Best Solar Companies in California

We compared 539 brands and chose the top solar energy companies

    • SunPower
      3.6(2,273)
    • Sunlux
      4.6(568)
    • Ameco Solar
      4.9(36)

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      The ConsumerAffairs Research Team has talked to thousands of California homeowners who switched to solar. The happy ones tell us about an easy installation process, great customer support and long-term cost savings.

      To choose our top picks, we compared solar energy companies on ratings and reviews, equipment options, warranties, availability and other factors. Read our full methodology for all the details.

      Our picks may be Authorized Partners who compensate us — this does not affect our recommendations or evaluations but may impact the order in which companies appear.

      Our editor's top picks

      Why trust ConsumerAffairs?
      • Our recommendations are based on what reviewers say.
      • 4,461,922 reviews on ConsumerAffairs are verified.
      • We require contact information to ensure our reviewers are real.
      • We use intelligent software that helps us maintain the integrity of reviews.
      • Our moderators read all reviews to verify quality and helpfulness.

      Compare our 8 top solar companies in California

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      Find a match

      More details about California’s top-rated solar companies

      Investing in solar panels is a big commitment. With so many options — more than 2,000 solar companies statewide — it’s hard to know which is best for you. That’s why we found the best solar installation companies available in California for you.

      SunPower

      Buyer's Choice Award Winner
      Max. panel efficiency
      22.8%
      Warranty
      25 years
      Payment options
      Cash, loan, lease
      Year founded
      1985
      2x Award Winner
      Selected for having one of the highest satisfaction rates for Best Customer Service and Best for Installation

      When it comes to making solar simple, few companies can match the end-to-end experience of SunPower. The company has refined an installation process that minimizes headaches for California homeowners. Reps will guide you through available incentives and tax credits to maximize your savings. We also like that SunPower’s premium Maxeon solar panels are highly rated for efficiency.

      SunPower services

      • Solar panel installation
      • Storage batteries
      • Energy monitoring
      • Solar lease services

      “Even though the product is good, the experience with the people was not that great,” according to Bryant in Northridge. We’ve heard other complaints about customer service, too. Daniel in Irvine and Pei in Fremont both told us about issues with a project coordinator.

      “SunPower made it very easy, and was the most cost-effective of all of the companies that I interviewed,” Rachel in San Diego told us.

      Dale in Del Mar said he “liked the business configuration: roofing needs and installation, labor and product guarantee are handled through the same company and contacts” and like “the quality of the system equipment and the longevity of (the) manufacturer.”

      “After several months of research and consultation, SunPower stood out the most,” Terry in Rancho Cucamonga said. “SunPower conducted the entire solar installation from consultation to end. The overall process was easy and smooth.”

      Our pick for a nice monitoring app

      Sunlux

      Max. panel efficiency
      19.7%
      Warranty
      25 years
      Payment options
      Cash, loan and lease
      Year founded
      2012

      Sunlux is a highly rated solar company only available in California and Texas. We like that it has a variety of equipment options and a 25-year performance guarantee. It's a certified Tesla installer. Additional services include EV charging and smart-home solutions.

      Sunlux services

      • Solar installations
      • Solar financing
      • Solar storage batteries
      • Smart-home solutions
      • EV charging
      • Roofing

      We like the Sunlux app, but some customers wish it were more advanced, like Cesar in Corona. Cesar said, “The Sunlux app, all in all, gives me the information I need, but it could be a little bit more detailed or it could be a little more interactive.”

      Sunlux isn’t the cheapest option, but it’s still worth considering if you’re a particular person with a specific vision. Additionally, some customers in California have told us about installation delays, like Pierce in Simi Valley.

      Most communication is done over email. So, if you prefer in-person or over-the-phone conversations, you might be better off working with a different company.

      Sunlux has “very helpful, very informative” reps, according to Francisco in Norwalk. “The install crew was very professional, made everything quick, also answered any questions I had, very informative and gave me all the info I needed,” he said.

