Quantcast
EcoWatch is a community of experts publishing quality, science-based content on environmental issues, causes, and solutions for a healthier planet and life.
gorodenkoff / iStock / Getty Images

While many homeowners are switching to solar power to help reduce or even eliminate their month-to-month utility costs, there’s no arguing that startup costs of solar panels can be high. One way to save money upfront is with a DIY solar panel installation, but is the challenge of building your own system worth what you save on labor?

In this article, we’ll take a closer look at the pros and cons of DIY solar panel installation, including safety factors, permitting and how much money it saves in the long run.

If you’re looking to compare DIY costs to the cost of hiring a professional, you can use this tool or fill out the form below to start getting quotes from solar companies in your area.

DIY Solar: Considering the Cost Savings

Let’s talk dollars and cents. The cost of solar you’ll find in most research reflects more than just the solar panels themselves. It also takes into account other costs, including wiring, inverters, racking, administrative fees (permits and inspections) and labor.

The average cost of solar, when installed by a top solar company, can range from $10,000 to $20,000 — and that’s after tax credits, incentives and rebates are applied. Homeowners trying to save money might consider eliminating the labor associated with system design and installation, which can make up 10-25% of total costs.

Here in Louisiana, our market research shows the cost of solar averages around $2.57 per watt. A 5-kW system would cost me around $12,000 before the tax credit, so a DIY solar installation could save me over $2,000.

On the flip side, professional installers buy solar panels, solar inverters and solar batteries from wholesale distributors in bulk, accessing a wider range of products for lower prices than what’s available to the general public. This price difference likely won’t offset the savings on labor, however.

Consider the longevity of your system as well. How much value can you expect in the long run? Do you trust your own installation to last 25 to 30 years, matching the lifespan of the best solar panels installed professionally? Solar is a long-term investment, so before you set off on your DIY project, make sure your handiwork can stand the test of time.

Pros and Cons of DIY Solar Panel Installation

Beyond price, there are a number of pros and cons to weigh before attempting to install your own solar panel system.

Advantages of DIY Solar Panels

Here are a few of the major benefits of DIY solar:

  • Cost savings: The most obvious advantage of installing your own solar panels is the cost savings. If you go for a DIY project, you’ll be racking up the savings — both on your electric bill and solar system installation. By eliminating the need for design and labor help, you can save a decent chunk of change on your residential solar energy system.
  • DIY system design: Installing your own system lets you keep complete control of your design and aesthetic. So, if you’re an amateur solar enthusiast, electrician or DIYer and have a very specific vision for how you want your solar array to be assembled, going the do-it-yourself route can give you free rein to do as you please.
  • Easing into solar: DIY solar panels can also be a smart option for those who are looking to start small, with a more modest home solar project. For example, maybe you’re not looking to offset 100% of your energy use but want to try out a couple of panels to see how much they offset your energy costs. The DIY route can be very cost-effective, especially if you have low energy needs.

Disadvantages of DIY Solar Panels

While there are notable perks to the DIY solar approach, there are also some drawbacks worth noting:

  • Product availability: Installing DIY solar panels limits the range of products available to you. As mentioned, professional installers have direct access to the most efficient solar panels from leading distributors, and at better prices. As a consumer, your options are going to be more restricted. Being able to purchase the best solar panels can increase system efficiency, reliability and durability significantly, providing more savings on the back end.
  • Potential safety hazards: DIY solar installations are complex. To do it right, you need to be pretty knowledgeable about electrical systems and how solar panels work. Without that know-how, you run the risk of loose connections and other wiring problems. These issues can be real fire hazards, jeopardizing the safety of yourself, your home and your family.
  • Efficiency issues: Professional solar installers have the knowledge needed to design a solar system that helps you maximize your energy use. An installer can recommend the exact types of solar panels, roof mounts, inverters and battery banks you need, as well as the proper placement of those components. Without their expertise, you may wind up with a solar system that isn’t as efficient as it could be.
  • Legality: In some municipalities, DIY solar panels may actually be illegal. You should always check with your local zoning board to ensure that you’re even permitted to do a DIY solar installation, especially if you’re planning a completely off-grid system. If you plan to feed excess energy back to the grid, you’ll need to apply for interconnection with your local utility.
  • Navigating savings opportunities: Professional installers have years of experience claiming all of the rebates and tax incentives in their operating areas. Identifying and securing these opportunities on your own is doable, but it will be time-consuming, and getting the details right will be important.

The bottom line: Installing your own residential solar system can yield some notable advantages, including cost savings, but that doesn’t always mean it’s the best option.

Without the proper expertise, the savings on the front end of your installation may not offset the long-term benefits of a well-designed, efficient and durable system. Due to the safety hazards, limited product options and lack of real solar expertise, many homeowners decide that a DIY solar system installation just isn’t worth it.

Starting A DIY Solar Project

If you do decide to go with DIY solar panels, make sure to check local zoning ordinances to be certain you can legally install your own system. Keep in mind you’ll have to apply for all permitting and interconnection, including fees and inspections. From there, start researching different solar panels, batteries and inverters, while also ensuring you have the right baseline knowledge regarding electrical work.

One thing to keep in mind is that many solar installers offer no-obligation estimates. Even if you’re leaning toward a DIY solar system, there’s no harm in considering your options and learning a bit more about the solar installation process. Many top companies will even complete a free home consultation and send you a proposal with their recommended system design.

If you’re interested in a little bit of free professional help, you can connect with a certified installer near you using this tool or by filling out the following form.

Installing Your Own Solar Panels

Once you’ve weighed the pros and cons of solar and feel you’re qualified to undertake a DIY solar project, here’s a brief outline of the steps to take:

  1. Size your system based on the energy use of your home and available roof space. Some zoning requirements require spacing of at least a foot between the solar panels and the edge of your roof. (Again, a free solar consultation can help with this.)
  2. Purchase your solar equipment (solar panels, inverters, wiring, racking, etc.)
  3. Install your racking or build a secure platform for the solar panels.
  4. Mount and secure the solar panels on the racking.
  5. Wire the solar panels.
  6. Connect your solar array to your home’s control panel.
  7. Obtain permission to operate from your local utility company (if applicable) before turning the system on.

FAQ: DIY Solar Panels

Can I install my own solar panels?

You can install your own solar panels to save on labor and design costs. However, there are a few disadvantages to consider: Professional solar companies have access to wholesale prices of a wider range of solar equipment, and improper installation can lead to severe safety concerns or inefficient systems.

Is it illegal to install your own solar panels?

It is not typically illegal to install your own solar panels, but this will depend on your area. You should always check with your local zoning board to ensure that you’re even permitted to do a DIY solar installation, especially if you’re planning a completely off-grid system. If you plan to feed excess energy back to the central power grid, you’ll need to apply for interconnection with your local utility company.

Is it cheaper to install your own solar panels?

It can be cheaper to install your own solar panels, as you’ll save money on upfront costs like labor, design, transportation and more. However, by purchasing your panels online or directly from a distributor, you may not have access to the best solar panels or as wide a product selection as you might like.

Karsten Neumeister is a writer and renewable energy specialist with a background in writing and the humanities. Before joining EcoWatch, Karsten worked in the energy sector of New Orleans, focusing on renewable energy policy and technology. A lover of music and the outdoors, Karsten might be found rock climbing, canoeing or writing songs when away from the workplace.
EcoWatch Daily Newsletter
Where to Buy Solar Panels: 2022 Solar Purchasing Guide

Whether you're hiring a professional installer or going the DIY route, we show you how and where to buy solar panels.

Reviews
Sebastian Rothe / EyeEm / Getty Images

Installing solar panels on your home can dramatically reduce both your dependence on traditional utility companies and your environmental impact. One of the first steps in switching to renewable energy is figuring out where to buy solar panels. It can be a little confusing at first.

In this article, we’ll help you figure out how to identify and purchase the best solar panels for your home, as well as give tips on other equipment you’ll need to complete your solar power system.

As you prepare to buy solar panels, remember it’s important to do your research and compare prices in order to make a sound investment. If you’re ready to start getting quotes from some of the best solar companies in your area, you can use this tool or fill out the form below.

Where Can You Buy Solar Panels?

Home and business owners typically purchase solar panels through solar companies, which are certified to deal and install products from top manufacturers. These solar installers then plan and execute the installation. However, solar panels and solar panel kits are also sold directly from distributors in the event you’re qualified to carry out your own DIY solar installation. Consider the following when making a decision about where to purchase your panels.

Choosing an Installer

Certified solar energy companies carry out the vast majority of solar panel installations. When hiring a professional solar company, you can either go with a local or national installer.

A local solar installer will usually be able to offer you more personalized service, more affordable prices and more intimate knowledge of local solar incentives and policies. The flip side is that nationwide installers can often have access to a wider range of solar products, like the most efficient solar panels and the best solar batteries in the industry. This can give you more options to maximize the power output and durability of your system.

There’s not really a right or wrong answer here, and in fact, the best approach may be to consult with two or three installers that service your area before making your decision.

DIY Solar Panel Installation

Installing your own solar panels provides the opportunity to save money on labor and also gives you greater control over the final configuration of your home solar system. Be aware, however, that there can be significant downsides to do-it-yourself solar jobs.

First, it is complex, technical work, requiring electrical expertise and thorough knowledge of how solar works. If you’re unskilled or inexperienced in working with electricity, installing solar panels presents concerns to both your safety and the integrity of your roof and electrical system. Additionally, going with DIY solar panels means you won’t reap the benefits of experienced solar designers, who can help you design the optimal energy-generating, money-saving system.

If you do choose to buy solar panels and install them on your own, you can purchase panels from:

  • Manufacturer websites
  • Hardware stores
  • Amazon.com (where you can buy full solar panel kits)

How to Buy Solar Panels

Now you know where to purchase panels, but as for how to buy solar panels, your next steps will again depend on whether you hire a professional or go the DIY route.

Hiring an Installer

For most of our readers, we recommend hiring a solar installer that will plan your system and purchase the solar equipment on your behalf. Note that installers buy in bulk and have access to wholesale prices, so they can actually help you save money on your equipment costs, though of course, you’ll then have to pay for the labor.

The general steps in the process are as follows:

  1. Consultation: Meet with a few of your area’s top solar companies to compare pricing and proposals outlining the pros and cons of solar for your home.
  2. System design: Once you choose a solar installer, a representative will take a look at your roof and design a solar system that meets your energy goals. The importance of this step usually outweighs that of the installation itself, as a solar system will only be as effective as its design.
  3. Permitting: Depending on where you live, you may require permits and approvals from your municipality before your solar system can be installed. Your installer can handle all of this on your behalf.
  4. Net metering: If your local utility company offers net metering, you’ll need to apply and enroll prior to the installation itself. This step should also be handled by your solar company, though it may require a signature or two from you.
  5. Installation: Once you receive the needed approvals, your installer can begin work to assemble your system. This may take anywhere from a day to a full week depending on the complexity of your project. Most installations are finished within a day.
  6. Review and approval: Most municipalities will require you to have your system inspected for safety before it’s “switched on.” Both cities and utility companies usually require inspections. Again, your solar company will handle the logistics of these inspections.
  7. Using your system: After you get your final approvals, you’ll be ready to turn on your solar system. Your installer will advise you on how to do so.
  8. Applying for tax credits: Any reputable solar company will walk you through how to apply for solar tax credits, rebates or grants available in your area. Some will even do so on your behalf.

Buying Your Own Solar System

If you’re a more qualified homeowner looking to research, design and install your home solar system, you’ll need to purchase equipment on your own.

First, determine how many solar panels your home requires. This hinges on an array of factors: the amount of electricity your household consumes, the surface area available on your roof, the amount of sun exposure your roof receives and more. For residential installations with limited roof space to work with, we recommend looking into highly efficient solar panels. This will ensure your investment is worthwhile. (We’ll get more into the different types of solar panels below.)

Also, remember that designing a solar system requires a lot more than just panels. Consider what equipment you’ll need before purchasing your solar panels. Do you want a string inverter or microinverters? Do you need a battery? A charge controller? (We’ll also get more into this later on).

Even if you carry out your own installation, you’ll still need to apply for any necessary permits and interconnection agreements. In the event you perform an off-grid installation, you may not need permission from your utility.

What Type of Solar Panel Should You Buy?

There are three basic types of photovoltaic panels available today: monocrystalline, polycrystalline (also known as multicrystalline) and thin-film. The factors differentiating these options have to do with the efficiency, flexibility, solar cell makeup, size and cost of the solar panels. These can all impact which solar panels you purchase.

Solar Panel Type

Advantages

Disadvantages

Monocrystalline solar panels

Highest efficiency and best performance

Highest upfront cost

Polycrystalline solar panels

More affordable than monocrystalline

Lower efficiency than monocrystalline

Thin-film solar panels

Portable and flexible

Lowest efficiency and power output

An important note we’ll repeat: For homeowners with a limited surface area on their roofs, efficiency is the name of the game. Make sure to buy solar panels with high efficiency ratings, as this will maximize the sunlight available to you, making your investment more worthwhile. Most of the best solar panels will be monocrystalline.

Other Equipment You’ll Need to Buy for Your Solar Panel System

If you’re doing your own installation, you’ll need to consider purchasing the following when you buy your solar panels:

  • Inverter: This converts direct current (DC) solar energy into the alternating current (AC) electricity needed to power your home. Most options will be string inverters or microinverters.
  • Battery: A solar battery allows you to store excess energy for future use rather than feeding it back into the electrical grid. Having a battery maximizes your solar energy use.
  • Mounting system: This stabilizes your solar panels and ensures they stay in their proper rooftop position.
  • Wiring: Wiring is used to connect your solar system to your electrical panel.
  • Solar charge controller: A charge controller regulates voltage and prevents batteries from overcharging.

