Solar Tribune

Top Rated Solar Companies for

Santa Cruz

Discover the best solar installers in Santa Cruz, California. Read reviews, research average installation costs, and get BBB ratings to help you decide on the best solar panel installer for your home or business.

by Brooks Lape | July 9, 2017

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Allterra Solar


This local solar provider is well regarded throughout the Central Coast for its exceptional service.


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

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Summary

Founded in 2004 as an environmental engineering and remediation company, Allterra established a residential and commercial solar division in 2009. It quickly earned an excellent reputation. The company had a red letter year in 2013, during which it won first place in Santa Cruz Weekly’s Gold Awards, was named the Santa Cruz Sentinel’s Best Solar Dealer, and landed recognition as Good Times’ Best Solar Contractor. The value it places on relationships with customers and data-driven operations have fed the company’s growth.

Allterra designs custom systems that use industry-leading SunPower panels and guarantees their production. Installations take one to two days, depending on the project’s size and complexity. Allterra offers a 25-year warranty and Web-based system monitoring. It arranges zero-down PPA, lease, and purchase options with interest rates as low as 3.99%.

The company’s commercial projects include installations for insurance agencies, medical facilities, breweries, and many other businesses. Allterra is an environmentally conscious company that participates in the Monterey Bay Area Green Business program. The Monterey County Business Council named it the Best Place to Work in Monterey Bay, and the California Air Resources Board recognized it as a 2015 Cool Climate Leader in 2015.

Allterra Solar can be reached through its website at allterrasolar.com, or by phone at (831) 425-2608.


Clean Solar


Clean Solar is a popular, socially responsible choice for solar installation in the Central Coast area. It’s been recognized as a standout company nearly a dozen times in its nine years of existence.


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

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Summary

Clean Solar was rated one of the Top Workplaces in the Bay Area in 2015, and ranked #161 on Solar Power World’s 2013 list of the Top 250 Solar Contractors, Inc. magazine also ranked Clean Solar on its list of the nation's 5,000 fastest-growing private companies for three years in a row.

Clean Solar is licensed and insured to install solar power for homes and businesses. It’s also a Certified B Corporation and a Diamond Certified contractor — a rare distinction earned by Bay Area companies with excellent customer service records.
The Prime Buyer's Report named Clean Solar one of its Top 10 Solar installers in Northern California, and MetroActive named it the “Best Solar Company” in Silicon Valley in 2015. In addition, the San Jose Mercury News and San Mateo Times both dubbed it the Best Solar Installer in Silicon Valley for five years running. Clean Solar also won the CoolCalifornia Small Business Award for its climate-friendly practices.

Customers can choose from standard PPA, lease, and purchase options. The contract includes a 15-year production guarantee and a free monitoring service that notifies Clean Solar of any significant changes in output.

Clean Solar can be reached through its website at cleansolar.com, or by phone at (888) 551-7652.


SunPower


Sunpower has been advancing solar technology for more than 30 years. This trusted name in renewable energy has weathered the ups and downs of the solar industry through relentless innovation.


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

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Summary

The company designs its own panels, battery storage systems, and software to work together seamlessly. SunPower panels have the highest efficiency rate in the business, partly because there aren’t any grid lines on the front of the cell. The lack of grid lines increases the amount of surface area dedicated to absorbing sunlight, and also improves aesthetics. Unlike conventional panels, they’re backed by solid copper that resists corrosion. The equipment comes with a 25-year power and product warranty.

SunPower produces the industry’s only Cradle to Cradle® certified products. Its panels meet the standards of the Cradle to Cradle Products Innovation Institute for material health, material reutilization, renewable energy and carbon management, water stewardship, and social fairness. SunPower also runs solar education programs and donates solar systems to nonprofit causes.

SunPower can be reached through its website at us.SunPower.com, or by phone at 800-SunPower.


Future Energy Savers


This veteran California company has installed more than 5,000 solar systems since 1978. Its American-made panels and 25-year warranty make it a popular choice in the region.


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

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Summary

Homeowners and businesses can get started for zero down, and monitor their systems around the clock through the company’s Enlighten web interface. Customers say that Future Energy Savers kept them well-informed throughout each step of the process.

The company’s services go far beyond solar panels. Future Energy Savers also sets up solar hot water systems, upgrades windows, and installs energy efficient HVAC systems. Customers can also sign on for indoor air purification, duct testing, and duct sealing to maximize the environmental conditions and efficiency of their homes and facilities.

Founder and CEO Jeffrey Adkins believes that “in order to succeed in the business world, you need to be heavily involved with the local community and treat them like family...I share this vision with all of our associates. My message is that we must always produce high quality work, provide great customer service, and constantly look out and represent the customer’s best interests. It’s in our company’s DNA and culture, one that has come full circle with referral business.”

The firm’s work for shelters, churches, and Habitat for Humanity demonstrates that this sentiment is more than just lip service.

Future Energy Savers can be reached through its website at energysavers.com, or by phone at (800) 985-0733.


Sunrun


Sunrun is one of the nation’s top residential installers, and best company’s #1 solar firm of 2016. Its low prices and transparent plans have attracted more than 100,000 customers to date.


