Best Solar Panel Installation Companies in Michigan

Here's what to know if you're considering going solar in Michigan.

The companies providing quotes may differ from those described in our independent reviews.
Sunset over the Grand River in Grand Rapids, Michigan.

Despite its snowy winters, the sun shines in Michigan so solar panels can do their thing.

Daniel E. Johnson/Getty Images

If you live in Michigan, you have a few reasons to consider taking your electricity into your own hands and installing solar panels. The state has frequent power outages, including during winter storms and other moments when the temperature can hit extremes.

Michigan may not have been at the forefront of the solar energy boom, but recent legislative changes and ambitious energy goals have the state primed for solar growth. Interested in being part of it? For you, the hard part might be choosing a solar installer.

We've compiled a list of national and local solar installers that serve the Great Lake State. We've also got answers for some of the questions you may be asking yourself about getting solar panels. 


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Best national solar companies in Michigan

Palmetto Solar

Best overall

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Solar panels are typically low maintenance equipment, but they're also unfamiliar. If you want to reap the benefits of solar but will have a bit more peace of mind if someone else is making sure it's working, Palmetto might be a good fit for you. Just remember to add the cost of Palmetto's monitoring service in to your payback period calculations.

  • Equipment 9.3 / 10
  • Warranty 6 / 10
  • Service 10 / 10
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SunPower Solar

Best solar panels

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If you're looking for top-of-the-line solar panels, SunPower is your best choice. But don't write it off if you're looking for a less flashy installation that will get the job done. This year it started installing Qcells panels, which should make an installation from the longest-tenured company on our list available to more people.

  • Equipment 8 / 10
  • Warranty 8.5 / 10
  • Service 7 / 10
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Tesla Solar

Most affordable

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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.

If price is the thing you won't budge on, consider Tesla. By all accounts, Tesla installs quality panels and makes the closest thing there is to a household name in solar storage: the Powerwall.

Where you might miss out is customer service. Discussion online seems to suggest Tesla's service is a bit of a gamble.

  • Equipment 7.3 / 10
  • Warranty 6.5 / 10
  • Service 8 / 10
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Local Michigan solar installers

You don't have to go with a big national firm if you want to go solar. Here are some local companies worth considering.

The Green Panel is one of the few solar companies with brick-and-mortar solar showrooms, with locations in Grand Rapids and Brighton. The Green Panel is an authorized retailer and installer of many leading solar products from Enphase, Panasonic, SolarEdge, Tesla and more. You can purchase your system outright or finance it through a loan. The product warranty will depend on the brand of components you pick for your system. 

Michigan Solar Solutions is known for its "cash-back energy guarantee," which includes free system monitoring by Omnidian for three years. According to their brochure (PDF) "if your system generates less than 95% of forecasted energy, we pay you for annual energy loss even if you experienced a bout of bad weather." The company also has 4.9 out of 5 stars with GuildQuality, which surveys customers in the home building industry.

Tiger Solar is a regional solar company that serves Idaho, Maryland, Michigan and Virginia. The company promises a "non-pushy" sales force and works with "nonprofits and credit unions whose sole purpose is to connect you with green financing options." 

Solar panels can protect you from Michigan's frequent outages

Rising electricity rates are reason enough for many homeowners to install solar panels. And while Michigan's electricity rates have increased over the years, frequent power outages are another reason why Michigan homeowners choose to go solar. Michigan suffers from frequent power outages, with the state's winter storms posing a threat to the reliability of the power grid during periods of extreme temperatures. 

"The Michigan grid is in the bottom ten in terms of reliability and performance in the country," Robin Dutta, a campaign director with Local Solar for All, a clean energy advocacy group, told CNET. "That's been the last few years fairly consistently."

How to determine which solar panel installation company is best for you in Michigan

You'll likely have multiple solar installer options in your area. But which is the best and how can you tell? Every house is a bit different, so every solar installation will be different as well. What you really need is an installer who has experience working with the type of roof you have and the type of system you want installed.