Final Thoughts: Where to Buy Solar Panels

Installing solar panels involves a number of decisions, starting with where to buy your panels. Are you qualified to install solar panels yourself? What type of solar panel is best for your energy needs? What other equipment will you need to buy along with your panels?

If you choose to go with a solar company, make sure you do your research and hire a vetted, experienced solar contractor with a track record of success. Ask any friends or neighbors with solar who they hired and how their experience was. Some solar companies have programs that reward $1,000 or more for referrals. You can also continue your research on the best solar companies, or look for local solar installers in your area.

Shopping around can end up saving you money and can help you better understand your energy needs and budget. To start getting free quotes from solar companies near you, you can use this tool or fill out the form below.

FAQ: Buying Solar Panels

Can I just buy my own solar panels?

You can buy your own solar panels directly from manufacturers, from hardware stores or online. However, installing panels on your own when unqualified to do so can result in safety issues, an inefficient system or issues to the structural integrity of your home. With an investment as significant as solar, we usually recommend hiring a professional.

How much does one solar panel cost?

Solar panel costs differ widely due to variations in quality, efficiency, warranty and power. One solar panel for an off-grid or small DIY project can cost as little as $100. A standard 350-watt, high-efficiency residential solar panel will cost closer to $300 or more.

Are solar panels a good investment?

When properly planned and executed, solar panels are one of the best investments you can make in 2022. This won’t be the case for all homeowners, however. If your energy use is already minimal, your roof doesn’t receive enough sunlight or the cost of solar in your area is unusually high, you may not get enough out of your investment to make it worthwhile. It’s best to consult with a solar company near you to determine the solar potential of your home or business.

Karsten Neumeister is a writer and renewable energy specialist with a background in writing and the humanities. Before joining EcoWatch, Karsten worked in the energy sector of New Orleans, focusing on renewable energy policy and technology. A lover of music and the outdoors, Karsten might be found rock climbing, canoeing or writing songs when away from the workplace.

CASEZY / iStock / Getty Images

From lighting up the night when you return home to boosting security, installing solar flood lights is a great way to invest in your home’s functionality and safety. Solar flood lights harness their energy from the sun and don’t require wiring or electrical work, making installation a breeze even for renters. And thanks to waterproof designs and efficient LEDs, they offer a fix-it-and-forget solution to myriad lighting predicaments.

In this article, we’ll recommend four of the best LED solar flood lights and motion-detector lights on the market today.

Read More Show Less
Freedom Forever Solar: Reviews, Services & More (2022)

Looking to learn more about Freedom Forever Solar? We offer our 2022 review of the growing company.

Reviews
wundervisuals / Getty Images

One of the fastest-growing solar installation companies in the nation, Freedom Forever Solar (not to be confused with Freedom Solar) has expanded to over 24 states in less than five years. In our Freedom Forever Solar review, we’ll discuss the pros and cons of this up-and-coming installer and see if it deserves a spot among the nation’s best solar companies.

Freedom Forever Solar likes to keep things simple and outlines its services in just three steps: solar panel installation, backup battery installation and solar financing. Similar to a number of its counterparts offering national coverage, Freedom Forever offers solar panels for purchase as well as solar leases and power purchase agreements (PPAs).


Freedom Forever Solar Fast Facts

Year Started

2016

Service Areas

25 states, including AZ, CA, CO, CT, DE, FL, GA, ID, IL, MD, MA, NV, NH, NJ, NM, NC, OR, PA, RI, SC, TX, UT, VT, VA and WI

Service Types

Solar panel and battery installations

Types of Panels Sold

Varies depending on location

Backup Battery Options

Yes, including LG Chem and Tesla Powerwall

Certifications

North American Board of Certified Energy Practitioners (NABCEP) technicians

Better Business Bureau (BBB) Rating

A+ with accreditation

Read on to learn more about Freedom Forever Solar, or to see how much a solar system from Freedom Forever Solar or a similar certified installer would cost, you can use this tool or fill out the form below.

Freedom Forever Overview

Founded just six years ago, Freedom Forever Solar is still in its infancy compared to other solar companies of its size. Though a new kid on the block, this Temecula, California-based provider offers a unique approach focused on educating its clientele. With a learning center, a “solar academy,” videos, podcasts and more, Freedom Forever aims to set realistic expectations for its customers when it comes to the big picture of renewable energy and the nitty-gritty of solar financing.

By understanding that an informed customer is the best type of customer, Freedom Forever empowers its clients to increase their independence while reducing their costs via solar.

So, how has this approach paid off? Let’s explore.

Freedom Forever Services and Installation

Freedom Forever Solar strives to make going solar as easy as possible for homeowners. Offering only solar panel and backup battery installations, Freedom Forever Solar focuses on simplicity in its clean energy services. This model allows Freedom Forever to concentrate its efforts on solar and backup power but may disappoint customers interested in add-ons like electric vehicle charging stations or energy efficiency upgrades. The installations themselves are carried out by authorized partner companies that will vary regionally.

The type of solar panels available for your home will vary depending on your region as well, but backup batteries installed by Freedom Forever include the Tesla Powerwall and LG Chem.

Here’s what the average customer can expect Freedom Forever Solar’s installation process to look like:

  • Receive a free quote by providing preliminary information such as your address, monthly energy costs and credit score.
  • If interested after receiving the quote, Freedom Forever will draw up a full proposal including your custom system design, a rendering of the system’s appearance and estimated energy savings over the course of the system's lifetime. The proposal should factor in local and state solar incentives, so be sure to make note that they are included.
  • Freedom Forever Solar pledges to handle all permits, interconnection agreements and other consents associated with a solar installation in your region.
  • During the permitting process, Freedom Forever will enroll you in your utility company’s net metering program, if applicable.
  • The installation itself only happens after permits and net metering agreements are finalized. Installations with Freedom Forever are typically finished within one day and are carried out by authorized partner companies.
  • Finally, you'll need to pass inspection and turn on your system. Once the system is installed, both the city and your electric company will most likely require inspections. Freedom Forever will schedule and oversee both. Once you pass both inspections, you’ll be ready to turn your system on.

Solar Panel Warranty

Rather than offering workmanship or product warranties, Freedom Forever Solar promises that your system will perform as advertised through its 25-year production guarantee. Should your system underperform or encounter any problems, Freedom Forever will fix it and reimburse you for any lost savings.

Though this sounds like an all-encompassing warranty, it’s not quite that simple. It should be noted that Freedom Forever outsources its labor to local installation crews, and workmanship is not covered by the 25-year production guarantee. This means that any damages to your roof, home or electrical equipment from low-quality workmanship will have to be negotiated with a third party rather than the sales rep you signed a Freedom Forever contract with. Though these situations are rare, they can complicate what should be a simple warranty.

Freedom Forever Costs and Financing

The average cost of a solar system from a certain provider is difficult to assess, as pricing can vary widely depending on your state, your roof and your electric bills. Freedom Forever is a young company up against some industry leaders, so we expect its solar project pricing to be competitive. However, we always encourage readers to get quotes from competing solar companies to make sure you’re getting the best value from your investment.

Much of Freedom Forever’s expansion can be credited to its utilization of solar leases, which allow homeowners to rent solar power systems at a monthly cost. Though leasing panels provides a switch to clean energy with a low upfront cost, purchasing panels provides the greatest value in the long run. Keep in mind that leases will not be eligible for the solar tax credit.

Financing Options

Freedom Forever Solar offers four solar financing plans for customers:

  1. Cash Purchase: Purchasing your solar system outright provides you with maximum long-term value. Making one upfront payment reduces loan fees and interest, allowing you a quicker payback period. Also, solar panels add property value and make you eligible for the solar tax credit. Over time, homeowners will see the largest return on investment when paying in cash.
  2. Home Solar Loan: Freedom Forever Solar partners with third-party loan companies to provide financial assistance with solar power purchases. With a solar loan, you can still enjoy the benefits of system ownership, maintaining eligibility for tax credits, rebates and additional property value. Solar loans will vary in their interest rates depending on credit score, down-payment amount and length of the loan.
  3. Solar Lease: With a solar lease, you make fixed monthly payments to Freedom Forever, essentially renting your solar panels. The costs of leases are typically about 20% less than you pay for grid-supplied electricity. You can still take advantage of energy savings, but you miss out on a number of valuable benefits associated with system ownership, like the tax credit, rebates and an increase to your property value.
  4. Purchase Power Agreement (PPA): PPAs are similar to solar leases in that you make monthly payments, but instead of renting the solar panels, you agree to pay a fixed monthly rate for the electricity they produce. From our perspective, PPAs are the least advisable option.

Freedom Forever Solar Reviews

Given Freedom Forever’s strategy of making solar easy, most positive reviews reflect a quick, seamless and effective installation process, as advertised. The company runs into trouble with its customer support and complications involving third-party installers and loan providers. Let’s take a look at what customers are saying.

Positive Freedom Forever Reviews

Not surprisingly, positive reviews reflect Freedom Forever’s simple process. Satisfied customers report a system performing as advertised, saving them money on their utility bills with no maintenance or support needed post-install.

“I was referred to this company by my neighbor that had their system installed by Freedom, and I’m glad they did so. My experience with Robert (my rep) was amazing and honestly effortless from our consultation to install. Very clear and thorough, and what was said was delivered.” — Tai via Google Reviews

“Great company to work with. Efficient and professional. Our sales rep stayed in contact with us the whole way, making for a smooth installation and transition from the grid. He also gave us a great deal; locked in for 25 years with no money down. Goodbye SDGE.” — Kim via Google Reviews

Negative Freedom Forever Reviews

Generally, we prefer to recommend solar companies that handle their installations and financing in-house, and the negative reviews surrounding Freedom Forever Solar are the perfect examples why. Customers too often experience difficulties with warranties when multiple companies are involved and can receive poor treatment from customer service teams looking to offload their issues on another company.

“Be aware that this company is ONLY a solar panel sales company and only installs material, which is NOT made by them, so warranty can be iffy. They hire private party makeshift companies, which are not affiliated with Freedom Forever or solar panel equipment. Be careful with these multiple companies. They are not reliable.” — Robert via Better Business Bureau

“One star for quick installation of solar panels. Everything else is a mess. Customer service is very slow, sometimes hard to get a hold of, probably because of all of the disappointed customers calling in and waiting for their service to turn on. As we speak, I am already being billed by their finance company and also paying the power company because my system is not operating.” — NA via Better Business Bureau

Our Take On Freedom Forever Solar

Freedom Forever Solar’s modern approach to solar education, wide service area and high volume of installations make it an intriguing new company, but a few too many complications with customer service and unreliable partnerships bog down its overall reputation.

By involving third-party contractors and loan providers, there are too many moving pieces in an average solar installation to be carried out as smoothly and consistently as we’d like to see. Overall experiences depend far too heavily on the team that carries out the installation itself, which is arguably the most important part of a solar investment. As a result, we have a hard time recommending Freedom Forever Solar relative to most other top solar companies that likely offer services in the same area.

Freedom Forever Pros

Freedom Forever Cons

Strong production guarantee

Limited services

Large service area

Outsourced labor

Quick installations

Customer service issues

Flexible financing options

No workmanship warranty

Freedom Forever Solar can be a good and practical choice for customers looking to quickly and simply save money on their energy bills through a solar purchase or solar lease. However, for homeowners looking for attentive customer service and quality workmanship both before and after installation, we advise you to shop around.

You can start getting free quotes from a number of solar installers near you by filling out the form below or using this tool.

INSERT FORM

Solar Energy Provider Comparison

To put this all into context, let’s take a look at what industry leaders SunPower and Sunrun offer in comparison to Freedom Forever. What we see as the key factor differentiating SunPower and Sunrun is industry experience. Freedom Forever only has six years of experience as of 2022, which is not a lot of time to establish a reliable process over a range like 25 states. If slow growth is good growth, Freedom Forever Solar doesn’t appear to have as sustainable a business model as we’d like to see.


Freedom Forever

SunPower

Sunrun

Year Started

2016

1985

2007

Services Offered

Solar panel installation, battery installation, monitoring

Solar panel installation, battery installation, monitoring

Solar panel installation, battery installation, monitoring, maintenance

Service Areas

AZ, CA, CO, CT, DE, FL, GA, ID, IL, MD, MA, NV, NH, NJ, NM, NC, OR, PA, RI, SC, TX, UT, VA, VT, WI

All 50 States

AZ, CA, CO, CT, FL, HI, IL, MD, MA, NV, NH, NJ, NM, NY, PA, RI, SC, TX, VT, WI, Puerto Rico and Washington D.C.

BBB Rating

A+

A+

B+

Payment Options

Cash, loan, lease, PPA

Cash, loan, lease

Cash, loan, lease, PPA

Learn More


SunPower Review

Sunrun Review

Frequently Asked Questions

Is Freedom Forever Solar a good company?

Freedom Forever Solar is a good company, but it lacks the experience and expertise we’d like to see before fully recommending it to our readers. If overall customer satisfaction improves over the next few years (which we certainly hope is the case), we’ll be more likely to recommend it.

How does Freedom Forever solar work?

Freedom Forever Solar makes its money by selling solar contracts, the installations and financing of which are handled by third-party partners. Though you may sign a contract through Freedom Forever’s sales staff, the crews coming out to work on your home and the company you make loan payments to will be subcontracted.

Does Sunrun own Freedom Forever?

Sunrun does not own Freedom Forever, but Sunrun is the primary solar and battery provider of Freedom Forever. This means that Freedom Forever partners with Sunrun, leveraging its brand and services to back the Freedom Forever sales team. If you sign a contract with Freedom Forever, there’s a chance your installation will consist of Sunrun’s technology and be carried out by a certified Sunrun partner.

