Top 5 Best Solar Companies in Montana (2023 Reviews)

In this guide to choosing the best solar panel installation company in Montana, you’ll learn:

  • What are the most reliable solar installers in Montana?
  • Can solar incentives in Montana help you save when switching to clean energy?
  • Is DIY solar panel installation a good idea in Montana, and will it save you money?
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What Are Montana’s Top 5 Solar Energy Companies?

According to the Solar Energy Industries Association (SEIA), Montana is home to about 20 different solar installers.1 Although this pales in comparison to states like California and Texas, where solar adoption is far more prevalent, it still makes choosing a solar provider time-consuming.

To help you narrow down your options, we’ve reviewed the installers available in your area and have ranked them based on the value they bring to Montanans, specifically. Below is a quick ranking of our top picks:

  • OnSite Energy: Outstanding Social Impact
  • SBS Solar: Outstanding Local Installer
  • Solar IPS: Solar Veteran
  • Harvest Solar MT: Outstanding Regional Installer
  • Big Sky Solar: Outstanding Local Installer

You can get more information about these companies to help you choose the best one for your purposes in the drop-down menus below.

Badge icon

OnSite Energy

Outstanding Social Impact

Local Service

EcoWatch rating

Average cost

Pros

  • Excellent reputation
  • Great warranty coverage
  • Offers products from leading manufacturers
  • Certified B Corp

Cons

  • No leases or PPAs
  • Slightly expensive
Badge icon

SBS Solar

Outstanding Local Installer

Local Service

EcoWatch rating

Average cost

Pros

  • Outstanding customer service
  • Full-service home energy solutions
  • Great warranty coverage

Cons

  • No leases or PPAs
  • Limited brands of solar equipment available
Badge icon

Solar IPS

Solar Veteran

Regional Service

EcoWatch rating

Average cost

Pros

  • Offers products from leading manufacturers
  • Great warranty coverage
  • Many financing options

Cons

  • Some reported communication issues
  • Slightly limited service offerings
Badge icon

Harvest Solar MT

Outstanding Regional Installer

Regional Service

EcoWatch rating

Average cost

Pros

  • Outstanding customer service
  • Locally owned and operated
  • Representatives are experts on local policies

Cons

  • Limited warranty coverage
  • Slightly limited service offerings
  • No leases or PPAs
Badge icon

Big Sky Solar

Outstanding Local Installer

Local Service

EcoWatch rating

Average cost

Pros

  • Many years of experience
  • Outstanding customer service
  • Good warranties for equipment and labor

Cons

  • No power production warranty
  • No leases or PPAs

How Can You Save Money When Hiring A Solar Company In Montana

The average all-in cost to convert to solar in MT is around $22,860, which doesn’t take any rebates or benefit programs into consideration. After the solar tax credit, the average cost is closer to $16,002. This total is based on the average per-watt cost for photovoltaic (PV) equipment in Montana — around $2.54, which is below the national average — and the typical system size required to offset energy bills in the state — around 9 kilowatts (kW).

While this total is right around the national average, it’s still too much for many residents to pay upfront in cash. Thankfully, there are a few things you can do to make your system a bit more affordable while maintaining your long-term savings. These include:

  • Taking advantage of the solar benefit programs available to you
  • Investing in a high-efficiency panel brand
  • Choosing a solar contractor that offers solid warranty coverage

We’ll include some information on how these tips can save you money upfront and over time in the sections below.

Take Advantage of Solar Incentives

Your most substantial short-term solar savings will likely come from taking advantage of solar benefit programs. Montana only has a few perks available, but they can still bring down your effective system costs by thousands. We’ll include a quick breakdown of the solar incentives available in Montana in the table below.