Ben Delman, a communications director with Solar United Neighbors, a clean energy nonprofit, says homeowners should look for solar installers that are certified by NABCEP and have the proper licensing and permits to do their work. Read up on online reviews from as many sources as you can, too. Google and Yelp reviews are a good starting point. Look for solar companies with at least 20 to 30 positive reviews. If you know someone who has solar panels installed on their roof, you can ask them for recommendations too. 

Make sure that your installer is getting the best angle and orientation possible for your system, Dutta said. 

"You want to make sure that they're looking at the orientation of your system so that you can maximize the generation of the system," Dutta said. "So typically that's a south or southeast facing orientation. And if it's not, for some reason, make sure they can explain why and why it's beneficial."

Make sure you're familiar with how the federal solar tax credit works. Your solar installer should be able to explain it accurately. If they can't, that's a red flag. Your installer should also be able to clearly define how pricing works before beginning the project. 

According to Delman and Dutta, a good solar installer should be able to: 

  • Give good word-of-mouth references.
  • Explain the project and working deadlines in detail.
  • Clearly lay out the cost of everything beforehand. There shouldn't be any surprise charges.
  • Define technical terms in an easy-to-understand manner.
  • Accurately explain how the federal solar tax credit works.
  • Design a system that is as efficient and beneficial as possible for your needs.
  • Be knowledgeable and transparent about how financing works.
  • Have knowledge about the local permit requirements and the process for system interconnection with your local utility company.
  • Understand homeowners association restrictions and assist you in navigating that process.
  • Answer any question, even the difficult ones.

Read more: Just looking for an emergency backup? Check out the best portable solar panels and solar generators.

Average cost of solar panels in Michigan

Here's a look at the average cash price for a 5-kilowatt system before factoring in tax credits and incentives, according to data from FindEnergy.com. But your system could cost more if you choose to install a solar battery.

Michigan solar panel costs

System size (kW)Price per wattTotal cost
5 $4.06$20,278

Michigan solar panel incentives and rebates

The most substantial solar incentive in Michigan is the residential clean energy credit. This federal solar tax credit applies to solar panels purchased between 2022 and 2032 and allows you to claim 30% of the total cost of your system back in tax credits. 

Michigan doesn't offer traditional net metering. Instead, there is a similar program called the Distributed Generation Program. You won't receive a set compensation rate for any excess solar sent to the power grid. 

"The compensation that solar owners get for the excess power that they produce is less than the retail rate of the electricity that they pay for," Dutta said. "And that has definitely hurt the value proposition for solar in Michigan."

Michigan solar incentives

Program Description
Alternative Energy Property Tax Exemption This bill excludes solar systems from property tax "as long as they offset all or a portion of the energy use on the property they are installed, and if the combined true cash value of all exempt property is below $80,000."
Distributed Generation Program This Michigan program replaces net metering. Instead of a set rate for excess solar sent to the grid, the program measures incoming and outgoing electricity separately to create a more appropriate cost-of-service billing.
Lansing Board of Water & Light Solar Rebate "BWL offers a solar PV rebate of $500 per installed kilowatt, up to $2,000." You can apply with the solar rebate application.
Michigan Saves Home Energy Loan Program This loan program gives the "best rates and terms" for over 150 energy-related home improvements, including solar panels.
Residential Clean Energy Credit A 30% federal tax credit for systems installed from 2022 to 2032. The credit decreases in 2033.

How to pay for solar panels in Michigan

When it comes to the actual purchase of your solar panel system, you've got lots of options. Here are some of the most common. 

Cash: Paying cash for your panels is an interest-free way to pay for solar panels, but requires a large amount of upfront capital. If you're not ready to go solar yet, consider saving some money in a high-yield savings account.

Solar loan: Your installer will likely offer you financing options via a solar loan. These solar loans are an alternative way to buy a solar array and qualify for tax incentives, but you will have to pay interest. 

Other financing options: Solar loans from your installer aren't your only financing option. You could also consider taking out a personal loan through your bank or opening a home equity line of credit.

Solar lease: When you lease a solar system, you don't own it. Instead, you pay for the use of company-owned solar equipment. Going with a solar lease will save you more money up front, but less over time. Not every solar company offers solar leases. 

Power purchase agreements: When you sign a power purchase agreement, you pay for the electricity generated by a third-party solar panel system to power your home. Certain states don't offer power purchase agreements.

