Top 5 Best Solar Companies in California (2022 Reviews)

In this EcoWatch guide on the best solar companies in California, you’ll learn:

  • Who our top 5 picks are for solar providers in California
  • Our methodology for picking the top California’s solar companies
  • What Californians should look for when choosing a solar company

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California’s Top 5 Solar Energy Companies Reviewed

California is perhaps the biggest state when it comes  leading the charge solar energy for the United States, which is why we thought that it was important the EcoWatch reviews team cover our top picks for solar companies in the Sunshine state.

Below we cover the pros and cons of solar providers in California as well as a number of key details (like other solar services, batteries offered, etc).

Our scope for this review is for a professionally installed 5 kilowatt (kW) system. This is the typical size of a U.S. residential solar system.

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SunPower

Best National Provider

Nationwide Service

EcoWatch rating

Average cost

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Pros

  • Most efficient panels on the market
  • National coverage
  • Cradle to Cradle sustainability certification
  • Great warranty coverage

Cons

  • Expensive
  • Customer service varies by local dealer
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ADT Solar

Best Warranty Coverage

Regional Service

EcoWatch rating

Average cost

Pros

  • Industry-leading warranty coverage
  • Expansive service area

Cons

  • Some reported communication issues
  • No leases or PPAs
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NRG Clean Power

Great Warranty Coverage

Regional Service

EcoWatch rating

Average cost

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Pros

  • Industry-leading warranty
  • Outstanding customer service
  • Representatives are experts on local policies

Cons

  • No leases or PPAs
  • Can be slightly expensive
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Stellar Solar

Outstanding Local Installer

Local Service

EcoWatch rating

Average cost

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Pros

  • Educational, no-pressure sales approach
  • Offers products from leading manufacturers
  • Representatives are experts on local policies

Cons

  • Slightly limited service offerings

What Are the 5 Best Solar Companies in California?

#1) SunPower

Service Area: State of California; based in San Jose

What We Like: SunPower has long been one of the top national solar companies — both in the quality of its products and its installations. Manufacturing its own industry-leading solar panels, SunPower delivers efficient, all-in-one solar systems with the best warranty in the business to customers throughout California and the entire U.S.

What We Don’t Like: SunPower outsources its work to certified dealers throughout the country. Though the company still maintains stellar reviews, your experience can be dependent on which dealer you live nearest.

What Customers Are Saying: “I was not the original customer. I bought the residence with SunPower’s system already installed and assumed the lease. Lease is reasonable and does not increase over time. Customer service has been excellent when contacted. Any and all issues resolved with just one call.” — Kevin via BBB

SunPower at a Glance:

  • Year Founded: 1985
  • Services Provided: Solar panels, backup batteries, EV chargers
  • Warranty: All-in-one 25-year warranty
  • Financing Options: Cash purchase, solar loan, solar lease/PPA
  • Learn More: SunPower Review

#2) ADT Solar

two men transporting a solar panel

Service Area: State of California; currently based in Covington, LA

What We Like: ADT Solar, formerly Sunpro Solar, offers some of the most advanced and reliable solar installations on the market. It prioritizes the protection of its customers in every sense of the word, whether its home security, warranty coverage or energy resilience with solar.

What We Don’t Like: Installing your solar system through ADT does come with a few downsides. The size of ADT has caused some customers to experience long wait times when reaching out with service and warranty questions.

What Customers Are Saying: “The representative was thorough, polite and respectful. I especially liked that I was not pressured and she was not being pushy trying to sell the product. Giving me time to think and decide was nice. She took extra time to help me understand all my options regarding financing and the savings I would likely expect from installing solar.” — Ashley via BBB

ADT Solar at a Glance:

  • Year Founded: 2008
  • Services Provided: Solar panels, backup batteries, EV chargers
  • Warranty: 25-year labor, parts and panel performance warranties
  • Financing Options: Cash purchase, solar loan
  • Learn More: ADT Solar Review

Watch Below: Why Do Some California Customers Pay Twice as Much as the Rest of the U.S. For Their Electricity?