      David in Whittier likes tracking how much energy he’s generating through the Sunux app. “I can see what I'm producing every hour of the day. It's nice and there's a lot of information on there,” he said. “It's a total positive experience with Sunlux and I've been telling people it's gonna save them money.”

      Another customer, Daniel in Wildomar, appreciated that sales reps weren’t overly focused on making a buck: “I spoke to other companies. They were somewhat pushy. But with Sunlux, it was nothing like that. I asked for a quote. They gave me a quote and left me alone.”

      Our pick for a long warranty

      Ameco Solar

      Max. panel efficiency
      Varies
      Warranty
      40 years
      Payment options
      Cash, loan, lease
      Year founded
      1974

      Ameco Solar has a long track record of providing solar solutions with fair pricing and an efficient installation process. The company has great reviews and one of the longest warranties we’ve seen. Headquartered in Valley Village, Ameco is available to residential and commercial customers throughout California. Ameco generally charges between $25,000 and $30,000 for residential solar installations (before any financial incentives are applied).

      Ameco services 

      • Solar panel installation
      • Solar battery installation
      • Electric vehicle (EV) charging stations
      • Roof replacements
      • Composite shingle roofing

      You might need to replace your roof before installing solar panels, especially if you live in an older home. Solar panels last 25 to 30 years, so you need your roof to last at least as long. Otherwise, you’ll have to pay to remove the panels, replace the roof and reinstall the panels again — an expensive and frustrating process.

      Since Ameco is also a top-rated roofing company, it’s worth considering working with them on both projects. “If you're a California resident looking to go solar or upgrade your roofing, Ameco Solar is the company to trust,” according to one customer, Davis in Santa Ana.

      Satisfied Ameco Solar customers in California often tell us about reasonable costs, knowledgeable reps and a streamlined process.

      “Amazing experience with product, install and customer service,” according to SeJin in South Pasadena. “Ameco Solar is one of the lowest bids in terms of pricing and has the ability to get the job done on a quick timeline.”

      “With Ameco Solar, you can expect an easy installation process, exceptional quality and substantial energy savings,” Ethan in San Jose told us.

      “I would consider myself someone with high expectations when it comes to service, and I was impressed they were able to communicate clearly with me and answer any questions I had,” Shayla in Corona said. “I recommend this company for solar panel service, especially since they offer an affordable price.”

      Our pick for customer service
      Max. panel efficiency
      Varies
      Warranty
      25 years
      Payment options
      Cash, loan
      Year founded
      2015

      First American Solar has a really cool design and installation process, plus reasonable pricing. It’s a local company — headquartered in Glendale — with a great reputation throughout Southern California. We also like that the 25-year warranty covers your solar panels, roof and racking as well as production and workmanship.

      First American Solar services

      • Residential solar installations
      • Commercial solar installations
      • Nonprofit solar installations

      First American Solar’s availability is somewhat limited. It isn’t an option if you live in central or northern California.

      “What truly sets First American Solar apart is its exceptional customer service,” according to Khalil in Los Angeles. “They were always available to address my questions and concerns, and their follow-up after installation was remarkable,” he said.

      Romik in Los Angeles appreciated First American is a “very responsive company with attention to details,” and that reps made a 3D model of their house to create a design that maximizes solar power generation.

      “First American Solar has been a game-changer for me,” Mary in Glendale said. She has a pool plus high energy usage, and First American helped dramatically decrease her monthly energy costs. “It's been a truly transformative experience. The team was professional, efficient, and they guided me seamlessly through the entire process,” she said.

      Like Mary, Jordan in Glendale went solar for the cost savings. They also like to support local, family-owned businesses and went with First American Solar because it isn’t a large national corporation or franchise.

      “Since going solar, my energy cost has gone down substantially,” Jordan told us. “I figured it was about four and a half years [to] break even. So, it's like paying our electric bill four and a half years in advance. Then after that … you're home free.”

