Solar

Of course, there are a few pros and cons of solar energy to consider when deciding whether to go off the grid.

Pros include:

  • Saving money: With the costs of solar and storage as low as they currently are, most homeowners can save tens of thousands of dollars when they generate their own energy instead of relying on public utilities.
  • Avoiding utility fees: As outdated utilities struggle to make money, many add fees to the bills of customers who install solar on their properties. If you're not part of the power grid, you can avoid these fees.
  • Lowering your impact: Generating your energy with solar, whether on or off the grid, offsets the harmful effects of generating and distributing conventional electricity.
  • Increasing your independence: Living with solar allows you to take control of your energy use. With energy independence, you can more accurately predict your energy use and energy costs and free yourself from rising utility rates.

Cons of going off-grid with solar include:

  • You don't have a backup: To live reliably off-grid, you generally require a system that can provide three to four days' worth of electricity in case of long stretches of cloudy days, changes in your energy use or extreme weather events. Retaining a connection to the grid can provide some peace of mind that you'll never be left in the dark when things don't go as planned.
  • You may pay unnecessary expenses: As mentioned, when living off-grid, you need to ensure your maximum energy use is covered rather than your average energy use. This can make the process more expensive than maintaining a grid-tied system would be.
  • Utilities are always changing: Before saying goodbye to your power company, remember that people can change! Though the changes are coming slower than many may prefer, utilities are shifting toward generating clean energy with a localized approach, which will reduce costs, emissions and power outages in the future.

Final Thoughts

Electrical systems around the world are undergoing rapid changes as we confront the climate crisis and expand our infrastructure. Going off-grid may seem like a satisfying idea, but in reality, it may be too complex for projects larger than a small cabin or shed.

Sooner than seeing homeowners going fully off-grid, we hope to see more promotion of decentralized energy generation through things like:

  • Partial grid-reliance via solar: The most common solar option, partial-grid reliance keeps you connected to the grid — but you meet most of your energy needs with solar and storage anyway.
  • Community solar initiatives: You can join a community solar project by purchasing a share or by paying a subscription. The electricity production that corresponds to your ownership percentage or subscription level will be measured and subtracted from your power bills each month.
  • Smart grids and microgrids: Large apartment complexes or commercial buildings can operate on their own microgrids, capable of disconnecting from the main local grid during an outage and powering themselves via solar and stored energy.

The benefits of a decentralized clean energy system are many: reliability, lower costs, more autonomy and decreased emissions. Every home that installs solar lowers the strain on public infrastructure, which in turns lowers bills and promotes stability in the rest of the community.

So, what's the moral of the story? Keep things local, and only go off-grid if you have to.

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.

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2022 Florida Solar Tax Credits, Incentives & Rebates

See how you can save money on solar panels in Florida.

Reviews
Pitsanu Prom-or / iStock / Getty Images

Florida is well-known as the Sunshine State because of its year-round sunny weather that draws millions of tourists each year, but historically, Florida hasn't actually been a national leader when it comes to solar energy generation. That said, financial incentives like Florida solar tax credit and rebate opportunities have played a huge part in its rise to become one of the top states for solar energy.

To the glee of clean energy advocates across the state, various Florida solar incentives have succeeded in bringing solar power throughout the state. According to the Solar Energy Industries Association, in 2020, Florida ranked third in the nation for solar energy capacity, and it had the second-most installations during the second quarter of 2021.

This progress in the solar field comes from many different sources, not the least of which is Florida solar incentives. For any homes or businesses feeling left behind while the rest of the state goes solar, these types of solar tax credits are still widely available across Florida, which will be discussed in this article.

For most homeowners, the decision to go solar comes down to cost. To see how much you'd pay for a home solar system (and how much you can shave off that price with Florida solar tax credit and incentive opportunities), you can get a free quote from a top solar company near you by using this tool or filling out the form below.

Florida Solar Tax Credits and Solar Rebates

As much as transitioning to clean energy is the best thing for the environment and the fight against climate change, the reality has always been that such changes would be slow to happen (if they happened at all) unless they made sense financially. When solar energy systems are proven to save money for those who pay the high upfront costs to install them, those purchases are better considered a worthy investment.

As such, some of the most effective policies encouraging solar installations have been those making the decision a no-brainer from the budgetary perspective. Let's take a look at some of the top Florida solar incentives.

Florida Solar Incentive Program Overview
Florida Net Metering Programs Credits homeowners when their solar panels produce extra electricity and it is exported to the local power grid
Florida Tax Exemptions Property tax exemptions and sales tax exemptions for solar and other renewable energy equipment
Local Incentives Incentives, rebates and low-interest financing programs at the town, city, and county level that encourage local solar installations

Florida Net Metering Programs

Regardless of the state, one of the most critical types of energy policy for solar panels is known as net metering. Through net metering, homeowners can feed excess electricity produced by their solar panels into the power grid in exchange for utility credits. These credits can be used to pay for the energy a home uses when panels aren't producing (such as at night).

Net metering tends to be a state-by-state policy, as there is no federal policy regarding net metering. Florida is one of the states where there is, in fact, a statewide net metering program, applicable for homeowners regardless of which utility serves their area.

The specific net metering provision covers up to 2 megawatts (MW) of capacity for any customers who generate electricity with a renewable energy source. Florida Power & Light and Duke Energy have the largest net metering programs in the state.

The availability of such net metering serves as an incentive for Floridians to install solar panels on their property. Not only do they benefit by reducing their power bills from pulling energy from the grid less often, but they can even profit when the utility pays them for generating more power than they consume, bringing their solar payback period down.

