SunPower vs. Vivint Solar: Which Company Is Better? (2022)

Here’s what we’ll cover in this SunPower vs. Vivint solar providers comparison:

  • Is SunPower or Vivint better for solar installations?
  • Is SunPower more expensive than Vivint Solar?
  • Is SunPower’s warranty coverage better than Vivint’s?
  • And more
Ecowatch Author Dan Simms

By Dan Simms

Updated 9/19/2022

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Choosing a solar panel installation company can be an intimidating process, but it’s important to get the right one for your solar system. The company you choose will affect your installation cost, your system durability, and your overall experience now and in the future.

SunPower and Vivint Solar are two of the largest solar companies in the country, with every state in the U.S. accounted for between the two. While there’s plenty of information available online for both of these installers, it’s still time-consuming to do the necessary research to determine which is best for your needs.

In this article, we’ll be comparing SunPower and Vivint on the most important factors. We’ll help you figure out which company is better for you, and we’ll explain why we think SunPower is, overall, a better option.

Jump To:

  1. SunPower Vs. Vivint Overview
  2. Cost Comparison
  3. Warranty Comparison
  4. Coverage Area Comparison
  5. SunPower Vs. Vivint Solar Panel Performance
  6. Customer Experience Comparison
  7. Which Company Is Best?
Best National Provider
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Nationwide Service

Ecowatch rating

Average cost

$$$$$

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SunPower

  • Pros icon Most efficient panels on the market
  • Pros icon National coverage
  • Pros icon Cradle to Cradle sustainability certification
  • Pros icon Great warranty coverage
  • Con icon Expensive
  • Con icon Customer service varies by local dealer

Services Offered

  • Service icon Solar Panels
  • Service icon Solar Batteries
  • Service icon EV Chargers
  • Service icon System Monitoring
Best for Leasing
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Regional Service

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Average cost

Presence

$$$$$

Regional

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Sunrun

  • Pros icon Expansive service area
  • Pros icon Many financing options
  • Con icon Some reported issues with customer service
  • Con icon Some reported issues with door-to-door sales

Services Offered

  • Service icon Solar Panels
  • Service icon Solar Batteries
  • Service icon EV Chargers
  • Service icon Energy-Efficiency Upgrades

Overview: SunPower Vs. Vivint

SunPower and Vivint are two of the largest solar panel installation companies in the U.S. With the large service areas and industry prominence these companies have, countless customers will undoubtedly consider one or both when going solar. 

That’s why we feel it’s important to compare these providers.

Solar Company Brand Is Best For Price Warranty Coverage States Served BBB Rating Payment Options Solar Services Offered
SunPower Best Overall $$$$ 25 years for equipment, workmanship, and power production 50 states A+ Cash, solar loans, leases, PPAs Solar panels, solar home energy storage, EV chargers, solar  panel system monitoring
Vivint  Leases and affordability $$ 10 years for a roof leak, 25 years for performance, and manufacturer’s warranty 21 states A- Cash, solar loans, leases, PPAs Solar panels, solar power storage, EV chargers, energy efficiency monitoring

SunPower Overview

SunPower was founded in California over three decades ago, in 1985, making it one of the most longstanding and reputable companies in the industry. It’s working on moving to in-house installations, although it currently serves the entire country through third-party installers.

SunPower previously manufactured some of the best solar cells in the industry. It has since moved production to its sister company, Maxeon Solar. The low-profile panels were and still are some of the best available for home energy systems.

bill-mead-wmaP3Tl80ww-unsplash
Credit: Bill Mead / Unsplash

SunPower is also well-known for its stellar warranty coverage, which is unmatched by competitors.

Vivint Overview

Vivint Solar has been around since 2011, and it took the solar industry by storm by implementing door-to-door sales and aggressively marketing affordable solar leases to customers. The company was purchased by Sunrun in 2020. 

Throughout this article, we’ll refer to the company as Vivint, and as of this writing the company still has a separate website that shows a slightly different service area than Sunrun’s.

Vivint has faced some class action lawsuits for its sales techniques, marketing tactics and misleading solar offers, and it has a reputation for poor customer service.

Its warranty coverage isn’t as appealing as SunPower’s, although its pricing and financing options do make its renewable energy solutions more accessible and affordable.

