Quantcast
EcoWatch is a community of experts publishing quality, science-based content on environmental issues, causes, and solutions for a healthier planet and life.
Rhone Resch
Insights Writers
EcoWatch Daily Newsletter
Sunrun Solar Reviews: Costs, Quality & More (2021)

Is Sunrun the best option for solar panels on your home?

Reviews
Eloi_Omella / E+ / Getty Images

If you're considering a solar panel installation, chances are you've come across the name Sunrun. A lot of literature exists on this leading residential solar panel installer, but research can be overwhelming, so we're breaking down everything you need to know in this Sunrun solar review.

As one of the nation's top solar companies, Sunrun focuses on installing custom-designed solar arrays and backup battery systems, and installations are performed quickly and easily by the provider's massive fleet of technicians. Sunrun also offers a solar leasing program that's popular among customers.

Sunrun Fast Facts
Year Started
2007
Service Areas 22 states and territories, including 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.
Service Types Solar panel and backup battery installations
Types of Panels High-efficiency monocrystalline panels from top solar suppliers like LONGi and Costco
Backup Battery Options Brightbox Home Battery storage, which uses lithium-ion batteries like the Tesla Powerwall and the LG Chem
Certifications Solar Energy Industries Association
Better Business Bureau
(BBB) Rating
B+ with accreditation

Read on to learn more about the provider, or to see if Sunrun is available in your area and get a free quote, fill out the 30-second form below.

Sunrun Overview

Founded in 2007, Sunrun's mission is to create a world run by solar energy. Since 2007, Sunrun has expanded at an impressive rate, now offering services in over 20 states as well as Puerto Rico and Washington D.C.

Sunrun designs solar panel layouts custom to a roof's shape via satellite imagery, giving homeowners more control over the appearance and efficiency of their systems. The company's integrated home solar battery storage service, Brightbox, sets it apart from the many other providers that have yet to deploy storage options that bring a number of key benefits to solar customers.

Sunrun also provides a wide variety of solar financing options for its customers. Catering to a large client base has allowed for Sunrun's massive growth, but it's also presented challenges that have soured the company's reputation online. The BBB gives Sunrun a rating of a B+, which is lower than the average solar provider.

Sunrun Solar Services and Installation

Sunrun is a comprehensive solar installer, providing design and installation of custom solar solutions complete with backup battery storage, home energy monitoring and energy control during outages. These tools can help homeowners manage, store and monitor their home's energy use for additional savings on their electric bills.

The types of panels and inverters Sunrun offers come from brand names like SolarEdge, LONGi and Costco. They are ideal for the quick and easy installations that Sunrun prides itself on. An average customer could expect the installation process to look like this:

  • Receive a free quote by providing preliminary information such as your address, monthly energy costs and credit score.
  • If interested after receiving the quote, a Sunrun sales rep will provide a detailed proposal including your custom system design, appearance and estimated energy savings over the course of the system's lifetime. The proposal should include any local and state solar incentives, so be sure to make note that any are included.
  • Once you've decided on the custom system that fits your needs, you will need to complete paperwork and obtain permits and approvals. Sunrun will handle the permits and approvals from your presiding city or county, but you should expect this process to take a few weeks.
  • During the permitting process, Sunrun will also check for net metering programs through your utility company and will enroll you if eligible.
  • Once all permits and approvals are gathered, Sunrun will install your system. With Sunrun's resources, this will likely be the easiest part of the entire process.
  • Finally, you'll need to pass inspection and turn on the system. Once the system is installed, both the city and your electric company will most likely require inspections. Sunrun will handle the logistics of both. Once these pass, a customer will be able to turn the system on.

Solar Panel Warranty

All Sunrun installations, whether leases or purchases, are covered by the Sunrun Guarantee. This 10-year comprehensive warranty includes free equipment replacement and system repairs, covers all parts and labor costs and guarantees that roof penetrations are watertight.

Sunrun advertises free maintenance, repairs and insurance on its products, but it should be noted that those services are only available to customers leasing panels through Sunrun. Any customers who have purchased panels from Sunrun will be held to the product warranty of the panels they purchase (typically between 12-25 years). As such, all warranty claims will be handled through the panel manufacturer rather than Sunrun.

Sunrun Costs and Financing

The cost of a solar system from a particular provider is difficult to estimate, as pricing can vary widely depending on your state, your roof and your home's energy needs. As Sunrun has been an industry leader for some time, most other solar providers actually offer installations at a slightly lower cost to give them a competitive edge. This is just another reason we encourage our readers to get quotes from competing solar companies.

