We’ve known light could be turned into electricity since 1839 when French physicist, A. E. Becquerel, discovered the photovoltaic effect. It wasn’t until the 1950s, however, that the first solar cells were available commercially, when Bell Labs produced them for use in outer space.

In the decades since, improvements in solar technology have been tremendous, as have drops in solar power cost. Since 1977, the price of solar panels has dropped approximately 100 times over, and solar power is now cheaper than power from the grid for billions of people.

Top 10 Most Reviewed Solar Energy Companies

Vivint is a technology and solar energy system company whose mission is to provide clean energy throughout the United States. It focuses on customer service and on providing affordable solutions to consumers with varying budgets.
Dividend Solar works with a preferred network of solar installers to offer $0-down loans to homeowners looking to go solar. It focuses on delivering value and quality to all of its customers.
SolarCity is a fast-growing solar power company. It was founded in 2006 by two brothers who wanted to provide solar power to residential customers. It serves customers in 15 states and is one of America's largest providers.
Servicing Massachusetts only, Solar Five is a local solar power installer providing all financing options; $0 down Leases & Loans, MA Solar Loan and Direct Purchasing while focusing on customers & supporting the local community.
Complete Solar offers California residents custom solar solutions to deliver optimal energy output. With our proprietary software platform, HelioQuote™, we save you money with the industry’s most streamlined and fast installation.
SunPower is one of the oldest solar power companies in the United States, having first offered solar energy systems in 1985. Its solar-powered catamaran continually sails around the world without relying on external fuel sources.
Sunrun was founded by two financial leaders who wanted to turn their attention towards environmental causes and use their business savvy to sell solar paneling. They currently have over 60,000 satisfied customers.
OneRoof Energy is dedicated to providing solar energy systems to residential customers. It uses a proprietary software package to analyze new customers' energy needs and provide quotes that fit their budgets.
RGS Energy started out as a small business running a general store that sold solar paneling. It has currently sold over 22,500 solar energy systems to homes, businesses and educational and governmental institutions.
Verengo Solar helps customers throughout California convert their homes from electrical power to solar power and provides information about rebates. It is a top U.S. residential solar contractor on the Solar Power World List.

Zachary Shahan is the director of CleanTechnica, and his key areas of focus are solar energy and electric vehicles. He has been referenced or interviewed by essentially every major media organization as a recognized global thought leader on solar energy.

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What features matter most?


In some cases, people can simply buy their solar power systems with cash – but with a price tag comparable to a new car, most people will need to use a financing option. Many companies don’t make it clear there are various ways to finance your solar system, but the difference in savings can be huge.

  • Solar leases & PPAs: Solar leases and Power Purchasing Agreements (PPAs) are financial agreements where a third-party developer owns, operates and maintains the solar system, and a customer agrees to affix the system on his roof (or elsewhere on his property) and purchases the system’s electric output from the solar services provider for a predetermined period.
  • Loans: Solar loans are available at a number of banks and organizations across the country, with some available only in specific states or to bank customers only, while others are available nationwide but may have certain stipulations.
  • PACE financing: Property Assessed Clean Energy (PACE) financing helps homeowners and commercial building owners cover the full cost of installing a solar system with a flexible repayment plan extending up to 20 years. Using PACE financing, the solar power system is paid off gradually via higher property taxes.

System ownership

Do you want to own your solar power system? Just as with a car, you have options to personally own your solar power system by purchasing it from the solar company after a certain period of time, or you may choose to lease it indefinitely.

  • Moving soon?: If you intend to move after a few years and you have a solar lease, you will have to convince the new buyers to take over the lease – which isn’t always easy. If the solar system is already purchased, you can simply roll the cost of the system into the price of the home.
  • Leasing can lead to ownership: Even if you choose the leasing or PPA route, some companies allow you to buy the system for a fair market value once the leasing period has ended.
  • Solar panel longevity: Many people don’t consider the benefits of an investment beyond 15-20 years, but it is worth noting that solar panels are very durable and can produce electricity close to the initial factory specs for many decades. Your long-term savings could be three or four times higher if you buy solar panels rather than lease them for a 20-year period.

Costs & savings

Just about every solar installation company has a “solar calculator” on their website to quickly estimate how much a solar system will cost and how much it will save you. Each solar calculator will yield very different estimates, so compare as many as possible and feel free to ask each company what assumptions they’ve used to come up with their estimates.

