Solar Tribune

Top Rated Solar Companies for

Bay Area

Read reviews, compare costs, and understand the key benefits of the Bay Area's top solar installers.

by Brooks Lape | July 9, 2017

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Solar City


SolarCity is one of the Bay Area’s largest contributors to residential and commercial solar, and the nation’s leading solar panel installation company.


Cost
Per Watt
vs. $4.38 (CA avg.)
Based on 95 reviews
A+
BBB Rating

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Summary

Founded in 2006 by brothers Peter and Lyndon Rive, SolarCity uses a distribution model that contracts local solar installers under the SolarCity brand, making them a trusted company across the United States. Nationwide, they have over 300,000 residential installations alone.

Elon Musk, chairman of the company and cousin to the Rive brothers, is a major player in renewable technology. His decision to found Tesla, Inc., which manufactures luxury electric vehicles, highlights his long-term interest in sustainable businesses and green technology. SolarCity incorporates its own innovations through its distribution model, financing, and vehicle charging stations that have expanded electric power infrastructure in California.

SolarCity has completed numerous large-scale commercial contracts for eBay, Walmart, the U.S. government, and other complex organizations. In 2015, the firm landed the #10 spot on FastCompany’s list of the 50 Most Innovative Companies in the World.

SolarCity can be reached through its website at solarcity.com, or by phone at (888) 765-2489.


Related Information

SunPower


SunPower is a residential, commercial, and utility-scale installer and leading solar company based in Silicon Valley. It’s also one of the longest-lived companies in the solar industry.


Cost
Per Watt
vs. $4.38 (CA avg.)
Based on 95 reviews
A+
BBB Rating

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Summary

SunPower manufactures the world’s most efficient solar panels. SunPower panels generate 70% more energy over the first 25 years of use, partly due to to the microinverters hidden behind each one. The microinverters enhance energy conversion and flow right at the source. In addition, its signature, well-designed mounting system preserves the look of your roof and home as much as possible.

Manufacturing the panels hasn’t been profitable in recent years, however, due to the expense involved in building the plants and the drop in solar panel prices. SunPower is considering ending the manufacture of its E-Series of panels for this reason, in favor of its X Series. SunPower’s manufacturing arm took a particularly hard hit in the utility-scale sector in 2016. However, it plans to bounce back with a new “P Series” of panels for utilities that incorporates solar cells manufactured elsewhere. The P Series stacks the cells like the shingles on a roof, which makes the panels more efficient.

In the residential space, SunPower continues to innovate with its Equinox package, which integrates “smart” technology with solar energy. All of the equipment and software has been designed to work together seamlessly. Customers can track real-time production and usage data in the cloud, or through an app.

The firm has a perfect A+ rating with the Better Business Bureau.

Sunpower can be reached through its website at us.sunpower.com/, or by phone at 800-SUNPOWER.


REPOWER by Solar Universe


REPOWER by Solar Universe is a solar and smart home integrator founded in 2008. It’s also the only solar installer that offers franchises. Its unique franchise model has brought the company much success. Headquartered in Livermore, California, its network of franchises is now 40 strong.


Cost
Per Watt
vs. $4.38 (CA avg.)
Based on 95 reviews
A+
BBB Rating

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Summary

The company is innovating on the product front as well. REPOWER’s solar generation system and smart home technology integrate seamlessly. Lighting and heating automatically adjust in the morning as the solar panels come online, and again in the evening, when customers come home from work. A fully compatible security system with door and window sensors sends alerts as needed.

CEO Mahesh Mansukhani has been instrumental in growing REPOWER by Solar Universe since his appointment in May 2015. Mansukhani has 20 years of experience leading international businesses such as DuPont, as well as an MBA from Yale University.

Solar Power World ranked REPOWER #5 on its list of top solar residential contractors in the summer of 2015. The Better Business Bureau gives it a perfect score for customer service.

REPOWER by Solar Universe can be reached through its website at repower.solaruniverse.com/, or by phone at (866) 676-5279.


Sungevity


Sungevity is a major player in the Bay Area and California’s regional solar market.


Cost
Per Watt
vs. $4.38 (CA avg.)
Based on 95 reviews
A+
BBB Rating

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Summary

The company boasts several certifications beyond the minimum prerequisites for a major solar installer. For example, it holds the prestigious Diamond Certified rating for highest quality in customer satisfaction and helpful expertise in the Bay Area, and an A+ rating with the Better Business Bureau. Sungevity is also a Certified B Corporation that meets the rigorous social and environmental standards set forth by B Lab, a 501(c)3 nonprofit.

