June 9, 2023

The shape under consists of details about our associate services. The corporate quotes you obtain can differ from these we have researched independently.

What’s the finest general photo voltaic firm?

ADT Photo voltaic is CNET’s finest photo voltaic panel firm for 2023, for providing robust warranties, high quality photo voltaic panels, backup batteries and high quality customer support. All of our high picks provide high quality tools and customarily obtain robust customer support marks, however ADT Photo voltaic’s 25-year warranties for workmanship and weatherization are on the high of the group and carry its rating excessive. ADT Photo voltaic operates in a lot of states (23 states, with seven extra coming quickly), however in the event you’re not in one in all them, or ADT does not give you the perfect deal on your scenario, you will discover various choices and steerage to discovering your finest match right here.

In case you’re planning to purchase photo voltaic panels to keep away from rising power prices and blackouts or spend money on renewable power, you are not alone. Residential photo voltaic installations grew by 40% in 2022 from the earlier yr, in line with the Photo voltaic Vitality Industries Affiliation.

You will get 30% of the price of photo voltaic panels again in your taxes and take part in native incentives and web metering (the place out there). The Inflation Discount Act that was handed final yr opened up extra rebates for energy-efficient house enhancements, electrical home equipment and different renewable power options, which might show you how to save much more with photo voltaic panels.

With local weather change anticipated to gas extreme climate that may trigger extra energy outages, photo voltaic panels with a backup battery can hold your property powered.

Photo voltaic panels are a big funding. Since few folks can construct their very own photo voltaic panels, you will have to fastidiously analysis which installer is finest for you. Beneath are my selections for the perfect photo voltaic corporations by a number of completely different parameters. Nonetheless, with a purchase order as massive as photo voltaic panels, do not let this listing be your solely cease. Photo voltaic panel corporations, as a result of their merchandise require prolonged, skilled set up, are examined a bit in a different way than different classes on CNET.

This listing and the evaluations it attracts from aren’t based mostly on any hands-on testing. There is no possible method to do hands-on testing of the acquisition course of, set up or a house photo voltaic panel array after it is put in. As an alternative, these photo voltaic firm evaluations depend on interviews with firm spokespeople, publicly out there knowledge and evaluation of developments (like photo voltaic panel costs). Whereas the evaluations are as totally researched as potential, the character of the product means there are some limitations in comparison with one other class like transportable energy stations.

Greatest photo voltaic corporations of 2023

This finest listing attracts from nationwide and notable installers of (principally rooftop) photo voltaic panels. As we publish evaluations of extra corporations, this finest listing will probably be up to date to replicate our present high selections. These have been rated the perfect photo voltaic corporations for the range and high quality of kit and merchandise they provided, their acknowledged warranties and obvious commitments to customer support. (Customer support is tough to pin down and due to this fact makes up a smaller portion of the rating, though it is a vital a part of the buying course of.)

In case you’re in search of a photo voltaic panel installer, remember to get a number of quotes together with from native installers the place potential. The specifics of a photo voltaic array might change given the form and angle of a given roof or the power utilization and habits of a given household. Photo voltaic is usually a nice funding however requires you to do your personal analysis.

A solar panel installer working on a roof.
heshphoto/Getty Photographs

ADT Photo voltaic checks many of the containers in our methodology for evaluating photo voltaic corporations. It has robust warranties, affords quite a lot of high quality photo voltaic panels, photo voltaic batteries and inverters, and will get excessive marks from the Higher Enterprise Bureau for being conscious of buyer complaints. The photo voltaic panels it installs (from Canadian Photo voltaic, Silfab and Qcells) embrace essentially the most extensively put in residential photo voltaic panels (Qcells), a number one effectivity possibility (Canadian Photo voltaic) and photo voltaic panels from an organization beginning to provide a 30-year guarantee (Silfab).

What places ADT Photo voltaic forward of all the opposite corporations on our listing is its warranties. It is the one firm we have reviewed that provides 25-year warranties for the workmanship on its installations and in opposition to leaks attributable to it.

I might wish to see extra upfront pricing info (as I might from nearly all photo voltaic installers), which is the largest mark in opposition to ADT. It is simply extra proof that you need to get a number of quotes earlier than selecting an organization to put in your photo voltaic panels. Learn our ADT Photo voltaic evaluation.