  • Electricity costs: Calculators may estimate electricity costs in different ways. Numbers can be based on the national average, regional averages, or based on information you provide – and each input can result in very different overall cost and savings estimates.
  • Incentives: Calculators may or may not include federal, state and local incentives which, if you’re eligible, can mean big savings.
  • Generation potential: Some calculators take a satellite photo of your roof and offer a close estimate of how much electricity you can generate. Some calculators use your regional solar irradiation to create the estimate, and other calculators simply use the size of your roof or your typical electricity consumption with no other factors included.
  • Financing assumptions: Again, a key factor is determining which assumptions are used regarding financing (a flat-rate cash purchase, a lease, a loan or PACE financing).


Which manufacturer’s solar panels will the company install? There are many different solar panels on the market – each with their own benefits and disadvantages. Solar panels used for the rooftop solar market are less varied, but there are still considerable differences between each brand.

  • Price vs. efficiency: The biggest price differences generally stem from variations in efficiency, but efficiency doesn’t usually matter unless you have very limited space on your roof.
  • Warranties & reliability: How reliable are the chosen company’s panels known to be – and is the company likely to be around in 10 years?
  • Options: Does the installer give you a choice between different types of panels, or at least disclose where the panels are manufactured?

Additional services

Does the company offer service beyond installation? Some only install solar panels, while other companies manage every aspect of the process.

  • Maintenance & warranties: Some solar companies will install the solar panels, provide maintenance, and offer warranties on both the panels and the work.
  • Financing: Some companies will even assist you during the financing process, whether that be a lease, loan, or PACE financing.
  • Incentives: Some companies help you find and take advantage of incentives you may be eligible for on the of federal, state, and local levels.
  • Manufacturing: A number of solar installers also manufacture the solar panels and solar cells they use.

Customer service

Who wants to go through an automated 1-800 number for everything (or anything)? Some companies get this, some don’t.

  • Dedicated salesperson: Your solar company may provide a dedicated salesperson from day one or after a certain stage in the process – or maybe not at all.
  • Post-sale: Ideally, your initial point-of-contact will be available if you need something after sales, but you may be assigned to a different representative at a later time.
  • Service fees: There’s a good chance the premium service will also come with an additional cost.

Types of solar energy companies


Certain solar companies simply manufacturer solar panels and/or solar cells. You may be able to buy these from the company and either install the panels yourself or have someone else install them, but this isn’t how the typical consumer goes solar.


Solar companies that only install solar panels will likely purchase the panels on your behalf before installation and include the cost in the installation price. Local and regional solar companies often fit this category.


Some solar companies that install and provide the solar panels will even take care of the financing and maintenance, and arrange incentive benefits. Full-service companies usually offer solar leasing because the company owns the solar power systems, but even companies that allow you to purchase your solar panels will also offer these services.


In addition to offering everything that full-service companies offer, vertically-integrated solar companies also manufacture the solar panels and solar cells. The vertical integration may result in a better deal for customers, but it also means that the company is tied to its own specific technology – for better or worse.

Lead-generation companies

Some solar companies don’t actually deal with the hardware or installation at all. These companies give consumers a sense of how much money they can save going solar, how much it costs, different options for going solar, available incentives, and more. Lead-generation companies take your information and pass it on to one or more solar installers on your behalf.

Who's it for?


A large percentage of homeowners would benefit financially from going solar, but only a tiny percentage have made the switch. Residential solar installations have grown exponentially, and as more people see friends and family go solar, the number of installations continues to grow. Falling solar costs also make the offer enticing to more and more homeowners. Homeowners wanting to switch to solar may be limited by options offered in their particular state, as some solar companies do not operate nationwide.

Small & large businesses

Small and large businesses that switch to solar can save on energy costs while making a big statement about helping the environment. Solar power is often cheaper than electricity from the grid, making solar a logical (and even obvious) option for businesses. Many large companies such as Walmart, IKEA, Google, Facebook, Apple, Kohl’s and Walgreens have begun transitioning to solar on a large scale in recent years. In certain areas, PACE financing may be available for business building owners.

Government agencies & nonprofits

Government agencies and nonprofit organizations are not able take advantage of very useful tax incentives, but solar companies that offer innovative financing options can help these organizations switch to solar as well. Dropping solar costs have made solar power a financially-beneficial option in some locations – even without any tax incentives.