#3) NRG Clean Power Solar

Service Area: State of California; based in Los Angeles

What We Like: NRG Clean Power is a total home performance company, offering a fully comprehensive approach to designing the perfect clean energy system for your home. With accessible prices, flexible solar financing options, lifetime warranties and a great reputation to boot, NRG Clean Power tops our list of the best solar companies in California.

What We Don’t Like: NRG Clean Power doesn’t offer solar leases, which can exclude homeowners who value helping the environment more than saving money by purchasing a system of their own.

What Customers Are Saying: “I highly recommend this solar company. They have the process mastered. I was well-informed of the whole process, especially on the aspect of the expenses. All questions were answered promptly — just a great team!” — Chai via Better Business Bureau

NRG Clean Power at a Glance:

  • Year Founded: 1992
  • Services Provided: Solar panels, backup batteries, electric vehicle chargers, roofing and energy efficiency upgrades
  • Warranty: Lifetime labor warranty, product-specific warranties for photovoltaic panels and inverters
  • Financing Options: Cash purchase, solar loan

#4) Elevation Solar

Service Area: State of California

What We Like: Elevation is one of the nation’s fastest-growing solar companies, and it’s easy to understand why. Elevation understands that conserving energy is more than installing solar panels. That’s why the company offers comprehensive energy efficiency services, Energy Star-certified products, energy storage systems and smart home solutions.

What We Don’t Like: Although Elevation Solar has operated in California for eight years, there are other companies with more experience in the Golden State.

What Customers Are Saying: “The crew showed up right on schedule. They were polite, informative, and took the time to explain every procedure. Maybe the best customer service I’ve ever experienced. The price after the rebates was so affordable. My thanks to Javier, Jagger, and Jacob for being a total professional crew.” — Anthony via Google

Elevation Solar at a Glance:

  • Year Founded: 2014
  • Services Provided: Solar panels, backup batteries, energy efficiency upgrades, efficiency audits, smart home energy solutions
  • Warranty: 25-year workmanship and product-specific warranties
  • Financing Options: Cash purchase, solar loan

#5) Stellar Solar

Service Area: Southern California; based in San Diego

What We Like: Voted San Diego’s best solar company in 2021, Stellar Solar’s team of experienced solar energy consultants uses a consultative, educational, no-pressure approach to both residential and commercial solar projects. This approach pays dividends for Stellar Solar, as the company boasts exceptional customer reviews and builds its business on a booming referral network. Stellar Solar offers some of the best solar products from SunPower, Enphase, Panasonic, LG and more.

What We Don’t Like: We’d like to see Stellar Solar offer electrical services and energy efficiency packages along with its solar, battery and EV chargers.

What Customers Are Saying: “Wonderful experience with Stellar Solar… The reps from Stellar are highly professional, timely and courteous. They took the time to clearly explain the process from start to finish. The installation process was straightforward. The crew was very considerate and they left the project site clean and neat.” — Madeline via Google Reviews

Stellar Solar at a Glance:

  • Year Founded: 1998
  • Services Provided: Solar panels, backup batteries, EV chargers
  • Warranty: 25-year workmanship warranty, 10-year roof warranty, product-specific warranties
  • Financing Options: Cash purchase, solar loan, solar lease/PPA

How Did We Choose the Best Solar Companies in California?

We researched the product ranges, services, financing options, customer feedback, and industry reputations of every major California solar installer. Using this methodology, we rated and ranked each company to narrow down our picks for the best solar companies in California.

What Should Californians Look For in a Solar Installer?

Keep in mind that everyone’s needs are different when it comes to solar, so what may be the best solar company for your neighbor might not be right for you. Consider the following factors and place more weight on what’s important to you when choosing the best company for your installation:

Services Offered

For one, it’s important to note that different solar companies may offer slightly different services. Most California homeowners will want a company that provides a wide range of services, assisting with everything from an initial consultation to panel installation to applying for financial incentives. But you may also want specialized services such as other home energy efficiency upgrades or an EV charger installation.

