Best Solar Panel Installation Companies in Rhode Island

High electricity rates and clean energy incentives mean Rhode Islanders could end up saving money by installing their own rooftop solar panels.

The companies providing quotes may differ from those described in our independent reviews.

Rhode Island has high electricity rates, making solar panels more appealing for some. 

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For such a small state, Rhode Island has big plans for renewable energy -- and big ways to save on your power bill by installing rooftop solar panels. Rhode Island has an ambitious goal of supplying 100% of the state's electricity from renewable sources by 2033. This is a big undertaking due to the state's reliance on natural gas, which fueled 87% of its electricity generation in 2021, according to the US Energy Information Administration.

"The interconnection queue here in Rhode Island is very high," Shauna Beland, the administrator of renewable energy programs with Rhode Island's Office of Energy Resources, told CNET. "We have quite a few projects in the queue not only for residential projects, but also for some of the larger-scale projects. So we're on track to meet that 2033 goal."  

In order to reach its 100% renewable electricity goal, Rhode Island's government is encouraging an expansion of solar energy by providing a variety of solar incentives for homeowners which already accounts for the majority of its clean energy portfolio. In addition to the 30% rebate on clean energy additions on your home from the federal tax credit, Rhode Islanders can take advantage of net metering policies and sales and property tax exemptions for solar panel systems.

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With the help of those state solar incentives and the state's big push for clean energy, the solar switch in Rhode Island may be less costly for you. Here's what you need to know if you're considering getting panels for your home, starting with the best solar installation companies operating within the state.

Best national solar panel companies in Rhode Island

There are relatively few options for installers in Rhode Island compared to other states. Getting several solar quotes from different installers can help you find the best price possible for your system. 

"We recommend that customers get at least three to four quotes before they decide on a solar installer," Beland said.

Take customer reviews, warranties, installer fees and maintenance fees into account as well when choosing your solar installer. Here are a few solar companies to consider in Rhode Island.

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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Freedom Forever

Best for cash customers

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Include Freedom Forever in your search if you want the backing of a national company that installs a wide variety of the most popular solar equipment available. Freedom Forever also extends a couple of products that take some of the pain and risk out of going solar, like a production guarantee and an escrow option with cash purchases. Online reviews say customer satisfaction has been low of late, though the company says that's changing.

  • Equipment 9.3 / 10
  • Warranty 7 / 10
  • Service 5 / 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 solar panel companies in Rhode Island

Experts say you should get multiple quotes before moving ahead with a company. Local companies might offer more competitive pricing, as their sales overhead might be lower.

Green Power Energy is headquartered in New Jersey and has been installing solar since 2009. The company mainly operates in northeastern states and installs solar panels, home batteries and electric vehicle chargers. Green Power Energy offers a 25-year workmanship warranty, with specific solar panels and inverters coming with a 25-year product and performance warranty. You can buy your solar panels with cash, a solar loan or sign up for a solar lease.

Summit Solar is an up-and-coming solar company, beginning service in 2016. The company currently operates in nine states, and has professionals certified by the North American Board of Certified Energy Practitioners. Summit Solar installs solar panels, solar batteries and other energy-efficient home upgrades. As far as warranties go, Summit Solar offers an insurance-backed, 30-year warranty through Solar Insure

Founded in 1994, Trinity Solar is a solar company currently operating in nine states along the east coast. Trinity Solar installs solar panels, solar batteries and inverters. Solar panel purchases come with a five-year workmanship warranty and inverters come with a 12-year warranty, which can be extended if desired. You can pay for your system with cash, a solar lease or a power purchase agreement. Note that Trinity Solar's leases and power purchase agreements are fully covered by a warranty for the duration of the agreement.

How to determine which Rhode Island solar company is the best for me

Experts recommend you get multiple quotes from multiple companies before making a purchase. Once you've got quotes in hand, you can weed through them using a few criteria. Price will almost always be a consideration, as will how you feel about your interactions with the company so far.