Cash & loan consumers

Individuals or organizations that benefit from (or prefer to) purchase their solar power systems may have limited options. Some companies simply don’t offer the option to pay upfront for the solar system, or may only allow customers to purchase the system after a certain period of time. Those who choose to purchase their systems are usually looking for a long-term energy solution and are comfortable taking responsibility for the maintenance of their solar panel system.

Leasing & PPA customers

Many consumers don’t have thousands of dollars laying around to purchase their own solar system, so they’ll need to explore financing options that will make it possible. Some solar companies (or states) simply won’t offer solar leasing or PPAs, and others will offer these options but could tend to push consumers towards a different financing option instead. Solar lease or PPA payments will typically be lower than current utilities, so these customers will notice a cash savings right away and usually won’t have to bother with the maintenance of a leased solar system.

DIY solar users

Solar panel systems can be extremely durable and require little to no maintenance. Those who plan to install and maintain their own solar system may have a different set of criteria in choosing a solar company. If you plan to install and service the system yourself, you’ll likely need to purchase the system with cash or with a loan, as companies who offer solar leases and PPAs are more likely to require installation and even maintenance to be handled by their company or a partner company.

Solar beginners

Many consumers wanting to switch to solar have little to no experience with solar systems. Choosing a company that offers both installation and maintenance services is likely the best route for those who want more of a hands-off solar experience. You may be limited to solar leasing or PPAs if you’d like the additional service – but not always.

What do the experts have to say?

  • Dividend Solar

    Dividend Solar is a relatively young company that started up in San Francisco in order to give investors another option for investing in solar and homeowners another source of financing. Basically, through crowd-sourced investments, a homeowner can get a competitive loan to cover the cost of a rooftop solar system.

    • Best for Homeowners.
  • Vivint Solar

    The #2 residential solar installer in the United States, Vivint Solar is a public solar company that launched in 2011.

    • Best for Homeowners, small & large businesses, government agencies & nonprofits, leasing & PPA customers, solar beginners
  • Complete Solar

    Complete Solar is a company devoted to designing and installing residential solar power systems. The company offers a range of services, and much of its success comes from a proprietary technology that helps clients choose specific features while staying within their budgets.

    • Best for Families, homeowners who want affordable access to solar power, and small & large businesses.
  • SolarCity

    SolarCity is by far the largest residential solar installation company in the United States. It is also one of only a few companies vertically integrated, offering installation and financing while also including a manufacturing arm.

    • Best for Homeowners, small & large businesses, government agencies & nonprofits, leasing & PPA customers, solar beginners, cash & loan consumers
  • Solar Five

    Solar Five is a Massachusetts-based company providing affordable solar energy to homeowners, businesses and government. Solar Five manages the installation process from start to finish for an easy transition to solar power. They have completed over 400 solar energy projects of all sizes and can customize a solar package to meet every consumer’s needs.

    • Best for Solar Five is best for residential, commercial and government solar projects.
  • SunPower

    SunPower is one of the world’s leading solar cell and solar module manufacturers, and it’s also a leading solar installer. It was one of the first solar companies to become vertically integrated, and was the first U.S. company focused on the home solar market to do so. Aside from residential solar installations, SunPower is routinely the top – or one of the top – commercial solar panel installers in the United States.

    • Best for Homeowners, small & large businesses, government agencies & nonprofits, leasing & PPA customers, solar beginners, cash & loan consumers, DIY solar users
  • Sunrun

    Sunrun, founded in 2007, was a solar leasing/PPA pioneer and now serves 11 states, making it one of the most widely spread solar installers. However, it hasn’t branched out from its solar leasing roots.

    • Best for Homeowners, small & large businesses, government agencies & nonprofits, leasing & PPA customers, solar beginners
  • RGS Energy

    RGS Energy is part of Real Goods Solar and sold some of the first solar panels to the public, over 35 years ago! Real Goods Solar was the 5th-largest residential solar installer in the U.S. in 2013.

    • Best for Homeowners, small & large businesses, government agencies & nonprofits, leasing & PPA customers, solar beginners, cash & loan consumers
  • OneRoof Energy

    OneRoof Energy is a young solar company founded in 2011. The company only provides solar leases, and doesn’t sell solar outright or manufacture any solar panel components.

    • Best for Homeowners, small & large businesses, government agencies & nonprofits, leasing & PPA customers, solar beginners
  • PetersenDean

    PetersenDean is a residential and commercial roofing and solar company founded in 1984. It entered the solar market relatively recently, but is the #1 residential roofing contractor in the U.S., with over 1 million roofs installed.

