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Trinity Solar Review: Is It Your Best Choice?

The solar company servicing the eastern US has been in the game for a while. Its customer service could be a selling point.

7.2

Trinity Solar Panels

Like

  • Choice of quality panels and batteries
  • Offers multiple financing options
  • Roofing as service

Don't Like

  • No pricing transparency
  • Weaker workmanship warranty for purchases

Trinity Solar has a long track record of improving homes. Launched in 1994 as a heating and air conditioning company, Trinity shifted to solar in 2004. With tens of thousands of solar installations, it's one of the largest private solar companies in the United States.

Trinity Solar offers quality panels (the most popular in the US) and multiple battery and inverter options for purchase, lease and power purchase agreement (PPA). While some of its warranties are shorter than other providers, Trinity's lease and PPAs are fully covered for the duration of the agreement. As far as can be told, customer service is better than others in the industry.

Trinity Solar scores what it does because it offers choice in quality equipment, multiple ways of getting service and customer service that seems stronger than normal. However, Trinity didn't share pricing information (as most companies are loath to do). Since it's likely you're looking to solar at least in part for savings, without pricing information it's hard to give a full-throated recommendation. Here, I'm assuming Trinity isn't extremely expensive or as cheap as Tesla, but somewhere in the middle.

Workers putting solar panels on a roof
Ashley Cooper/Getty Images

Below are details about Trinity's pricing, equipment and services, as much as can be told. Because this review doesn't rely on any hands-on testing or firsthand experience with the ordering and installation process, it may not match your experience point for point. Because of the nature of the solar industry, even the best review shouldn't be a substitute for comparing multiple quotes, including from smaller local companies.


The SaveOnEnergy marketplace helps you search, compare, sign up and save on the right energy fit for your home — all for free. If you're interested in solar, answer a few questions to get an exact price quote from our solar advisors.


What can I get from Trinity Solar?

Trinity's customers can go solar either by purchasing panels or entering into a lease or power purchase agreement. While buying solar panels often results in better financial savings over the lifetime of the panels, third-party ownership arrangements, such as leases and power purchase agreements, eliminate the up-front costs of going solar. In a power purchase agreement or lease, you pay a set monthly rate for electricity or equipment for the duration of the contract (sometimes up to 25 years), which will typically increase incrementally each year. If that agreed-upon rate remains below the increase in electricity from your utility, you'll be saving money.

Because you don't own the panels in third-party ownership agreements, being picky about equipment might not be as important. If you purchase panels from Trinity, though, you're likely to get quality equipment.

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12:40

Trinity Solar installs Q Cells solar panels though could procure something else if a customer requests them, said Kristen Drigon, a spokesperson for Trinity Solar. The widely used residential solar panels from Q Cells, one of the largest solar panel manufacturers in the world, have top efficiency ratings from 20.6% to 21.4%. Efficiency measures the amount of sunlight the panels convert to electricity. Q Cells' ratings mean the panels are near the most efficient panels, but come up just shy of a few of the most efficient offerings from other companies.

Because solar panels are long-lived purchases and do deteriorate over time, panel quality is also measured by long-term performance. Q Cells panels are guaranteed by warranty to produce at 86% of their capacity at 25 years. This is also a near-the-top rating, but it ranks below just a few other panels, like those from LG, which can guarantee 90% at 25 years (though LG recently got out of the solar panel business). At the same time, Q Cells' 25-year warranty does match the longest mainstream warranties on the market.

Trinity prefers to install SolarEdge inverters, Drigon said. SolarEdge makes a string inverter that can connect to power optimizers. SolarEdge inverters have high efficiencies (up to 99% depending on the model) and come with a 12-year warranty that can be extended to 20 or 25 years. For certain projects Trinity uses Enphase microinverters, which operate at 97% to 97.5% efficiency.

Trinity also installs a variety of batteries, including from Tesla and Generac. Tesla Powerwall batteries hold 12.2 kilowatt-hours of usable energy, though you can add multiple batteries. Tesla Powerwall is a battery widely used by solar installers. It can provide 13.5 kilowatt hours of energy in total at a rate of 5.8 kVA continuously or 7.2 kVA for 10 seconds at a time. Powerwall promises 70% capacity over 10 years regardless of how much the battery is used as long as it's used just to back up your house. 

