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Best Solar Companies of 2022

Looking into solar panels? Check our top reviewed companies below.

Whether you're looking to do something good for the environment, save some money or rely a bit less on your utility, 2022 might be your year to go solar. The federal investment tax credit will still give you 26% of the cost of your solar system back on your taxes, and local incentives (like net metering) are still strong, though there are some efforts to roll them back.

Most of the United States faces an elevated risk of blackouts this summer, thanks to increased demand from high temperatures and lower supplies of hydroelectricity because of ongoing droughts in the west. Climate change is expected to make the grid less reliable. Solar panels with the ability to temporarily disconnect from the grid can keep the lights on during a black out.

Solar panels are a significant investment though, not to mention a decision that requires some careful thought and research. Below are my choices for the best solar companies by a few different parameters. However, with a purchase as big as solar panels, don't let this list be your only stop. Solar panel companies, because their products require lengthy, professional installation, are tested a bit differently than other categories on CNET.

This list, and the reviews it draws from, isn't based on any hands-on testing. There's no feasible way to do hands-on testing of the purchase process, installation or a home solar panel array after it's installed. Instead, these solar company reviews rely on interviews with company spokespeople, publicly available data and analyses of trends (like solar panel prices). While the reviews are as thoroughly researched as possible, the nature of the product means there are some limitations compared to another category like portable power stations.

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This best list draws from national and notable installers of (mostly rooftop) solar panels. As we publish reviews of more companies, this best list will be updated to reflect our current top choices. Solar companies were rated based on the variety and quality of equipment and products they offered, their stated warranties and apparent commitments to customer service. (Customer service is difficult to pin down and therefore makes up a smaller portion of the score, even though it's a significant part of the purchasing process.)

If you're looking for a solar panel installer, be sure to get multiple quotes including from local installers where possible. The specifics of a solar array could change given the shape and angle of a given roof or the energy usage and habits of a given family. Solar can be a great investment but requires you to do your own research.

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ADT Solar is, in some ways, a new kid on the block after the home security company bought and rebranded Sunpro Solar. It offers solar panels with 25-year warranties and a price match guarantee. Its advertised options for inverters and batteries are also highly rated and offer some choice that separates it from some other installers. It also had one of the highest grades for customer service from the Better Business Bureau (companies pay to be graded by the BBB). ADT also offers roofing as a service, adding some ease to the process if a new roof is needed, too.

ADT Solar has a track record (as Sunpro), but acquisition also spurs change for some companies. It will be interesting to see if anything changes as the new corporate relationship settles in. Pricing info was difficult to come by from ADT Solar.

Read our ADT Solar review.

 

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Trinity Solar barely missed the top spot in our rankings so far. It offers quality solar panels, a selection of quality batteries and multiple inverter options. It also offers purchase and lease or power purchase agreement options. 

While customer service is difficult to pin down, Trinity Solar has an A+ rating from the Better Business Bureau (which gives scores to companies only if they pay a fee). Trinity was highly responsive to complaints on that platform. One caveat to the customer service praise is that Trinity's workmanship warranty falls short of others, extending only to 10 years. 

Read our Trinity Solar review.

 

Tesla

Tesla's Solar branch seems to be the least loved of Elon Musk's ventures. Even Tesla's Solar Roof seems to get more love. Still, solar panels from Tesla are likely to be the cheapest option where they are available. You can save thousands of dollars, without sacrificing on quality of equipment.

What you might sacrifice is customer service. From delays to price changes, to slow responses, to system malfunctions, social media reports of negative experiences aren't hard to find, including some who regret their choice. This is true of all solar companies, but the quantity of reports concerning Tesla is concerning. Others describe experiences that aren't so bad, to be sure. The general consensus is that going with Tesla is a gamble.

Read our Tesla Solar review.

 

Other companies we reviewed

We've reviewed other solar companies that don't appear in our best list above, including some that scored higher overall than Tesla's solar panels. Given the nature of the solar panel industry, which shifts from state to state and roof to roof, some of these other companies might be better suited to your situation. 

  • Sunrun: The biggest solar company in America. Sunrun offers quality panels, a choice of a couple of batteries and quality inverters. It also offers strong warranties. Most of its business is in leases or power purchase agreements, and Sunrun provides stronger warranties for power purchase agreements than purchases. Its overall score is higher than Tesla's, but just missed edging out the others due to its lacking a price match policy.
  • Tesla Solar Roof: Tesla's Solar Roof is an exciting way to imagine solar. It's sleek, it's low profile, but it's very expensive. Depending on the size of your roof and your location, it can be several times more expensive than solar panels. 
  • Smartflower: The solar sunflower is a beautiful way to install solar panels. Unless you're trying to advertise your green commitments or find a statement piece for your yard, it's likely too much money for too little solar.

How we evaluate solar companies

Solar companies are tricky to review. Even if it was feasible to install solar panels from every installer on a single house one after another and compare them, variations in weather and season would affect output. You'd also still be left with the subjective ratings for customer service, which is a major factor in the experience of getting solar panels for a roof.

Even without a laboratory test for solar panel companies, we kept our review as standardized as possible. We evaluated solar companies in three categories: breadth of service, value and customer care. Breadth of service covers things like whether or not a company offered a variety of quality panels, batteries or inverters and if it offered panels for purchase, lease and power purchase agreement. It also takes into consideration the strength of warranties. Value covers price and any other benefits, for example, a highly rated app for customers to monitor their solar panels. Customer care included some anecdotal evidence from online forums and review sites, but also customer satisfaction and care ratings (where available) from reputable sources like the Better Business Bureau.

Solar Panel FAQs

How long do solar panels last?

If you buy solar panels today, there's a good chance they'll be under warranty for 20 to 25 years. You'll often see that listed as the lifespan of the panels, but that's not quite accurate. That warranty covers production from your solar panels. Solar panels lose their ability to produce solar electricity as they age for any number of reasons, so a warranty will guarantee a certain level of production after a certain number of years. For example, Q Cells offers a 25-year warranty, which guarantees that your panels will produce at 86% of their rated capacity at that point.

This doesn't mean those solar panels die at the end of 25 years, they'll just produce less. Solar panels can produce well after their warranty expires, though given that large numbers of solar panels are just now being installed, we'll continue to get a better idea of how they age in years to come. 

How do I know if the quote I have is a good one?

The best way to tell is to get multiple quotes. With a purchase this big, you should get several, including one or two from local installers who might be able to offer you greater choice.

There are also resources from the federal and many state governments to guide you through the process. You can look out for a few red flags from salespeople, too. 

Can I get the federal tax credit?

The federal tax credit for solar panels is still around. For any solar panels installed in 2022, the federal government will give you 26% of the cost back on your income taxes. In 2023, the credit drops to 22% and it's slated to go away in the years after. An extension of the tax credit is always possible.

Besides the federal tax credit, there might be state and local incentives you can take advantage of.

More of CNET's solar coverage