NRG Clean Power brings one of the solar industry's most confident approaches to its work, offering a price match and 40-year warranty. This helped push NRG to one of CNET's highest scores we've seen from the solar companies we've reviewed so far.
One big caveat: If you don't live in California or Texas, you'll need to keep shopping. If you do live in one of these two states, NRG is worth considering.
NRG Clean Power has its origins in a California-based heating and air conditioning company that has been around for three decades. Twelve years ago the company split, with NRG Clean Power focusing solely on solar power as "sort of its own entity," according to sales director Andrew Cohen.
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Somewhat confusingly, the company has no relation to international energy behemoth NRG Energy, which has dabbled in solar and other renewables over the years.
NRG Clean Power focuses on residential solar installations across California, and increasingly in parts of Texas.
In recent years there's been a bit of a rush to add solar power to many a roof or residence. It just seems to make sense with a new round of financial and tax incentives that can pay for a substantial amount of a new system. (Despite inflation and other economic turbulence, the residential solar market broke its record for installations again in 2022.) And with the ravages of climate change in the form of unprecedented wildfires, heat waves and powerful storms making headlines, adding more renewables to our energy mix is also a socially responsible investment.
This has created something of a boom, with numerous solar installers popping up to supply all that demand. This can make it a bit bewildering to navigate the industry. NRG Clean Power looks to reassure homeowners by standing behind its work longer than any other company we're aware of, with a warranty that extends across the lifetime of your system or roughly half of yours (40 years), whichever comes first.
Keep in mind we don't directly review equipment or services (you can learn more about our methodology below) and it's important to do your own due diligence and collect multiple quotes from local installers before signing a contract.
Unlike many solar companies, NRG also does roofing. This means it can replace or upgrade a homeowner's roof before installing solar to boost efficiency and make sure that the most important foundation of any rooftop solar system is going to last for the duration of its lifetime.
Another non-standard service offered is solar panel cleaning, an important maintenance service the company says can boost home energy production by as much as 25%. Though to reach that mark, those would likely be some dirty panels.
What solar equipment does NRG Clean Power install?
NRG installs a number of name brand solar panels, batteries and inverters, including a lot of solar modules from REC, Panasonic and Qcells as well as "pretty much anything that's going to make the design optimal for that particular homeowner," Cohen said.
He notes that NRG is a certified installer for many manufacturers, which can sometimes mean longer warranties.
NRG Clean Power typically relies on manufacturers' warranties for equipment. Industry standards are around 25 years for panels and inverters and 10 years for batteries. Cohen says because the company is a certified installer with REC, it's possible to get a longer, 30-year warranty on their components.
What really sets NRG apart is its 40-year or lifetime workmanship warranty. The company guarantees its installation work against leaks, unsatisfactory energy production or other performance issues for 40 years or the lifetime of the system, whichever comes first.
At the time this was written, this warranty is by far the longest workmanship warranty we've come across in the residential solar industry so far.
Does NRG Clean Power offer monitoring services?
The NRG Clean Power app allows you to check the status of project approval and installation before the system is activated for the first time. The app is relatively new and has not yet been reviewed on Google or Apple app stores.
For system monitoring, Cohen said it's usually best to rely on apps provided by the inverter manufacturer, such as the Tesla or Enphase Enlighten app.
He added that NRG itself doesn't monitor people's energy production, but recommends you make weekly checks and take advantage of a solar panel cleaning service once or twice a year.
"It's really important that homeowners are monitoring their systems consistently," Cohen said.
Does NRG Clean Power use subcontractors?
NRG covers all of California and most of Texas using all-remote, virtual energy advisors and a list of installers, including subcontractors.
"We find that it's the best business model for us to be able to leverage local pros as well as our own," Cohen explained.
While the company employs some in-house installers, it's likely to contract out work in more remote areas.
Cohen said NRG has a strict onboarding process for subcontractors and wants to see a portfolio of work from all of its potential installers.
We always consider it a bonus to see more employee installers on a company's roster, but it's not a factor that counts in our scoring system. NRG's approach is not unusual for the industry.
How much do NRG Clean Power panels cost?
Like nearly all solar companies we speak with, NRG Clean Power did not offer specific pricing information. This isn't surprising, given how much homeowners' needs and challenges can vary from one situation to the next and market to market.
When I asked about solar pricing, the first thing Cohen mentioned was the company policy of providing a price match, which is definitely not an industry standard.
"If you can provide an apples-to-apples quote that has premium materials, probably the same inverter, same solar module or at least same wattage with a similar efficiency, we'll price match that quote as long as it's a hard quote," he was quick to explain.
He added that he considers NRG generally "competitive" on pricing.
"We're more of a high volume installer and we're able to keep our fees low by leveraging local installers."
Here's a look at the national average prices from three different data sources including: Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory, FindEnergy and the energy consulting firm Wood Mackenzie.
What financing options does NRG Clean Power offer?
NRG doesn't offer solar leases or power purchase agreements, but it works with a number of credit unions and financial institutions, including Mosaic Federal Credit Union and the Energy Loan Network to help homeowners find solar loans and financing for a new system.