Palmetto Photo voltaic has robust photo voltaic tools choices and extra sturdy service for after set up than most different corporations, although it may cost a little you a bit. Palmetto affords a number of tiers of service below the model title Palmetto Shield. All prospects obtain third-party monitoring and proactive communication when some a part of their photo voltaic system malfunctions. Whereas lease and energy buy settlement prospects get an influence manufacturing assure and sure labor prices lined for no additional cost, mortgage and money buy prospects can get them for $20 or much less a month. Palmetto additionally receives an A-plus from the Higher Enterprise Bureau.

Palmetto does provide high quality photo voltaic tools and is likely one of the few corporations to inform us they provide Sonnen’s batteries. Like many corporations, Palmetto’s workmanship guarantee (10 years) and weatherization guarantee (5 years) may very well be longer and lag behind the trade. Learn our Palmetto Photo voltaic evaluation.

Solar panels on a wooden house.

SunPower Photo voltaic lands in our high three, because of its top-of-the-line photo voltaic panels and robust warranties. The photo voltaic panels SunPower affords have trade main effectivity marks (22.8%) and a guaranty that ensures at the very least 92% manufacturing after 25 years. It earns an A-plus ranking from the Higher Enterprise Bureau. SunPower now installs batteries in 4 sizes, all of which include robust warranties, not restricted by the variety of instances you cost and drain it.

SunPower’s photo voltaic panels could be a bit dearer than others (although correct pricing trade extensive is difficult to return by). The corporate has stated it plans to proceed rolling out extra accessible photo voltaic options and began putting in photo voltaic panels from Qcells this yr. Learn our SunPower evaluation.

Tesla solar panels

Tesla’s photo voltaic department appears to be the least beloved of Elon Musk’s ventures. Even Tesla’s Photo voltaic Roof appears to get extra love. Nonetheless, photo voltaic panels from Tesla are more likely to be the most cost effective possibility the place they’re out there. It can save you hundreds of {dollars}, with out sacrificing on high quality of kit or the warranties that protects it

What you may sacrifice is customer support. From delays to cost modifications, to gradual responses, to system malfunctions, social media studies of adverse experiences aren’t exhausting to seek out, together with some who remorse their selection. That is true of all photo voltaic corporations, however the amount of studies regarding Tesla is regarding. Others describe experiences that are not so unhealthy, to make certain. The overall consensus is that going with Tesla is a bet.

Even with considerations about customer support and some warranties that may very well be longer (workmanship and the weatherization of your roof), Tesla’s stable tools is sufficient to land it on our greatest listing.

Learn our Tesla Photo voltaic evaluation.

Person walking on a roof with a solar panel on their shoulder.
Bloomberg/Getty Photographs

Momentum Photo voltaic places Qcells photo voltaic panels on roofs in 11 states, and installs Enphase batteries alongside them in 5 of these. Whereas there is not a ton selection within the Momentum’s most well-liked installations, Qcells and Enphase are two extensively put in manufacturers, although Enphase extra for its microinverters, which Momentum additionally installs.

Momentum is one of some corporations that may worth match quotes from different corporations. It additionally receives an A-plus from the Higher Enterprise Bureau. The corporate additionally makes use of solely in-house, Momentum-trained set up groups and backs that work up with a workmanship guarantee that lasts 25 years, matching the longest guarantee phrases within the trade. Learn our Momentum Photo voltaic evaluation.

Timberline Solar shingles on a roof.
GAF Vitality

Most residential photo voltaic prospects thus far have photo voltaic panels mounted on racks bolted to their roofs. That is one thing GAF Vitality is attempting to alter with Timberline Photo voltaic shingles, its photo voltaic roofing product. Connected with nails as an alternative of bolts and put in on the identical time and by the identical workforce as a brand new roof, the photo voltaic power-generating shingles sit flush to the roof. They appear a bit sleeker and may very well be much less liable to leaks than conventional photo voltaic panels.

GAF Vitality’s photo voltaic shingle, put in in 16 states with extra to return, might make the choice to go photo voltaic simpler by rolling it in with the acquisition of a brand new roof. In case you do not just like the look of photo voltaic panels, Timberline Photo voltaic shingles have a subtler look, although they don’t seem to be invisible. You additionally get a photo voltaic roof with out the key markup of different choices, just like the Tesla photo voltaic roof. Learn CNET’s GAF Vitality evaluation.