Cost Comparison: SunPower Vs. Vivint

One of the first things most solar customers consider when choosing an installer is up-front cost and long-term expenditure. Below, we’ll explain why installation costs can vary among providers and include some information on relative costs of SunPower and Vivint.

Costs & Financing Options

Every solar installer provides access to different brands of solar equipment. The panels offered vary in efficiency, quality and durability, so the prices of those brands naturally vary as well. 

Some companies — like SunPower — are more expensive than others, in part because they provide such high-quality equipment that can meet greater energy consumption needs.

Companies can also vary in pricing because of the payment options available. Those that only offer cash purchases and solar loans will naturally be more costly up front than those that have no-money-down options like leases and power purchase agreements (PPAs). 

However, they will tend to save you more money on your energy bills over time.

Which Company Is Cheapest, SunPower or Vivint?

SunPower costs more than most of its competitors, in large part because its panels provide the highest efficiency and the company backs them with an industry-leading warranty. Vivint is significantly more affordable, although its panels aren’t as high-quality or efficient.

Both SunPower and Vivint offer these financing options:

  • Cash purchase
  • Solar loan
  • Solar lease
  • PPA

These options help keep solar solutions affordable and accessible to most homeowners.

Our Pick for Best by Cost – SunPower

In terms of pricing alone, Vivint is the clear winner. Its prices — even for equipment purchased with cash or through financing — are lower. 

However, SunPower provides much better quality for the money in terms of panel efficiency and warranty coverage. If you’re looking for the most value for your money, we’d recommend SunPower.

Warranties Offered: SunPower Vs. Vivint

Solar warranties are important to consider when choosing an installer. Having comprehensive warranty coverage not only provides peace of mind but also ensures you won’t be on the hook for expensive repairs or replacements in the years following the installation.

SunPower is the best solar company in the industry for warranty coverage. It provides an equipment, power production and workmanship warranty of 25 years. It also covers all repairs and replacement parts that might be needed in that timeframe.

Vivint offers the panel manufacturer’s warranty only, which ranges from 10 to 25 years, for purchased or financed equipment. It also provides a 25-year warranty performance guarantee for energy production. 

If you lease with Vivint — a less appealing option overall — it covers maintenance, workmanship, power production and roof leaks for 25 years.

Our Pick for Best Warranties – SunPower

SunPower provides much more comprehensive warranty coverage if you go with the more beneficial payment options (cash or loan). 

If you prefer to lease your equipment, Vivint’s warranty coverage is a bit better on paper. However, it has struggled with responding quickly to warranty claims, so we’d still recommend SunPower.

Coverage Area: SunPower Vs. Vivint

Most solar companies have specific states or territories they cover, so you won’t have the option to choose a provider that doesn’t serve your area. When choosing a solar company, coverage area is a good first criteria to examine to rule out companies that can’t serve you, saving you some research time. 

SunPower serves the entire country, so virtually every customer in the U.S. will be able to get solar installed by this solar energy company.

Vivint — now Sunrun — has a smaller but still impressive service area. It covers Washington, D.C., Puerto Rico and the following 20 states:

  • Arizona
  • California
  • Colorado
  • Connecticut
  • Florida
  • Hawaii
  • Illinois
  • Maryland
  • Massachusetts
  • Nevada
  • New Hampshire
  • New Jersey
  • New Mexico
  • New York
  • Pennsylvania
  • Rhode Island
  • South Carolina
  • Texas
  • Vermont
  • Wisconsin

Our Pick for Best Coverage Area – SunPower

Since SunPower serves all 50 states, its coverage area is more than double that of Vivint. SunPower is the far superior option when it comes to coverage.

Solar Panel Performance: SunPower Vs. Vivint

Solar panel performance is an important factor to consider, but customers often don’t check it when considering solar panel companies. More efficient panels tend to cost more up front, but they also usually lead to greater energy savings in the long run, so paying for better efficiency is typically worthwhile if you can swing it.

SunPower solar panels are the most efficient available for home solar power systems. They have an efficiency rating of 22.7%, and are backed by a warranty that guarantees less than an 8% dropoff over 25 years.

Vivint (Sunrun) installs equipment from the following solar manufacturers:

  • LONGi — panels only
  • Costco — panels only
  • Enphase — inverters and microinverters only
  • Tesla Solar — panels and Solar Roof shingles, as well as Tesla Powerwalls and EV chargers
possessed-photography
Credit: Possessed Photography / Unsplash

These brands are still tier-one and considered a good value, but they pale in comparison to the Maxeon panels.

