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Sunrun Solar Panels Review: Biggest Doesn't Necessarily Mean Best

In 2022, Sunrun performed over 12% of all residential solar panel installations in America. Should it be your solar panel company, too?

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

Sunrun Solar


  • Choice of batteries
  • Tons of experience
  • Excellent warranties for leases

Don't like

  • Warranties for purchase could be stronger
  • No price match guarantee

When it comes to residential solar, one company installs more solar panels than anyone else. In 2022, Sunrun serviced 12.5% of the residential solar market, according to a Wood Mackenzie analysis, about triple the share of its closest competitor, Tesla. Sunrun's firm grip on the market share rankings leaderboard is thanks in large part to its 2020 acquisition of what was the second largest solar installer, Vivint. The company has a footprint in 21 states, Washington, DC and Puerto Rico. 

Most of Sunrun's business is in solar leases. That means you can rent panels from it for a monthly fee, though it'll sell you solar panels too. While there are dozens of solar panel providers and installers around the country (experts recommend getting multiple quotes), it's worth looking at the major players. Sunrun compares favorably within that group.

A person carries a solar panel past a blue Sunrun van.

Sunrun offers solar installations in 21 states, Washington, D.C. and Puerto Rico.


Sunrun's warranties are top of the line if you're going the route of power purchase agreement or lease. While we haven't learned its new preferred panel after LG left the market, it's filling that space with tier one panels, a company spokesperson said. It also offers strong solar battery options.

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.

Warranties for people who buy a rooftop system from Sunrun aren't as strong as those offered lease and power purchase agreement customers. That, and the fact that it doesn't appear to offer a price match guarantee, keeps its score a bit lower.

CNET scores solar companies on what we think makes a difference to you. You should always take a company's score from any reviewer with a grain of salt because the best solar company for you is the one that fits your needs, not the one that scores highest in even the most conscientious rankings. 

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.

That goes double for the above score for Sunrun. Because Sunrun didn't return our most recent interview requests (after we reworked how we evaluate companies in April 2023), we weren't always able to score them on their actual offerings -- which for most solar companies aren't well-defined online. Instead, for many of the components of Sunrun's score, we had to use the average score for the rest of the companies we've reviewed.

What do I get from Sunrun?

Sunrun's bread and butter is solar-as-service. This means the vast majority of people who use Sunrun (80 to 90%, according to a 2021 presentation to investors) buy power from or rent the Sunrun-owned solar panels on their roofs. 

Watch this: New Solar Shingles You May Not Even Notice

What solar equipment does Sunrun install?

If you're going to buy panels from Sunrun, you're likely to get quality equipment. In 2022, a Sunrun spokesperson confirmed the company uses multiple suppliers for solar equipment. LG, which used to be Sunrun's preferred supplier, stopped making solar panels in early 2022, so Sunrun is now working "with their other module manufacturing partners to supply tier one panels," the spokesperson said. "Tier one" is technically a measure of whether or not projects using those panels are safe investment bets, but they're typically quality panels that come from established companies. They should have high efficiency ratings and strong warranties.

Sunrun offers Tesla Powerwall for whole-home backup and an LG Chem battery, which the company says can back up "just the essentials," or four circuits (a circuit is everything connected to a breaker in your breaker box or electrical panel). Sunrun also offers battery storage to its solar-as-service customers through its program called Brightbox. Both battery options come with a 10-year manufacturer's warranty. Sunrun has also invested in Lunar Energy, a battery startup, and will install Lunar batteries.

Powerwall holds 12.2 kilowatt hours of usable energy, while the LG Chem batteries offer 9.2 to 16kWh of usable energy, depending on the model. (LG Energy Solutions has recalled some of its batteries for a possible fire risk.)

It's not clear which inverters Sunrun will use now that their preferred option, LG again, is no longer available.

What warranties does Sunrun offer?