Solar Benefit Program Program Description
Federal Solar Investment Tax Credit (ITC) This is a tax credit offered by the federal government to bring down your effective system costs. The credit amount is equal to 30% of your entire conversion cost, including labor, panels, inverters and batteries. In MT, the federal tax credit averages out to $6,858 and gets credited to your income taxes owed for the year you install your system. Any unused credit can be rolled over for five years.
Renewable Energy Systems Exemption This is a property tax exemption that prevents your taxes from increasing just because you install PV equipment. Most home improvements that boost your property value would drive up your taxes, but this exemption prevents that from happening with solar systems.
Alternative Energy Revolving Loan Program This is a solar financing program offered by the Montana Department of Environmental Quality. Using this program, you can finance up to $40,000 at below-average interest rates to keep your upfront costs and your long-term system costs to a minimum.
Net Metering Net energy metering is a massively beneficial solar perk that lets you overproduce energy with your system and credits you for all the excess. If you ever need to pull power from the electric grid, you can call on those credits instead to keep your costs down. Net energy metering is mandated for all utility companies in Montana, but the rate at which you’re credited for excess power varies by provider.

For more information on how to save money on your MT solar system using incentives, you can check out our guide to solar benefit programs in MT.

Choose a Panel Brand With a High Efficiency

Next, we recommend choosing an installer that carries high-efficiency solar panels. Each PV panel brand has a different efficiency rating, which denotes the amount of available sunlight it can convert to electricity. Efficiency ratings over 20% are considered high-efficiency.

As we’ve mentioned, efficiency is key in Montana because the state receives well below the average amount of sunshine — 189 as compared to 205 throughout the rest of the country.4 Where sunlight is less prevalent, solar power production will naturally be below average as well.

A high-efficiency panel brand can make the most use of the available sunlight, which means it can maximize your energy savings each month, regardless of the weather conditions.

Panel brands like SunPower, Tesla, REC, Canadian Solar, Qcells and Panasonic all work well in lower-sunlight areas, as they provide above-average efficiency ratings that can help offset your energy bills.

Pick an Installer That Includes Lengthy Warranty Coverage

Next, we suggest prioritizing installers that offer above-average warranty protection on their equipment and labor. The industry standards for warranty protection — which you can use to compare companies — are as follows:

  • 25 years for equipment
  • 20 to 25 years for panel efficiency
  • 10 years for workmanship

In our opinion, the efficiency and workmanship warranties are the most crucial in the state. Efficiency warranties guarantee that your panels continue to produce power, even through the low-sun conditions in Montana.

Maximizing your production with high-efficiency panels also means you’re more likely to offset losses during snow coverage. This is a big deal in Montana, where the average annual snowfall is nearly double the national average.5

The workmanship warranty will help ensure you get a competent installer that won’t rush the installation process or make errors. Ultimately, this can save you from expensive roof leaks, given the above-average precipitation. You might pay more for warranty coverage upfront, but it can often save you money in the long run.

See Also: Calculate How Much You Can Save By Going Solar

Will Solar Increase Your Home Value In Montana?

Yes! Installing PV panels might be expensive upfront, but most solar customers see a significant bump in property value as a result, making conversion even more worthwhile.

Research from Zillow suggests that PV equipment will boost your property value by around 4.1%.6 In Montana, where the average home costs around $465,000, that’s a value increase of just over $19,000.7

Some cities are expected to see an even greater value increase due to local solar adoption rates and greater acceptance of PV equipment. For example, Missoula has partnered with the Department of Energy (DOE) and the Montana Renewable Energy Association to bring more awareness to renewable energy.8 This ultimately helps make solar more valuable in the area.

Should Montana Residents Hire a Professional Solar Installer Or DIY?

Since the cost to go solar via a professional is so costly, many aspiring solar customers wonder if a DIY panel installation is a good option. While installing your solar power system yourself is almost always cheaper — an average of $10,000 as compared to $22,000 — it’s not a great idea for most Montanans.

There are a few reasons for this, including:

  • No workmanship warranty with DIY installations
  • Limited panel efficiency and efficiency guarantees
  • Higher risk of property damage with DIY installations

We’ll explain why we believe these downsides aren’t worth the cost savings of a DIY installation in the sections below.

DIY Solar Installations Don’t Come With a Workmanship Warranty

In our opinion, the most significant downside to installing your panels yourself is that you don’t get a warranty for the workmanship. Professionally-installed solar electric systems typically come with a 10-year warranty for the labor, and the best companies offer 25 years of coverage or more.