How we consider photo voltaic corporations

Reviewing photo voltaic corporations in a hands-on approach is tough. Accounting for all of the variations challenge to challenge is not possible. To supply a useful evaluation, we targeted on what we will measure and meaningfully evaluate amongst corporations.

We give attention to three buckets of standards: tools, warranties and repair. 

Inside the tools class, corporations obtain scores for the panels, inverters and batteries they set up. Warranties embrace the ensures on the panels, workmanship and weatherization in opposition to leaks. Firms earn factors for service if they provide a worth match, a significant degree of worth transparency and a well-rated app for monitoring photo voltaic manufacturing. They lose factors if there are main points pertaining to customer support (lawsuits, investigations or clear reputations for shoddy service). These points will at all times be detailed within the evaluation.

You possibly can learn an in depth have a look at how the scoring breaks down.

We do not think about the common worth of an organization’s installations of their rating. This info is tough to seek out and exhausting to check throughout service areas (and even roof to roof). Firms are sometimes gradual to reveal it, too. We additionally pass over simply discovered however not helpful info like what number of states an organization operates in.

Different corporations we reviewed

We have reviewed different photo voltaic corporations that do not seem in our greatest listing above, together with some that scored larger general than Tesla’s photo voltaic panels. Given the character of the photo voltaic panel trade, which shifts from state to state and roof to roof, a few of these different corporations could be higher suited to your scenario. 

  • Qcells: This photo voltaic panel producer with factories in Georgia will join you with an installer that works with its merchandise. It does not have in place the identical ensures or insurance policies many of the installers on this listing have, so it does not get a rating, however in the event you’re fascinated with its high-quality, American-made panels, we wrote up all the small print.
  • Smartflower: The photo voltaic sunflower is a good looking method to set up photo voltaic panels. Until you are attempting to promote your inexperienced commitments or discover a assertion piece on your yard, it is probably an excessive amount of cash for too little photo voltaic.
  • Sunnova: Sunnova not too long ago gained mortgage ensures from the US authorities to assist low and reasonable earnings households undertake photo voltaic. If in case you have less-than-stellar credit score, Sunnova could be a superb possibility for you, although you need to nonetheless store round. It installs all kinds of batteries and affords some robust warranties. It has had customer support points prior to now and misplaced its Higher Enterprise Bureau accreditation, a problem the corporate and the bureau each stated they have been working to rectify.
  • Sunrun: The most important photo voltaic firm in America. Sunrun affords high quality panels, a selection of a few batteries and high quality inverters. It additionally affords robust warranties. Most of its enterprise is in leases or energy buy agreements, and Sunrun supplies stronger warranties for energy buy agreements than purchases. Its general rating is larger than Tesla’s, however simply missed edging out the others on account of its missing a price-match coverage.
  • Tesla Photo voltaic Roof: Tesla’s Photo voltaic Roof is an thrilling method to think about photo voltaic. It is smooth, it is low profile, nevertheless it’s very costly. Relying on the scale of your roof and your location, it may be a number of instances dearer than photo voltaic panels. 
  • Trinity Photo voltaic: For some time, Trinity was CNET’s high firm for customer support and nonetheless receives high marks for there. It additionally affords high quality tools and warranties, although a few of its warranties, like its workmanship guarantee, are a bit weaker than different corporations’. 

How to decide on a photo voltaic installer

Selecting a photo voltaic installer is like selecting a contractor for any house enchancment challenge. You need to ask a whole lot of questions, get a number of quotes and decide on some mixture of who’s supplying you with the perfect deal and who you are feeling most assured in working with. There are some suggestions for selecting a photo voltaic installer, although.

  • Get a number of quotes and evaluate: That is presumably the only most necessary step. You possibly can’t know in the event you’re getting ripped off with out checking a quote in opposition to one thing else. 
  • Perceive your native incentives: Be sure you know whether or not your native authorities and utility have solar-friendly insurance policies that may make photo voltaic a safer monetary wager.
  • Learn evaluations and complaints: On-line evaluations aren’t the gospel fact, however they’re helpful for educating your self on the problems that may crop up and customary experiences that prospects have had with an organization.
  • Discuss to your neighbors who’ve photo voltaic panels: Ask your neighbor how effectively their chosen firm communicated, caught to the schedule, navigated the allowing course of and supported them after set up. If the corporate has a referral program, you could possibly kick a number of hundred {dollars} your neighbor’s approach, too.
  • Verify licenses and certifications: You possibly can examine the North American Board of Licensed Vitality Practitioners for licensed installers close to you. There are different certifying organizations although, so ask installers the place their licensure comes from.
  • Ask you installer questions: A good installer should not be afraid of questions. In case you really feel you are getting the run-around, ask different installers the identical and evaluate their solutions.
  • Calculate your financial savings: If an organization appears to be promising an excessive amount of, it won’t be on the up and up. Photo voltaic panels can prevent some huge cash in the long run, however not in all conditions. Learn the way to calculate your anticipated financial savings with photo voltaic panels. In case your calculation is available in a lot decrease or larger than a salesman’s, ask about it. 