You should rely on the experience of others, too. Ask friends and neighbors who have gone solar about their experience with their chosen installer. You can also look up the company with the Better Business Bureau and read the complaints and reviews other customers have left.

You should also learn about red flags that might mean a solar salesperson is overpromising or being dishonest.

Why are electricity prices so high in Rhode Island?

Rhode Island consumes the second lowest amount of energy per capita in the US but pays the fourth highest electricity rate in the country at 27.50 cents per kilowatt-hour. That leads to an average monthly electricity bill of $160.88, according to CNET's sister publication SaveOnEnergy

So why is electricity so expensive? Blame natural gas, which saw prices spike in 2022 after Russia invaded Ukraine.

"Most of our electricity generation comes from natural gas," Beland said. "We're one of the most highly dependent states on natural gas."

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

Cost of solar panels in Rhode Island

Here's a look at the average cash price for a typical solar panel system in Rhode Island before factoring in tax credits and incentives, according to data from FindEnergy.com.

Average cost of solar panels in Rhode Island

Typical system size (kW)Price per wattTotal installed costCost after 30% federal tax credit
Rhode Island 5$4.07$20,350$14,245
National average 8.6$3.67$31,558$22,091

We've put together an interactive map that displays the average total cash price, cost per watt and system size for a typical solar panel system in your state, according to data from FindEnergy.com. These prices you'll see don't reflect rebates from tax credits or state incentives. Certain states don't have any FindEnergy solar data and are grayed out on the map.

Rhode Island solar panel incentives and rebates

The Ocean State offers a wide variety of state solar incentives and programs. These programs can help make going solar more affordable and accessible to Rhode Island residents.

Along with state solar incentives, Rhode Islanders can also take advantage of the federal residential clean energy credit, which allows you to claim 30% of the total cost of your solar system in tax credits. The state has a net metering policy as well, allowing you to sell your excess solar energy back to the grid.

"With net metering, customers are eligible for the Renewable Energy Fund Grant, which is currently, for 2023, 65 cents per watt, with a cap of $5,000," Beland said. "The way the program works is that the selected solar installer applies to the Renewable Energy Fund on the customer's behalf and the installer is required to pass through the incentive to help reduce the total upfront cost of the system."

It's also worth noting that solar panels are viewed as a home improvement. Installing solar panels can increase the value of your home by about $15,000, according to the US Department of Energy

Here are a few noteworthy Rhode Island solar incentives. A complete list of incentives can be found on the Database of State for Renewables & Efficiency. More information on state specific solar incentives can also be found in Rhode Island's Office of Energy Resources residential solar guide.

Rhode Island solar incentives

IncentiveProgram description
Net metering Rhode Island net metering law allows you to sell your excess solar energy back to the grid in exchange for credits. You can apply those credits to electricity bills to reduce or eliminate what you owe.
Property tax exemption You won't see any increases to your property taxes when you install solar panels in Rhode Island.
Residential clean energy credit The residential clean energy credit is a federal tax credit offering solar owners 30% of the total cost of their solar system back in tax credits.
Renewable Energy Growth Program REG is a solar incentive program, administered by the utility company National Grid, offering solar owners bill credits for energy based on the state's Performance-Based Incentives system. The REG program is different from the state net metering policy, and you can't participate in both at the same time.
Renewable Energy Fund REF is a grant program provided by Rhode Island Commerce Corporation to support the upfront cost of a net metered renewable energy system. This program can't be paired with the REG program offered by Rhode Island Energy.
Rhode Island sales tax exemption for renewable energy All solar equipment purchases are exempt from the Rhode Island sales tax. The exemption will automatically be applied at the point of purchase.

How to pay for solar panels in Rhode Island

Residential solar panels are an expensive investment no matter where you live. If you're serious about going solar, take some time to work out all your options and find the best payment method for your needs. Here are a few of the most common ways to pay for your solar panels.