Montana homes, and the solar systems installed on them, are exposed to harsh elements year-round. You might save $10,000 or so installing your solar energy system yourself, but if you make an error that results in a roof leak, you could end up paying far more than that in repairs and system replacement.

In our opinion, it’s a much better idea to have a professional complete the installation properly the first time around. That can end up saving you money but also provides you with peace of mind for decades after your panels are installed.

DIY Panels Aren’t As Efficient

In addition to DIY panels having less appealing warranty coverage, the panels themselves just aren’t as efficient. Most professionally-installed panel brands have efficiency ratings of over 20% and top out at around 22.7%. DIY panel brands usually average between 15% and 18%.

These seemingly minor differences in efficiency can mean major variances in power production in similar conditions. Maximizing your panel efficiency is important no matter where you live, but especially in Montana, where the available sunlight is already below average. High-quality brands can help save you more by offsetting more of your utility bills. In short, more efficient panels provide far more energy savings in the long run.

DIYers Are More Likely to Make Mistakes, Leading to Property Damage

Finally, mistakes are more common among DIY solar projects because of the lack of experience on the part of the installer.

Issues with roof penetration and sealing during installation can lead to roof leaks, water damage or interior mold growth, all of which are expensive to fix. Paying a professional for high-quality service and years of experience leaves you less prone to roof leaks and other issues stemming from improper installation techniques.

Your roof is the most important aspect of your home — and the heavy snowfall in Montana will be more likely to expose leaks and other issues than in warmer states. Professional installations can help mitigate your risk and save you money over time.

What Should Montana Residents Look For in a Solar Installer?

man tightening up solar panel bolts

Choosing the right solar installer means maximizing your energy savings and getting a system that fits into your budget and can offset your energy bills. There are a few things we recommend you look for in a solar provider in Montana, specifically. These include:

We’ll explain why we recommend prioritizing these characteristics in the sections below.

Robust Workmanship Warranty

First off, we suggest choosing an installer that offers a lengthy workmanship warranty. Solar installations require roof penetrations, which naturally leave your home prone to roof leaks if performed improperly. This is more of a risk in Montana than in most other states because of the above-average amounts of rainfall and snowfall the state gets each year.

Choosing a company that offers a lengthy workmanship warranty — ten or more years — will help reduce the risk of a poor installation and property damage, saving you money and providing peace of mind.

Equipment Brands

Next, we suggest choosing an installer that provides access to highly-efficient, durable solar panel brands. A solar panel with a high efficiency rating will generate more electricity in all situations. This is beneficial for Montana residents for two primary reasons:

  • The state receives fewer sunny days than most others, so efficient panels can make use of what is available and still offset electric bills.
  • Montana sees about double the national average amount of snowfall each year. Snow can cover panels and lower power production for days at a time. High-efficiency equipment will maximize your production when the sun is available, which can help offset losses from snow coverage.

Local Experience

Finally, we recommend choosing a solar company that has at least five years of experience working in Montana. Solar adoption is just beginning to pick up in the area, so we’re seeing more and more inexperienced companies popping up to capitalize on the demand.

Less experienced companies are more likely to make mistakes and run into issues that can leave you more susceptible to property or system damage over time. Choosing an experienced installer helps avoid this risk.

Methodology: How We Ranked Montana’s Solar Companies

solar panels on a brick tile house roof

Our goal in ranking solar providers in Montana is to provide you with the best installers in your area that are likely to meet your specific needs. In pursuit of that goal, we rate companies based on a few key criteria and evaluate each factor based on how important we believe it is in Montana, specifically.

Below are the factors we use and the weighting system we apply to rank Montana solar companies:

  • Solar Warranty & Customer Support (20%)
  • Availability (20%)
  • Price & Solar Financing Options (20%)
  • Experience (15%)
  • Solar Services (15%) 
  • Qualifications, Reputation & Certifications (10%)
  • Environmental, Social and Corporate Governance Factors (10%)

Most importantly, we never let our methodology get affected by commercial partnerships, and we tailor our rankings based on the state in which we’re rating installers. We’ll explain each of the criteria for Montana’s solar companies in the sections below.

