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Palmetto Solar Review: A Strong Choice for Going Solar

Palmetto Solar brings strong equipment offerings and some of the most robust customer support to 20 states.

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Andrew Blok Editor I
Andrew Blok has been an editor at CNET covering HVAC and home energy, with a focus on solar, since October 2021. As an environmental journalist, he navigates the changing energy landscape to help people make smart energy decisions. He's a graduate of the Knight Center for Environmental Journalism at Michigan State and has written for several publications in the Great Lakes region, including Great Lakes Now and Environmental Health News, since 2019. You can find him in western Michigan watching birds.
Expertise Solar providers and portable solar power; coffee makers, grinders and products Credentials
  • Master's degree in environmental journalism
Andrew Blok
9 min read
8.3

Palmetto Solar

Like

  • Options for after-installation support
  • Top-of-line equipment
  • Financing marketplace

Don't like

  • Some warranties could be stronger
  • No consistent price match policy

If you're looking to save some money on electricity, join in the energy transition or charge your electric vehicle on the cheap, rooftop solar might be a good fit. 

Even with the help of a federal tax credit now at 30%, going solar requires research and careful thought. And, navigating the highly competitive solar industry requires avoiding the less-than-honest companies out there.

One of the most important things you can do is get multiple quotes from companies in your area, including local ones, but it's worth knowing the national players who conduct much of the residential solar business in the US. 


Can solar panels save you money?

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Solar installers put panels on a roof.

Palmetto operates in close to half of U.S. states.

Palmetto

Palmetto Solar is one of the 10 largest solar companies in the country. It stakes a claim to transparency and offers a choice of quality equipment, making it one of the more attractive choices on the market. Palmetto offers the most popular panels for residential uses and strong battery choices. While some of its warranties are not quite top of the line, they compete with many others. Palmetto does offer more upfront information than most solar companies I've reviewed so far.

No review should take the place of getting multiple quotes (including local installers) specific to your property. This review is as well researched as possible, but it doesn't rely on any hands-on testing. I didn't go through the ordering process with Palmetto Solar or any other solar company, so your experience may be different from what's written here.


Can solar panels save you money?

Interested in understanding the impact solar can have on your home? Enter some basic information below, and we’ll instantly provide a free estimate of your energy savings.


What do I get from Palmetto?

Palmetto solar customers can purchase solar panels or enter into a lease or power purchase agreement, though the majority of its customers purchase their panels. While purchasing solar panels outright will often save you the most money in the long run, third-party ownership models like leases and power purchase agreements have helped spur residential solar growth by removing much of the upfront cost.

solar-shingles-2
Watch this: New Solar Shingles You May Not Even Notice

What equipment does Palmetto install?

Regardless of how you get solar panels on your roof, Palmetto is likely to offer quality ones. While the company is "equipment agnostic," as Jason Conrad, Palmetto's vice president of product marketing told CNET in 2022, Palmetto's main offerings for solar panels and inverters are quality ones.

Palmetto currently installs Qcells panels and REC Alpha Pure Black panels, though more Qcells panels these days, Conrad said in a 2023 email. It only installs all-black panels that have low profile mounting systems, 25-year warranties and certain supply chain ethics assurances. Qcells solar panels are the most widely installed in residential applications. The Qcells panels Palmetto highlights online have a maximum efficiency rating of 21.4%, a top tier mark, and the REC panels have a maximum efficiency rating of 21.6%. 

Palmetto installs Enphase microinverters and SolarEdge inverters with power optimizers, both of which allow for monitoring the system at the panel level. The two companies provide the majority of inverters used in residential solar installations.

Palmetto offers batteries from two manufacturers. The current offerings are from Sonnen and Tesla. A sonnenCore battery has 10 kilowatt-hours of capacity and can discharge at a peak of 8.6 kilowatts or continuously at 4.8 kilowatts. You can stack at least two batteries for a capacity of 20 kWh. Sonnen's Ecolinx has a capacity of 12-20 kWh and can push out electricity at a continuous rate of 8 kilowatts. It's also 100% recyclable, according to Sonnen. Tesla's Powerwall holds 13.5 kWh and can deliver a steady stream of energy at five kilowatts or a peak of seven kilowatts.