      Our pick for good value

      OC Solar

      Max. panel efficiency
      22.2%
      Warranty
      25 years
      Payment options
      Cash, loan
      Year founded
      2016

      Orange County Solar provides informative and efficient service, and its customers typically end up with significant energy bill savings. It’s the Exclusive Panasonic Elite Dealer for Orange County. The company was founded in 2016 and serves the greater Los Angeles area. Small residential solar installations typically start between $12,000 and $24,000.

      OC Solar services

      • Solar installation
      • Home battery backup
      • Equipment maintenance
      • Roofing

      Some Orange County Solar reviewers have told us about issues with communication and delays in the installation process. At least one customer experienced delays in the installation process due to weather conditions, though these types of delays can happen with any solar company.

      Many Orange County Solar customers highlight the company’s reasonable pricing and fair estimates. Matt in Anaheim said he got five quotes, and “Orange County Solar was one of the less expensive for a higher-end solar system.”

      Another customer, Mark in Irvine, said he liked how Orange County Solar reps “came out, gave an estimate and they were quick and professional about it. They also stood by their estimates, so nothing ever changed once I made my decision.”

      Others like that easy process and ongoing savings: “My bill has already dropped immensely,” Winnie in Anaheim said. “From start to finish, it was seamless. They had great customer service and they did quality work.”

      Our pick for custom projects
      Max. panel efficiency
      Varies
      Warranty
      25 years
      Payment options
      Cash, loan, lease, PPA
      Year founded
      2010

      LA Solar reps are professional, knowledgeable and good at communication. The company is based in San Fernando, California. It’s currently available throughout California, Nevada, Texas and Hawaii. LA Solar is an authorized Tesla installer, so it has high-performance solar panels with a sleek, black-on-black design.

      LA Solar Group services

      • Residential, commercial and government solar installations
      • Battery backup solutions
      • Solar financing
      • Roofing
      • Solar equipment maintenance

      Some LA Solar customers have had a few issues with billing and communication, but, overall, most were satisfied with the installation and cost of the service.

      “LA Solar is a solid local company,” according to one customer, S. in Los Angeles. “Our system is the greatest thing since sliced bread. Whatever it costs, you're guaranteed the return on your money. It's like having a factory on top of your house making energy for you. You have to be brain-damaged not to do it if you can.”

      Steven in Camarillo appreciated that LA Solar was willing to update his existing solar system when others wouldn’t.

      “LA Solar did it the right way. I have this really steep-pitched roof that faces the morning sunlight. It gets no afternoon sunlight,” he said. “I got a great deal with LA Solar. I thought it was a very fair price considering everything that they did.”

      Our pick for innovative tech

      Soleeva

      Max. panel efficiency
      Varies
      Warranty
      25 years
      Payment options
      Cash, loan
      Year founded
      2010

      Soleeva was founded by a mechanical engineer and a manufacturing finance expert. Their goal was to develop more efficient, longer-lasting solar panels.

      Soleeva panels come with a special kind of coating that makes them last longer against wear and tear. Its self-cleaning panels are another standout feature. We also like the company’s responsive customer service and willingness to address issues — before, during and after installation.

      Soleeva services

      • Residential solar design, engineering and construction
      • Commercial solar projects
      • Farm and agricultural solar solutions
      • Credit-based and non-credit-based financing

      Installation is generally smooth, although some customers have reported broken tiles or difficulty with the wireless connection. One customer, Brenda in Annapolis, was upset that the installation took longer than expected.

      “Installation-wise, our experience with Soleeva was perfect,” Jeffrey in San Mateo told us. “It was completed in about a day and a half. But communication-wise and the follow-up, I would give that a much lower rating.”

      “Soleeva's price was good and so was their service,” according to Nickolas in San Jose.

      Another customer in San Jose pointed out that “Soleeva isn't the cheapest, but they are the most reasonably priced for some of those services that they offer over the long-term.”

      Sukhdeep in Stockton likes Soleeva because “their technology is US-made, plus their price is reasonable.” Other happy customers across California have given Soleeva positive reviews, particularly about helpful reps and cheaper electric bills after installation.