Installation factors to keep in mind

Besides deciding on your budget, solar installer, purchase and financing method, consider these five aspects of your home when considering residential solar panels.

Own or rent. Homeowners are set up to get the best incentives and return on investment with solar panels. Renters who want to use renewable energy are better off looking into community solar programs

Roof condition: If your roof needs repairs before solar panel installation, factor that expense into your budget. Make sure your installer advises you on how the size and slope of your roof will affect panel placement and performance. A roof oriented toward the sun with an unobstructed view will generate more electricity.

Location: Some states receive more sunlight than others. Michigan doesn't get nearly as much sunlight as other states, receiving about only four hours of peak sunlight per day. 

Neighborhood and HOA rules: Michigan doesn't have solar rights laws, which means homeowner associations can ban solar panels. Check your neighborhood bylaws before proceeding with solar installation. A reputable installer should help you navigate this. 

Homeowners insurance: Consult your home insurance company to ensure a solar system can be covered under your policy.

How we evaluate solar companies

Methodology

The companies we listed above as "the best" are curated from CNET's best solar companies list. Companies making the best list are scored on the equipment, warranties and customer service they offer. Then, we make sure these recommendations are available in your state. You can read a full breakdown of how we review solar companies here.

Companies listed under the local installers were chosen in a less rigorous way. We chose them because they offered something unique or notable to customers in the state, they seemed well-regarded by internet reviewers or because they were one of the few installers we could find information on in the state.

Whether we've completed a full review on a company or not, it's always a good idea to get multiple quotes from different installers before choosing a company.

 Michigan solar FAQs

Are solar panels in Michigan worth it?

Solar panels in Michigan can be worth investing in if your energy costs are high and your home has the conditions for efficient solar performance. A reliable solar installer can provide you with an estimate of the cost and return on your investment for solar panels. Get three to four quotes from different solar companies to accurately estimate whether solar panels are worth it for your home. 

Can I get free solar panels in Michigan?

Completely free solar panels aren't an option in Michigan. However, several federal and state incentives exist that benefit homeowners and businesses when purchasing solar panel systems in the state. 

How much do solar panels cost in Michigan?

Paying cash for solar panels in Michigan cost about $20,278 for a 5kW system, according to Find Energy.

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Lisa Iscrupe Contributor
Lisa Iscrupe is a CNET contributor and a writer for CNET's sister publication SaveOnEnergy.com with a background in residential energy and solar power. She explores a spectrum of energy-adjacent topics, from saving money on electric bills to finding the best electric vehicle charger. Readers can expect straightforward explanations, reviews and advice on all things energy. CNN, The Daily MBA, The Media Bulletin and other national media outlets have referenced her articles.
Expertise Solar power, energy
Lisa Iscrupe
Lisa Iscrupe is a CNET contributor and a writer for CNET's sister publication SaveOnEnergy.com with a background in residential energy and solar power. She explores a spectrum of energy-adjacent topics, from saving money on electric bills to finding the best electric vehicle charger. Readers can expect straightforward explanations, reviews and advice on all things energy. CNN, The Daily MBA, The Media Bulletin and other national media outlets have referenced her articles.

Article updated on December 9, 2023 at 1:43 PM PST

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Lisa Iscrupe Contributor
Lisa Iscrupe is a CNET contributor and a writer for CNET's sister publication SaveOnEnergy.com with a background in residential energy and solar power. She explores a spectrum of energy-adjacent topics, from saving money on electric bills to finding the best electric vehicle charger. Readers can expect straightforward explanations, reviews and advice on all things energy. CNN, The Daily MBA, The Media Bulletin and other national media outlets have referenced her articles.
Expertise Solar power, energy
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Sarah Drolet Associate Writer
Sarah Drolet is an associate writer at CNET covering home energy, residential solar power and whole-home backup technology. She previously wrote about home and moving-related topics for MYMOVE. Sarah is a self-identifying home battery nerd, often seen combing through battery spec sheets and warranties. She graduated from Coastal Carolina University with a bachelor's degree in communications. In her spare time, you can find her chilling on the couch with her PlayStation and cat.
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