Top 5 Most Efficient Solar Panels (2023 Reviews)
By Karsten Neumeister /
In this guide to choosing a reputable solar installer in North Dakota, you’ll learn:
Each product and or company featured here has been independently selected by the writer. You can learn more about our review methodology here. If you make a purchase using the links included, we may earn commission.
As indicated by the Solar Energy Industries Association (SEIA), there are few solar installers operating in North Dakota.1 However, there are plenty of companies in neighboring states and national companies that service homeowners in the area, so you’ll still have lots of companies to choose from to convert your home to clean energy.
We’ve researched each of the installers that operate in ND and have determined that these are the best solar companies in the state:
You can check out the drop-down menus below to get more information on each of these companies and see why we believe they’re good matches for solar customers in North Dakota.
Lightspring Solar is a regional company based in Bismarck, ND, making it one of the few installers headquartered in the state. Although it’s relatively new to the solar scene, its technicians are local experts and understand the specific needs of North Dakotans.
The company primarily installs Tesla solar equipment, including panels and Tesla Powerwalls. Tesla’s photovoltaic (PV) panels have an above-average efficiency rating, which is great to have in North Dakota, where monthly energy needs are well above average. Efficient panels can help offset high electric bills, thereby maximizing your energy savings.
Perhaps most importantly for North Dakota residents, Lightspring Solar offers below-average pricing for solar equipment. This is crucial in the area, as the typical cost of converting to solar is well above the national average due to larger system size requirements.
Lightspring doesn’t offer the most comprehensive warranty coverage, but we still recommend this installer because its technicians are skilled, and its equipment boasts above-average efficiencies. Plus, its warranty coverage is better than you’ll find from most other installers in the area.
|Better Business Bureau (BBB) Rating|
|Average Cost ($-$$$$$)|
|Solar Panels, Solar Batteries, Community Solar|
GenPro Energy Solutions is located in Piedmont, South Dakota, but it services all of North Dakota as well. As a smaller regional company, it’s well known for its outstanding customer service, which is hard to come by in ND.
This installer maintains well-below-average pricing, which is great news for North Dakotans, who typically pay above-average prices for their solar energy systems. The installer achieves these prices in part by providing a wealth of affordable solar panel brands.
Some of the brands, like Suniva and SolarWorld, have panel efficiency ratings above 20%, which is ideal in an area like ND. High efficiency ratings help maximize energy savings and offset the above-average utility bills that are common in The Peace Garden State.
Unfortunately, GenPro only provides the manufacturer’s warranty for its systems and doesn’t supplement that coverage with a workmanship warranty. However, this is common in ND, so we still recommend this provider for its other upsides and low prices.
|Better Business Bureau (BBB) Rating|
|Average Cost ($-$$$$$)|
|Solar Panels, Solar Batteries, Generators, Energy-Efficiency Audits, Community Solar|
REAL Solar is one of our top picks for its below-average prices and its above-average panel efficiency.
The company manages to keep equipment prices and labor costs low, which helps make the normally high solar conversion costs in the state more affordable. Despite the low prices, the company still provides outstanding customer service, so you’ll always feel like you’re in good hands.
REAL Solar carries a decent selection of good home solar technology brands, including some of the more efficient panel options, like LG, SolarEdge and Solar World.
These panels should provide plenty of power production to offset the unusually high energy needs in North Dakota. It can also help offset losses from snow coverage, which are common given that snowfall is well above average in ND.
REAL Solar has nearly a decade of experience in the industry. This suggests that its technicians are knowledgeable and can carry out professional installations that can stand up to the extreme weather and above-average precipitation that North Dakotans experience.
Unfortunately, this company only offers the manufacturer’s warranty. Since this is what most providers in the state offer, we still recommend this company for its local expertise and low prices. It also serves a small area in ND, but it’s a great option for those who fall within its service area.
|Better Business Bureau (BBB) Rating|
|Average Cost ($-$$$$$)|
|Solar Panels, Solar Batteries, Maintenance & Repairs|
One of our favorite things about Wind and Solar World is that the company carries high-quality, high-efficiency panel brands like Panasonic, Canadian Solar and Qcells. These brands have efficiency ratings that sit above average and are ideal for an area like ND, where energy consumption is above average.
The company is headquartered in North Dakota, and as a smaller, local company, its technicians provide great communication and outstanding customer service. Its techs are well versed in the needs of North Dakotans and the local solar rebates and incentives, so they can help you bring down your effective installation costs.
This company maintains average pricing, which helps keep the cost of PV panels down a bit compared to some other installers with pricier equipment.
Unfortunately, Wind and Solar World only offers the manufacturer’s warranty for its installations, but again, this seems to be the norm in ND, so we still recommend this company to residents.
|Better Business Bureau (BBB) Rating|
|Average Cost ($-$$$$$)|
|Solar Panels, Solar Batteries, Energy-Efficiency Upgrades|
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With the average North Dakota solar system cost sitting at $26,620 before incentives, most residents will look for ways to save money on their conversion costs.