How long has Freedom Forever solar been around?

Freedom Forever Solar has been around since 2016, expanding to 25 states in just six years. Freedom Forever was able to grow so quickly through establishing a wide network of certified independent installers that it outsources its contracts to.

Where is Freedom Forever solar available?

Freedom Forever solar is available in 25 states, including Arizona, California, Colorado, Connecticut, Delaware, Florida, Georgia, Idaho, Illinois, Maryland, Massachusetts, Nevada, New Hampshire, New Jersey, New Mexico, North Carolina, Oregon, Pennsylvania, Rhode Island, South Carolina, Texas, Utah, Vermont, Virginia and Wisconsin.

Karsten Neumeister is a writer and renewable energy specialist with a background in writing and the humanities. Before joining EcoWatch, Karsten worked in the energy sector of New Orleans, focusing on renewable energy policy and technology. A lover of music and the outdoors, Karsten might be found rock climbing, canoeing or writing songs when away from the workplace.
Trending
Juan Silva / The Image Bank / Getty Images

Interested in going solar, but not sure how to install solar panels? As you’ll read in this article, the process requires more than ordering panels online and watching a few YouTube videos on how to install them. Unless you have electrical contracting experience, you’ll need to hire a solar company to carry out the solar panel installation itself.

Luckily, there are a number of reputable solar companies with decades of solar experience to choose from. In addition to finding the best company for your home’s energy needs, there are a few steps you'll need to take to ensure your clean energy system is permitted and set up properly.

In this article, we'll walk through the steps you'll need to take when installing solar panels on your home or business. If you’re ready to start getting quotes from local installers near you, use this tool or fill out the form below.

5 Steps for Solar Panel Installation

By installing a home solar power system, you can reduce your dependence on traditional utility companies, offsetting the majority (or entirety) of your monthly energy bills. Plus, it offers a tangible method to curb your environmental footprint, making for cleaner, healthier communities.

Somewhat counterintuitively, the majority of what determines a successful solar project has little to do with the installation itself. Before getting into how to install solar panels, there are a couple of nuances to note off the bat.

First, installing solar panels requires thorough knowledge of solar technology, design and engineering. In other words, the average person will likely want to avoid a DIY solar panel installation and leave the process to professional local installers. A properly designed PV system will provide far more savings on the backend than most DIY installations will save on the front.

The second thing to consider is that solar panel installation won't happen overnight. Even after you choose the best solar panels for the job, there are a few vital steps in the installation process essential for ensuring a reliable, effective and efficient renewable energy system.

Here are the basic steps of solar panel installation:

1) Complete a Site Survey With an Engineer

Once you choose the best solar installation company for your home and sign a contract, the company will send an engineer to your home to evaluate your current electrical system, ensuring everything is compatible with your intended solar panel system design. This engineer may be an employee of the solar company or an independent contractor.

Be aware that if you have an old and outdated electrical system, the engineer may tell you that it needs to be upgraded or replaced. This is generally an indication that your new solar energy system will require more amps than what your current electrical system can accommodate.

In addition to checking out your electrical system, the engineer will also want to inspect your roof. They'll need to ensure it is structurally sound and able to support the weight of solar paneling. Also, the engineer will be able to tell you if you need a specialized mounting system, such as for a flat roof.

A solar energy system will only perform as well as it’s designed, so hiring a trustworthy solar engineer is one of the most important steps in the process. Still looking for an installation company? Click here to get connected with a solar installer in your area and receive a free quote.

2) Secure the Right Permits

Before your solar panel installation, you'll have a few bureaucratic hoops to jump through. Specifically, you'll need to obtain all the right permits and documentation to ensure your solar panel installation is legal, meeting all local safety and zoning requirements. You wouldn’t believe the headaches that can accompany an installation carried out before permits are issued.

This step may sound intimidating, but here's the good news: While there is plenty of paperwork associated with installing solar panels, the majority of it is handled by your solar company. You may not have to do much at all beyond lending a signature here and there, but it's still important to have some sense of what's happening behind the scenes.

Here’s what your solar installer will file for:

  • Local electrical and/or building permits on your behalf
  • Interconnection agreement with your local utility (in other words, permission from your utility to install solar and enroll in net metering)
  • Applications for state or federal incentive programs that curb the upfront cost of solar panels

By completing this paperwork, you can potentially secure rebates, tax credits or other financial assistance to offset installation costs.

It will take your solar installer some time to submit all the paperwork, and even longer for governmental bodies to process all the information — sometimes several weeks or more. It’s not a bad idea to follow up and get updates every few days, just to make sure the process is still moving forward smoothly. Solar companies are busy with business, and the squeaky wheel gets the grease.

3) Order the Right Equipment

Once you have all the correct permits and paperwork in place, your solar installer will be ready to order your equipment.

Note that, by this point, you will already have picked out the types of solar panels you need and the best solar batteries and inverters for your home. These decisions are typically laid out in a solar proposal, sent well before you sign your contract.

Naturally, you'll want to make sure you research how solar panels work and the different options available to you. Whether you want the most efficient solar panels or the most affordable, your solar installer can help you pick equipment that will help you achieve your solar energy goals.

Once your solar equipment is ordered, your name will be added to the installer's queue. Basically, this means you'll be put on the schedule for an installer to assemble your solar panels as soon as they arrive from the distributor.

4) Get Your Solar Panels Installed

Finally, the big day arrives. Your solar installer will show up and begin preparing your roof, specifically by verifying that all tiles or shingles are securely attached. Then, the installer will place the wiring that's needed to connect your residential solar system to the electrical system.

After the wires are placed, your installer will place racking, which is used to hold the solar panels in position. The panels are placed into the racks, and the inverter (or several microinverters) is connected to the panels. If you have a battery bank, your installer will also set that up.

One of the most common questions about installing solar panels is how long the work will take. It all depends on the size of your home and the scope of the solar panel installation, but you can anticipate a timeline of one to three days in total.

If your solar system is properly designed and planned out, this step of the process should actually be the most straightforward.

5) Get your system approved and connected.

Once the system is in place, your installer will essentially "flip the switch" to turn it on. Before this happens, you'll likely need a municipal government representative to assess and approve your residential solar system, issuing what’s called permission to operate (PTO). Basically, this is just a safety precaution, ensuring there's a fresh set of eyes to validate the wiring and electrical work.

You'll also need a representative from your local utility company to interconnect the system, which means hooking it up to the electrical grid. This allows you to keep drawing electricity when you need it, as well as safely feed any surplus energy back into the grid, which can result in credits from your utility company via net metering programs.

Questions About How to Install Solar Panels?

These five steps represent the basics of how to install solar panels. But of course, these are just general guidelines, and specific steps can vary from home to home and from installer to installer.

If you have additional questions about how to install solar panels, a good next step would be to seek out the top solar companies in your area and make an appointment for a consultation. You can ask more about specific solar panel installation processes and what you might expect if you decide to make the leap into solar power.

You can fill out the quick form below or use this tool to get a free quote and book a consultation with a certified solar energy installer in your area.

FAQ: How to Install Solar Panels

Can I install solar panels on my home myself?

Technically speaking, yes, you can install solar panels on your own home. However, we don’t recommend this unless you have experience as an electrician and advanced knowledge of solar energy.

Though we don’t doubt your ability to pull off a satisfying DIY home project, the modern technology solar companies use to design and plan solar installations can provide far more long-term benefits than the savings you might secure from installing solar panels yourself.

How many solar panels are needed to power a house?

The number of solar panels needed to power a house will vary depending on the amount of electricity your home consumes. As a minimum, however, we’d expect most homes will require at least 10 panels.

How do you install solar panels step by step?

Solar panels are installed roughly in the following order. Note that unless you have electrical contracting experience, we recommend homeowners hire professionals to carry this out.

Step 1: Install your racking or build a platform for the solar panels

Step 2: Mount and secure the solar panels on the racking

Step 3: Wire the solar panels

Step 4: Connect the wiring to your control panel

Step 5: Ground your system for safety purposes

Step 6: Connect your solar array to your home

Karsten Neumeister is a writer and renewable energy specialist with a background in writing and the humanities. Before joining EcoWatch, Karsten worked in the energy sector of New Orleans, focusing on renewable energy policy and technology. A lover of music and the outdoors, Karsten might be found rock climbing, canoeing or writing songs when away from the workplace.
Solar Panel Recycling 101

Can solar panels be recycled?

Renewable Energy
Voyagerix / Getty Images

Despite challenges to growth from the pandemic, the U.S. solar energy market set another record with 19.2 GW of solar installed in 2020. That’s well over 50 million solar panels. Over the next 10 years, the Solar Energy Industries Association projects that nearly 350 GW will be installed, more than 18 times the amount of solar installed in 2020. That means more than 1 billion solar panels will be actively collecting solar energy throughout the U.S. alone over the next decade.

This pace of growth is tremendous — and great news for the environment. However, we at EcoWatch won’t deny that solar panels do have an impact (albeit a nominal one when compared to that of oil drilling, fracking or coal mining). One of the most common challenges surrounding solar energy is the amount of waste that these panels will produce after their 25-year lifespan.

In order to avoid an onslaught of e-waste accompanying our rapid solar development, scientists are developing ways to recycle solar panels, minimizing their environmental impact. Entrepreneurs and economists alike are also eyeing the huge financial value that a practical recycling method would offer.

So, can solar panels be recycled? The short answer is yes, but the process needs refining. Here’s what we know.

Read More Show Less
9 Best Solar Companies in Maryland in 2022

We'll help you narrow down the best installer for your home.

Reviews
The Washington Post / Contributor / Getty Images

Looking for energy freedom in the Free State? There are plenty of installers to choose from, but in this article, we’ll help you narrow down your options by recommending nine of the best solar companies in Maryland.

On track to increase its Renewable Portfolio Standard (RPS) target from 25% to 50% by 2030, Maryland has quadrupled its solar capacity since 2015. One of the biggest drivers of this has been its statewide programs that support residential, commercial and community solar projects. Maryland residents also have access to some of the best solar companies in the nation, offering exceptional value for generating clean energy.

For many readers, the decision of which solar installer to hire comes down to cost. To start getting free quotes from the best solar companies in Maryland, you can use this tool or fill out the form below.

Our Picks for Top Maryland Solar Installers

  1. Lumina Solar
  2. Solar Energy World
  3. SunPower
  4. Celestial Solar Innovations
  5. Edge Energy
  6. Trinity Solar
  7. American Sentry Solar
  8. Energy Select
  9. Maryland Solar Solutions

Comparing the 10 Best Solar Companies in Maryland

Lumina Solar

Lumina Solar logo

Lumina Solar

Location: Maryland, Pennsylvania and Virginia; Based in Baltimore

What We Like: Lumina Solar offers fully integrated solar technology to help its customers make a practical leap to new levels of energy efficiency, conservation and independence. Lumina’s solar panel systems are built with cutting-edge technology, and the company was the first in the state to offer Tesla Powerwall batteries. Though a young company, the team is made up of industry veterans sure to provide an aesthetically pleasing, reliable installation.

What We Don’t Like: Lumina Solar is only a 4-year-old company, albeit an impressive one. Given that warranties are only valid if your chosen company stays in business, we typically advise choosing companies with closer to 10 years of experience and that have a proven, sustainable business model.

What Customers Are Saying: “Lumina installed my solar system a couple of months ago, and I want everyone to know how fantastic this company is. I urge anyone looking to make the switch to call Lumina Solar. From the very beginning of researching solar companies, I was most impressed with customer reviews and they were absolutely right.” — Marsha via Better Business Bureau (BBB)

Lumina Solar at a Glance:

Solar Energy World

Solar Energy World logo

Solar Energy World

Location: State of Maryland; Based in Elkridge

What We Like: Solar Energy World’s excellent industry reputation across the East Coast continues to shine each year, making it one of the fastest-growing independently owned and operated solar companies in the region. In fact, Solar Energy World has ranked as the No. 1 residential solar installer by volume in Maryland five years running. Installing Silfab, Longi, Q Cells and REC solar panels (which are some of the best available), Solar Energy World offers high-quality technology backed by a simple and tested process.

What We Don’t Like: Relative to some competitors on this list, Solar Energy World’s size can cause lapses in organizational presence and individualized attention. Those seeking a highly personalized, hands-on experience may be better off with a smaller company.

What Customers Are Saying: “Every step of the entire process was great — a low-pressure and knowledgeable consultation, a realistic and well-priced estimate (that turned out to match the design exactly), all steps in the process happened on or before schedule, the installation was quick and easy and neat (with cleanup), county inspection and all of the after-sale steps were taken care of quickly.” — Daniel via BBB

Solar Energy World at a Glance:

  • Year Founded: 2009
  • Services Provided: Solar panels, backup battery installations, live energy monitoring
  • Warranty: Product-specific warranties ranging from 20-25 years
  • Financing Options: Cash payments, solar loans

SunPower

SunPower logo

SunPower

Location: State of Maryland

What We Like: SunPower has been an industry leader since 1985, manufacturing some of the best solar panels on the market. With nationwide service, SunPower can connect you with a certified dealer near your home or business to conduct the installation. SunPower's reputation for excellent customer care and all-in-one solar solutions earns it a high spot on our list of the best Maryland solar installers.

What We Don’t Like: SunPower is a national company, working with local dealers in Maryland to install its systems. As a result, the quality of your workmanship will be fairly dependent on the SunPower dealer nearest you.