Sunrun offers "bumper-to-bumper" coverage, maintenance and monitoring for its solar-as-service customers. If you purchase solar panels from them, you're left to rely on manufacturers' warranties. Those warranties are typically 25 years, though some are starting to push to 30 years. Sunrun also offers a 10-year workmanship warranty against damage to your roof or installation problems.

Does Sunrun offer monitoring services?

Sunrun has an app through which you can monitor your system's production. Since I'm not a Sunrun customer, I wasn't able to test it out. The mySunrun app gets 2.2 stars and 2.6 stars on Apple's App Store and Google Play respectively.

Does Sunrun use subcontractors?

As you might expect from the largest solar companies, Sunrun uses subcontractors alongside its in-house installation teams.

Solar panels on a yellow building.

The majority of Sunrun's business is in third-party ownership.


How much do Sunrun solar panels cost?

Most solar companies don't give you any pricing information upfront, and it's hard to know exactly how accurate the estimates that do exist are without getting an actual quote.

In November of 2021, Sunrun reported an installation cost of $3.93 per watt. The median cost in 2022, according to Wood Mackenzie was $3 per watt for an 8-kilowatt system, though other national estimates pin the cost of a solar panel installation a bit higher.

"This is not an apples-to-apples comparison," Wyatt Semanek, a Sunrun spokesperson, said via email later in 2021. Sunrun's price per watt includes the cost of batteries with some systems, while many other available averages -- including Wood Mackenzie's -- do not. One Tesla Powerwall can add $10,000 ($7,000 after the solar tax credit) to the cost of a system, a significant addition. Adding $7,000 dollars to the price tag of the hypothetical Wood Mackenzie array brings the price per watt to $3.87. Semanek also noted that geography has a significant influence on price.

This is part of the reason CNET doesn't consider price in its scoring and you should always get multiple quotes from installers in your area. Being able to compare quotes is your defense against agreeing to a price that's way too high.

Because the cost of energy changes over time, leases often include what's known as an escalator, a year-to-year increase in the lease fee. Escalators in Sunrun leases vary, but a Sunrun investor presentation in May set the average escalator at 2% with a range of 0% to 2.9%. As long as your local energy price goes up by more than that each year, you'll continue to save money. 

While electricity prices vary by region and utility, they generally do go up year to year. According to the US Energy Information Administration, residential electricity rates increased 3.9% from 2020 to 2021, though that represented one of the largest jumps in the last ten years. A solar lease is "usually cheaper" than paying your utility for all your electricity and provides stability in a budget, Semanek said. 

As always, make sure you understand the details of your agreement and how the math will work out for your specific situation, if it does at all.

A white house with solar panels under a blue sky.

Solar panels, whether purchased or owned by a third party, typically save money.

Steven Puetzer/Getty Images

What financing options does Sunrun offer?

You can buy solar panels from Sunrun, but most of their business is in third party ownership, through leases or power purchase agreements. In general, purchasing solar panels results in greater savings over the lifetime of your panels for a few reasons, not least being that you can claim the 30% federal solar tax credit. 

But, leases and power purchase agreements will often result in savings and come with much lower upfront costs. Calculate your potential savings and the likely costs for going solar before deciding which is right for you.

Does Sunrun operate in my state? How do I order?

Sunrun operates in 21 states and Washington, DC and Puerto Rico.

Zooey Liao / CNET

Once you've confirmed Sunrun operates in your state, enter some basic information online (name, zip code, address) and wait for a call. While I didn't go through the process of getting a quote, I did take this first step. I received a call less than 2 minutes after submitting my information. 

Sunrun asks for a year's worth of electricity bills to understand your needs and check your roof's solar panel capacity using satellite images. The company sends someone out to your house to check the quality of your roof and electrical panel. Then you'll hammer out any design details, get your questions answered and confirm the final design. The company handles permitting, and installation typically takes a day. Sunrun uses in-house installation teams and subcontractors.

Is Sunrun the best choice?