How does photo voltaic panel set up work?

The method of getting photo voltaic panels appears to be like just a little completely different from firm to firm, however the broad strokes are the identical.

After preliminary contact with the corporate, somebody ought to go to your property. Whereas components of the design and quoting course of may contain taking a look at satellite tv for pc imagery, having knowledgeable really go to your own home permits them to take note of bushes that may have grown because the aerial pictures have been taken. They will additionally be capable to assess the well being of your roof and whether or not it must be changed or not and determine another obstacles to going photo voltaic.

Then the system will probably be designed, accepted by you, and permitted. After the corporate receives permits from the mandatory authorities, your set up will probably be scheduled. Set up usually takes a day or two.

Set up, except you are putting in sure photo voltaic roofs, requires drilling holes via your roof and into the joists that help it. It is necessary to maintain your photo voltaic panels securely connected, however you will wish to pay cautious consideration to how lengthy your installer ensures these penetrations will stay watertight.

Set up can even require new wiring to be put in. Typically meaning new conduit being connected to the skin of your own home, although some corporations will set up it in your attic free of charge or for an extra cost.

After set up, you will have to get permission to function out of your utility, which must approve new electrical energy technology of their service space, except your system is off grid. As soon as you’ve got acquired permission, you will transition to producing power, monitoring your array’s efficiency and sustaining your photo voltaic panels to maintain them up and working for many years.

Whereas the timeline will fluctuate, it normally takes a number of months to design, allow, set up and change on residential photo voltaic arrays. You need to ask installers you interview for his or her estimated timeline.

What photo voltaic tools goes right into a photo voltaic system?

Whereas the panels are essentially the most seen and well-known part of a photo voltaic array, there are different essential and elective items of kit you will have to know.

Photo voltaic panels

Practically 100% of the residential photo voltaic panels put in in the present day are monocrystalline, in line with the Lawrence Berkeley Nationwide Laboratory (PDF). Some polycrystalline panels are nonetheless put in although. They’re cheaper, however much less environment friendly, although it probably will not be a priority for you.

Photo voltaic inverters

Photo voltaic panels produce electrical energy in direct present. Our homes and all of the home equipment inside them use alternating present. The photo voltaic inverter converts the electrical energy from direct to alternating present.

There are two most important varieties of inverter in use: string inverters and microinverters. String inverters remodel the electrical energy from a gaggle (or string) of photo voltaic panels. This implies you solely want one per residential array, usually, however all the array is affected by the bottom performing panel. If one in all your panels is shaded, it can cut back the output of the remainder of the array. String inverters are usually cheaper to put in, however include shorter warranties.

Microinverters function on the panel degree, which suggests if one is shaded, the remainder can hold producing at full capability. As a result of they’re put in on the roof with the panel, they’re usually just a little tougher to service, however produce a bit extra power. Microinverters value a bit extra to put in, however typically include 25-year warranties.

String inverters may also be put in with energy optimizers, which carry out an analogous function to microinverter. The power continues to be translated to alternating present on the central string inverter, however the energy optimizer lets panels work independently of one another.

Photo voltaic backup battery

Backup batteries have gotten a extra common addition to photo voltaic arrays. Time of use charges from utilities (the place electrical energy is often cheaper when photo voltaic panels are producing and dearer after they’re not) make batteries a extra financially possible selection for a lot of. Photo voltaic panels will not generate electrical energy throughout a blackout except they’ve a battery that permits them to go off the grid briefly, a course of known as islanding.

Backup batteries do not at all times make monetary sense, so ensure you perceive whether or not or not it does for you earlier than diving in. In case you’re hoping to have energy throughout a blackout, the monetary calculation could also be much less necessary to you.