Much of Sunrun's expansion can also be credited to its utilization of solar leases, which allow homeowners to rent solar equipment from Sunrun at a monthly cost. Though leasing panels provides immediate energy savings with a low upfront cost, purchasing panels provides the greatest value long-term. Keep in mind that leases will not be eligible for the solar tax credit.

Solar Financing Options

Sunrun offers four different solar plans for its customers.

  1. Monthly lease: This option requires the least money down but also provides the least overall value. Sunrun retains ownership of the panels and you make monthly payments to purchase the energy they generate. The monthly payments are guaranteed to be less than what your utility payment would be, but the savings are not as great as they would be if you purchased the panels.
  2. Full lease: In a full lease, the customer pays Sunrun an upfront fee to rent the panels for around 25 years (the term of the lease can vary). Sunrun retains ownership of the solar equipment. This saves a customer more money than a monthly lease, but it's still significantly less than if a customer purchased panels.
  3. Monthly loan: Customers can receive a solar loan from a third party to fund the purchase of solar equipment. These loans require monthly payments and typically have a payback period of between five and 10 years. In a monthly loan, a customer still owns the system outright, which adds to their property value, allows them to claim the solar tax credit and provides greater long-term energy savings than a lease. However, they will pay interest on the loan, making the system more expensive.
  4. Full purchase: A full purchase is the most recommended method of investing in solar energy. When customers purchase panels, they buy the system designed by Sunrun outright. Immediately, the solar panels add property value and the homeowner is eligible for the solar tax credit. Over time, homeowners will see a larger return on investment when paying in cash.

Sunrun Solar Reviews

Sunrun's size is both its biggest strength and its biggest weakness, and most customer reviews reflect just that. Positive Sunrun solar reviews praise the company's speed and ease of installation, yet a high employee turnover rate, communication troubles and growing pains have plagued a number of customers who feel their needs were not met.

Positive Sunrun Reviews

The size and resources of Sunrun make its business model reliant on high volumes of installed solar panels. Positive reviews usually reflect a quick and easy installation with immediate energy savings and little to no maintenance or further customer support needed. Most frequently, these positive reviews come from customers who opted for a solar lease rather than ownership.

Here are a couple of examples:

"I originally had my Solar installed by another company that was eventually purchased by Sunrun. The service with Sunrun has been far better than the service with the previous company."
— Brian Schopf via Trustpilot

"We have had our Sunrun system in place for over a year now. No problems at all. They were very courteous and responsive during the installation process."
— Peter W via BBB

Negative Sunrun Reviews

Most of Sunrun's negative reviews stem from a lack of attention to a customer's needs. Sunrun is one of the nation's largest solar providers, which presents challenges for customers troubleshooting issues with their system's performance.

Solar panel issues can be difficult to troubleshoot, and the size of Sunrun's client base can make the company's customer service department more difficult to get in touch with than a smaller solar provider.

This Sunrun review reflects the overall sentiment from dissatisfied customers:

"Worst company ever for follow-up once you have a problem… I have been waiting for a new inverter [for] seven months. No one bothers to tell you what they are going to do, or what they have done once they finally get to your house for a repair. No written report to update you. I have lost money this year because my system is either not running or is underperforming."
— Linda T via BBB

Final Thoughts on Sunrun Solar

Sunrun's mission, size and breadth of services make it one of the most well-known solar providers in the country today. However, its B+ BBB rating and poor reputation for customer service may make some buyers wary. An average customer experience with Sunrun will depend greatly on the quality of the sales representative assigned to your area, and many homeowners have run into bad experiences.

Sunrun Pros Sunrun Cons
Expansive service area Expensive labor
Backup battery services Frequent customer service issues
Free maintenance on leases
Flexible financing and lease options

Sunrun is a good and practical choice for customers looking to quickly and simply save money on their energy bills through a solar lease. However, for homeowners looking for attentive customer service 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 below.

Solar Energy Provider Comparison

To put this Sunrun review in perspective, let's compare the company to a few other national providers. Sunrun typically ranks highly in services offered, service areas and flexible payment options. Where Sunrun unsurprisingly falters is in its reputation for customer service and BBB rating.

Sunrun Blue Raven Solar SunPower
Year Started 2007 2014 1985
Services Offered Solar panel installation, battery installation, monitoring, maintenance Solar panel installation, monitoring, maintenance Solar panel installation, battery installation, monitoring
Service Areas 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. CO, FL, GA, ID, IL, IN, KS, KY, MO, NC, NV, OH, OR, SC, TX, UT, VA All 50 States
BBB Rating B+ A+ A+
Payment Options Cash, loan, lease, PPA Cash, in-house financing plans Cash, loan, lease

Frequently Asked Questions

Is Sunrun a legit company?