Additionally, Cohen said the company is also willing to work with other credit unions or loans that homeowners secure on their own.
"If you can get a better loan than something we offer, no problem."
Does NRG Clean Power operate in my state? How do I order?
NRG Clean Power offers solar installations across the vast majority of California and parts of Texas, including the Dallas and Houston areas.
Ordering from the company begins with providing recent utility bills and basic information about your house before a virtual consultation that's usually a Google Meet lasting 30 to 60 minutes. NRG's energy consultants use Aurora design software to create a 3D model of the property using lidar and satellite imagery. The conversation also includes discussion of financing, if desired.
To move forward, a deposit (usually about $1,000) is collected followed by an in-person site evaluation where a technician and drone are sent to inspect the property and house thoroughly. Cohen said it's also possible to request an express site evaluation for a homeowner that can provide their own photos.
Next comes a more detailed design for approval by both sides. The company then collects a second "progress payment" and moves forward to the permitting process. Finally, the system is installed, and once an inspection is completed and there is permission to activate the system, everything is done. Cohen estimated it's typically a two- to three-month process from start to finish.
NRG Clean Power reviews: What are customers saying?
Overall, there aren't that many online reviews of NRG Clean Power, compared to some of the larger companies out there. It was a mix of negative and positive reviews. The company is accredited with the Better Business Bureau, but has a score of "B," which is lower than most accredited solar companies.
5-star NRG Clean Power reviews
"I was referred to NRG by a neighbor, and am glad I took the recommendation! Installed in just a couple of months and no problems to report. Good communication." -- Paul R, March 3, 2023
1-star NRG Clean Power reviews
"Run, don't walk away from this company!! We ordered solar panels in April, 2022 and didn't get them installed until October, 2022. They are still unusable and the installation crew has no idea why or how to fix it. We have NEVER been able to speak to anyone at NRG unless they were wanting money." -- Jackie D. Jan. 1, 2023
Is NRG Clean Power the best choice?
One of the most important things to do when choosing a company to install a solar system on your home is to get multiple hard quotes for your individual situation. Reviews like this can only tell you so much. Also, keep in mind that CNET does not directly review any of the equipment or services described here.
We do not go through the ordering process with NRG Clean Power, but instead rely on our own research, conversations with the company and knowledge of the industry to put together this review.
That said, NRG could be a compelling option, especially given its impressive workmanship warranty and emphasis on its price match guarantee.
If you're looking for a lease or other arrangement, you should look elsewhere. There's also some cause for concern in reviews and complaints about the company submitted to the Better Business Bureau. Generally speaking, though, we don't recommend making a decision based solely on online reviews. You might consider asking a company representative about some of the patterns you see in negative reviews to find out how they've been addressed.
NRG Clean Power pros and cons
Industry-leading workmanship warranty
Price match guarantee
Wide array of brands and components offered
Better Business Bureau grade is lower than many competitors
No leasing options
Operates in only two states
How we evaluate solar companies
Reviewing solar companies in a hands-on way is difficult. Accounting for all the differences project to project is impossible. To provide a helpful review, we focused on what we can measure and meaningfully compare among companies.
We focus on three buckets of criteria: equipment, warranties and service.
Within the equipment category, companies receive scores for the panels, inverters and batteries they install. Warranties include the guarantees on the panels, workmanship and weatherization against leaks. Companies earn points for service if they offer a price match, a meaningful level of price transparency and a well-rated app for monitoring solar production. They lose points if there are major issues pertaining to customer service (lawsuits, investigations or clear reputations for shoddy service). These issues will always be detailed in the review.
We don't consider the average price of a company's installations in their score. This information is difficult to find and hard to compare across service areas (and even roof to roof). Companies are often slow to disclose it, too. We also leave out easily found but not useful information such as the number of states a company operates in.
Who is the owner of NRG Clean Power?
NRG Clean Power is a privately held company. It lists Oren Tamir as CEO. It is not related to the larger NRG, an energy retail provider.
How long has NRG Clean Power been in business?
NRG Clean Power, the solar company -- not to be confused with the NRG energy retail provider -- has been in business for over 30 years.
CNET staff -- not advertisers, partners or business interests -- determine how we review the products and services we cover. If you buy through our links, we may get paid.
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Eric MackContributing Editor
Eric Mack has been a CNET contributor since 2011. Eric and his family live 100% energy and water independent on his off-grid compound in the New Mexico desert. Eric uses his passion for writing about energy, renewables, science and climate to bring educational content to life on topics around the solar panel and deregulated energy industries. Eric helps consumers by demystifying solar, battery, renewable energy, energy choice concepts, and also reviews solar installers. Previously, Eric covered space, science, climate change and all things futuristic. His encrypted email for tips is email@example.com.
ExpertiseSolar, solar storage, space, science, climate change, deregulated energy, DIY solar panels, DIY off-grid life projects. CNET's "Living off the Grid" series. https://www.cnet.com/feature/home/energy-and-utilities/living-off-the-grid/Credentials
Finalist for the Nesta Tipping Point prize and a degree in broadcast journalism from the University of Missouri-Columbia.