What are the best solar panels and how do I find the best local solar companies to install them.
Our guide to installing solar panels for your home seeks to answer the basic questions most people have about installing solar panels for their home or business
How do I find the best solar companies near me
To find the best solar companies it is important to use consumer reviews websites such as SolarReviews and Yelp.
You will notice on most reviews websites that the largest solar installation companies such as Vivint Solar, SolarCity, and Sunrun have lower overall customer satisfaction scores than many of the smaller local solar installers. If you enter your zip code on SolarReviews you will be able to see the reviews of all of the solar companies near you.
Here are some quick links for cities that are currently experiencing the highest volumes of residential solar installation. A list of solar companies servicing each city in the US is available on SolarReviews.
It is important to also ask solar companies how many qualified staff they have and whether both system designers and installers have NABCEP accreditation and appropriate solar specific training.
What are the best solar panels to buy?
When people are asking what are the best solar panels to buy they are usually wanting to know two things:
- What is the best type of cell technology to use; and
- What is the best brand of solar panels to buy?
Here is a discussion on the advantages and disadvantages of monocrystalline v’s polycrystalline solar cells , the most common solar cell technologies used in residential solar installations in the USA.
These are the only two mainstream choices as far as cell technology goes (although there are other cell technologies) and it’s not something to lose a lot of sleep over.
The bigger question is what is the best brand of solar panels to buy. To help you with this question we have attached links to both an expert review and consumer reviews of 5 of the leading brands of residential solar panels on the market today:
SolarReviews also has solar panel reviews for most of the other brands of solar panels sold in America.
How much do solar panels cost?
To explore the question of how much it will cost to install solar panels for your specific house you generally need to first know what size solar system you need, or to put it another way how many solar panels you need to cover your power use.
This, in turn, depends on how much electricity solar panels produce in your area.
You can get an estimate of system size for your house by using the solar panel calculator on Solar-Estimate or PVWatts. The advantage of the Solar-Estimate calculator is that it also allows you to get your roof looked at by local solar companies and get an accurate quote from them. Without this involvement with solar companies, it is very hard for a pure online calculator to accurately estimate the right size of the system for your house. In most jurisdictions, there are set back and fire code regulations that control where on your roof you are allowed to place panels and so local solar companies are the best source of information on these matters.
Once you have a system size that will fit your roof and produce the right amount of power it is then easy to compare solar prices in your local area. At this point, you can either just seek out the average cost of installing a particular size solar system in your area or you can seek accurate solar quotes from local solar companies that will take into account all of the characteristics of your house.
Here is a good article about the factors that affect the cost of installing a solar system on a specific house.
Going back a few years ago when solar was much more expensive than it is today most people opted for a zero down lease or PPA as a means of getting solar. However, now that solar prices have fallen and there are now many more loan options available to buy solar outright this purchase option is becoming much more attractive.
What solar rebates are available where I live?
In December 2015 the federal legislature extended the 30% solar income tax credit which is available to all American homeowners that wish to install solar and have an annual federal income tax liability against which this credit can be claimed. This is the largest single incentive in the solar industry and is a primary driver of the growth of uptake in residential solar in America.
However, another major incentive is Net Metering which is available in one form or another in over 30 states. This is a very important incentive because it gives you a credit for your solar electricity generated during the day that is beyond the needs of your house and allows you to use that credit to meet your power needs when your solar energy production is insufficient to meet your needs (such as at night).
In some states, there are also state tax credits for solar installations and there are also upfront incentives offered by some utilities to encourage their customers to install solar panels.
You can find out what incentives are available in your area by using the solar panel calculator.