Generac PWRcell batteries start at 9 kilowatt-hours and can be increased in 3-kWh increments up to 36 total. Generac's batteries can discharge about 1.1 kilowatt continuously per battery module. For example, a 9 kilowatt hour setup (3 battery modules) can discharge continuously at a rate of 3.4 kilowatts. The batteries can discharge at a peak of 1.5 kilowatts, so a 9 kilowatt setup will discharge at a rater of 4.5 kilowatts. PWRcell batteries also come with a warranty that's good for 10 years or until 7.65 megawatt hours cycle through the battery per module. (A 3-module, 9-kWh battery would be under warranty for 10 years or until 22.95 megawatt hours cycle through it.)

Trinity offers a five-year workmanship warranty to those who purchase solar panels, Drigon said. Both Tesla and Sunrun offer 10-year workmanship warranties. Leases or power purchase agreements are fully covered for the life of the deal.

While Trinity Solar favors certain equipment and manufacturers, supply chain issues have impacted the solar industry. Trinity may install other equipment as limited availability remains.

Although Trinity didn't confirm this next point, you'll likely monitor your solar system through the SolarEdge or Enphase app, depending on which inverter(s) you have. Both apps are well-rated (SolarEdge receives 4.2 stars on Google Play and 4.6 on Apple's App Store; Enphase receives 4.1 on Google Play and 4.7 on the App Store).

Are Trinity Solar installations a good deal?

Because Trinity Solar is a privately owned company and not required to release information about its business to investors, getting a clear answer about cost and value is harder than it is for companies such as Sunrun and Tesla.

Installation price isn't always the best metric to judge its products, Drigon said. For customers who opt for a lease or a PPA, installation costs are covered by the installers. In that case, the important metric for customers is the escalator, or the rate at which the annual fee increases compared to the cost of electricity from a local utility. Since these numbers vary by location, it requires some guesswork as well as careful consideration before entering into an agreement.

A typical escalator rate from Trinity is 2.9%, Drigon said. Every year, there are a few customers who pay more for their solar energy than they would with their utility (something we heard from other providers, as well), but Drigon called those instances "quite rare."

Over the life span of the system, however, Drigon noted: "We expect all of our customers to show savings because of the very nature of solar energy's predictability when compared to their utility."

Trinity Solar declined to share an average price for purchased system. "Pricing is market-dependent and ranges broadly depending on the regulations and associated costs in any given area," Drigon said.

gettyimages-523409950
Ashley Cooper/Getty Images

There are significant differences in the average costs of installed solar systems. The average residential solar array cost $3.28 per watt according to the consulting firm Wood Mackenzie. Other sources report lower numbers in certain regions, from $2.33 per watt in Arizona to $3.41 in Washington, DC, according to EnergySage.

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

Unlike with Tesla's online estimates, you won't get much information specific to your home before reaching out for a quote from Trinity Solar. However, you're likely to get an estimate that's more tailored to your roof and solar potential. 

Trinity Solar operates in nine states: Connecticut, Delaware, Florida, Maryland, Massachusetts, New Jersey, New York, Pennsylvania and Rhode Island. Trinity Solar has in-house installation teams in all the states it services, according to Drigon. Most installations are handled by the in-house teams, though the company does have subcontractors on hand. 

Trinity will also soon be launching roofing as a service, Drigon said. Because solar panels have a 25-year life span (or longer), it pays to put them on a roof in good repair. Fixing a roof after installing solar panels requires removing and reinstalling the panels, which can get costly. If you need to take care of both, it might be easier to have one company replace your roof and install solar panels.

Is Trinity Solar my best choice?

As with any major purchase, it's important to shop around for multiple estimates and read all the fine print. Doing a bit more legwork could save you thousands of dollars. Keep in mind that Trinity offers leases and power purchase agreements, which can help you go solar for little up-front cost, though your long-term savings are likely to be lower than if you purchase outright. You should get several quotes and check out smaller, local installers for your solar purchase, and the same goes for leases and power purchase agreements. 

Trinity's preferred providers for panels, inverters and batteries are all respected brands that should perform well over the lifetime of your system. At the same time, remember that Trinity's workmanship warranty is five years, while Sunrun's and Tesla's are both 10, which could make a difference in your decision. There are also some visible signs, like a responsive Better Business Bureau page, that Trinity takes customer service seriously. While customer satisfaction is difficult to judge without survey data, it's encouraging to see the company quickly respond to complaints. Trinity has an A+ grade with Better Business Bureau. (Companies only get a grade if they pay a fee.) 

And it has to be said again: Without pricing data, it's impossible to give an unqualified recommendation. Be sure to compare multiple prices.

While I approached this research practically and thoroughly, I haven't actually purchased or tested Trinity Solar in any empirical way. Since solar services vary regionally and are difficult to review, make sure to do your own research before you decide which way to go.