What warranties does Palmetto offer?

Solar installations from Palmetto are covered by a 10-year workmanship warranty and five-year warranty that the holes drilled in your roof won't leak, Conrad said. Those warranties are a bit shorter than some other companies.

Both REC and Qcells panels are guaranteed by the manufacturer to produce at 86% of their rated capacity after 25 years. These production warranties are near the top of the field for both length and the level of production.

Tesla and most Sonnen batteries offer ten-year warranties, though some Sonnen batteries carry 15-year warranties, the longest I've seen in the residential industry. SolarEdge inverters come with a 12-year warranty, while Enphase inverters come with a 25-year warranty.

Palmetto's lease and power purchase agreement receive additional benefits -- a production guarantee and labor coverage -- for free under the Palmetto Protect Performance plan. Customers who purchase their panels with either cash or a loan can add this additional coverage for $20 or less per month, depending on their system's size and location. Customers who opt out of the Performance plan receive the standard warranties and proactive monitoring of their system under the Palmetto Protect Essentials plan.

Does Palmetto offer monitoring services

The Palmetto app for monitoring, maintenance requests and customer service has a 3.9 star rating on Google Play and a 4.4 rating on Apple's App Store.

Palmetto customers also receive proactive monitoring and communication of any problems that arise with their panels.

Does Palmetto use subcontractors?

Palmetto operates on a marketplace system, which means that they bring customers and installers together. The company says this brings the price down by fostering competition, though you should still get multiple quotes. It also means that Palmetto doesn't have installers on staff, though Palmetto will be your main point of contact throughout. Adding a performance guarantee on top could reduce concerns you might feel over installations not being handled in house.

How much do Palmetto solar panels cost?

Palmetto, like many solar companies, doesn't make its average prices per installation public. For some locations it does give you a few basic pieces of information about your potential solar array. For my address I got a potential solar array projected onto my roof. It included the number of panels needed to offset my energy usage, but not a price. 

A person installing solar panels on a shingle roof.

Palmetto offers more financing options than most.

Palmetto Solar

The average cost of solar installations is $2.99 per watt for an eight kilowatt system, according to an analysis done by Wood Mackenzie

Palmetto also hosts and operates a financing marketplace, where different lenders offer competing loans. This drives down the lending cost, Conrad said, though he couldn't say how much it saves people. These include loans that allow you to lump in other energy efficiency or solar-related home improvements like new windows, roofing, panel upgrades, battery storage and more.

Again, it's important to explore your options for paying for solar. Avoiding a loan can save you a lot of money because you won't pay lending fees or interest.

What financing options does Palmetto offer?

You can get solar panels from Palmetto via purchase, lease or power purchase agreement. While purchasing panels, either with cash or using a loan, will deliver the greatest savings over time, a lease or power purchase agreement removes much of the upfront costs. Depending on the terms of your agreement, you might save money on your energy bill immediately rather than after a few years, like solar purchases.

Does Palmetto Solar operate in my state? How do I order?

Palmetto operates in 20 states, connecting customers with solar installers. While customers will interact with Palmetto through the process, Palmetto is "one hundred percent driven by vendors in our network," Conrad said.

Palmetto's service area

Arizona MassachusettsPennsylvania
California MichiganRhode Island
Colorado MissouriSouth Carolina
Florida NevadaTexas
Georgia New JerseyUtah
Illinois North CarolinaVirginia
Maryland Ohio

To order, you'll contact the company through Palmetto's website to get quotes and connect with a solar advisor. That process includes an introductory meeting, a site survey, contract signing and system design, mostly online. From there, the company lays out a timeline to operating solar panels that will take two to four months. 

Two people in safety harnesses installing solar on a roof.

Palmetto offers top of the line panels and inverters.

Palmetto Solar

Is Palmetto Solar my best choice?