What Customers Are Saying: “Very knowledgeable, professional and easy to work with. I was pleasantly surprised that the entire staff has been very helpful and not "pushy" like other solar companies.” — Scott via BBB

SunPower at a Glance:

  • Year Founded: 1985
  • Services Provided: Solar panels, backup battery and electric vehicle charger installations
  • Warranty: 25-year all-inclusive warranty
  • Financing Options: Cash payments, solar loans, solar leases
  • Learn More: SunPower Review

Celestial Solar Innovations

Celestial Solar Innovations logo

Celestial Solar Innovations

Location: Northwest Maryland; Based in Frederick

What We Like: A local company with a passion for solar and exceptional service, Celestial Solar Innovations offers flexible solar financing options and knows the ins and outs of Maryland policies to ensure its customers receive the best possible value for their investment in solar power. Its strong Maryland roots make homeowners feel their experience is valued over profits, and stellar customer reviews back this sentiment.

What We Don’t Like: Celestial Solar Innovations only offers services in a small region of Northwest Maryland. This can be advantageous to customers in the area, as it means they receive more attention for their projects, but the majority of Maryland will be left outside Celestial Solar Innovations’ service area.

What Customers Are Saying: “Celestial Solar was a joy to work with. We had numerous estimates before meeting with Jim and CSI. They delivered on every promise. Not a hiccup. The system they installed works very well and is delivering in excess of 100% power. Each month, in addition to a zero-dollar power bill, there is an overage that we are now selling each month as SRECs (they set that up as well).” — Nate via Google Reviews

Celestial Solar Innovations at a Glance:

  • Year Founded: 2013
  • Services Provided: Solar panels, backup battery installations
  • Warranty: Product-specific warranties
  • Financing Options: Cash payments, solar loans

Edge Energy

Edge Energy logo

Edge Energy

Location: State of Maryland; Based in Beltsville

What We Like: A certified master dealer of SunPower solar panels in Maryland, you can trust that Edge Energy installs some of the highest-quality solar technology on the market. Add a comprehensive service range that includes energy solutions, audits and upgrades, and it’s no surprise Edge Energy consistently ranks as one of the best solar companies in Maryland.

What We Don’t Like: SunPower’s solar panels are some of the best in the business, especially when it comes to efficiency. However, this lone offering can be limiting to customers who may not need the most efficient solar panels or who are interested in purchasing a different brand of products.

What Customers Are Saying: “Edge Energy used the best quality solar panels and related equipment. They did a great job of installation. Their system provides an online account that keeps track of solar production and energy usage. I have produced more energy than I use and been paid back by the energy companies for the energy I produce.” — Bryan via Google Reviews

Edge Energy at a Glance:

  • Year Founded: 2006
  • Services Provided: Solar panels, backup battery installations, energy efficiency upgrades
  • Warranty: 25-year all-in-one warranty via SunPower
  • Financing Options: Cash payments, solar loans

Trinity Solar

Trinity Solar logo

Trinity Solar

Location: State of Maryland

What We Like: One of the more established companies in the solar business, family-owned Trinity Solar is the largest privately held residential solar installation company in the nation. With over 80,000 installations under its belt, Trinity Solar is a reliable choice for home and business owners in Maryland.

What We Don’t Like: The Trinity’s size has led to some issues in communication. We’ve seen reviews lately from customers who have struggled to get in touch with customer service.

What Customers Are Saying: “From the very first day someone came out to look at my house ‘til the day it was finished, Trinity was great! Always on time and did what they said they were going to do each and every time. Best part was, they kept me informed all the time. If you're going solar, Trinity is the company you want doing it.” — George via BBB

Trinity Solar at a Glance:

  • Year Founded: 1994
  • Services Provided: Solar panels, backup battery installations
  • Warranty: 25-year equipment warranty, 5-year workmanship warranty
  • Financing Options: Cash payments, solar loans, solar leases/PPAs

American Sentry Solar

American Sentry Solar logo

American Sentry Solar

Location: State of Maryland; Based in Bel Air

What We Like: American Sentry Solar was launched as a division of American Design & Build and specializes in all aspects of exterior remodeling in addition to solar, including roofing, siding, windows and doors. Pairing roofing experts with solar specialists, American Sentry Solar offers residential and commercial installations and upgrades of the highest quality at a competitive price.

What We Don’t Like: Though we love the Enphase Encharge 10, we’d like to see American Sentry Solar offer other solar battery options to its customers.

What Customers Are Saying: “Other than the competitive price offered by American Sentry Solar, we were very pleased with their guarantee, warranty and monitoring plan included with the system. They answered our questions and gave us step-by-step information on what to expect for the whole process. Our panels are neatly arranged and look great on our roof. I love to think of all the money I am saving while sitting by the pool looking up at our panels.” — Jackie via Google Reviews

American Sentry Solar at a Glance:

  • Year Founded: 1993
  • Services Provided: Solar panels, backup battery installations, roofing
  • Warranty: 25-year workmanship and manufacturing warranties
  • Financing Options: Cash payments, solar loans

Energy Select

Energy Select logo

Energy Select

Location: Southern Maryland; Based in Leonardtown

What We Like: Relative to its competitors, Energy Select offers the most comprehensive service we’ve seen when it comes to the overall efficiency and performance of your home or business’s energy system. We love seeing companies that stress minimizing energy use before moving on to installing solar panels. Energy efficiency upgrades can reduce the number of solar panels you’ll need, in most cases greatly reducing overall project costs.

What We Don’t Like: As with American Sentry Solar, we’d like to see Energy Select expand its battery offerings. Currently, it only offers the LG Chem.

What Customers Are Saying: “This service is amazing. All involved were professional and paid great attention to our questions. They are fast and leave the property clean and all trash removed. The difference in the home is amazing. All persons involved from start to finish are the best in their field. I would give them more than 5 stars.” — Frances via Google Reviews

Energy Select at a Glance:

  • Year Founded: 2002
  • Services Provided: Solar panels, backup battery and EV charger installations, insulation, energy efficiency audits and more
  • Warranty: 10-year workmanship warranty, product-specific warranties
  • Financing Options: Cash payments, solar loans

Maryland Solar Solutions

Maryland Solar Solutions logo

Maryland Solar Solutions

Location: State of Maryland; Based in Owings Mills

What We Like: A highly local company, Maryland Solar Solutions comes recommended by regional sources like the Baltimore Sun. Focusing solely on being the best at a few select services (residential and small-business solar electric design and installation), Maryland Solar Solutions can be trusted to deliver you a quality, no-nonsense solar panel installation.

What We Don’t Like: Maryland Solar Solutions’ focused approach can be limiting for customers seeking add-ons like backup battery installations or EV chargers.

What Customers Are Saying: “We were impressed with the quality and efficiency of the panels used by MSSI as compared with other companies. Furthermore, their commitment to customer service is unsurpassed. They were knowledgeable and very helpful through the entire process, from HOA approval to installation to coordinating with BGE to registering to sell the extra energy we produce.” — Wilma via Google Reviews

Maryland Solar Solutions at a Glance:

  • Year Founded: 2008
  • Services Provided: Solar panel installations, energy efficiency audits
  • Warranty: Up to 25-year performance warranty
  • Financing Options: Cash payments, solar loans

How We Chose the Best Solar Companies in Maryland

Our company selection process includes researching the product portfolios, solar services, financing options, customer feedback and industry reputations of every major Maryland installer. Looking at metrics in these categories, we rated and ranked each company to narrow down our list of the nine best solar companies in Maryland. See our solar methodology for more information.

Choosing the Best Solar Installer for Your Home

There’s a great deal that goes into determining the best solar installer for your home, including your region, utility company, electric bills, roof space, energy consumption and more. The following factors might help you consider what to prioritize when choosing the best Maryland solar installer for your home or business.

Services Offered

Solar installation companies in Maryland will vary in service offerings and specializations. For instance, Maryland Solar Solutions chooses to focus strictly on solar panels, while companies like Edge Energy prioritize efficiency and home energy upgrades and use panels only to supplement your home’s energy system. Think about what makes your home or business unique — then find a company that prioritizes those needs. Other things to consider might be whether you need roofing work, EV chargers or backup power systems.

Installation Process

Before you sign a contract, make sure you're confident in your understanding of the installation process. Here are a few questions you’ll want the answers to:

  • How long does permitting take in my area?
  • What is my utility company's net metering policy?
  • Will any add-ons be installed along with the solar?
  • How long will the entire process take?

Permitting and interconnection can vary from city to city, so it's best to be sure you have realistic expectations.

Solar Pricing and Financing

Home solar is a great investment — especially in Maryland. Solar’s payback period can vary anywhere from 5 to 12 years (on average), so think about whether you might need special financing options to fit solar into your budget. Maryland is full of experienced solar installers familiar with the difficulties of high up-front costs, so be sure to ask about flexibility in financing options.

Industry Affiliations

It’s a good idea to hire a company that maintains industry credentials, such as membership in the Solar Energy Industries Association (SEIA), a B Corp certification or affiliation with other professional associations. Memberships and certifications are a great indicator of the company's professionalism, workmanship, reputation and reliability.

Types of Panels

Some types of solar panels are better than others, and each installer will offer a differing portfolio of products. Small homes in confined areas will likely need high-efficiency solar panels, while commercial projects with more space can prioritize the most affordable solar panels. It can only help to ask what brands of panels your company is certified to sell and install. Certifications from some of the best solar panel brands like Tesla, Panasonic, LG or REC might also be a good indicator of legitimacy.

Incentives, Rebates and Tax Credits

Maryland offers some of the best solar incentives in the country. Though effective, these incentives can be difficult to navigate, and finding a solar installer with experience securing the best value from these incentives may provide the best return on investment in the long run. It pays to think locally. Does the company you're looking at have plenty of experience in your community?

Warranty

Most warranty issues with solar don’t stem from the panels themselves, but instead from the workmanship of the installer. As a result, we recommend choosing a solar provider with a robust workmanship or all-in-one warranty to avoid any issues to your roof or home that may emerge months to years after installation. Most reputable solar companies will offer at least a 10-year warranty that covers workmanship.

Cost of Solar in Maryland

As of 2022, our market research and data from solar brands conclude the average cost of solar in Maryland is around $2.77 per watt. This means a 5-kW system would cost around $10,261 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.

Luckily for those in Maryland, the state offers a number of helpful incentives (in addition to the federal tax credit) to help reward residents who switch to clean energy. Visit the DSIRE database for more information on incentives in your area.

Maryland Solar Incentive

Maryland Solar Incentive Overview

Solar Renewable Energy Certificates (SRECs)

Maryland rewards its residents with SRECs for contributing to the state’s renewable portfolio standard. SRECs are certificates earned for every MWh of clean energy generated that can be sold through the SREC market to help offset the cost of solar.

Residential Clean Energy Grant Program

A much simpler incentive to understand than SRECs, Maryland’s residential clean energy grant program sends you a direct $1,000 rebate for installing a solar energy system of at least 1 kW.

Sales & Property Tax Exemptions

Solar installations in the Free State are exempt from paying both the sales and property taxes associated with your solar purchase and added property value.

Maryland Net Metering

Maryland has a statewide net metering program that allows you to sell excess solar energy back to the grid in exchange for credits that go toward any future utility bills.

How to Find the Best Solar Installer in Maryland

Maryland's renewable energy incentive structure makes it unique in the solar market, focusing on SRECs, grants, tax exemptions and more. As stated before, these can be very effective but intimidating and difficult to navigate. This is why we stress the importance of finding a solar company with experience applying for these incentives and with a proven history of maximizing its customers’ solar investments.

If you’re ready to take the first step, we recommend comparing quotes from some of Maryland’s top solar installers. From there, you can see which company offers the best rates and ask more specific questions about incentives, experience and more.

To start getting free quotes from the best solar companies in Maryland, you can use this tool or fill out the form below.

FAQ: Best Solar Companies in Maryland

Who is the most reputable solar company in Maryland?

The most reputable solar company in Maryland may be SunPower, due to its size and national acclaim. However, there are plenty of reputable local companies as well, including Lumina Solar and Solar Energy World.

Is there a solar tax credit in Maryland?

Though there is no statewide tax credit, Maryland offers direct payments of $1,000 to homeowners that install solar via its residential clean energy grant program. The federal solar tax credit is also available to residents of Maryland, along with SRECs, net metering, and sales and property tax exemptions.

How do I find a reputable solar company?

If you’re looking for a reputable solar company in Maryland, you’re in the right place. We recommend starting with this list, narrowing in on your region, and gathering free quotes from the providers available to service your energy needs. From there, you can compare quotes to find the best value and speak with representatives to pinpoint which offer seems best for you.

Karsten Neumeister is a writer and renewable energy specialist with a background in writing and the humanities. Before joining EcoWatch, Karsten worked in the energy sector of New Orleans, focusing on renewable energy policy and technology. A lover of music and the outdoors, Karsten might be found rock climbing, canoeing or writing songs when away from the workplace.
What Are the Best Solar Batteries for Energy Storage? (2022)

We'll help you find the right solar panel battery bank for your home's energy system.

Reviews
Petmal iStock / Getty Images

Homeowners typically look for the best solar panels, but an increasingly important part of installing home energy systems is finding the best solar batteries. After all, what good are solar panels if they only produce when the sun is out and you can’t store any of the extra power to be used at night or when the sun isn’t shining?

Energy storage has long been one of the most prevalent challenges to the large-scale feasibility of solar power, but thanks to advances in solar panel battery bank technology, there are plenty of batteries on the market today that can allow homeowners to take full advantage of their solar production.

In this article, we’ll discuss our five favorite batteries for solar panels in 2022. We’ll also talk about how energy storage works and why it will be paramount in solar installations for decades to come.

5 Best Solar Batteries

  1. Best Overall: Tesla Powerwall 2
  2. Most Intelligent: Enphase Encharge
  3. Most Powerful: Generac PWRcell
  4. Best Value: LG Chem RESU-10H
  5. Most Versatile: BYD Battery-Box Premium HV

Importance of a Solar Panel Battery Bank

Before getting into the best solar batteries, let’s clarify why energy storage is so important.