Solar Warranty & Customer Support

First, we assess each installer based on the warranty coverage it offers and the customer support and response times to warranty claims it has. We prioritize workmanship warranties — due to the above-average rain and snow in the area — and efficiency warranties — due to the below-average sunlight in the area.

A company gets a perfect score if it provides the following:

  • 25 years of coverage or more for equipment
  • 20 to 25 years or more for panel efficiency
  • 10 years or more for workmanship

Installers that provide lengthier warranty coverage — like Solar IPS — get ranked higher.

Availability

Montana is largely rural, which means the demand for solar conversions diminishes significantly as you move away from the larger cities. A good portion of the installers in the state serve only certain cities or sections of the state.

Naturally, companies that service the entire state will appeal to more of our readers, so we rank those installers higher.

Price & Financing Options

The solar installation cost in Montana averages over $20,000 before any rebates or state tax credits, which is prohibitively expensive for many residents. To help connect you with companies that are more likely to fit into your budget, we rank installers higher if they manage to keep prices below average.

We also look at the financing options available from each installer. A company that only accepts cash purchases and third-party solar loans will naturally exclude customers who can only afford — or just prefer — a solar lease or PPA. Companies that offer flexible, numerous financing options will rank the highest in this category.

Experience in Montana

Experience in a solar installer is always beneficial, as a company that is accustomed to installing solar in your area is more likely to provide a system that suits your energy needs. Experience working in Montana’s climate helps set apart companies that are in tune with local weather conditions that make roof leaks and panel damage more prevalent.

Companies that have at least five years of experience in the solar industry and Montana get an average score in this category. Those with ten or more years get perfect scores.

Solar Services

Many Montana residents just install solar panels for grid-tied solar. Unfortunately, panels alone won’t let you maximize your returns in states like Montana, where net energy metering credits aren’t offered at the retail rate. Plus, installing only panels means you’ll still lose power during outages.

For these two reasons, many residents choose to install solar batteries as well. Companies that offer panel and battery installations, along with energy audits, score an average rating in this category.

Those that offer additional services — like solar water heaters, solar roof shingle installations and other energy efficiency upgrades will appeal to even more customers and get ranked higher.

Qualifications, Reputation & Certifications

Since the solar industry is just starting to pick up in Montana, we strive to differentiate companies that have sufficient experience to carry out a safe solar installation from those that may rush the process to turn a greater profit. To do that, we look for company qualifications and certifications above and beyond the requirements.

Some things we look for, in particular, include:

  • NABCEP certified (North American Board of Certified Energy Practitioners)
  • Certification from the Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design (LEED)
  • BBB accreditation
  • 100+ positive 4-star solar reviews and positive testimonials on Google
  • Certification from the Building Performance Institute (BPI)

Additionally, we take points away from companies if they have a history of customer lawsuits or complaints with the BBB.

Environmental, Social & Corporate Governance Factors

Finally, we look for evidence that the company is carrying out a mission statement that aligns with the progression of the solar industry as a whole. Some things we look for that suggest this include:

  • Public data disclosure
  • Affiliations with local solar organizations
  • A commitment to providing affordable solar solutions to low-income households
  • A system for helping recycle old PV panels and other solar products

FAQ: The Best Solar Companies in Montana

Below, we’ll answer some of the questions we get about choosing a solar company from other Montana residents like you.

Blog author image
Article author
Dan Simms is an experienced writer with a passion for renewable energy. As a solar and EV advocate, much of his work has focused on the potential of solar power and deregulated energy, but he also writes on related topics, like real estate and economics. In his free time — when he's not checking his own home's solar production — he enjoys outdoor activities like hiking, mountain biking, skiing and rock climbing.
Reviewer image
Expert reviewer
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.

Top Installers in Neighboring States

Comparing authorized solar partners

EcoWatch rating
Average cost
Pros
Cons
BBB Rating
Year founded
Service Area
Brands of Solar Equipment Offered
Warranty Coverage
  • 5.0
    • Excellent reputation
    • Great warranty coverage
    • Offers products from leading manufacturers
    • Certified B Corp
    • No leases or PPAs
    • Slightly expensive
    A+
    Outstanding Social Impact

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