      ShopSolar

      Buyer's Choice Award Winner
      Max. panel efficiency
      Varies
      Warranty
      Varies
      Payment options
      Cash, loan
      Year founded
      2018
      1x Award Winner
      Selected for having one of the highest satisfaction rates for Best Customer Service

      ShopSolar is an online store where you can buy custom solar kits. You can find solar panel brands like REC, Renogy, Panasonic, Canadian Solar, EcoFlow and more. We like that there’s free shipping on all solar kits, plus a price match guarantee and lifetime customer support.

      ShopSolar products

      • New and used solar panels
      • Solar generator bundles
      • Storage batteries
      • Inverters
      • Charge controllers
      • Cabling and hardware
      • Mounts and racks
      • Off-grid appliances

      Unlike our other top picks, ShopSolar does not provide professional installation services. You need to know quite a bit about solar panels and electrical work for this kind of DIY project to make sense.

      “The only thing that is tough is getting good instructions,” Dylan in Long Beach told us. “They have videos to teach you about solar, but they don't really have videos on teaching you what you should do.”

      You’re also basically on your own when it comes to the permitting process.

      Californians seem overall satisfied with ShopSolar’s products and customer support. “ShopSolarKits was awesome,” Chris in Santa Maria told us. “They got the product to me quickly. It all came complete and everything was all right.” Another customer, Cole in Mad Rover, said the setup was easy and only took a few hours.

      The reps from ShopSolar “answered all my questions about shipping and return issues that I might have, and I felt good doing business with them, so I did,” John in Foster City said. ShopSolar was also available to address any follow-up questions or concerns. “They took plenty of time to talk to me, too. I didn't feel like they made their sale and they didn't care. That was nice,” John said.

      Steven in Oakhurst went with ShopSolar because he wanted something more than a portable gas generator available during power outages (especially after the snow storms last winter). “I had no problem setting it up once I got on YouTube and looked up how to hook up the solar panels correctly and safely,” he said.

      A solar panel buyers guide for Californians

      California’s solar industry is booming right now. Plenty of sunshine and financial incentives make switching to solar an easy decision for many homeowners (and it’s mandatory if you’re building a new home in the state). If you’re ready to go solar, we’re here to help you compare your best options and get the best deal.


      Key insights

      • The average cost to install solar panels starts at $16,380 in California. That price drops to $11,466 after the full federal solar investment tax credit (ITC).
      • Although recent changes to the state’s net metering laws have reduced its benefits, it still makes financial sense for many homeowners to participate.
      • Adding a reliable solar storage battery to your system is expensive but often worth it — especially in areas with regular or semiregular power outages.

      How much does it cost to install solar panels in California?

      The average cost to install residential solar panels is $11,466 in California after you use the full federal solar investment tax credit (ITC), which gives you a federal income tax credit equal to 30% of the cost of your system. Without the tax credit, the average cost is $16,380.

      Going solar here is quite a bit cheaper than the national average, even though the average cost per watt is slightly higher. This is because the typical California household needs a lower kilowatt (kW) system to offset energy costs. Most homes here require a 4- or 5-kW system, whereas the national average is between 6 kW and 9 kW.

      Your total costs depend on how much energy your system produces, if you buy solar batteries, if you need to repair or replace your roof first and what local incentives you can get.

      Average cost by system size in California

      Source: EcoWatch

      How can I pay for solar panels?

      Getting solar panels is a lot like getting a car. You could pay cash in full upfront, but many people finance through a loan. Solar loans work like most other types of loans — you pay principal and interest on it each month until it’s paid off.

      You can also lease solar panels. With a lease, you get some of the benefits of going solar without the high upfront costs. The main downside is that you won’t be eligible for the federal solar tax credit because you don’t own the panels. Californians also have the option to enter a power purchase agreement, which works a lot like a lease.

      If you finance or lease, it's worth it if your monthly payments are cheaper than your current electricity bills. When considering a solar loan, lease or PPA, always ask:

      • Is there a down payment?
      • How much will I pay per month?
      • When will monthly payments increase, and by how much?
      • Will there be a lien put on my house?

      » SOLAR PANELS: Lease vs. buy

      What solar incentives are available in California?