How Solar Energy Works

When you make the decision to go solar, you’ll have an array of solar panels installed on your roof. If you don’t know how solar panels work, they collect energy from the sun and convert it into an electric current. This direct current (DC) electricity then passes through an inverter which turns it into an alternating current (AC), which is the type of electricity we use in our homes.

Most home solar panel systems are connected to local power grid systems, which means that any excess energy produced by your solar energy system is fed back to the grid. If your utility company has a net metering program, you can receive credits for this excess energy. By contrast, if your solar system does not produce enough energy to power your home at any point, you’ll draw energy from the grid.

Using a Solar Battery Bank

So, where do batteries come into play? A solar battery bank will store energy that’s produced by your system rather than sending it back to the grid, allowing you to use it later. Then, when your unit is not producing any energy (for instance, after dark or on cloudy days), you can tap into those energy reserves in your solar battery bank.

The economics of a solar battery makes perfect sense; the more solar energy stored, the less energy you’ll have to purchase from your utility company. In recent years, however, people have started to realize the importance of solar batteries as backup power during a prolonged power outage. With growing instances of extreme weather exposing the vulnerabilities of our infrastructure, backup batteries and solar panels are becoming a mainstay for those in outage-prone areas like the Southeast and West Coast.

Below, we’ll take a closer look at our recommendations for solar batteries, but if you’re interested in seeing how much a full solar system would cost for your home — battery included — right away, you can use this tool or fill out the form below to get a free, no-obligation quote from a certified installer near you.

Full Reviews of Our Top Picks

Best Overall: Tesla Powerwall 2

Tesla Powerwall 2

Tesla

Tesla isn’t just an automotive company; it also produces some of the best-reviewed, most technologically sophisticated solar products on the market today. The Tesla Powerwall 2 sets the standard for the best solar batteries, and there are several reasons why.

What We Like:

  • While it’s on the pricier end (over $10,000), it offers a usable capacity of 13.5 kWh, making it one of the most robust solar batteries you’ll find anywhere. As such, we think you’ll have a hard time finding a better bang for your buck.
  • This is a full AC lithium-ion battery system, which means it has an inverter/converter already built in.
  • The AC system means it can be very easily retrofitted to any house with an existing solar panel installation.
  • Its compact design allows for some of the highest energy density on the market and many solar battery storage options for homeowners.

What We Don’t Like:

  • The Powerwall 2 is one of the only batteries on this list that is not modular, meaning, there is only one size available. The only way to get a larger capacity is to purchase multiple Powerwalls.

Learn more about the Tesla Powerwall 2

Most Intelligent: Enphase Encharge

Enphase Encharge 10

Enphase

A leader in solar manufacturing, specifically microinverters, Enphase Energy unveiled its solar battery backup system, the Enphase Encharge, in 2019. The Encharge 10 acts as an all-in-one smart energy hub for your entire home energy system, not just your solar panels. A modular battery system, the Encharge is available in increments of 3.5 kW, with the Encharge 10 being the most common option.

What We Like:

  • The Encharge system features the Enpower™ smart switch, which automatically toggles between solar, grid, battery or generator power depending on the needs of the home.
  • Enabling the direct integration of generators for additional off-grid power makes the Encharge one of the most versatile batteries available on the market.
  • If you’re using your battery as backup power for an outage, the Enphase is one of few batteries that can automatically detect a grid outage and switch your home into off-grid mode. For context, the Tesla Powerwall requires a manual switch.

What We Don’t Like:

  • The Encharge 10 typically costs around the same amount as a Tesla Powerwall, but with less capacity and a lower power rating.

Most Powerful: Generac PWRcell

Generac PWRcell

Generac

When it comes to sheer power, look no further than Generac. Generac specializes in generators and backup power, so it’s no surprise the company focuses on a product capable of providing the most backup power relative to its competitors.

What We Like:

  • The PWRcell offers the highest capacity and power rating of any of the batteries on this list.
  • The Generac PWRcell features a modular design that allows you to expand your storage capacity as your power needs evolve. This flexibility allows you to start out with a 9kWh solar + battery storage system and expand in increments of 3kWh up to 36kWh.
  • Smart Management Modules (SMMs) automatically manage power distribution during an outage, ensuring critical loads maintain power.

What We Don’t Like:

  • Though the most powerful, the PWRcell is also one of the more expensive batteries on our list.

Best Value: LG Chem RESU-10H

LG Chem RESU-10H

LG

The LG Chem RESU-10H lithium-ion battery was developed in South Korea and now stands as one of the most popular solar batteries in the world. The LG Chem is the battery of choice for many major solar companies, including Sunrun and Vivint.

What We Like:

  • It’s sized at 9.8 kWh with 90% usable capacity, making it a real powerhouse.
  • The battery cells are layered in a unique pattern that helps prevent failure and maximize long-term reliability.
  • Independent testing and consumer reviews routinely tout this as a very consistent, high-quality solar battery.
  • It has a 10-year warranty and claims to have a battery life of 4,000 cycles.

What We Don’t Like:

  • LG’s warranty only offers a 60% energy retention guarantee over the lifetime of the battery, which is a step down from some of its competitors (Tesla and Enphase offer 70%).

Most Versatile: BYD Battery-Box Premium HV

BYD Battery-Box Premium HV

BYD

BYD is a Chinese solar company, and its premium battery is one of the best we've seen for solar power storage, specifically larger-scale residential or commercial solar applications. BYD batteries are known for their high power and flexibility.

What We Like:

  • This modular tower battery is available at a number of different voltage levels so that you can choose the option best suited for your home or business’ energy needs.
  • It's a cobalt-free lithium iron phosphate battery, which performs well at high temperatures and has a longer cycle life than other lithium-ion batteries.
  • Battery modules can be stacked in order to increase the total capacity that's available to you.
  • The BYD battery comes with a 10-year warranty and claims to be good for around 3,000 total cycles.
  • BYD batteries have some of the best continuous power ratings, meaning despite their capacity, they can provide a great deal of power.

What We Don’t Like:

  • BYD batteries are more powerful than some smaller residences require and will only be suitable for larger home or commercial-scale energy storage needs.

Comparing the Best Solar Batteries


Tesla Powerwall 2

Enphase Encharge

Generac PWRcell

LG Chem

RESU 10H

BYD Battery-Box HV

Battery Capacity

13.5 kW

3.4-10.5 kW

9-18 kW

9.3 kW

5.1-12.8 kW

Continuous Power Rating

5.8 kW

3.84 kW

3.4-6.7 kW

5 kW

5.1-12.8 kW

Depth of Discharge (DoD)

100%

100%

84%

95%

100%

Round-Trip Efficiency

90%

96%

96.5%

94.5%

95%

Price

$10,000+

$5,000- $10,000+

$9,000+

$7,000

$4,000+

Choosing the Best Solar Battery Bank for Your Home

As you consider investing in your own solar system, you’ll have a few types of solar panels and backup batteries to choose from. Here are a few key things to look for when seeking the best solar batteries for your home.

Battery Capacity

Capacity refers to the total amount of electricity you can store in your battery. It’s typically measured in kilowatt-hours (kWh). Note that most solar batteries are modular (or stackable), which just means that, by combining multiple batteries, you can pool their collective storage capacity so that you can store a higher amount of energy.

Power Rating

In addition to a battery’s capacity, you’ll also want to take a look at its power rating. This tells you how much electricity the battery can provide at any given moment, and it’s typically measured in terms of kilowatts (kW). We should note the difference between peak power rating and continuous power rating:

  • Peak power refers to the maximum amount of power that can be provided at any one time
  • Continuous power refers to the power that the battery can provide over a duration of time. We find the continuous power rating to be the more important figure.

So, how do power and capacity relate? Consider, for instance, a battery with a high capacity but a low power rating. This battery would be able to provide a small amount of electrical power (say, enough for a couple of small appliances) over a long period of time. A low capacity but high-power battery could produce enough electricity for much more robust appliances, but would only be able to power them for a short span of time.

Depth of Discharge

Another important consideration is depth of discharge (DoD). This refers to the level of charge the battery must maintain at all times, as dictated by its chemical composition. The rule of thumb here is that a higher DoD means you’ll be able to utilize more of the energy storage system’s total capacity.

Round-Trip Efficiency

A battery’s round-trip efficiency measures the efficiency of the battery bank, or the amount of energy fed into the battery that can then be used. According to the U.S. Energy Information Association, the industry average round-trip efficiency of solar batteries sits around 80%, meaning that 20% of the energy fed to your battery by your solar panels is lost in the process. The higher the round-trip efficiency, the better the battery. None of the batteries on our list above have a round-trip efficiency of less than 90%.

Price and Warranty

Naturally, any time you’re investing in solar equipment, price point is going to be a big concern. Although you may not want to spend much on top of the cost of solar panels, keep in mind that what you’re really after is value. Different batteries have different costs associated with them, and paying less money for a less powerful battery may not be the most cost-effective option in the long run.

Closely related to price is warranty. Most batteries for solar panels will guarantee either a certain number of cycles or a set number of years. Warranty is something to weigh against price point, as it can have a major impact on overall value.

Types of Batteries for Solar Panels

As you may have noticed, there are a variety of different types of batteries for solar panels. In this context, type refers mostly to the chemical composition of the battery. Lithium-ion batteries are the most common type, but you may also hear about lead-acid batteries, AGM batteries, gel batteries, deep cycle batteries and more.

Lithium-Ion Batteries

The most commonly used batteries for solar panels today are lithium-ion. Advanced lithium-ion technology was developed for electric vehicle (EV) batteries, but the solar industry soon realized the potential it held for home energy storage. Lithium-ion batteries are appealing due to their density, high DoD and long lifespan.

All of the best solar batteries on our list use some form of lithium-ion technology. We should note that lithium iron phosphate batteries are a type of lithium-ion technology.

Lead-Acid Batteries

Lead-acid batteries are what you most likely associate with a common rechargeable battery. This technology has been in use for hundreds of years. Lead-acid batteries offer less than their lithium-ion counterparts due to their low density, shorter lifespan and slow charging. AGM (absorbent glass mat) batteries, flooded lead-acid batteries and deep cycle batteries are all types of lead-acid batteries.

Flow Batteries

Flow batteries are an exciting emerging technology that could one day rival lithium-ion batteries. When supplied with energy from solar panels, an electrolyte liquid undergoes a chemical reaction, creating a flow of energy between two separate chambers within the battery. Flow batteries are appealing due to their 100% DoD, relative simplicity and the fact they don’t require as many rare metals.

Flow batteries are currently in development and are still too large for residential applications.

Final Thoughts: Solar Batteries

The bottom line is that to get the most out of your solar system, you’ll need more than just top-of-the-line panels. Having a reliable solar battery can also be crucial. Make sure you explore your options and account for your home’s specific energy needs when choosing the best solar batteries for your system.

If you want to book a professional solar consultation for free, you can do so using this tool or the form below. A consultation with a certified company is a great way to find out what type of battery would work best for your home, how much your solar system would cost and how much you can save by taking advantage of local and federal solar incentives.

FAQ: Best Batteries for Solar Panels

How long do most solar batteries last?

The typical solar battery lasts between five and 15 years. What this means is that you’ll need to replace your battery at least once during the long life of your solar panels, which tend to hold up for 25 to 30 years. Most solar batteries are maintenance-free.

How can I extend the lifespan of my battery?

One way to extend the life of your solar battery is to protect it from extreme temperature drops. This means getting a battery with built-in temperature moderation (the Tesla battery is an excellent example) or ensuring a sheltered enclosure for your solar panel battery bank.

How many solar batteries do I need?

The number of batteries required can vary from home to home, based on the energy needs as well as the capacity of each battery. (Generally, a higher capacity means you’ll need fewer total batteries.) Reach out to a solar installer near you for a more individualized assessment.

How do I install a solar battery?

Many — but not all — of the top solar companies include battery setups with solar panel installation. When you buy solar panels, ask your installer about battery add-ons. If you want to retrofit your current system with new battery technology or if you have a DIY solar panel system, you can hire a separate company to install batteries or look up your specific solar system to figure out how to do it yourself.

Karsten Neumeister is a writer and renewable energy specialist with a background in writing and the humanities. Before joining EcoWatch, Karsten worked in the energy sector of New Orleans, focusing on renewable energy policy and technology. A lover of music and the outdoors, Karsten might be found rock climbing, canoeing or writing songs when away from the workplace.

Trending
10 Best Solar Companies in New York (2022)

We narrow down the best installers in the Empire State.

Reviews
FernandoAH / Getty Images

When you think of New York, it's doubtful you'd picture solar panels lining the tops of urban buildings, but the Empire State is actually a top state for solar energy in the U.S. If you're thinking about going solar, the best first step to make is to find the best solar companies in New York and compare quotes.

It may surprise you to learn that the state of New York actually has more solar companies than Texas, the number two state for solar. Progressive leadership has laid the foundation for a market very encouraging of solar's growth, and a large number of best solar companies are looking to capitalize on it.

For most home or business owners considering solar power, the choice of which company to choose often comes down to costs. To start getting quotes from the best solar companies in New York, you can use this tool or fill out the form below.

Our Picks for Top New York Solar Installers

  1. SunPower
  2. SUNation Solar Systems
  3. EmPower Solar
  4. Tesla
  5. Kasselman Solar
  6. Momentum Solar
  7. Harvest Power Solar
  8. Brooklyn SolarWorks
  9. SunCommon
  10. Plug PV

Comparing the 10 Best Solar Companies in New York

SunPower

SunPower logo

SunPower

Service Area: State of New York

What We Like: SunPower has been a leading top solar company since 1985, manufacturing, selling and installing its own modules, which routinely rank as the industry's most efficient solar panels. SunPower provides national coverage, some of the highest-quality all-in-one solar systems and the best warranty in the business.