The short answer for a purchase this big, is "it depends." Before you purchase solar panels, you should gather multiple quotes and carefully consider what's best for your home and energy use.

Palmetto does offer quality equipment that's widely used across the industry. Its stated standards for solar panels mean they will be top tier and under strong warranties. The inverter and batteries on offer are strong candidates too.

The warranties Palmetto offers vary from strong to lower than average. Because it offers quality equipment, the equipment warranties are strong. Its workmanship warranties match many of the others in the field, but the five-year warranty for roof penetrations could be longer. 

Palmetto's promise to proactively monitor is a nice addition that can offer peace of mind for consumers who feel intimidated by the technology they're buying. I can see the production guarantee doing the same thing for cautious customers.

Palmetto does have an A+ rating from the Better Business Bureau.

While this review is researched to the best of my ability, it cannot be overstated that each solar situation is different. Roof construction, local climate and your energy use all impact how solar panels best fit your needs. Getting multiple quotes and negotiating with solar companies is the best way to ensure you're getting a good deal. This review can't replace that.

Pros

  • Strong commitment to support after installation
  • Quality equipment on offer
  • Financing marketplace could drive down prices

Cons

  • Some warranties could be longer
  • No firm price match policy

Palmetto reviews: What are customers saying?

Online customer reviews can be helpful in a few ways. While it's likely not a good idea to expect your experience with a company to follow point for point with any individual review, they can be a useful place to identify trends in the customer experience and figure out what questions you ought to ask of installers. 

Here's a small sample of the good and bad from the Better Business Bureau, which have been lightly edited for spelling and punctuation.

5 star reviews

"Incredible service. Everyone was so nice and they were very helpful and there was no pressure. They installed them very fast and did an excellent job. I would recommend!" Nick L. May 2, 2023

"Palmetto has kept me well informed about the project and the next step the entire process. I am very happy with the end result. It did take a bit longer than I anticipated but well worth it! Palmetto is always quick to respond to any questions. My solar panels are producing above my expectations." Kay G. April 1, 2023

1 star reviews

"My system has been dead for a while and am currently waiting for them to approve the 3rd party to remedy this incompetent install (+-$790), but they are just leaving me hanging." Sheldon B. March 3, 2023 (Palmetto responded that it's working on a solution to this complaint.)

"Eight months ago, I started the process of getting solar panels installed on my roof with Palmetto. Over 5 months ago, I gave a deposit for my project. About two months ago, I reached out to my project manager and a number of other Palmetto agents that I reached via their customer service line, inquiring to understand what the hold-up was as I had heard nothing (and still had no solar). Well, since then, no one has returned a phone call. I filed a case to have my project canceled and my deposit refunded." Christine B. Feb. 1, 2023 (Palmetto indicated it would reach out to the customer to provide an update shortly.)

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.

You can read a detailed look at how the scoring breaks down.

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 like how many states a company operates in.

Frequently asked questions

How does Palmetto work?

Palmetto operates on a marketplace model. It connects customers to installers, while providing certain customer service guarantees for after installation. It also offers a loan marketplace, which the company says delivers better deals to customers.

If you go solar with Palmetto, you'll be interacting with the company throughout the design, installation and lifetime of your solar system.

What solar panels does Palmetto use?

Palmetto uses Qcells and REC solar panels, though it's installed more Qcells panels than REC panels lately. 

Qcells is a Korean company that has solar panel factories in Georgia and plans to build more. Its panels are some of the most widely used in the residential installations.

What is Palmetto Protect?

Palmetto Protect is how Palmetto brands its warranty and monitoring services. Depending on your location and the size of your, you can opt in to different levels of monitoring, warranties and customer service. Some stronger packages are extended free-of-charge to lease and power purchase agreement customers.

How long has Palmetto been in business?

Since 2010.

Where is Palmetto located?

Headquartered in Charleston, South Carolina, Palmetto installs solar panels in 20 states.

Correction, Jan. 31, 2023: An earlier version of this article misstated the Better Business Bureau's grading process. Any company can receive a grade from the Bureau, regardless of whether it has paid to go through the accreditation process.