Eleni Valasis, September 30, 2015
Each year, Solar Tribune evaluates the best solar companies in the United States.
Founded by two brothers in 2006, Solar City has gone on to become the #1 provider of full-service solar solutions in the U.S. The company’s patented Better Energy approach to solar installations combines advanced tech with solutions that are consumer-friendly, simple, and streamlined. Solar City works with both the private and public sectors, providing solar installations to residences, commercial spaces, government buildings, and non-profits.
Solar City currently maintains over 70 operation centers across 19 states and the District of Columbia. High-profile clients include Walmart, HP, Stanford University, and the U.S. Armed Forces. As a full-service company, Solar City starts by taking a look at the specific energy needs of a site, then guides the process through installation. Comprehensive monitoring and efficiency services make sure that Solar City installations perform well in the long term, while the lack of third-party involvement makes a Solar City installation itself as simple as possible for the consumer.
Additional advantages extended by this national solar provider include zero-down financing, predictable energy rates for consumers, and a home protection guarantee that insures repairs to a roof in the event of damage during an installation. Solar City also leverages microinverter technology for increased energy production on shaded panels.
Founded in 2007, Sungevity was the first innovator in solar installation to leverage remote satellite imagery in the design of its residential solar solutions. The company also offers leasing solutions that made solar installations financially feasible for a wide range of homeowners. Sungevity donates a portion of all installations to its Every Child Has a Light program, which facilitates solar installations for underprivileged children in Zambia.
Sungevity begins the installation process with a thorough assessment of a home’s energy usage over the last 12 months. After the assessment period, Sungevity offers the consumer an array of design options then allows the consumer to choose the best one for their needs. Sungevity’s solar panel installations also interact with a power management app that consumers can access on a tablet or laptop. This app allows them to monitor their energy production and efficiency. The mobile app also enables remote monitoring of a system when out of town or at the office.
Another major asset for the company is their partnership with Lowe’s, which provides easy access for many customers across the U.S. to their services. The company also works with organizations such as the Sierra Club and the American Diabetes Association to provide solar solutions in the non-profit sector.
One of the first solar providers in Northern California, RGS Energy has expanded its reach to include over 20,000 installations across the country. The company services homes, businesses, and the public sector in California, Colorado, Missouri, and throughout New England. Today the company operates its headquarters in Louisville, Colorado.
RGS is well-known for its publication of the Solar Living Source Book since 1982. This annual release serves as a reference manual for countless individuals interested in green technologies and innovations. The company also runs the Solar Living Institute, which is dedicated to the sharing and dissemination of solar knowledge and technology.
As a company, RGS maintains one of the most green-friendly operations around. As early as 1990, the company was pursuing groundbreaking initiatives to lower its carbon footprint. These initiatives have won the company and its founder accolades and an induction in the Green Industry Hall of Fame.
Petersen Dean was founded by two brothers as a roofing company originally, giving this company an informed and unique perspective in the solar space. One of the company’s most prominent initiatives is its Solar4America campaign, which seeks to source all supplies for the company via American companies. The company also donates solar installations to organizations in need, such as a senior center in Matzalan.
The company maintains a number of certifications, including CertainTeed SELECT ShingleMaster certification, GAF Master Elite certification, and status as a SolarWorld Master Installer.
In 2014, the company made plans to expand into five new states, adding 4,000 new employees in the process. The company currently offers services across California, Arizona, Texas, Nevada, and Florida.
REC specializes in commercial solar installations, servicing companies across a wide array of sectors in states as far flung as Hawaii and Mayland. The company is the largest solar provider in Hawaii with a 27+ megawatt footprint in the state. It is also the only full-service, nationwide solar company focusing on commercial installations in the U.S.
Markets served by REC include SMBs, food and agriculture, government, retail and distribution, and utilities and developers. The company has executed projects for such marquee names as Costco and the California State University system.
With a large team of designers, installers, and engineers, the company is able to give businesses a complete, turnkey solution to solar. REC guides the process from conception to maintenance, with a visuion of enabling corporate responsibility va smart energy solutions. In 2015, REC purchased Stellar Energy, raising both its installation and maintenance megawatt footprints to over 200 MW apiece.
Headquartered in Torrance, California, Verengo earned ranking as one of the fastest growing companies in the U.S. from Inc. Magazine in just its first year in business. The company provides residential solar design, financing, and installation, California, Arizona, New York, and New Jersey to name just a few.
The company partners with SMA and Enphase to deliver high-grade microinverter technology to consumers, along with a wide range of solar panel manufacturers ranging from Hyundai to LG. Its various partnerships with high-efficiency manufacturers places it in an elite group of solar distributors given access to this tech.
Verengo also maintains a wide range of certifications and accreditations in the space, cementing its reputation as an industry leader. These certifications include CSLB#935263, NJSLB#13VH06163900, and HIC#0638236. The company maintains memberships as well in the American Architectural Manufacturers Association, the League of CA Homeowners, and the Renewable Energy Alliance.
American Solar Direct
With headquarters in Los Angeles, American Solar Direct operates a network across Southern California with locations in Woodland Hills, San Diego, and San Jose to name just a few. Since its inception in 2009, the company has installed over 20,000 MW of solar projects across the region. The company is a full-service provider, offering step-by-step guidance for residential solar consumers from design to installation. The company also offers dedicated project management and customer care post-installation to ensure ongoing performance in its system.
The company was named the fastest growing private company in Los Angeles by Inc. Magazine in 2014 and the 17th fastest growing enterprise in the country on the magazine’s Inc. 5000 list. American Solar Direct was also awarded bronze in 2014 and 2015 at the American Business Awards in the “Energy Company of the Year” category. The company also received a Hire Power Award from Inc. in 2013 for leading the industry in terms of job growth and increasing its job base by 155 percent in a single year. American Solar Direct maintains an A+ rating via the Better Business Bureau and has been a member since 2010.