    • Best for Homeowners, small & large businesses, government agencies & nonprofits, solar beginners, cash & loan consumers
  • Solar Universe

    Founded in 2008, REPOWER by Solar Universe has been around for several years yet pursued a different business model than most of its peers – franchising.

    • Best for Homeowners, small & large businesses, government agencies & nonprofits, solar beginners, cash & loan consumers
  • Sungevity

    Sungevity was one of the first solar installers to offer solar leasing, but it is not tied to that financing model. It uses a unique, efficient, satellite-based system for providing customers with an initial solar quote.

    • Best for Homeowners, small & large businesses, government agencies & nonprofits, leasing & PPA customers, solar beginners, cash & loan consumers
  • Yingli Solar

    In 2012 and 2013, Yingli Solar held the title as the #1 solar module manufacturer in the world in terms of annual solar module capacity sales.

    • Best for Homeowners, small & large businesses, government agencies & nonprofits, leasing & PPA customers, solar beginners, cash & loan consumers, DIY solar users
  • Horizon Solar Power

    As one of the leading providers of solar power installation in Southern California, Horizon Solar Power is dedicated to offering residential homes a renewable energy system at discount pricing. Their unique take on solar installation helps more homes reap the benefits of solar energy without the high cost of panels.

    • Best for Homeowners, landlords and small business owners.
  • EnergySage

    EnergySage specializes in obtaining customer quotes for solar systems and their installation. The marketplace company provides helpful price comparison charts, and it also offers extensive educational resources about the environmental benefits of solar power.

    • Best for Current homeowners, people building new homes, small & large businesses, solar beginners
  • Go Solar

    Go Solar, Inc., is a Colorado-based and Colorado-focused full-service solar company. It has partnered with high-quality US-based companies to offer great solar products made in the USA.

    • Supports the US economy: Focused on supporting the US economy, Go Solar, Inc., uses solar panels and solar inverters from top US solar companies such as SunEdison and Enphase.
    • Industry knowledge: The company’s leadership knows solar technology and solar financing in depth, which leads to a high-quality product offering and competitive financing options.
    • High-quality industry partnership: With SunEdison as a dedicated partner, Go Solar, Inc., presumably gets a good deal on its solar panels, thus allowing the company to offer customers a good deal on high-quality solar technology (which includes a 25-year warranty).
    • Complete service: Go Solar, Inc., keeps the customer experience smooth and pleasant with in-house contractors, financing, maintenance, monitoring, and even roof repair (with a 20-year “bumper to bumper” warranty).
    • Mutual benefit with growth: The company also offers a $500 reward for referring new customers.
    • Best for Homeowners, small & large businesses, government agencies & nonprofits,, cash & loan consumers, leasing & PPA customers and solar beginners.

  • Verengo Solar

    Verengo Solar was the #3 residential solar installer in 2013 in terms of residential market share. The company has installed over 12,000 residential solar power systems, however, the company is reportedly up for sale.

    • Best for Homeowners, small & large businesses, government agencies & nonprofits, leasing & PPA customers, solar beginners
  • Pick My Solar

    Pick My Solar is a unique solar company that’s focused on assisting homeowners who want to go solar. It collects bids from various solar installers, evaluates them and makes recommendations to the homeowners.

    • Best for Homeowners, small & large businesses and DIY consumers.

11 – 18 Most Reviewed Solar Energy Companies

Sungevity is committed to protecting the environment through its solar power initiatives. In addition to offering solar paneling, it contributes solar-powered grids to children in Zambia who are living without any power source.
PetersenDean offers roofing services as well as solar panel installation and maintenance for both residential and commercial customers. It operates out of Northern California and also services Arizona, Florida, Texas and Nevada.
Solar Universe offers a network of local franchises across the United States so that consumers can get solar energy systems from providers in their neighborhoods. They have been assisting consumers with solar power since 2008.
Yingli Solar is a large global solar energy company that has 30 offices in various countries. It has provided service in Europe, South America, Asia and Australia in addition to its locations within the United States.
Horizon Solar Power offers residential solar energy system installation services throughout the Inland Empire area in Southern California. Consumers can get a quote by filling out an online form or by calling the company
EnergySage, headquartered in Boston, is a leading online marketplace where customers receive quotes and estimates for solar power installation. They also offer in-depth information about the benefits of solar power in buildings.
Pick My Solar was founded with the goal to put solar panels on every compatible rooftop in America. The company is striving towards this goal by bringing about solar awareness, creating affordable prices and simplify the process.