We have some tips you can use to help you save money on your PV equipment, including:
We’ll explain how these tips can save you money in the sections below.
The easiest and often the most effective way to keep down your installation costs is to take advantage of the solar incentives available to you. North Dakota isn’t the most generous with solar benefit programs, but there are some that can bring your effective system costs down by thousands of dollars.
We’ll include a quick list of the incentives in ND in the table below. You can also check out our guide to solar benefit programs in North Dakota for more information on these perks and how to file for them.
|Solar Benefit Program||Program Description|
|Federal Solar Investment Tax Credit (ITC)||The federal solar tax credit is for 30% of your entire system cost, including panels, inverters, batteries and labor. That amount gets applied to the income taxes you owe and effectively brings down your tax burden. In ND, the federal tax credit averages out to $7,986.|
|Net Metering||Net metering is a billing policy that credits you for any excess power you generate and send to your local utility company. The credits you earn are applied to future bills where your consumption has been greater than production. Net metering is mandated in ND, although the avoided-cost rate (below the retail rate) is used, which isn’t ideal.|
|North Dakota Solar/Wind Easement Laws||These laws guarantee solar owners the right to access the sunlight that would normally hit their roofs. Although it doesn’t specifically bring down installation costs, it can help maximize the production of your panels, which pushes up your energy savings.|
|Renewable Energy Property Tax Exemption||PV panels are expected to bump up your property value quite significantly.2 Normally, a value-increasing home improvement would cause your property taxes to go up, but this exemption prevents that from happening when you convert to solar.|
Next, we recommend that you choose an installer that offers high-efficiency panel brands. Some brands that work well in North Dakota include:
High-efficiency panels are helpful in North Dakota because monthly power consumption is well above average, with below-average sunshine. Although the electricity rates are around average, the energy bills are high due to the consumption. Higher consumption means you need more solar electricity to offset your usage.
Efficient panels generate more electricity in all situations, so they’re more likely to make your solar investment in North Dakota worth it.
We also recommend choosing an installer that offers workmanship warranty coverage, if possible. North Dakota residents see well-above-average amounts of snowfall, which can expose issues with the installation rapidly and lead to roof leaks if errors are made.
Although most installers in ND don’t offer workmanship warranties, they’re a great option for protecting yourself against expensive property damage if you are able to secure them.
Finally, we recommend that you get quotes from a few different installers. Each company can offer wildly different system prices based on labor charges and the quality and cost of the equipment it installs. Getting a few quotes and comparing them based on price and value for the money is a great way to save when converting to solar.
Yes, installing a solar energy system is expected to bump up your property value in any state. Experts estimate that your property value should increase by around 4.1%.3 Based on the average home value of around $285,000 in North Dakota, that’s an expected bump of over $11,500.4
Thankfully, that value increase doesn’t come with a bump in property taxes, as it would in some states. North Dakota offers a property tax exemption for solar equipment, so your taxes will remain unaffected by the value increase.
There aren’t any particularly solar-friendly cities in ND, although you’re likely to see a more significant value increase in areas where homes are more expensive. The cities below are some of the most expensive and should, therefore, see a greater upside to converting to solar:
DIY solar installation often seems appealing in places like ND, where the cost to convert to solar through a professional is above average. Hiring an expert to install your system will average around $26,500, but a DIY PV panel system in the area would likely cost closer to $15,000.
Unfortunately, as appealing as the initial savings may be, there are some drawbacks to installing your own PV equipment. These include:
Ultimately, we believe paying a professional to carry out the work for you is worthwhile. We’ll explain why in the sections below.
First off, DIY panel brands like Renogy and WindyNation have below-average panel efficiencies — usually between 15% and 18%. Professional brands like SunPower and Tesla have efficiencies between 20% and 23% in most cases.
A high panel efficiency may cost you more up front, but it’s a better option in ND, where energy consumption is so high. More-efficient panels can very often pay for themselves by providing greater energy savings and reducing your panel payback period.
Warranty coverage is important in North Dakota for a few reasons:
Although many professional installation companies in ND don’t provide the greatest warranty coverage, even those that offer just the manufacturer’s warranty — 25 years for equipment — often overshadow what you’d get with a DIY panel — around ten years.
Finally, DIYers are far more likely to make mistakes during the installation process. Mistakes can be costly as solar installations require roof penetrations that open you up to leaking and water damage.
You’ll almost always pay more for a professional installation, but having an experienced technician do the work reduces your risk of costly property damage. Ultimately, that can save you money on repairs or system replacement.
Although there are only a handful of solar installation companies available to you in ND, choosing the right one for your needs can still be overwhelming. There are a few things we recommend you focus on to make sure you get the best system and service possible. These include:
We’ll explain why we believe you’ll find these factors most helpful in a solar installer in the sections below.