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

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Summary

Quality is also paramount; Sunrun and its network of contractors have more than 15 years of experience installing solar PV. The company designs and installs high-output systems, and backs them up with a lifetime warranty. Should anything need tweaking, they’ll provide free support.

bestcompany and other organizations recognize Sunrun’s range of payment plans for their clarity. Customers can choose to:

Pay a lease each month with BrightSave Monthly
Prepay an entire lease with BrightSave Prepaid
Finance a system with a BrightAdvantage loan
Purchase a system outright under its BrightBuy option
Add a BrightBox battery storage unit that provides backup power when the grid’s down

They can track daily, weekly, or monthly system output through a powerful and user-friendly mobile app. The app also connects homeowners to their account information and preferences. If your system overproduces, there’s no charge from Sunrun.

The company’s growth, new partnerships, and A+ Better Business Bureau score are good indicators of its reliability and reputation.

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


RGS


RGS, a Real Goods Company, has installed more than 25,000 residential and commercial systems since it opened its doors in the late 1970s.


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

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Summary

Owner John Schaeffer’s Real Goods store in Willits, California was the first business to retail solar panels. John is a passionate advocate for solar energy who promoted it to his neighbors before he even opened up shop. The small company he established with an investment of less than $10,000 is now a publicly traded business serving 11 states.

In 2013, the company saw a 50% increase in solar installations nationwide over the previous year, and continued to grow its revenue in 2014. It successfully reduced debt and improved its financial position in 2016. It plans to reduce expenses by moving its headquarters from Boulder County, Colorado to downtown Denver in 2017.

RGS Energy is certified by Green America for using its business to promote environmental protection and social justice. It’s also a Waterkeeper Alliance partner.

RGS Energy can be reached through its website at rgsenergy.com, or by phone at (888) 567-6527.


Vivint


Vivint Solar is one of the top residential solar installers in the United States.


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

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Summary

The company originally launched with a power purchase agreement (PPA) model in which it owned, installed, and maintained the solar panels, with the homeowner agreeing to purchase only the solar energy the system produces. While this model broke the cost barrier for many homeowners and brought Vivint great success, Vivint expanded its payment plans to include a full range of standard PPA, lease, and purchase options. It also widened its operations, opening an office in the eco-conscious city of San Francisco in 2012.

Vivint Solar evolved a door-to-door sales strategy that has received wide praise. Credit Suisse commended the approach, for example, asserting that it lowers the company’s customer acquisition costs, enables it to create “pockets of customers,” and makes “operations more efficient.” Vivint Solar will be expanding its appeal by partnering with Vivint Smart Home to offer a solar-power home management system in 2017.

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


Sungevity


Sungevity sells and leases attractive, all-black panels to residential and commercial customers in the Santa Cruz area. It guarantees production for 20 years, and verifies the numbers through 24 hour monitoring.


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

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Summary

Customers can get a fast and accurate estimate with iQuote, a convenient option where Sungevity’s solar designers use satellite data to calculate the amount of electricity a particular roof site will generate. The company also provides Internet-based estimates of projected savings in both cash and carbon emissions by phone.

Sungevity’s project managers help customers navigate the permitting process. It also coordinates the installation and maintenance work that its qualified and vetted local contractors perform.
Many customers become advocates for the company. As Sungevity CEO Danny Kennedy says, “They [the customers] come in rationally; they go out emotionally.”

Sungevity customers can monitor system performance online and from their mobile devices. Monitoring features include hourly updates for tracking daily production, monthly reports on utility savings, annual solar production reports, and life-of-system statistics. The firm has been Diamond Certified for service and expertise for several years.

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


Solar City


With more than 300,000 home installations, SolarCity leads the nation’s residential solar market.


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

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Summary

SolarCity rose to fame quickly, largely due to its outside-the-box financing options that removed the high upfront cost involved in going solar. The company continues to innovate its product line as well. It offer sleek, all-black panels, and rolled out durable solar roof tiles in late 2016. SolarCity is also partnering with Tesla, Inc. and Panasonic on a new, high-output solar panel facility in Buffalo, New York. In its latest achievement, SolarCity powered an entire island with solar energy.

Chairman Elon Musk is a serial entrepreneur in the tech industry and a staunch advocate for renewable power. Musk is also the CEO of Tesla, Inc. and SpaceX and a co-founder of PayPal. He is a well regarded, informed voice on other forward-thinking ideas such as artificial intelligence and Mars settlements.

SolarCity’s nearly countless recognitions include nods from Business Insider, Glassdoor, Renewable Energy World, Fast Company, MIT Technology Review, and Deloitte.

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


Semper Solaris


This San Diego company is owned by the few and the proud — former U.S. Marines who are as proud of their company’s reputation as they are of their military service.


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

Compare quotes for your home.


Summary

Semper only installs SunPower solar panels. This top-of-the-line equipment is made in the USA and boasts a 22% efficiency rate — the industry’s highest. The panels are guaranteed to produce 75% more energy over 25 years than conventional panels. Semper’s monitoring service tracks system output. The electricity costs roughly the same per watt as the state average.

Even if Semper didn’t originally install a particular system, it will fine-tune, maintain, diagnose, and repair mature, aging, and under-producing systems installed by other companies. It also compares them against current building and fire codes to ensure proper ventilation, electrical placement, and roof access.

The company is an Interstate Renewable Energy Council (IREC) certified Master Trainer. Semper is also EGIA certified, which means it’s licensed and insured, and complies with all state laws. The company has an A+ rating with the Better Business Bureau.

Semper Solaris can be reached through its website at sempersolaris.com, or by phone at (888) 210-3366.