Sungevity was the first solar company in the United States to use satellite imagery to design solar installations, which allowed it to offer the convenience of a quote without a site visit. Sungevity is also an international installation company, with offices in the United States, Australia, and the Netherlands.

Danny Kennedy, co-founder and President of Sungevity, is committed to solar as a business and as a way of improving the world through green infrastructure. As the former Campaigns Manager for Greenpeace, his vision for a “Rooftop Revolution” in solar is a driving force behind Sungevity, a Green America Certified Business for its efforts in sustainability.

Sungevity is a solid choice for anyone looking for responsible, sustainable solar services and installations.

Sungevity can be reached through its website at sungevity.com, or by phone at (866) SUN-4ALL.


Sunrun


With more than 100,000 customers nationwide, Sunrun is one of America’s most popular residential installers.


Cost
Per Watt
vs. $4.38 (CA avg.)
Based on 95 reviews
A+
BBB Rating

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Summary

The firm started out as a “solar as a service” company where customers paid for the energy the system generated, rather than the panels themselves. This model allowed customers to get started for as little as zero down, making solar affordable for the average homeowner. It now offers a full suite of lease, loan, and purchase options for custom-tailored solar systems.

Sunrun and its installation partners have been installing solar for more than 17 years. In addition to the panels, customers can add fully-integrated battery storage that allows them to use clean solar energy around-the-clock. Purchases and leases both come with a lifetime warranty that includes free monitoring, maintenance, and repairs.

The company’s solar loans are unsecured (don’t use your house as collateral), and don’t issue penalties. The firm is well-regarded in the industry for its transparency regarding payment plans.

Sunrun has been recognized by bestcompany and the U.S. Department of Energy. It also has a perfect A+ rating with the Better Business Bureau.

Sunrun can be reached through its website, sunrun.com, or by phone at (888) GO-SOLAR.


Related Information

Petersen Dean


Petersen Dean specializes in the design, permitting, installation and inspection of residential and commercial solar systems with over 100,000 solar installs to date.


Cost
Per Watt
vs. $4.38 (CA avg.)
Based on 95 reviews
A+
BBB Rating

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Summary

In 1984 Petersen Dean established themselves as a household name in roofing contracting and added solar services some twenty years later. It is their experience with roofing they claim gives them the expertise for solar installations. They install products from American manufacturers such as Enphase, Unirac and Mission Solar Energy and all solar systems come with a 25-year product and workmanship warranty.

The Sunverge Energy Platform available for mobile devices operates rooftop solar and energy storage to monitor the solar system. Their backup home battery option ensures homes won’t be left in the dark during a blackout and comes with a 10-year warranty.

The company offers multiple solar packages depending on customer needs. Financing is available at no money down for lease, purchase, loans, power purchase agreement and PACE loans.

Peterson Dean received an A+ rating from the Better Business Bureau.

Petersen Dean can be contacted at their website: Petersendean.com or by phone at (877)-552-4418.


Luminalt Solar Energy


Luminalt is a San-Francisco based solar installer that prides itself on its commitment to the Bay Area community.


Cost
Per Watt
vs. $4.38 (CA avg.)
Based on 95 reviews
A+
BBB Rating

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Summary

The company has been contributing to the regional economy for more than a dozen years. Luminalt helps develop the local workforce by hiring locally, as well as teaching solar tech courses at local community colleges. It also donates time and resources to solar projects for nonprofits, and its staff sit on nonprofit boards. The revenue Luminalt earns stays in the local community.

The company offers streamlined, all-black panels that blend into roof surfaces, and never subcontracts the installation work. Customers who want to purchase a system, but don’t want to use their home as collateral or go through big banks can choose a Luminalt-facilitated, unsecured loan from a local credit union. Alternatively, they can select a monthly SunPower lease with $0 down or a 20 year prepaid lease, with the option to purchase the system after the first six and a half years. Customers are happy with the results, judging from Luminalt’s perfect A+ rating from the Better Business Bureau.

In addition to solar panels, Luminalt installs solar hot water heating systems and vehicle charging stations throughout the region, which makes it an excellent choice for homeowners and businesses who want to integrate electric cars with their PV systems. Its warehouse is located in San Francisco, which will minimize the greenhouse gas emissions generated by transporting the panels to your site.

Luminalt Solar can be reached through its website at luminalt.com, or by phone at (415) 641-4000.


The Solar Company


This local, family-owned business was born after the owners installed solar on their own home.


Cost
Per Watt
vs. $4.38 (CA avg.)
Based on 95 reviews
A+
BBB Rating

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Summary

The already successful power couple started the company with a staff of five in 1990, and now employs more than 100 Californians. The Solar Company is Diamond Certified for high quality in customer satisfaction and helpful expertise — a status coveted by businesses across the Bay Area.