Cash: If it's in your budget, paying for your solar panels upfront with cash is your best payment option. You won't have to worry about high financing fees or interest rates, and your eligibility for tax incentives and rebates won't be at risk. If you have plans to go solar in the future, consider putting some money into a high-yield savings account, which will help you generate more money over time. 

Solar loan: Solar providers usually offer financing options for solar panels, often referred to as a solar loan. These loans are typically overseen by a third party, so carefully inspect any associated fees and interest rates.   

Other loans: If cash isn't an option, you have other financing possibilities beyond a solar loan. Taking out a personal loan with your bank or opening a home equity line of credit are a couple other options. However, if you do choose to go with a HELOC, it's important to be aware of the risks. If you can't pay back what you owe, your home could face foreclosure.   

Lease or power purchase agreement: If you aren't interested in owning your own solar panels, you can sign a solar lease or enter a power purchase agreement. A solar lease means paying for the use of a company-owned solar system. Entering a power purchase agreement means you'll pay for the electricity generated by a company-owned solar system at a fixed rate. This rate is typically lower than the retail rate provided by the local utility company. Ask your solar provider which options are available for you.

Installation factors to consider

Other than your budget, here are a few installation factors to keep top of mind as you determine if your home is right for solar:

Condition of your roof: Is your roof suitable for solar? Your roof needs to be in good condition before solar installation. Roof damage, age, pitch and tree cover may affect the productivity of your solar panels. Solar panels have the best efficiency performance on south-facing roofs angled between 15 and 40 degrees, according to the US Department of Energy. Reputable solar installers will perform a roof inspection before installing solar panels.   

Insurance coverage: Does your homeowner's insurance agency cover rooftop solar panels? Check with your agency to see if you can add your solar panels to your insurance policy.

Location: How much sunshine will your solar panels get? The longer the sun is at its peak, the better your solar panels will perform. Rhode Island is one of the cloudier states in the US, ranking 35th out of 50 for state sunlight ranking. With an average of 4.23 hours of peak sunlight per day, according to TurbineGenerator, Rhode Island falls a bit short on sunshine. 

Solar easements: Does your home have guaranteed access to sunlight? Rhode Island allows property owners to establish solar easements -- your right to direct sunlight for your solar system. Your solar easement must be in writing and include a description of the property involved, a description of the angles and three-dimensional space involved, the terms of easement termination and provisions for compensation of the property owner.   

Financing options: Can you afford solar? If you can't pay upfront, there are plenty of other options available to you. Solar loans, personal loans, solar leases and power purchase agreements are just a few options to consider. Solar is a big investment, so do your research and find your best payment option beforehand.  

How we evaluate solar companies

Our 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.

Rhode Island solar power FAQs

Does Rhode Island offer state solar incentives?

Rhode Island is a pro solar state, offering a variety of state solar incentives and a net metering policy. There are also federal solar incentives for homeowners to take advantage of.

Is going solar in Rhode Island worth it?

The short answer: it depends. Rhode Island has many solar incentives and some of the highest electricity rates in the country, making solar look a bit more attractive for its residents. However, solar panels are a huge investment, and not every home may be right for solar. Before deciding to go solar you should take into account your household's energy usage, the condition of your roof, tree coverage, insurance and the cost of solar panels. 

How long do solar panels last?

The average lifespan of a solar panel is between 15 to 30 years. Solar installers will often offer a warranty on their solar panels. A competitive solar warranty will cover a solar panel for up to 25 years. Factors that will affect the lifespan of your solar panels are weather, panel quality and maintenance. 

CNET's Katherine Watt contributed to this article.  

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.
Expertise Home batteries | Solar
Sarah Drolet
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.

Article updated on April 2, 2024 at 3:56 AM PDT

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Sarah Drolet
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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.
Expertise Home batteries | Solar
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