As with any major choice, it's best to follow the expert advice to shop around. Get multiple quotes for systems and financing (if you need to finance), including quotes from local, non-national installers.

Third-party ownership generally saves you less money over the long haul than buying panels outright, but leases and power purchase agreements offer savings quicker and don't typically come with the big upfront price tag of a purchase. Whether you want to lease or purchase, Sunrun has options.

If you're looking to purchase, you'll likely get quality equipment from Sunrun, though we don't have as many details about them as other companies. Sunrun's workmanship warranty matches Tesla's at 10 years and manufacturers' warranties for solar panels are typically 25 years long (though panels can last much longer).


  • Choice of batteries
  • Commitment to tier 1 panels
  • Excellent warranties for leases


  • No price match guarantee
  • Warranties could be stronger for purchases

Sunrun reviews: What are customers saying?

The Better Business Bureau gives Sunrun an A+ rating. This rating measures how well Sunrun responds to customer complaints raised through its platform, along with some other things. Customers rate Sunrun at a 3.75 out of five on the Bureau's website. (In general, the customer rating comes in lower than the letter grades given by the organization.)

While customer reviews are helpful in identifying trends or thinking up questions you should ask your installer, they're not a perfect predictor of what your experience with a company will be. The reviews posted to the Better Business Bureau all received replies from the company.

5-star Sunrun reviews

"Great service! Cordial and excellent customer service. Experienced a leak that turned out to be my gutter. They re pitched [sic] and cleaned the gutter. Above and beyond in even the smallest details. Will highly recommend." Alan B. 6/9/2023

"I am extremely grateful to Sunrun. They are the most upfront and ethical installers I've met." Anthony C. 5/23/2023

1-star Sunrun reviews

"We had the unfortunate luck of inheriting a solar panel lease when we purchased our home in 2021 (then Vivint, now Sunrun) and it has been nothing but a headache ever since. When they were initially installed, they put holes into our roof which caused leaks. We had the panels removed in January and the roof repaired, and they still have not replaced the panels (4 months later)." Shaylyn C. 21 June, 2023

"I signed a contract 8 months ago and my panels are still not hooked up. [...] So, here I sit paying two bills for electricity with no relief in sight." Diane C. 9 June, 2023

How we evaluate solar companies

It would be difficult to test solar companies in a hands-on way, which would involve having each one install solar panels on a roof (preferably multiple roofs) and monitoring the results for years to come. Instead, we base our evaluations on thorough research, interviews with representatives from the companies themselves and our coverage of the industry.

We focus our scoring on things we can accurately measure and we think will be useful to you: equipment, warranties and service.

In the equipment category, we look at the panels, inverters and batteries a company offers, rating them on reported specifications like solar panel efficiency or battery depth of discharge. We judge warranties on their length and (where applicable) the levels of performance they guarantee. For service, we look at the Better Business Bureau scores and any indisputable trends in public sentiment. (Because this category is a bit more subjective, it's weighted less than others.)

Read the full rundown of how we review solar companies.

Two notable exclusions from our scoring are price -- because the data is not reliably available -- and service area -- because we assume you get no advantage from a company operating in states you don't live in.


What brand of solar panels does Sunrun use?

Sunrun had LG solar panels as their preferred option before LG pulled back from the residential solar market. Sunrun has said it will fill the gap with tier one panels (which are panels that are safe financing bets in major projects). Most solar panels on the market have efficiency ratings over 19% and 25-year manufacturer warranties.

What is a power purchase agreement?

With a power purchase agreement, you agree to purchase the power generated by solar panels owned by someone else, usually at a rate lower than your utility offers. They're generally long-term agreements of 20 or 25 years, so you'll want to be sure the rate you're locking isn't likely to increase more than your utility. Power purchase agreements are similar to leases, except that you pay for the power and in a lease you pay for the equipment.

Is Sunrun a part of Costco?

No. But Sunrun does sell solar panels through Costco.