This Castro Valley firm installs SunPower solar panels for homes and commercial sites. This industry-leading equipment produces 70% more energy over the first 25 years than conventional panels. They’re also designed in California. The staff has expertise in installing those specific panels, thanks to rigorous training at SunPower University. It’s also certified by the North American Board of Certified Energy Practitioners (NABCEP) for its experience and knowledge of solar installation, and does not use subcontractors.

The Solar Company has worked on several large commercial contracts for Comcast, local car dealerships, and many other businesses. It grows its customer base through referrals to family, friends, and colleagues. The company’s reputation for customer service is one of its strongest assets. It offers a hassle-free experience, a 24-hour online system monitoring service, and phone support into the evenings and weekends. Its A+ rating with the Better Business Bureau demonstrates the value it places on customer satisfaction.

The Solar Company can be reached through its website at thesolarco.com, or by phone at (877) 607-6527.


High Definition Solar


A local favorite in the Bay Area, this residential installer and roofer recently landed a spot on Prime Buyer’s list of top solar contractors in Contra Costa, Alameda, and Solano Counties. Headquartered in Concord, California, High Definition Solar is Diamond Certified for service and expertise.


Cost
Per Watt
vs. $4.38 (CA avg.)
Based on 95 reviews
A+
BBB Rating

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Summary

The company has 11 years of experience in the industry, and firmly believes that simplifying the process of going solar is the most important aspect of bringing solar power into the mainstream. Before installation, its technicians thoroughly assess roof structure, materials, and size to plan out a custom system that fits the site and the customer’s power requirements. High Definition Solar offers a system production guarantee to back up its energy projections. Customers can verify output through an online monitoring service.

The company is fully licensed and insured. It offers a 25-year warranty on the equipment and a 10-year warranty on the labor. Noting speed of installation and friendly, helpful service, 94% of High Definition Solar’s customers would recommend the company to friends and family. The Better Business Bureau gives High Definition Solar a perfect A+ rating.

High Definition Solar can be reached through its website at highdefinitionsolar.com, or by phone at (888) 203-1855.


Vivint


Founded in Utah in 2011, Vivint now has customers in more than a dozen states. The rapidly-growing company expanded into North Carolina in the last quarter of 2015, and will add New Hampshire in 2017.


Cost
Per Watt
vs. $4.38 (CA avg.)
Based on 95 reviews
A+
BBB Rating

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Summary

The company was an early adopter of the power purchase agreement (PPA) model, in which customers buy the power the solar panels generate, rather than the system itself. This little-to-zero-down model was instrumental in mainstreaming solar energy. Today, Vivint offers a full suite of standard payment options, including PPAs, leases, loans, and outright purchases.

The company plans to expand its service offerings to include smart home technology under recently appointed CEO David Bywater. Vivint Solar will be teaming up with Vivint Smart Home, where Bywater previously served as Chief Operating Officer. Its home assistant, Sky, may play a central role in integrating solar energy with smart technology to implement automation and data tracking. Current Vivint Solar customers already have the ability to monitor system output through the company’s website and mobile phone application. The firm provides excellent service to its customers, earning an A- rating from the Better Business Bureau.

Vivint Solar can be reached through its website at vivintsolar.com, or by phone at (877) 404-4129.


Verengo Solar


Verengo Solar is the largest Southern California-based solar provider. Since its founding in 2008, it has completed more than 18,500 residential and commercial installations in California totaling over 100 Megawatts.


Cost
Per Watt
vs. $4.38 (CA avg.)
Based on 95 reviews
A+
BBB Rating

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Summary

Verengo was the third largest residential solar installer in the nation in 2013. The firm offers a streamlined, speedy process that gets customers up and running within weeks of signing on. It completes the actual installation in a single day.

The company primarily installs panels from Hyundai Solar, the largest and most experienced PV manufacturer. Hyundai Solar is owned by Hyundai Heavy Industries, a Fortune 500 company. Customers can also select efficient panels from ReneSola, Trina Solar, Yingli, and LG.

Headquartered in Torrance, CA, Verengo has been recognized by the League of California Homeowners, The U.S. Department of Energy’s Energy Star program, and California’s Renewable Energy Alliance. The company earned Angie’s List Super Service Award and a consistent A+ Rating with the Better Business Bureau.

Verengo has fallen on hard times in recent years, however. The company declared bankruptcy in September 2016 and was acquired by Crius, a Connecticut-based solar provider with nearly a million customers nationwide. The agreement will allow Verengo to vastly expand its market and infrastructure base while continuing seamless service for current customers.

Verengo Solar can be reached through its website at verengosolar.com, or by phone at (888) 259-5866.