What We Don't Like: SunPower is able to service the entire nation through partnerships with local certified dealers throughout the nation. SunPower still maintains a standard of excellence, but your experience can be dependent on which dealer you live nearest.

What Customers Are Saying: "After doing my research and getting bids from four different companies, SunPower won hands down for us in meeting our overall needs. [Our consultant] was a real pleasure to work with… I'd recommend SunPower as the solar company of choice to anyone." — KG via Better Business Bureau (BBB)

SunPower at a Glance:

SUNation Solar Systems

SUNation Solar logo

SUNation Solar

Service Area: Suffolk County, Nassau County, Queens, Brooklyn and Staten Island

What We Like: SUNation Solar systems is a local leader trusted by over 7,000 homeowners in New York and has been voted the "Best Solar Business of Long Island" for 12 years running. Certified to install products from Tesla, Panasonic, LG and Solaria, SUNation delivers high-quality solar solutions with a local approach.

What We Don't Like: Though SUNation's local approach is what allows for such a personalized and smooth experience, its service area is smaller than some of its competitors.

What Customers Are Saying: "Very positive experience working with SUNation. From the sales process to the various logistical efforts (local permissions, array layout, frequent communication, installation), it was really a first-class effort. Really excited to be joining the 21st century thanks to SUNation!" — Daniel via BBB

SUNation at a Glance:

  • Year Founded: 2003
  • Services Provided: Solar panels, community solar, EV chargers, electrical upgrades, maintenance and backup batteries
  • Warranty: 25-year workmanship warranty
  • Financing Options: Cash purchase, solar loan

EmPower Solar

Service Area: Nassau, Suffolk, Queens, Brooklyn, Manhattan, Bronx and Staten Island

What We Like: With a vision of creating a new energy paradigm powered by clean, renewable power, EmPower Solar strives to provide its customers with the latest solar technology and the highest quality workmanship. EmPower Solar works in both residential and commercial solar markets installing eco-friendly energy solutions throughout greater NYC. EmPower is a certified dealer of SunPower solar panels, which are some of the best solar panels in the business.

What We Don't Like: We'd like to see EmPower Solar emphasize energy efficiency and electrical system upgrades in their services to accompany solar and storage. It was also difficult to find information on EmPower's solar financing options.

What Customers Are Saying: "EmPower installed our solar system in May 2018. After the site inspection and design were all completed and the contract signed, the installation was completed in one day. It has performed flawlessly since that time and delivered 107% of our energy usage! We couldn't be more pleased." — Michael via Google Reviews

EmPower Solar at a Glance:

  • Year Founded: 2003
  • Services Provided: Solar panels, community solar, EV chargers and backup batteries
  • Warranty: SunPower 25-year warranty
  • Financing Options: Cash purchase, solar loan

Tesla

Tesla logo

Tesla

Service Area: State of New York; solar facility in Buffalo

What We Like: Known primarily for its electric cars, Tesla is also one of the top national solar companies. Tesla provides premium, designer solar technology meant to fit in seamlessly with a house's roof. Though not a solar installer like the other names on this list, Tesla will match you with a solar technician near you that is certified to install its products.

What We Don't Like: Tesla is much better known for its technology than its customer service, and it shows in a few negative reviews.

What Customers Are Saying: "From beginning to end, the process went perfectly. I liked that all the documents could be signed online. No back-and-forth paperwork. They showed up on time on the day of installation. They installed the whole system in one day. My solar has been running now for 4 months without any issues." — Victoria via BBB

Tesla Solar at a Glance:

  • Year Founded: 2003
  • Services Provided: Solar panels, EV chargers and Tesla Powerwall batteries
  • Warranty: 10-year comprehensive warranty
  • Financing Options: Cash purchase, solar loan
  • Learn More: Tesla Solar Guide

Kasselman Solar

Kasselman Solar logo

Kasselman Solar

Service Area: State of New York; Based in Menands

What We Like: Kasselman Solar specializes in powerful, affordable and aesthetically attractive solar panel installations. Installing LG and LONGi solar panels, Kasselman provides both quality and performance with a generous warranty and solar panels reaching a power of 445 watts.

What We Don't Like: While Kasselman Solar installs some of the leading panels and batteries on the market, we'd like to see a wider range of brands offered.

What Customers Are Saying: "Kasselman Solar is a top-notch organization and a leader in its respective markets. Its ability to navigate challenges with ease and deliver on commitments is unrivaled. For homeowners out there considering Kasselman as a solar provider, this is exactly the type of installer that you want to work with. They are honest and trustworthy, deliver a quality product, and provide a top-notch customer experience." — Victoria via BBB

Kasselman Solar at a Glance:

  • Year Founded: 1948 (as Kasselman Electric)
  • Services Provided: Solar panels, backup batteries, electrical upgrades, generator installations and EV chargers
  • Warranty: 25-year full warranty
  • Financing Options: Cash purchase, solar loan

Momentum Solar

Momentum Solar logo

Momentum Solar

Service Area: State of New York

What We Like: One of our top solar companies of 2022, Momentum Solar and its leadership are highly respected in the industry for providing affordable, effective solar energy solutions. Momentum Solar focuses on flexible financing options to appeal to a wide range of customers.

What We Don't Like: Momentum Solar is young and growing quickly, and a few customer experiences have suffered from those growing pains.

What Customers Are Saying: "I appreciated my experience with Momentum Solar. They truly want what is in the best interest of the customer. We are very pleased with our system, which was installed 9 months ago. Our all-electric house now has an electric bill that is practically nothing. Thanks for a great solar system at a fair price" — Nina via Google Reviews

Momentum Solar at a Glance:

  • Year Founded: 2009
  • Services Provided: Solar panels, backup batteries and EV chargers
  • Warranty: 25-year solar panel warranty
  • Financing Options: Cash purchase, solar loan, solar leases/PPA

Harvest Power Solar

Harvest Power Solar logo

Harvest Power Solar

Service Area: Greater NYC area and Long Island

What We Like: Established in 2008 as a branch of Friendly Construction, Harvest Power has grown into one of the biggest solar providers in New York. With roots in construction and access to cutting-edge solar technology, Harvest Power Solar provides some of the most reliable and high-quality solar installations in the state.

What We Don't Like: A limited service area means most of its installations are tied to Long Island. Harvest Power's warranties are also nothing to write home about.

What Customers Are Saying: "A little over a year ago, [I] went live with a 28-panel solar system. Very happy with the job overall and its power generation. Should pay back in 7 to 10 years. The salesman was very knowledgeable and seemed honest. I've dealt with a lot of salesmen in my business that I wouldn't say that about. The job was completed very cleanly and generally timely." — Robert via Google Reviews

Harvest Power Solar at a Glance:

  • Year Founded: 2008
  • Services Provided: Solar panels, backup batteries and EV chargers
  • Warranty: 25-year solar panel warranty
  • Financing Options: Cash purchase, solar loan

Brooklyn SolarWorks

Service Area: Greater NYC area

What We Like: Brooklyn SolarWorks has a simple mission to make solar appealing, easy and available for Brooklyn's urban homeowners. Solar is probably not the first thing you think about when you think of Brooklyn — but Brooklyn SolarWorks has embraced its expertise in making clean energy as practical as possible for the unique needs of urban and suburban solar customers of New York City. It specializes in providing solar for challenging roofs, landmarked homes and the many co-ops and condos of NYC.

What We Don't Like: Let us lead by saying we love that Brooklyn SolarWorks has focused on such hyper-local, specific needs. However, this sets the company up for an easy negative: a very small service area.

What Customers Are Saying: "Brooklyn SolarWorks installed our solar system in 2019. The entire process from permitting through installation was easy and painless. I cannot emphasize enough the value and comfort of using a local Brooklyn-based company. I can honestly say it has been one of the best things we have ever done, and the savings are very impressive." — Mike via Google Reviews

Brooklyn SolarWorks at a Glance:

  • Year Founded: 2015
  • Services Provided: Solar panels, electrical work
  • Warranty: 30-year complete system warranty (we also love this!)
  • Financing Options: Cash purchase, solar loan

SunCommon

SunCommon logo

SunCommon

Service Area: Albany, Rensselaer, Greene, Columbia, Ulster, Dutchess, Orange, Putnam and Rockland counties

What We Like: SunCommon is built on pillars of community activism, transparency and care for the people and places that surround it. A certified B-Corporation, SunCommon has proven its commitment to responsible business practices, focusing on tenants of people, planet and profit. If keeping money local, investing in shared values and supporting your community is of utmost importance to you, we recommend reaching out to SunCommon.

What We Don't Like: Is it possible to be too committed to activism and education? We'd almost like to see SunCommon focus more on also highlighting its exceptional workmanship in both residential and commercial installations, affordable solar financing and technology.

What Customers Are Saying: "We evaluated a few different solar companies. We chose SunCommon because they have a great reputation. The team was excellent to work with, had the best technology, and financing with a 0.9% interest rate. The install team was friendly and professional, and the install went perfectly… I highly recommend SunCommon. You won't be disappointed." — Jeffrey via Google Reviews

SunCommon at a Glance:

  • Year Founded: 2011
  • Services Provided: Solar panels, solar canopies, backup batteries and solar farms
  • Warranty: 25-year warranty on power, parts and labor; 10-year workmanship warranty
  • Financing Options: Cash purchase, solar loans

PlugPV

PlugPV logo

PlugPV

Service Area: State of New York, based in Albany

What We Like: Built on high-quality workmanship, PlugPV solar is a small but experienced team of world-class solar contractors in the Northeast. PlugPV offers an impressive product portfolio including solar PV, backup solar batteries and EV chargers.

What We Don't Like: PlugPV has only been in business for five years as of 2022. Given the long-term nature of solar investments, it can be wise to choose an established company with a longer history of success.

What Customers Are Saying: "I'm almost 5 months with the system now, and things are running perfectly so far. At this point, I'm a fairly low electricity consumer, and my meter spins in reverse most of the time, generating credits with my utility. Everything went according to our plan, and I'm very happy with the results all around. There has not been a moment of regret working with them, and that's fairly unusual for me." — Adam via Google Reviews

PlugPV at a Glance:

  • Year Founded: 2017
  • Services Provided: Solar panels, backup batteries and EV chargers
  • Warranty: Product-specific warranty
  • Financing Options: Cash purchase, solar loans

How We Chose the Best Solar Companies in New York

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

Choosing the Best Solar Installer for Your Home

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. Give these factors some thought and place more emphasis on what will meet your home's needs when choosing the best company for your installation:

Services Offered

To start, due to the unique range of needs of home and business owners in New York, a variety of solar installers focus on different services. For instance, Brooklyn SolarWorks focuses more exclusively on downtown roofs, which are typically flat and have needs different than a larger home in Long Island. Think about what makes your home or business unique — and find a company that prioritizes those needs. Other things to consider might be whether you need electrical upgrades, EV chargers or backup power.

Installation Process

Before you sign any paperwork, make sure you're confident in knowing how the installation process will look. How long before the installation day will happen? How many days will it take? What is my utility company's net metering policy? Permitting and interconnection can vary from city to city, so it's best to be sure you're familiar with the process.

Solar Pricing and Financing

Solar energy systems are a great investment — one that takes planning and time to mature. Think about whether you might need special financing options if your budget is tight. Any of the best solar companies in New York should be able to assist you in applying for the federal solar tax credit, but specific financing options and flexibility will vary from provider to provider.

Industry Affiliations

We generally recommend hiring a company that maintains industry credentials, such as membership in the Solar Energy Industries Association (SEIA), a B Corp certification or affiliation with other professional associations. Memberships and certifications are a great indicator of the company's professionalism, workmanship, reputation and reliability.

Types of Panels

Some types of solar panels are better than others, and each company will offer a slightly different product portfolio. Small homes in more dense cities will likely need high-efficiency solar panels, while homes with more space might opt for a sleek design. It can't hurt to ask what brands of panels your company has available, and why they might recommend each. Certifications from some of the best solar panel brands like Panasonic, LG or SunPower might also be a good indicator of legitimacy.

Incentives, Rebates and Tax Credits

New York State has a variety of solar incentives that can vary by city, county and utility. Though effective, these incentives can be complex, and finding a solar installer that knows the ins and outs of local policy may provide the best overall value in the long run. It's best to think locally here. Does the company you're looking at have plenty of experience in your community? This will be important.

Warranty

Finally, we recommend finding an installer that offers a good warranty. Solar panels are incredibly tough, but things happen. The best warranties will last 25 years and cover the equipment, workmanship and performance of your installation.

Cost of Solar in New York

As of 2022, our market research and data from top brands show the average cost of solar panels in New York is around $2.95 per watt. This means a 5-kW system would cost around $10,927 after the federal solar tax credit is applied. Keep in mind that a 5-kW system is about the minimum size for most homes.

New York State also offers a variety of solar incentives to help offset the cost of your system. These incentives have spurred the growth of solar in New York to new highs in 2021, pushing to over $7 billion of total investment. Under the right circumstances, New York's solar incentives are capable of offsetting nearly half of the aggregate system installation costs.

New York Solar Incentive

Incentive Description

NY-Sun Megawatt Block Incentive

This statewide incentive provides direct financial incentives for solar installations on a per-watt basis, meaning the larger your installation, the more financial support you'll receive.

Solar Energy System Equipment Credit

New York residents are entitled to claim a tax credit equal to 25% of your qualified solar energy system equipment expenditure (limited to $5,000).

Sales Tax Exemption

New York residents don't have to pay the state's 4% sales tax on qualified solar equipment.

Net Metering

Standard net metering is available to most New York residents through 2022. Throughout 2022, New York will begin enrolling its solar customers in a net metering alternative aimed at easing utility costs.