Our Pick for Best Panel Performance – SunPower

SunPower is uncontested when it comes to solar panel performance and efficiency degradation, so it’s the better choice if you’re looking for high-quality, high-efficiency panels.

Customer Experience: SunPower Vs. Vivint

The customer service provided by solar panel installation companies should also play into your decision. Not only will it affect your experience, but it can also affect the long-term cost of going solar and how much you save on electric bills.

Below, we’ll discuss the service provided by both of these companies and what you can expect in terms of the overall experience.

What Customers Say About SunPower

SunPower has mostly positive reviews and an A+ rating with the Better Business Bureau (BBB). Given the company’s size, this speaks volumes about how it manages customer relations.

Many of the company’s positive reviews mention things like:

  • Fast installation timelines
  • Quick responses to warranty claims
  • Professional and timely installation crews
  • Knowledgeable staff willing to educate customers on solar and solar incentives, including the federal tax credit

SunPower also has some negative reviews, most of which mention that the company is too large to provide optimal customer service. There are some complaints that the company is slow to respond to customer inquiries, that there is confusion among the different departments and that activating the solar panel system can be delayed in some cases.

Below are some reviews that paint a clearer picture of SunPower’s service.

“When I decided to go with solar in my house, I contacted six companies to give me a presentation and proposal. SunPower sent a very knowledgeable sales consultant who spent plenty of time answering every question I had and more. They manufacture their own equipment (panels, battery backup, etc.) in the USA. Huge advantage so you deal with a single company for service and warranty. Their panels are 400 watts (other companies 300-350), requiring fewer panels. The entire process was flawless from beginning to end and I am enjoying energy independence.” — Pablo L. via Yelp

“I have a love-hate relationship with SunPower. On one hand, the product manager was great, the installers friendly the solar system looks clean and neat. On the other, customer support is horrible. They forgot to turn the monitoring system from install mode to Wi-Fi. Luckily, I was able to get the app working on my phone. I know this sounds petty, but I spent thousands on the system and part of that is the monitoring.” — Adam S. via Yelp

What Customers Say About Vivint

Unfortunately, Vivint has a long history of customer complaints and a reputation for poor customer service. Many customers complain about:

  • Poor communication, especially after the installation process
  • Slow response times to warranty claims
  • Misleading marketing and lease-first business model that pushes less beneficial solar leases and PPAs
  • Overly aggressive sales tactics
  • Delays in installation and solar energy system connection

There are also some customers who are pleased with the service they get from Vivint, so your experience will likely depend on the representative assigned to your project.

Below are some customer reviews that give an idea of the service you might get if you decide to go with Vivint.

“Go solar at no cost! Vivint Solar is the way to go! We’ve had our photovoltaic solar for over seven years now, and we’ve had steady savings since we installed our units. Their service is very thorough and dependable. The manager goes out of his way to service his clients and explains thoroughly the advantages of having photovoltaics.  They now have solar battery backups in case of blackouts and power outage[s].” — Emmie A. via Yelp

“By far the worst business I have ever worked with in my entire life. Save yourself the headache and do not work with Vivint/Sunrun. I removed my panels as I was rebuilding my home. Six months later, construction is complete and I requested them to re-install the panels. I [paid] the re-design fee. Fast forward six more months… no progress. I constantly keep calling them asking for an update and their… out-sourced customer service constantly keeps telling me, ‘we will look into it and get back to you.’” — Darren D. via Yelp

You can check out the video below for more information on customer complaints for Sunrun.

Our Pick for Best Customer Experience – SunPower

SunPower has a much better reputation for good customer service and communication. If you’re looking for quality service and peace of mind that your solar installer will be responsive and accommodating, SunPower is a significantly better option.

Final Verdict: SunPower Vs. Vivint

SunPower and Vivint both excel in providing service to customers across the country. However, SunPower is a far better option, in our opinion, for most homeowners. 

The table below provides a side-by-side look at these companies to help you decide which is a better option for your solar project.

Our Top Pick: SunPower

Overall, we strongly recommend SunPower over Vivint. SunPower has a much better reputation, provides superior solar products and product warranties, and is more likely to be responsive when it matters.

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Dan Simms

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.
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