North Dakotans use more energy than residents in most other states, which means higher-efficiency panels will be more likely to offset your energy bills. Choosing an installer that offers brands like Maxeon, Tesla and Panasonic gives you a better chance of paying off your system quickly and maximizes your long-term energy savings and return on investment.
The cost of converting to solar in ND is approximately $5,000 more than in most other states. This being the case, we believe it’s important to find an installer that offers at least average pricing, but giving precedence to those priced below average is a good option for saving money.
We also recommend looking at the solar financing options available. Since solar can be expensive, choosing an installer that accepts cash purchases, loans, solar leases and power purchase agreements (PPAs) gives you a better chance of being able to afford solar and find a payment option that suits your budget.
Although many solar installers in North Dakota just offer the manufacturer’s warranty for the systems they install, we recommend considering companies that offer more coverage. For example, Lightspring Solar includes the manufacturer’s warranty plus a 10-year comprehensive warranty that covers workmanship.
Lengthier and more robust solar warranties will always be better, as they keep your system and your home protected and help maximize your energy savings over time.
Our goal in ranking solar installers in your area is to make the process of choosing a company more straightforward. In an effort to choose the best installers for your purposes, we use the following criteria, which we believe are the most crucial to prospective solar customers in ND like you:
Our rankings and methodology are never affected by commercial partnerships or relationships, so you can always be sure the companies we recommend are truly the ones we believe are best suited to bring you a cost-effective solar solution. We’ll explain why these criteria are so important to North Dakotans in the following sections.
First, we consider the cost of each installer in your area and the financing options made available. Solar systems are significantly more expensive in ND than in most other states, so a below-average pricing model and access to a variety of financing options mean a company will be more accessible to more of our readers.
We give average scores to companies with average pricing that accept at least cash and loans. We rank companies a bit higher if they have below-average prices and also accept leases and PPAs.
Next, we look at the years of experience each installer has. North Dakota has had one of the slowest solar adoption rates in the country, so there are few skilled and experienced installers that service the area. We give precedence to companies that have proven they have the knowledge and company history to guarantee a professional conversion process.
Companies that have at least five years of experience get an average rating, while those with ten or more years get perfect scores.
Many companies in ND don’t provide additional warranty coverage above and beyond the manufacturer’s warranty.
However, labor warranties can help protect you from leaks and other property damage resulting from the weather and snowfall in North Dakota, and efficiency warranties can help ensure your panels continue to produce sufficient energy for the above-average electric bills in the area.
As such, we rank companies higher if they meet the industry standard coverages. These include a 25-year equipment warranty, a 25-year panel efficiency warranty and a 10-year workmanship warranty.
Companies that offer in-house installations for panels and solar batteries get an average score in this category. Installers that provide access to more equipment and services like solar water heaters, electric vehicle (EV) chargers and energy audits get ranked a bit higher, as they will be able to meet the needs of more customers.
Next, we look for a company’s qualifications and certifications above and beyond those required by the state. We also assess the installer’s reputation overall. Doing this is especially useful in an area like ND, where labor warranties are not the norm, and additional certifications help avoid installation issues normally minimized by workmanship guarantees.
Some things we look for in particular include:
We also generally avoid recommending installers who have a history of customer complaints on any platform or issues with lawsuits.
Since solar is less popular in ND than it is in just about every other state, many installers limit their service area to a major city and the surrounding areas to maximize profits and minimize travel time. While we understand this, we prioritize installers who serve all of North Dakota, as they will appeal to more of our readers in The Peace Garden State.
Finally, we rank companies higher if they make an effort to push the solar industry forward, maintain sustainable business practices and lift up the communities they serve. Some things we look for to those ends include:
Below, we’ll answer some of the questions we get asked most often by residents in ND about choosing a reputable solar installer.
Yes, absolutely! PV panel selection matters regardless of where you live, but especially in North Dakota. Residents in The Peace Garden State are well acquainted with long, cold winters. Experts estimate that more than half of all electric costs go toward home heating in the winter, so maximizing energy production in the winter in North Dakota is essential.
For that reason, many homeowners choose a solar installation company based on the efficiency of the panels it installs. Ultimately, you’ll pay more up front for high-efficiency panels but will almost always save more over time on your electric bills.
Finding the top solar company for your needs should start with your system requirements. You can often rule out companies based on the services they provide or the products, especially if you’re looking for specific brands like Maxeon/SunPower panels or Tesla Powerwalls.
Next, you can begin to rule out some of those companies that fall outside of your budget, especially if the value provided isn’t there.
Finally, you can choose the company you hire based on customer service to get the best experience possible.
Given that the winters in North Dakota are long and frigid, many homeowners in the state ask if photovoltaic panels still work in the colder months. The short answer is, yes, PV panels still produce energy in the winter.
While the sunlight is much less intense in the winter, electricity actually flows faster in colder temperatures, so you may see system outputs similar to those you experience in the summer months. Most North Dakotans opt for high-efficiency panels to ensure this, as more energy is typically required in the winter to keep home heating systems running.
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