How to Find the Best Solar Installer in New York

Sorting through the large number of New York solar installers can seem challenging, but this actually presents a great opportunity for New York home and business owners. Unlike a number of other states, solar customers are far more likely to find a company that tailors to their local needs.

The large number of solar companies in New York also gives solar customers the opportunity to shop competing offers against each other, sometimes securing thousands of dollars during the process. Remember, these companies are competing for you.

To start getting free quotes from the best solar companies in New York, use this tool or fill out the form below.

Best Solar Companies New York: FAQs

Who is the most reputable solar company in New York?

The most reputable solar company in New York will depend heavily on your individual needs. New York may be the toughest state to answer this question in due to the wide variety of unique needs stemming from metropolitan, suburban and rural areas of the state.

Is solar in New York worth it?

As long as you have the right roof, solar in New York is typically well worth it. Rather than the sunshine being the main factor behind solar's value, in New York, solar incentives are what make the switch worth it. Between the Megawatt Block incentive, federal tax credit and solar energy system equipment credit, New York homeowners can offset nearly 50% of their project costs.

How do I find a reputable solar company in New York?

One of the best ways to find a reputable solar company in New York is to compare free quotes from a number of installers. When comparing these quotes, or getting on-site consultations, you can find the best offer for your needs. Refer to our guide on finding local solar installers near you to learn more about reading and interpreting solar proposals.

Karsten Neumeister is a writer and renewable energy specialist with a background in writing and the humanities. Before joining EcoWatch, Karsten worked in the energy sector of New Orleans, focusing on renewable energy policy and technology. A lover of music and the outdoors, Karsten might be found rock climbing, canoeing or writing songs when away from the workplace.
What Is Solar Energy & How Does it Work?

We walk you through the basics of solar power.

Reviews
Tim Robberts / Stone / Getty Images

For homeowners who are looking for clean energy solutions, solar power is utterly essential. But what is solar energy, exactly, and how does solar power work?

Solar energy is the energy emitted by the sun that reaches the earth's surface. In this article, we'll cover how it's converted into electricity that we use to power our lives, as well as discuss the biggest advantages and disadvantages of using solar energy.

The U.S. has one of the best climates for solar power in the world and is home to some of the best solar companies and manufacturers. So how should we take advantage of this natural, renewable energy we enjoy in such abundance? Let's dive in.

Solar Energy Definition

In its simplest form, solar energy is the heat and light released by the sun. Individual particles of sunlight are known as photons, and they carry high amounts of the sun's energy to Earth. In fact, during any given hour, the Earth receives enough solar energy to theoretically fuel our entire population's energy needs for one full year.

But where does all of this solar power actually come from? Well, like any other star, the sun is basically one big nuclear reactor. There are nuclear fusion reactions happening in the sun's core all the time, a process through which hydrogen atoms collide and fuse to create helium atoms.

This process produces an enormous amount of energy, as the sun fuses about 620 million metric tons of hydrogen every second.

Nuclear fusion is the process through which hydrogen atoms collide and fuse to create helium atoms.MARK GARLICK / Getty Images

That solar energy can be collected here on Earth via photovoltaic technology, which converts solar energy into electricity that can be used to supply power to a home or a business. Solar power currently represents 18% of the global energy economy, and it's rapidly gaining in popularity (and necessity), largely thanks to the falling costs of solar and a desire among governments and homeowners alike to reduce energy costs and carbon emissions.

Using Solar Power

You've likely heard the term "PV" associated with solar power, which as we've mentioned refers to photovoltaic technology used in most solar cells. Most commonly, PV cells are made with a silicon semiconductor due to its cost and abundance. Generally used for small-scale applications, such as residential solar systems or portable solar generators, PV represents the most common method of harnessing solar energy.

Another option, called solar thermal capture, is typically better suited to produce solar electricity on a larger scale, like in a power plant.

We'll focus more on the former, as it's the most common method.

Converting Solar Energy via Solar Panels

By installing solar energy systems made with solar photovoltaic cells, or PV cells, home and business owners can collect solar energy and convert it into electricity. Here's a breakdown of that process:

  1. The sun's photons reach the surface area of the solar panel, and through the photovoltaic effect, those photons excite and displace loose electrons within a solar cell.
  2. Solar panels are designed so that these displaced electrons flow toward metal plates that line the outside of the panel. This creates an energy current.
  3. This electric current within the solar panel is a direct current (DC), which has to be converted into an alternating current (AC) in order to be used as electricity for a home. Inverters convert the current from each panel.
  4. This AC electricity can then be channeled to the primary circuit board of your home, where it can be directed either into the home's electrical system as power or into a battery to be stored for later use. If your utility company has a net metering program, you can also send excess energy to your local power grid in exchange for energy credits.

Usable sunlight hits a solar cell, which sets off the photovoltaic effect.Alejomiranda / Getty Images

Solar PV is one of the best methods we have today for generating power on a large scale with a renewable, clean resource like solar energy.

Why Switch to Solar Energy?

The benefits of solar power go beyond just saving money on your energy bills; you can take complete control of your electricity use and energy efficiency, reducing or even eliminating your reliance on utility companies. Even more impactful, you can directly lower greenhouse gas emissions and your reliance on fossil fuels, which provides a number of tangible environmental benefits.

But are solar panels really worth it for homes and businesses? Let's walk through the pros and cons of solar energy.

Environmental Benefits of Solar Energy

The environmental benefits surrounding solar energy are perhaps the most well known:

  • Being a clean and renewable energy resource, collecting solar energy directly offsets carbon emissions and air pollution associated with burning fossil fuels like oil and gas.
  • Though not as well publicized, mining and burning coal, as well as fracking natural gas, require an extremely high volume of freshwater. Using solar energy rather than non-renewable resources contributes to healthier water systems by fighting water scarcity and acidification.
  • No matter which way you look at it, solar technology helps us reduce our reliance on fossil fuels and the companies that profit off of environmental degradation. Every single home that goes solar gives a small slice of power back to the people.

Financial Benefits of Solar Energy

There are also a number of financial perks that come with solar, including:

  • Solar energy use can reduce your monthly electric bills and, in some cases, eliminate those bills completely. This produces big cost savings over time.
  • When you buy solar panels, there are a number of tax credits, incentives and rebates available to offset startup costs, including some available at the federal level and some that are state-specific. More companies are adopting solar financing to increase accessibility.
  • Most residential and commercial solar systems will produce electricity for 20 to 30 years and require very little maintenance. This allows you to reliably budget your energy costs decades in advance rather than relying on power plants and public infrastructure, which is far less predictable.

Challenges of Solar Energy

Solar power is one of the best renewable energy sources available to us, but that doesn't mean it's perfect. Some of the most significant challenges to solar energy include:

  • The initial cost of solar panels is fairly significant, typically ranging between $10,000 and $20,000. Tax incentives and monthly utility savings can offset this cost, but paying these upfront costs just isn't an option for every homeowner.
  • Some homes aren't suited for solar. If your house is shaded by trees or other buildings, or you don't get enough exposure to the sun, then a home solar system may not work out.
  • If you live in an area where electricity is inexpensive, then the savings you get from a solar system may not be worth the cost and the hassle.
  • It's much better to deal with a broken solar panel than a leaky oil rig, but even solar panels have an impact. With well over a million panels in use nationwide, we'll have to address the system for recycling solar panels.

Is My Home Suitable for a Residential Solar Energy System?

The best way to determine whether your home is a good fit for solar electricity is to contact a solar installer in your area. A solar energy specialist can come to take a look at your home and give you a custom recommendation.

Generally speaking, solar energy is best suited for those who live in sunny areas, have plenty of surface area on a south- or west-facing roof and whose homes are unobstructed by trees or neighboring buildings.

What to Look for in a Solar Energy System

As you shop around for home solar systems, make sure to keep the following factors in mind (read our guide to purchasing solar panels for more information):

  • The efficiency of your solar panels, or how much sunlight they actually turn into electricity (the most efficient solar panels convert over 20%).
  • The capacity of your solar battery storage system.
  • Warranties and other protections for your home solar system.
  • The total number of panels you need to get the desired results.
  • The services offered by your solar installer (such as individual system design).

If you're interested in solar, it only takes 30 seconds to get a free, no-obligation quote. You could save up to $2,500 per year on utility bills and get a tax rebate all while reducing your carbon footprint. Use this tool or fill out the form below to get started.

FAQ: What is Solar Energy?

What is solar energy in simple words?

Solar energy, in simple words, is the light and heat radiated by the sun. Here on Earth, we can collect that solar energy with solar panels and convert it into electricity we can use to power our homes.

What are five advantages of solar energy?

Five advantages of solar energy include:

  1. It's a truly renewable energy source that directly offsets carbon emissions and air pollution.
  2. It helps homeowners save money on power bills.
  3. There are low maintenance costs for homeowners.
  4. Solar can be used in remote applications to power homes or shelters that aren't connected to an energy grid.
  5. Solar panel manufacturing and installation creates thousands of green jobs per year.

How do you explain solar energy to a child?

Here's how we would explain solar energy to a child: You know how when you step into the sun, you feel hot? That heat is a form of energy. Solar panels are a way of catching that energy, and using it to power your home.

Karsten Neumeister is a writer and renewable energy specialist with a background in writing and the humanities. Before joining EcoWatch, Karsten worked in the energy sector of New Orleans, focusing on renewable energy policy and technology. A lover of music and the outdoors, Karsten might be found rock climbing, canoeing or writing songs when away from the workplace.
Trending
Robert Kirk / Contributor / Getty Images

This holiday season, you may be anticipating spending time with some family members that, let's just say, don't share your concern for the environment. If you find political and generational differences becoming more apparent, you may be wondering how to speak about something as important as sustainability in a way that will resonate with others.

We're here to help. Below, you'll find nine of the most common arguments against solar. Of course, this goes beyond just speaking with family — we hear the following misconceptions about solar from a number of sources, so we've decided to put together a guide about how to address them.

Read More Show Less
Westend61 / Getty Images

So, you've read up on the best solar panels available and have decided to prioritize efficiency. Smart move. Buying the most efficient solar panels provides you with the most bang for your buck when working with limited roof space and is often (but not always) the best choice for homeowners.

In its simplest terms, solar panel efficiency refers to the amount of sunlight that falls on the panels that is converted into energy, or solar power. In this article, we'll break down what makes solar efficiency important and help you pinpoint the most efficient solar panels for your home.

If you're ready to seek out a certified solar installer in your area, you can use this tool or fill out the form below to get connected and receive a free quote.

Understanding the Efficiency of Solar Panels

Efficiency measures the amount of electricity a solar panel produces relative to the amount of sunlight (or irradiation) that strikes its surface. The most efficient solar panels on the market today only reach about 22.8% (shoutout to SunPower) — meaning that the panel converts about 22.8% of the sun's irradiance into usable AC electricity.

This may sound like a small amount, but the rapid progress of solar technology has surpassed most expectations. Only about 10 years ago, solar panels averaged around 15% efficiency. The first solar panels from the mid-1950s only reached an efficiency of 2%. There are currently panels in development reaching efficiency levels nearing 50% that we may see hit the market sometime in the future.

Tracking Solar Panel EfficiencyData Credit: National Renewable Energy Laboratory (NREL)

What Are the Most Efficient Solar Panels Available Today?

With so many recent advancements in solar technology, let's take a look at the most efficient solar panels available in 2022. Based on our research, these are the best solar panels for efficiency at the time of publication:

Most Efficient Solar Panels

Efficiency Rating

Power

SunPower Maxeon M-Series

22.8%

420-435 W

LG NeON R

22.3%

405 W

Jinko Solar Tiger Neo

22.3%

620 W

REC Solar Alpha

21.9%

405 W

Panasonic EverVolt

21.7%

380 W

Trina Solar Vertex S

21.6%

670 W

Silfab 380-BLK

21.4%

380 W

FuturaSun FU M Zebra

21.3%

360 W

LONGi Solar Hi-MO 5

20.6%-21.4%

485-505 W

Q Cells Q.Peak DUO G9+

20.6%

360 W

Power refers to the wattage output capacity of the panel. The more powerful the panel, the more electricity it is able to produce. Note that power works in conjunction with efficiency, rather than determining it.

What Determines Solar Panel Efficiency?

Two main factors determine solar panel efficiency: the makeup of the photovoltaic (PV) cell, and the structure of the panel. You might wonder what differentiates the two.

Solar Cell Efficiency

A solar cell is the smallest unit within a solar panel, usually composed of silicon atoms. The photovoltaic effect — which is the process by which sunlight is turned into electricity — happens in the solar cells themselves, and solar panels join together multiple cells to produce higher amounts of power and allow that power to flow through a home.

Solar cells on a solar panelvisdia / Getty Images

The most efficient types of solar panels are usually monocrystalline (rather than polycrystalline or thin-film). In this type of panel, the solar cell is cut from one solid silicon crystal. This leads to fewer imperfections in the cell, making them more capable of absorbing sunlight and, thus, more efficient.

It's possible you've heard about N-type or P-type solar cells in your research as well. This won't matter very much to the average customer, but if you're curious, these solar cell types differ in their chemistry due to the number of electrons they carry. N-type cells are negatively charged (via phosphorus), while P-type cells are positively charged (via boron). Multi-junction solar cells exist, too, made with both P- and N-type materials.

Solar Panel Efficiency

Overall solar panel efficiency has more to do with the structure of the panel itself. Even if you have the most efficient solar cells available, the next step is to gather those electrons and direct a current in a specific direction. A solar panel has to be as smoothly interconnected as possible, so as not to lose any energy in this part of the process. Temperature, cell type and design will have a large effect on overall efficiency in this context.