Sunrun built its name in the industry by pioneering leasing as a financial model for solar panel installations. By eliminating the need for significant funds upfront, the company opened up residential solar to a much wider consumer base.
Sunrun utilizes its patented BrightPath™ system in the planning of residential installations. This approach involves scanning a site’s roof with satellite imagery and then comparing this data to thousands of various designs in the BrightPath system. In this way, the company is able to quickly and easily design a custom fit for a home.
The company also extends maintenance services and a roof guarantee on all installations. Maintenance services are included in lease costs for the entire term of the lease. Sunrun partners include major installers such as ASI Hastings and Solar Universe. The company offers its services in 15 states, including California, Massachusetts, Delaware, and Hawaii.
A decade’s worth of experience, including 4000 installation projects, has made Sullivan Solar Power one of the most prominent names in the region. The company pursues projects in the residential, commercial, government, and non-profit spaces. As a turnkey solar provider, Sullivan guides the installation process from start to finish and also offers a money back guarantee if an installation does not perform to spec.
Sullivan Solar was the fourth company in the States and the third company in California to achieve certification as an NABCEP Accredited PV Installation company—the gold standard in the industry. The company focuses on installations in San Diego, Los Angeles, Riverside, and Orange County with plans to expand beyond Southern California.
Based in San Diego, Stellar Solar was founded in 1998 and has performed over 100,000 solar panel installations in in the last two decades. The company is hugely popular in the region, earning a “Best of” title from San Diego magazine four years in a row. Stellar pursues both residential and commercial projects, with prominent jobs in the commercial space including such names as Cedars-Sinai Hospital, the Salk Institute, and US Foods.
Created originally as a division of Vivint Home Automation, Vivint Solar is now a separate company in its own right and one of the largest providers in the U.S. As with many of the industry’s leading providers, the company utilizes microninverter technology to increase production on panels in the shade along with Zep Solar technology to increase the speed of installation.
Vivint offers one of the industry’s most cost-effective approaches to solar installation for consumers averse to shelling out a large, upfront sum. The company uses both lease options and a Power Purchase Agreement to make financing easier for consumers. Vivint’s PPA financing requires that customers pay a fee per kilowatt hour based on the energy produced by a system, while the lease system requires that customers pay a monthly fixed fee based on expected solar generation. The lease financing option takes into account the fact that solar energy production can vary and offers accommodations if a system produces less than predicted.
Solar Universe, now known as REPOWER, was founded in 2008 by Joe Bono and is the only nation-wide solar provider to offer franchise opportunities to entrepreneurs interested in entering the solar business. Bono founded the company after a successful career in restaurant franchises, seeing an opportunity in solar for leveraging the franchise model.
After only two years of operation, Solar Universe was in the top 10 of solar installers in California. The company maintains headquarters in Livermore, California, and currently oversees franchises across the country, including in Hawaii and Puerto Rico.
Franchise Magazine regularly includes Solar Universe in its Franchise 500 list each year. The company was also named the #5 solar company in the U.S. by Solar Power World. Major publications such as Forbes magazine have also charted the company’s progress, lauding their online design program as a key innovation in the field of solar.
The leading solar provider in the Northeast, Trinity Solar began as a heating and air company in the 1990s before transitioning into solar in 2004. Since its transition to solar, the company has completed over 7000 installations across New England the Northeast corridor. The company maintains NABCEP certification and is a licensed electrical contractor.
Inc. Magazine placed Trinity in the top 15 percent of the fastest growing companies in the U.S.The company also came in as the fastest growing renewable energy company overall, the fastest growing company in New Jersey, and #25 for companies within the Energy sector. Trinity Solar was also the largest green energy company in New Jersey for four years running.
Trinity Solar maintains offices in New Jersey, Connecticut, Massachusetts, New York, and Maryland. The company supports a number of community initiatives in its area, dedicating time and money to various charities and local police and fire personnel organizations. In addition to its design, financing, and installation solutions, the company also provides efficiency audits for owners looking to improve the energy profiles of a home or business.
Bland Solar & Air
With showrooms in Fresno, Templeton, and Bakersfield, Bland Solar & Air is a dominant name in solar for Central and Northern California. The company also ranks as the 9th largest solar provider in the U.S. and was named in the list of the Top 400 solar providers in the nation by Solar Power World.
Combining solar and air solutions, the company provides an all-in-one energy and environment solution for homes. As HVAC specialists, Bland can upgrade a home’s air system in addition to performing a solar panel installation to lower the overall carbon footprint of a home and bring it into the 21st century. This two-stage approach to home efficiency can also lower the number of panels needed on a home, reducing costs for a solar installation. The company offers 25-year warranties on solar installations and 10-year warranties on A/C jobs.
Community-oriented endeavors pursued by the company include donating a free panel to installations performed on the homes of veterans, troops, and first responders. The company also participates in the Home Energy Renovation Opportunity program to make solar financing and efficiency upgrades easier for a wide array of homeowners.
Fun in the Sun Solar
Fun in the Sun Solar combines experience in pool heating with solar solutions and home innovations to provide a unique approach to solar in Florida. Their solar solutions include solar-driven attic fans, solar hot water heating systems, solar pool heating systems, and solar electric upgrades.
The company maintains a team of 28 design, installation, and service specialists for a full-service experience and has serviced over 40,000 customers in the region, performing over 8000 installations. All Fun in the Sun employees are also Ask the Seal approved, providing customers with the assurance that their service providers are safe and professional.