Sunrun Vs. Trinity Solar: Which Company Is Better? (2023)
By Dan Simms /
Here’s what we’ll cover in this solar provider comparison:
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If you’ve been looking for an affordable solar installer to handle your solar system installation, the likelihood is that you’ve come across both Sunrun and Tesla Solar.
These are two of the biggest names in the solar industry, and their service areas are massive.
Both companies have their benefits and drawbacks, and there’s a lot of information out there to sift through for both options.
In this guide, we’ll compare Sunrun and Tesla Solar based on a few of the most important factors you should consider. We’ll explain why we think Tesla is a better option overall and how to decide which one is best for your purposes.
Sunrun and Tesla are both national solar installers that have been an integral part of the solar industry for many years. They both have such wide availability and notoriety, so we believe it’s important to review these companies and compare them side by side to see which is most likely to provide the best experience.
|Company||Brand Is Best For||Price||Warranty Coverage||States Served||BBB Rating||Payment Options||Solar Services Offered|
|Sunrun||Leasing solar equipment||$$||25-year performance, manufacturers warranties; 10-year roof protection warranty||22 states||B+||Cash, loan, lease, PPA||Solar panel, backup battery, and electric vehicle (EV) charger installations; solar monitoring|
|Tesla Solar||The overall quality and system performance||$$||25-year power production warranty; 10-year workmanship warranty||50 states||C-||Cash, loan||Solar panel, backup battery, and electric vehicle (EV) charger installations; solar monitoring, solar roofing|
Sunrun was founded in 2007 and is one of the most well-known names in solar. It has a strong marketing team and a massive installation team — which includes third-party installers and in-house installers — that makes it a frontrunner in the 20+ states it services.
Sunrun is best known in the solar industry for its solar leasing program, which it tends to push on most customers. While we don’t recommend leases in general, Sunrun is a good option if you’re set on a lease. It includes free maintenance, repairs, and monitoring on all of its leased systems.
Tesla is a key player in the tech industry, and while it has made a name for itself as an electric vehicle manufacturer, it also has a huge presence in the solar industry.
Tesla was founded in 2003, and its business model in solar has included outsourcing all of its solar installations to certified third-party installers.
It manufactures some of the highest-quality solar panels and one of the best energy storage devices in the industry, although the overall customer service has a poor reputation because of its outsourcing.
Overall, Tesla is a great option if you’re looking for high-efficiency, high-quality panels, solar roof tiles or batteries. If customer service and warranty reliability is your priority, Tesla is a gamble.
Solar equipment and installation services are expensive no matter which company you choose. However, Sunrun and Tesla are two outstanding options if you’re looking for good quality for relatively low prices.
We’ll discuss the specific price point for these competitors below.
Sunrun comes in below average across the board when it comes to solar panel installations, although it doesn’t post specific costs on its website. It accepts the following payment options for solar power systems to maintain accessibility for its renewable energy products and services:
Tesla’s products are somewhat expensive if you buy them at face value. However, the company offers price matching on its solar panels, so you can get its products and installation services for the price you’d pay for other brands and installation companies. This brings Tesla’s effective price below average as well.
Credit: Towfiqu barbhuiya / Unsplash
Tesla only accepts cash purchases and solar loans. While its services aren’t as accessible as those from Sunrun, these are the only payment options we recommend.
On the surface, Tesla’s solar panels, other equipment, and services are more expensive than what you can expect from Sunrun. Tesla’s solar roof, panels, and solar batteries are some of the best in the industry, so they naturally come at a higher price.
However, Tesla also matches competitor prices to keep its costs low. As such, the total cost of both companies will be around the same.
If you still think that a solar lease might be the best option for you, we encourage you to watch this video on what you should know about the process prior to signing a contract.
Since both companies have similar pricing in practice, we have to recommend Tesla from a value-to-cost perspective. Its products are excellent, and since customer service is also about equal between these providers, Tesla takes the win in terms of value for your money.
The warranty coverage for your solar array is another crucial consideration to make. The warranty can cover equipment damage, faulty installation, and the efficiency of your solar system. Warranties are important no matter where you live, but they can be extra helpful in areas where extreme weather puts them at risk.
Sunrun offers an equipment warranty for 10 to 25 years on its panels, solar inverters and batteries, depending on the brand. It also offers 10 years of coverage for workmanship.
However, if you lease your system from Sunrun, the company includes a 25-year, all-inclusive warranty plus roof leak protection, which is outstanding. Whether or not it’ll deliver on that warranty is another question.
Tesla includes a 25-year power production warranty plus a 10-year workmanship warranty. This isn’t quite as good as the leasing warranty from Sunrun, but it’s about the same as the warranty you’d get if you purchased or financed solar panels from Sunrun.