Florida Solar Tax Exemptions

Another financial mechanism that the Florida state government offers to solar system owners is solar tax exemptions. To start, Florida doesn't want to make the upfront cost to purchase and install solar equipment to be any higher than the open market says it should be, so since 1997, all solar energy systems have been completely exempt from Florida's sales and use tax.

Once a solar photovoltaic system is purchased and installed, there is a statewide property tax abatement that further helps homeowners avoid paying taxes on it. Most home additions, such as a new shed or outdoor patio built in a home's backyard, would be appraised to determine the value it added to the property and thus increase the overall property tax. However, the added home value of solar panels is excluded from the property's taxable value.

Local Incentives

Florida is also a large, diverse state, so in addition to the state solar incentives, many local jurisdictions enact their own policies to encourage and support installation of solar energy systems. At the town, city or county level, Floridians will commonly find low-interesting solar financing options, specific solar incentives or rebates, and more.

You can determine whether your locality offers such incentives by investigating your local government websites or talking to utility company representatives. When you do, you may come across such successful programs as Jacksonville's $2,000 rebate for solar battery installations, Boynton Beach's Energy Edge Rebate Program, or the Solar Energy Rebate Grant Program offered by Dunedin.

Federal Solar Tax Credit

Floridians, of course, can also benefit from all the tax incentives, rebates and credits that are offered at the federal level. Over the past two decades, the federal solar investment tax credit (ITC) has attributed largely to the rapid growth in solar energy across business sectors, geographies and customer types.

For systems installed and operational before the end of 2022, the federal solar tax credit is equal to 26% of the value of the installation, dropping to 22% for systems installed in 2023. It is currently set to expire afterward, though the idea of extending the ITC beyond its current expiration date, as has been done in the past, has been a part of active clean energy policy debates.

FAQ: Florida Solar Incentives

Does Florida have a solar tax credit?

State-wide, there is no specific Florida solar tax credit. However, all utilities in the state of Florida do offer customers the ability to utilize net metering, Florida solar homeowners are eligible for the federal solar tax credit, and some local jurisdictions in Florida may offer their own tax credits.

Is solar tax exempt in Florida?

In Florida, the purchase and installation of a home solar system is exempt from all sales tax, and the value of renewable systems are excluded from 100% of residential property taxes.

How much is the solar tax credit for 2022?

For any solar panel system installed before the end of 2022, the federal solar investment tax credit is equal to 26% of the value of the system.

Is Florida a good state for solar?

Florida is a great state for solar from the perspective of having year-round sunny weather, higher-than-average solar irradiance and a policy landscape conducive to solar installations. Because of these factors, Florida ranked third among all states in terms of solar capacity installed in 2020 (rising to second when looking at the third quarter of 2021), per the SEIA.

How much do solar panels cost in Florida?

Based on market research and data from top solar companies, we've found the average cost of solar panels in Florida is $2.53 per watt. However, this is only an average, and prices can vary widely depending on where you live, the number of solar panels you need and more.

To get a free estimate for your own home solar system, you can get connected with a pre-screened local installer by using this tool or entering your home's information below.

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2021 Vivint Solar Reviews: Is Vivint Legit?

Many have heard about Vivint's services, some of which seem too good to be true. Are they legit?

Reviews
Pramote Polyamate / Moment / Getty Images

Considering going solar with Vivint Solar? Many consider Vivint to be one of the industry's top solar companies due to its massive growth, but what do Vivint Solar reviews have to say about the company's customer service as it expands?

As it turns out, all that glitters is not gold. In this article, we'll walk through the pros and cons of Vivint and help you decide whether this is the best company for your solar installation.

Vivint Solar Fast Facts
Year Started 2011
Service Areas 22 states, including AZ, CA, CO, CT, DE, FL, HI, IL, MD, MA, NV, NH, NJ, NM, NY, PA, RI, SC, TX, UT, VT, VA
Service Types Solar panels, backup batteries, energy efficiency packages, electric vehicle chargers
Types of Panels Sold Black-on-black monocrystalline LG solar panels
Backup Battery Options Yes, LG Chem and Tesla Powerwall
Certifications North American Board of Certified Energy Practitioners (NABCEP) technicians
Better Business Bureau (BBB) Rating B+ with no accreditation

When selecting a solar installer, you can save thousands of dollars by shopping around and comparing prices from multiple companies. To start getting free quotes from solar companies in your area — including Vivint — fill out the form below.

Vivint Solar Overview

Vivint Solar is a full-service solar provider offering consultations, custom designs and residential solar installations. Founded in 2011, Vivint's mission is to provide homeowners with simple and affordable clean energy. The company made an early splash in the industry with its modern approach to solar, bringing systems to a whopping 500,000 homes across the country in less than a decade. Its growth attracted the attention of Sunrun, which acquired Vivint in October of 2020.

Vivint's swift success was mainly due to its commission-based direct-to-home sales network, which is able to recruit large numbers of salespeople that go door to door throughout Vivint's service area of 22 states. But how did this method live up to the company's mission of simple and affordable solar energy? Not so well.

Vivint's loose sales structure allowed salespeople to advertise misleading concepts like "free solar panels," and many unassuming customers signed contracts unaware they were locking into a 20-year lease with hefty cancellation fees. To make a long story short, the company is facing some lawsuits for its misleading sales practices, and there are thousands of scathing Vivint Solar reviews online.

Though Vivint's sales practices have been troubling, this review will cover all of what makes Vivint Solar unique. For some, Vivint has been a good choice. Our point r