Why Is Solar Panel Efficiency Important?

It would be unfair to equate the most efficient solar panels with the best solar panels, as a number of other factors — namely durability, cost, warranty and power — can have a large impact on overall quality.

However, in residential solar, efficiency is typically one of the more important considerations. Here's why.

Quicker Payback Period

The more efficient your solar power system, the higher your power output will be, and the more quickly you'll recoup your initial investment. The cost of solar panels can be intimidating, but efficient panels will help slash a larger portion of your electricity bills, accelerating your solar payback period.

Something else to keep in mind is that the more efficient your solar panels are, the lower number of solar panels and inverters you'll need to achieve your home energy goals.

Better for Limited Space

Many residential solar energy projects are confined in terms of space available for solar panels. Some might see their roofs and think there's plenty of space, but zoning laws and regulations often require spaces between panels and gaps between the arrays and the sides of the roof. For homes with less roof space, high-efficiency panels allow you to do more with less.

In commercial solar installations where you have more space to work with, efficiency won't be as big a factor.

Doing More With Less

In addition to working with limited space, requiring fewer solar panels lowers the impact of your solar project itself. As Dr. Yifeng Chen, head of efficiency research and development at Trina Solar, says, "improving module efficiency is a key to helping customers save land, labor, cables, etc."

The highest-efficiency solar panels require fewer materials, shipping costs and waste. It may not seem like much to shave off one or two panels from your solar array, but seeing as the U.S. averages some 3 million solar installations per quarter, the impact can add up.

Other Factors Impacting Efficiency

At the risk of getting too technical, here are a number of other aspects of solar panels that factor into efficiency.

Wavelength

The spectrum of light that a solar cell is able to absorb can vary. Most modern solar cell technology is only capable of capturing visible light, excluding other wavelengths like infrared and UV rays. In general, the wider the spectrum of light that can be captured, the more efficient the cell will be. Some researchers are currently focusing on solar cells capable of capturing infrared rays, which would dramatically increase efficiency.

Temperature

High temperatures and extreme weather conditions can put a lot of stress on a solar panel. In fact, solar panels are actually more effective in colder conditions when they can work without overheating. Panels that are durable, and that can withstand high temperatures, will have greater overall efficiency and lifespan.

Reflection

Solar panels need a protective coating on them to ensure their longevity. What's challenging, however, is that this protective coating shouldn't reflect any of the potential energy the solar cells are trying to capture. Higher-efficiency panels will have high-quality protective coatings that reflect the least light possible, increasing overall energy production.

Environmental Factors Affecting Efficiency

While solar panel efficiency is determined in large part by solar cell technology and the construction of the panels themselves, there are also a number of other real-world contributors to the overall amount of power your system will be able to generate.

Climate and Latitude

Climate and latitude have a large impact on the overall efficiency of your solar energy system. The closer you live to the equator, the more direct sunlight you'll receive on an annual basis. Climate factors in as well. If you live somewhere rainy or often covered by clouds, you won't get as much production out of your system.

Solar Panel Orientation

Similar to the role of latitude, your panel orientation will affect efficiency. If you live in the northern hemisphere, the best direction for your solar panels to face is south (and north if you're in the southern hemisphere), as this is how they will get the most direct sunlight. If your roof isn't at a great angle for solar, your system will be less efficient.

Dirt, Dust or Grime Buildup

This factor is particularly unappreciated — you might be surprised how much production you lose when you don't clean your panels. Fortunately, it's pretty easy to give your panels the routine maintenance they deserve to keep your home powered on clean energy.

How to Find the Most Efficient Solar Panels

Solar panel manufacturers continue to make large strides in solar panel efficiency as the industry continues to recognize its value. Highly efficient, monocrystalline panels are ideal for residential solar systems, as those projects typically have the least amount of space to work with. For this reason, most top solar companies should be certified to sell and install the most efficient solar panels listed above.

If you're looking to invest in high-efficiency panels, we recommend getting in touch with solar installers near you to inquire about their product portfolios. Now that you know so much about solar efficiency and why it matters, you'll be well prepared to find the proposal with the best value for your money.

To start getting in touch with certified local installers, you can use this tool or fill out the form below.

FAQ: Most Efficient Solar Panels

What is the most efficient solar panel?

As of publication, SunPower's M-Series panels hold the throne for the most efficient solar panels on the market, at 22.8% efficiency. Though there are more efficient solar panels in development, it will be some time before they're available commercially.

Can solar panels be 100% efficient?

"In science, nothing is ever 100%." — Michio Kaku

For a common solar panel to be 100% efficient, it would have to convert all potential energy that strikes its surface area into AC electricity. This means a solar panel would need to absorb no heat, cover every spectrum of light, not reflect any light, and not lose a single electron over decades of complex chemical processes.

However, there is research being done on what's called "multiple exciton generation" (MEG). Researchers claim solar cells have surpassed 100% efficiency using MEG, a process by which "a single high energy photon can produce more than one electron-hole pair per absorbed photon. The extra efficiency comes from quantum dots 'harvesting' energy that would otherwise be lost as heat." So, 100% efficiency may be attainable if we think outside the box.

Which solar panels produce the most electricity?

Another way to phrase this might be, "which solar panels are the most powerful?" This is measured by wattage. This past year was a landmark year for the power of solar panels, as some commercial and industrial panels from brands like Jinko and Trina are nearing 700 W.

Karsten Neumeister is a writer and renewable energy specialist with a background in writing and the humanities. Before joining EcoWatch, Karsten worked in the energy sector of New Orleans, focusing on renewable energy policy and technology. A lover of music and the outdoors, Karsten might be found rock climbing, canoeing or writing songs when away from the workplace.

Solar Energy Pros and Cons: Is Going Solar Right for You?

Weighing the pros and cons of solar can help you make the best decision for your home.

Reviews
Lourdes Balduque / Moment / Getty Images

The solar boom is underway; the best solar companies are becoming household names, and the benefits of solar energy are taking the spotlight from oil, coal and gas. However, with so much literature to sort through these days, it can be tough to gauge the real solar energy pros and cons — especially since they're so dependent on the customer.

Though a sound investment, solar is a significant one, and we want our readers to fully understand the advantages and disadvantages of solar energy before making a purchase. Of course, using the sun as a renewable energy source can reduce your household's monthly electric bills and minimize your carbon footprint. However, there are some factors that make solar a little less valuable for some than others.

We'll go over the full pros and cons of solar energy in this article, but for many homeowners, the decision to go solar comes down to cost. To see how much solar panels would cost for your home, you can get a free quote from an installer near your by using this tool or filling out the form below.

Pros and Cons of Solar Energy: What You Need to Know

By installing a home solar system, you can use photovoltaic solar cells to capture and convert the sun's clean energy into electricity that can power your home or business. This can partially or completely offset the energy you'd typically purchase from your utility company.

While the advantages of solar energy are well advertised, there are also some drawbacks our readers should be aware of. Consider the following pros and cons of solar energy to help you decide if solar panels are worth it for your home.

Benefits of Solar Energy

Let's begin with the fun part — the biggest advantages of solar energy.

1) You can significantly reduce or even eliminate your household electric bills.

One of the most significant benefits of solar energy is also the most obvious: by generating your own energy, you can partially or completely offset the electricity you purchase from your utility. The average solar system lasts for two to three decades, which means most residents enjoy at least a decade or two of free energy after paying off their system with their energy savings and tax credit.

2) Going solar can reduce your carbon emissions.

The clean and natural energy harnessed by your solar system offsets the energy you'd typically purchase from local utilities. For the most part, local utilities carry a large impact stemming from the generation, transportation and distribution of electricity to your community. By using solar panels to generate your own electricity, you offset a portion of the greenhouse gases associated with fossil fuels, lowering your community's overall environmental impact.

3) Investing in a solar power system can increase the value of your home.

Homes with solar are becoming considerably more appealing, and installing the best solar panels can raise an estate's resale value by a decent amount. Note that this helps offset one of the primary cons of solar energy, which is the steep startup cost of solar panels — but more on that later.

4) Going solar can make you eligible for rebates and tax incentives.

Over the past couple of decades, the federal government has implemented numerous plans to incentivize solar energy, including solar tax credits and rebates. Many state governments have followed suit, particularly those where sun exposure is most consistent. Thanks to this, there are some significant ways to recoup part of your solar investment almost immediately. Again, this can help offset the initial cost of your solar panel system, allowing you to generate savings even before those utility reductions begin to stack up.

5) Solar + storage provides reliable backup power.

A solar battery storage system can provide backup power for homes in areas prone to power outages, which seem to be growing each year with the extreme weather brought on by climate change. With a backup battery like a Tesla Powerwall, you can keep your essential appliances powered during a prolonged outage. Even in mild weather, backup batteries let you store and use more of your solar energy, generating more savings.

Disadvantages of Solar Energy

Unfortunately, there are benefits of solar that won't prove effective for all homes. A few of the most notable disadvantages around solar include:

1) Not every roof can accommodate a solar system.

Solar panel installation requires you to have a certain kind of roof. If you have an older home, especially one with slate or cedar tiles on the roof, then you may not be able to buy solar panels for your personal use. Additionally, homes with skylights and other rooftop features may not have the surface area needed for solar panels.

If you don't have a lot of space or you're unsure about your home's solar capability, contact a local solar installer near you for a consultation. Most top solar companies will send out a representative free of charge.

Keep in mind that you can also install a ground-mounted solar panel system if you don't have a suitable roof.

2) Solar energy can be very location-dependent.

You can have a roof that's ideal for solar panel installation and still not be a good candidate for solar energy. Why? Because to take full advantage of solar power, you need to live in a place that gets consistent daily sun exposure. So, if you live in a part of the country that tends to be pretty cloudy, you may not produce the amount of energy necessary to justify your investment. Also, if your roof is partly shaded by trees or by neighboring homes, you may not get the best mileage from a solar energy system.

Location goes beyond just the amount of sunlight you receive, however. Some readers may live within the jurisdiction of a utility company without a favorable net metering policy. In the most unfortunate cases, utilities will charge hefty interconnection fees that can outweigh the savings solar provides.

3) Solar savings tend to correspond with energy bills.

The higher your electricity bills, the more energy you'll be able to offset with solar. But the inverse is also true: if you live somewhere with low utility costs, then the savings from switching to solar energy are going to be more modest. In other words, there are some parts of the country where the financial advantages of solar energy are going to be pronounced, and other places where those financial advantages are going to be nominal. It all depends on the cost of electricity where you live, and how much of it you use.

4) The upfront cost of going solar can be significant.

After adding up panels, labor, inverters and more, the average solar system investment ranges from $10,000 to $20,000. The specific number will vary according to the size of your home, if you need energy storage technology, your household energy use and the type of solar panels you choose. For example, if you make your own DIY solar panels, you'll cut down on installation fees, or if you want to get the most efficient solar panels, they'll cost significantly more.

There are plenty of ways to offset the cost of solar, including tax incentives, utility savings, increased home value and financing options. Still, there's no getting around it: Making the switch to solar is a significant investment.

5) Solar is getting more expensive with supply chain issues.

Worldwide supply chain issues have squeezed the costs of solar materials, shipping and labor. As a result, investing in solar in 2022 is proving a touch costlier than in years past. Still, solar technology itself continues to improve in efficiency and value while declining in price. We wouldn't recommend waiting to install a system, however, as the federal solar tax credit will be reduced in 2023 and will phase out altogether in 2024.

Weighing Solar Energy Pros and Cons

So, do the advantages of solar energy outweigh the disadvantages? Unfortunately, there's no easy answer here, as different homeowners may experience different levels of value when they make the jump to solar.

Before investing in a system, make sure you do your due diligence. Consider local sun exposure, the size and direction of your roof, local tax incentives and your own household energy expenses. Also, think about whether you want (or need) a solar battery.

Getting quotes from a few solar providers can give you more details about how much a new system will cost you. By weighing the pros and cons of solar energy for your home, you can make the best decision possible.

To get connected with a solar installer near you for a free consultation, you can use this tool or fill out the form below.

FAQ: Solar Energy Pros and Cons

When is solar energy a bad choice?

We aren't naive enough to claim that solar is always a good choice. For homeowners with low energy costs, shady roofs or insufficient space, the cost of solar can outweigh its benefits. Your location is important, too — not just in terms of sunshine, but also the financial incentives available to you. Check your local net metering policy and statewide and local incentives to see if you can save money on solar.

What are three disadvantages of solar energy?

The three biggest disadvantages to solar energy include:

  • The long-term nature of the investment: Life happens. Things change. Unfortunately, transferring solar loans or leases over to new homes or homeowners can be tricky. Some solar companies charge to have the panels relocated, and not all new homeowners will accept the solar lease or loan should you wish to transfer it.
  • Not every roof can accommodate a solar system: Small roofs, roofs with obstructions or roofs made with alternative materials can have trouble accommodating solar panels.
  • The cost of solar: Purchasing 25 years' worth of electricity upfront can make a lot of customers uncomfortable — and we understand why! The upfront cost of solar won't be feasible for all homeowners. Luckily, solar leases, flexible loan plans and incentives are making solar accessible to a wider range of home and business owners.

What are the advantages of solar?

Solar panels provide a reliable, low-maintenance way to avoid the carbon dioxide emissions associated with conventional energy generation. In addition to the environmental benefits, solar typically provides a great deal of energy savings for customers weighed down by rising utility costs. When properly designed and installed, solar is one of the best and most sustainable investments you can make.

Karsten Neumeister is a writer and renewable energy specialist with a background in writing and the humanities. Before joining EcoWatch, Karsten worked in the energy sector of New Orleans, focusing on renewable energy policy and technology. A lover of music and the outdoors, Karsten might be found rock climbing, canoeing or writing songs when away from the workplace.