Overall, these companies have about equal warranty coverage for customers who buy or finance their systems. However, if you plan on leasing your system, Sunrun’s warranty coverage is superior.
Both Sunrun and Tesla are national companies that have massive service areas in the U.S. Sunrun provides service to 20 states, including:
It also covers Puerto Rico and Washington D.C.
Tesla is a nationwide company serving parts of all 50 states via a massive network of third-party installers and service providers.
Tesla is the winner in terms of service area size. It covers the entire country, which is about double the coverage that Sunrun provides.
Both Sunrun and Tesla install top-tier, monocrystalline solar panels, so the equipment is above-average when it comes to durability and performance. Sunrun installs equipment from LONGi, Costco, Enphase, and, ironically, Tesla (but only for the Powerwall). Tesla only installs its own manufactured home solar products.
As a tech company, Tesla solar systems are considered to be a bit more desirable. They’re each 425 watts, and although the company doesn’t share efficiency specs, they are considered to be on par with leading options like SunPower.
Tesla also provides the Tesla Powerwall battery, which is one of the best battery storage solutions on the market.
Both companies provide outstanding panel brands that are sure to last and perform for many years. Tesla doesn’t post its panels’ efficiency specifications, so it’s tough to say which panels are better. Still, we’d go with Tesla for performance and durability, especially given the company’s reputation for cutting-edge technology.
The overall customer experience these companies provide is somewhat similar in some cases. Unfortunately, both providers have a reputation for below-average customer service, mostly attributed to the companies’ size and the fact that they outsource installations to third parties.
We’ll include some customer reviews for each company below to give you an idea of what you can expect.
Sunrun has a reputation for poor customer service, with many homeowners complaining about the lack of service after installation. Calling on the warranty for coverage is, unfortunately, one of the biggest issues.
Sunrun pushes leases, which are less beneficial for the homeowner in the long run, providing fewer savings and fewer solar incentives, including the federal tax credit. As such, the company gets negative attention for promising energy savings that don’t always come to fruition. Many customers complain about the following:
Still, there are many customers who seem satisfied with the work and the products, especially if they knew what they were getting into when they signed a solar lease.
Below, we’ll include a positive and negative review for Sunrun pulled from real customers:
“Sunrun does not take care of solar as promised. I have been trying to get someone out here to look at our system since Aug 1. It keeps blowing the breaker. This could result in a fire. I have called and emailed 2-4 times a day. Per the customer service manager yesterday I was to get a call today. Still have not heard anything. They have salesmen that promise you things and don’t follow through. I am getting very frustrated.” — Charles G. via BBB
“Very professional experience and saving tons of money on power! Our Sales rep Josh did an excellent job on updating us throughout the process. I highly recommend going through this company to get solar!” — Brooke H. via Yelp
Tesla has some of the same issues with customer support as Sunrun, so many of the negative reviews mention things like poor response times and warranty claim processes. Most of these issues seem to stem from the third-party installers assigned to installations.
There are also countless positive reviews, so it’s clear that the experience you can expect is highly dependent on the installer that’s assigned to your solar project. Some customers are over the moon about the quality of the equipment and how much they save on energy bills, while others are displeased with a lack of communication.
Below are some reviews that showcase the two ends of the spectrum you might experience when going solar with Tesla:
“I will like to thank the Falcon Heavy team (one of Tesla’s local solar installers). Loved that they showed up with their mask and protection equipment on time every day. They were really clean and organized. Respectful at all times. The installation process was easy thanks to the crew. Their willingness to explain everything in detail in a professional manner [was outstanding]. I highly recommend this team.” — K.C. via Yelp
“My understanding is that Tesla Energy Solar is more of a call center to sub contract your work to a local company. I am disappointed with Tesla Energy because the salesperson said they would be with me for the whole process, through the entire warranty. It seems that person was only interested in getting me to sign the contract. Since that point, he has been aware of my frustrations with my installer but has shown little interest in getting the project finished.” — Greg T. via Yelp
Unfortunately, both Sunrun and Tesla Solar have some issues with customer service that seem to stem from the companies’ size and their outsourcing business model. We would rank both providers equally in terms of customer experience.
Overall, we would recommend Tesla over Sunrun. Tesla has some of the best equipment in the industry, and it matches the prices of competitors to keep installation costs down. It also doesn’t accept leases or power purchase agreements, both of which are less appealing options overall for homeowners looking to go solar.
Both companies can cause some issues with customer service, although your experience largely depends on which third-party company is assigned to your installation. The table below provides a quick side-by-side comparison of these two companies.
Tesla gets our recommendation over Sunrun. While both companies have a reputation for below-average customer service in some cases, Tesla provides outstanding value for the money and price matching to remain affordable and accessible. It also pushes payment options that are more valuable to you as the solar customer as well.
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