Sunrun is a legitimate solar installer leading the industry in quantity of installs and breadth of products offered. Hundreds of thousands of homes across the country have installed solar power with Sunrun. Though Sunrun is legitimate, there is a concerning amount of bad reviews regarding Sunrun's customer experience. Often, unconcerned sales staff can make customers feel their business was not taken seriously.

Is Sunrun solar a good deal?

As is the case with most solar providers, getting a good deal is dependent on many factors. Sunrun is certainly capable of providing customers with a solar energy system that saves them money, but a better deal might be found by a different solar provider, especially if you are looking to purchase panels rather than lease from Sunrun.

Is Sunrun owned by Tesla?

Sunrun is not owned by Tesla. In fact, Sunrun is one of Tesla's biggest rival companies in the solar industry. Unlike Sunrun, Tesla solar offerings focus more on products and less on installation services, so the companies are distinctly different.

Which is better, SunPower or Sunrun?

Which company is better will depend on what the customer is looking for. If you're looking for customer service, a high BBB rating and to purchase high-quality panels, we'd likely recommend SunPower over Sunrun. If you're a customer looking for a quick and easy solar panel lease to save a small but guaranteed rate on your energy bill each month, Sunrun may be the better choice.

Where is Sunrun available?

Sunrun is available in 22 states and territories, including Arizona, California, Colorado, Connecticut, Florida, Hawaii, Illinois, Maryland, Massachusetts, Nevada, New Hampshire, New Jersey, New Mexico, New York, Pennsylvania, Rhode Island, South Carolina, Texas, Vermont, Wisconsin, Washington D.C. and Puerto Rico.

Trending
Trending
Trending

Monday, I was asked to take part in an online discussion on Capitol Hill as to whether Congress should extend renewable energy tax credits.

Well, in some ways, this discussion is putting the cart before the horse.

Most importantly, are incentives for renewable energy sources achieving their goals? In the case of solar, the answer is a resounding yes. Today, America’s solar energy industry is helping to create thousands of new jobs, save U.S. consumers money, boost our economy and reduce pollution nationwide. That’s the very definition of an effective public policy.

Photo credit: Solar Energy Industries Association

In 2006, prior to the enactment of the solar Investment Tax Credit (ITC), there were less than 600 megawatts (MW) of grid-connected solar in the U.S. By the end of this year, we expect to be closing in on 13,000 MW—enough to effectively power more than 2 million American homes including the White House!

Thanks to smart public policies, like the solar ITC and 1603 Treasury program, solar has made extraordinary progress in a very short period of time—and yet we still only represent about 1 percent of the total electric generating capacity of the U.S. Is solar is more competitive today? Absolutely. But the playing field isn’t level yet. The oil and gas industry, for example, has enjoyed incentives embedded in the U.S. Tax Code for nearly 100 years. You can’t catch up to that overnight.

But clearly, solar is trending in the right direction. According to a new report by GTM Research and the Solar Energy Industries Association (SEIA), the U.S. installed 930 MW of solar in Q3 2013—up 20 percent over the second quarter of 2013 and 35 percent over quarter three 2012. This represents the second largest quarter in the history of the U.S. solar market and the largest quarter ever for residential PV installations.

Even more importantly, 2013 is likely to be the first time in more than a decade that the U.S. installs more solar capacity than world leader Germany. When all of the numbers are finally in, 2013 will go down as a record-shattering year for the U.S. solar industry. We’ve now joined Germany, China and Japan as worldwide leaders when it comes to the installation of new solar capacity.

According to yet another new report, FERC’s Energy Infrastructure Update, a whopping 99.3 percent of all new electric generation placed in service during the month of October came from renewables—with solar leading the way by a country mile. Twelve new solar units accounted for 504 MW or 72.1 percent of all new capacity in October. 

Since the solar ITC went into effect, we’ve gone from being an “upstart industry”—one that our critics predicted would fail miserably—to one of the fastest-growing industries in the U.S.—today employing 120,000 Americans at more than 6,000 companies from coast to coast and pumping billions of dollars into the U.S. economy. 

But this debate shouldn’t be simply about economics. It should also be about preserving our environment and giving future generations of Americans a fair shot at prosperity. Today, the debate continues over how long oil, natural gas and coal reserves will last before being completely depleted. 100 years? 200 years? Maybe 300 years at most?

Then remember this: the life expectancy of the sun is about 5 billion years—give or take a millennia.

Which do you think is a better long-term investment?

Visit EcoWatch’s RENEWABLES page for more related news on this topic.