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Where to Buy Rooftop Solar Panels

A quick guide to all the places you can shop for solar panels.

Sean Jackson
Sean Jackson is a creative copywriter living in Florida. He's had work published with, theScore, ESPN, and the San Francisco Chronicle. In his free time, Sean likes to play drums, fail miserably at improv and spend time at the beach.
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
Sean Jackson
Andrew Blok
4 min read

Get the rundown on where to buy solar panels.

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Buying solar panels to power your home can be an all-around good money decision. It can increase your home's resale value, deliver a large tax credit and save you money on energy for decades. Solar panels can produce energy for a long time (many warranties are for 25 years), so they should produce energy well after you pay them off. Even with these potential benefits, the initial cost can be intimidating. And, with new technologies (like GAF's Energy's Timberline Solar shingle), it can be difficult to know where to shop.

Buying residential solar panels should not be one-stop shopping. It's always a good idea to get quotes from multiple installers. And, you should go in with a solid understanding of your energy needs, your national and local tax incentives and your options for buying or financing in some other way. There are more tips in our solar panel buying guide.

When you're ready to shop, you have plenty of options. It's important to note that we haven't tested panels or gone through the purchasing process at any of these outlets. This guide will help you know where to look, not which solar array is best for your needs.

Read more: Best Solar Companies of 2023

Solar companies

Perhaps the first place people turn when shopping for solar panels are the companies that do that one thing. Major companies like PalmettoSunrun, SunPower, ADT Solar, Trinity Solar and Tesla have large service areas and operate in a highly competitive industry. Not all these solar companies offer the same products, prices or warranties and it pays to shop around. Often, solar companies will have online tools that allow you to estimate the cost of solar panels at your house and your long term savings. These are estimates and almost certain to change with an actual visit to your house.

Read more: Best Solar Companies of 2023

When getting quotes from installers, you should also check with smaller local installers. These companies can sometimes offer lower prices because they don't have to put as much money into sales and marketing.

There are solar marketplaces that do some of the legwork of getting multiple quotes. Marketplaces like EnergySage will gather multiple quotes based on basic information like an estimated energy bill and your address.

Box store partnerships

National solar installers have partnered with box stores to increase their sales reach, and sometimes offer discounts. The national company Sunrun works with Costco. The purchase and design process is largely the same as buying directly from the company, except Costco offers a few additional incentives

Qualifying purchases can receive back 10% of the equipment cost (not labor or permitting) in a Costco gift card and some extended warranties. Executive members at Costco will also get 2% cash back. Not all products or perks are available in all places, so you'll need to check.

These types of partnerships are likely to become more common. SunPower announced a partnership with Ikea starting in parts of California in fall of 2022. Details are currently scarce, but Ikea sells home solar panels in other countries and will likely try to expand their business in the U.S.

Hardware retailers

Your big-box retailers such as The Home Depot sell solar panels, mounting hardware, inverters and charge controllers. Home Depot makes buying solar panels simple through its website or your local store. If you want professional installation, it'll pair you with licensed, insured installation professionals for both large and small projects. Lowe's offers a one to two-year guarantee on labor.

And if you are a do-it-yourselfer, these stores sell everything you need to install the system, saving you money relative to professional installation options. Rooftop solar panels should always be installed by a knowledgeable installer.

Smaller solar applications

If you're looking for portable solar panels or a a solar powered device charger, you can look a few more places than those listed above. Home improvement stores like Home Depot, Lowes and Menards carry portable solar panels that don't require expert installation. They'll often sell compatible batteries so that you can bottle that solar energy and take it with you.

For solar device chargers, you can check in on manufacturers' webpages or dive in to the plethora of options available on Amazon.

Other buying considerations

When considering solar options, research the companies you're considering. Examine their warranty offerings, prices, installation costs and timeframes, customer reviews, panel recycling methods and reputations through third-party resources such as the Better Business Bureau. Also, check to see if a company will assist you with permitting (if applicable). Doing the homework helps you find a reputable provider.

Moreover, consider all the financial aspects of the project. Do not forget to include costs for permits, installation and roof upgrades or replacement. Alternatively, make sure to take advantage of tax incentives like the Investment Tax Credit, which reduce your federal tax liability by 30% of the total costs of the solar panel system. States also have programs that can lower your initial investment.

Make sure you understand your own energy needs and how you'll be compensated for any excess energy you produce. Learn the best direction and angle for solar panels and when going with a less common option (like ground-mounted or bifacial panels) makes sense. Above all, make sure you get multiple quotes from reputable installers. One stop shopping isn't for solar panels.