Installation Process

Consider the specific steps in the panel installation process. How long will it take to have your solar panels placed? Is the solar provider insured? Will the panels be installed by a trained member of the company, or will it be a third-party contractor who does the work?

Solar Pricing and Financing

Sticker shock is common with solar systems, but keep in mind that you’ll ultimately save money in the long run thanks to the reduced energy costs. In addition, California offers statewide solar incentives that can help you reduce these upfront costs. Budget can be paramount for homeowners considering solar, and some companies are more flexible than others.

Industry Affiliations

solar panels on a roof against the skyWe generally recommend working with a company that maintains membership in the Solar Energy Industries Association (SEIA) or other professional associations. Membership in these groups is a great indicator of the company’s professionalism, workmanship, reputation and reliability.

Types of Panels

Pay attention to the specific type of solar technology that is offered. Is the company certified to install leading brands like Tesla, Panasonic and LG? It never hurts to take a closer look into the company’s tech portfolio. If you have a specific brand of solar panel or battery in mind, check that the company you’re speaking with is certified to sell and install those products.

Incentives, Rebates and Tax Credits

In California, it’s likely you’ll be eligible for solar rebates and federal tax credits after making the switch to solar energy. Will your solar installation company help you make the necessary arrangements? Be sure to ask your provider about what’s available in your area. Even better, ask if the company has experience applying to these incentives.

Warranty

Finally, we recommend seeking an installer that can offer a good warranty. Panels can last 25 to 30 years, and you will want to ensure your investment is protected for as long as possible. The top solar installers will offer 25-year warranties for roofing, performance, and workmanship.

Best National Provider
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How Much Do Solar Panels Cost in California?

As of 2022, our market research and data from top brands show the average cost of solar panels in California is around $2.73 per watt. This means a 5-kW system would cost around $9,555 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.

The state of California also offers a variety of solar incentives to help offset the cost of your system.

California Solar Incentive Incentive Overview
Self-Generation Incentive Program (SGIP) The SGIP offers rebates for storing solar energy at both residential and non-residential facilities.
Active Solar Energy System Property Tax Exclusion This property tax exclusion ensures the addition of your solar equipment doesn’t raise homeowners’ property taxes. (Solar will still increase your property value, however.)
Single-Family Affordable Solar Homes (SASH) Program Deployed by the California Solar Initiative (CSI), SASH provides fixed, up-front incentives on qualifying affordable single-family housing.

How to Find the Best Solar Installer in California

California is a big place, and as the leading state in solar energy, has a lot of reputable solar companies operating it. When evaluating the best solar installer for you, we recommend placing more emphasis on local companies that may have even more experience than some of the national leaders. Familiarity with local energy rates, utilities, incentives, and the weather is often an underrated factor when it comes to finding the right solar provider.

Again, we understand that the significant cost of solar can deter some readers from making the switch. Solar is a significant investment, after all. This is why we recommend taking the simple, no-pressure first step of getting a few quotes from the best California solar installers and hearing what they have to say about your home’s qualifications.

Comparing quotes from multiple companies can help you gauge whether a solar system is within your budget and can save you thousands of dollars on your installation.

See Also: Calculate how much you can save by going solar

Read More About Going Solar

EcoWatch FAQ: Best Solar Companies in California

California is one of the biggest solar markets, which means your questions about going solar set the tone for the future of solar. If you have specific questions that aren’t answered here, reach out to our team of solar experts at solar@ecowatch.com.

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Article author
Karsten is an editor and energy specialist focused on environmental, social and cultural development. His work has been shared by sources including NPR, the World Economic Forum, Marketwatch and the SEIA, and he is certified in ESG with the CFA Institute. Before joining EcoWatch, Karsten worked in the solar energy sector, studying energy policy, climate tech and environmental education. 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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Expert reviewer
Melissa is an avid writer, scuba diver, backpacker and all-around outdoor enthusiast. She graduated from the University of Florida with degrees in journalism and sustainability studies. Before joining EcoWatch, Melissa worked as the managing editor of Scuba Diving magazine and the communications manager of The Ocean Agency, a nonprofit that’s featured in the Emmy award-winning documentary Chasing Coral.