Photo voltaic panel FAQs

How a lot do photo voltaic panels value?

Are photo voltaic panels value it?

Photo voltaic panels will probably be value it, relying on the small print of your particular scenario. In case you use little or no power or have very low-cost power, you will not be saving as a lot cash every month and it’ll take longer on your panels to pay for themselves. Likewise, in the event you stay below deep tree cowl, rooftop photo voltaic panels probably will not generate sufficient electrical energy to be value it. 

Nonetheless, photo voltaic can repay in power financial savings for many years. Decreasing the price with rebates and tax credit will assist repay your photo voltaic panels quicker. The way you pay on your photo voltaic panels will have an effect on that calculation, too. It would take longer to recoup your prices in the event you take out a mortgage, which is able to accrue curiosity and include charges. You possibly can calculate your payback interval if you recognize the price of photo voltaic panels after rebates and the way a lot you will save on power prices every year.

How lengthy do photo voltaic panels final?

In case you purchase photo voltaic panels in the present day, there is a good likelihood they’re going to be below guarantee for 25 years. You will typically see that listed because the lifespan of the panels, however that is not fairly correct. That guarantee covers manufacturing out of your photo voltaic panels. Photo voltaic panels lose their skill to supply photo voltaic electrical energy as they age for any variety of causes, so a guaranty will assure a sure degree of manufacturing after a sure variety of years. For instance, Q Cells affords a 25-year guarantee, which ensures that your panels will produce at 86% of their rated capability at that time.

This doesn’t suggest these photo voltaic panels die on the finish of 25 years, they’re going to simply produce much less. Photo voltaic panels can produce effectively after their guarantee expires, although given that giant numbers of photo voltaic panels are simply now being put in, we’ll proceed to get a greater concept of how they age in years to return.

Ought to I rent a photo voltaic panel installer?

Whereas expert do-it-yourselfers may be capable to pull off a photo voltaic panel set up, it is undoubtedly not really helpful. Going via a good and licensed photo voltaic installer provides you quite a few protections. Putting in photo voltaic panels just isn’t so simple as plugging in a big equipment. A certified photo voltaic installer will be capable to navigate native code and ordinances, and make sure that the guarantee on the panels stays intact. They can even be capable to let you know in the event you want a brand new roof or different upgrades earlier than putting in photo voltaic panels.

A photo voltaic installer can even be capable to design your photo voltaic system to finest suit your targets and habits by figuring out the most efficient areas in your roof and angling panels to gather essentially the most solar. Additional, your installer ought to find a way that can assist you troubleshoot any issues that come up after set up.

How do I do know if the quote I’ve is an effective one?

One of the simplest ways to inform is to get a number of quotes. With a purchase order this massive, you need to get a number of, together with one or two from native installers who may be capable to give you larger selection.

There are additionally sources from the federal and lots of state governments to information you thru the method. You possibly can look out for a number of pink flags from salespeople, too. 

Are native photo voltaic installers a superb possibility?

Native installers usually have much less prices for promoting and gross sales than the massive, nationwide firms. That represents potential financial savings that may very well be returned to prospects. Then again, with a long-term funding like photo voltaic panels, it might really feel safer to have the backing of a big company. And bigger corporations might be able to provide cheaper costs as a result of quantity of installations they do.

Once you’re gathering quotes for a photo voltaic panel set up, remember to contact native installers, too. The photo voltaic trade is a aggressive one, and checking round might prevent hundreds.

Will photo voltaic panels work in my local weather?

Similar photo voltaic panels will produce completely different quantities of electrical energy after they’re uncovered to completely different ranges of daylight. So, photo voltaic panels in sunnier locations (just like the American southwest) with extra direct daylight (like within the south) will produce extra electrical energy. However different elements make photo voltaic a superb deal for owners.

New England has one of many highest regional adoption charges for residential photo voltaic within the US. That is not as a result of it has a ton of sunshine yr spherical, however as a result of it has favorable photo voltaic insurance policies, like web metering and rebates. Photo voltaic panels may make monetary sense even when they’re going to be put in below ceaselessly cloudy skies. 

Can I get the federal tax credit score?

Correction, Jan. 31, 2023: An earlier model of this text misstated the Higher Enterprise Bureau’s grading course of. Any firm can obtain a grade from the Bureau, no matter whether or not it has paid to undergo the accreditation course of.

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