      The federal solar investment tax credit (ITC) is the most significant incentive for going solar in California. The tax credit gives you a federal income tax credit equal to 30% of the total cost of your solar energy system, including equipment, labor costs and permit fees. It’s a nonrefundable credit, so it rolls over into the next tax year if you don’t use the full amount.

      The 30% credit is available for systems installed by the end of 2032. It drops to 26% for systems installed in 2033 and to 22% for systems installed in 2034, then it expires in 2035.

      The average federal solar income tax credit value in California is $4,914.

      California also has better solar incentives than most other states. There’s a property tax exclusion on the value solar adds to your home, a rebate for installing energy storage technologies (including solar batteries) and more.

      » EXPLORE: California solar incentives

      Net metering in California

      California offers net metering, which lets you be reimbursed for the excess energy you produce that's sent back to the energy grid, but recent changes in how it works have resulted in lower rates for homeowners.

      The state’s new system, Net Energy Metering (NEM) 3.0, is tied to wholesale rates and applies to systems installed on April 15, 2023, or later. These changes strongly encourage the installation of solar batteries for storage — you’ll likely get more savings than you would with panels alone.

      How to hire a solar company in California

      Often, the process starts with a quick online estimate and free virtual consultation. The best solar installers then do an on-site inspection to get a more accurate quote for your solar panel installation.

      Solar installers vs. solar brokers

      Solar installers specialize in the design, procurement and installation of solar panels and related components. They typically have their own team of trained technicians who handle the installation process.

      A broker is an intermediary (or “middleman”) who helps connect homeowners with solar installation companies.

      The decision between using an installer or a broker comes down to how much you want to be involved in the process. Brokers can be helpful if you value convenience. If you want more control and potentially lower costs, it’s best to work directly with a solar installer.

      What to look for when choosing a solar installation company

      Good communication is essential before, during and after the installation process. Solar panels are designed to last at least 25 years, and you want a reliable company that’s available if your system needs service. Some of the newer, fly-by-night solar companies might not even exist next year.

      Some key things to look for when picking a solar company include:

      • Long time in business: Look for companies with lots of experience installing solar panels in California. Their local knowledge is valuable in navigating your county or city’s regulations and incentives.
      • Good local reviews: Research the company's track record and reputation. Look for positive customer reviews, ratings and testimonials.
      • Free quotes: Get multiple quotes from different solar companies to compare prices and services. Be cautious of companies that provide significantly lower quotes than others — this may indicate lower quality. The best solar installers perform a site inspection at your home to get an accurate quote for your solar panels.
      • Flexible payment options: Ask about financing or leasing options if you’re not planning to pay for the system upfront.
      • Comprehensive warranty: Solar panel product warranties typically range from 10 to 25 years, and performance warranties often last for 25 to 30 years. Longer warranties provide more protection and peace of mind. Installers should have a warranty on their labor that covers any defective workmanship or component breakdown for at least five years.
      • Transparent contracts and terms: Carefully review all the fine print before signing a contract with any solar company. If you don’t understand something about the payment terms, warranty or maintenance services, ask.

      Are solar panels worth it in California?

      We’ve talked to hundreds of verified solar customers in California. Many tell us it’s worth it for the savings on utility bills. In the best-case scenario, you can completely eliminate your electricity bill.

      Despite recent changes to net metering, California’s solar incentives and regulations are still better than those in many other states. On average, homeowners with solar panels get estimated net savings of $30,000 over 25 years.

      “Overall, being able to diversify energy sources while saving costs and making a positive impact on the environment is a great positive outcome,” Victor in Oakley said.

      It is a good move to go solar. We should all do it.”
      — Kup in Fresno

      Some Californians say the cost savings are secondary. “For us, it will take more than 25 years to pay back,” Ralph in Redondo Beach told us, “but as a little contribution to the environment, we feel that is worth it. We are not into solar for the money.”

      On average, the state gets four to six hours of peak sunlight every day, which is great for energy production. Some parts of the state get even more sunlight. Allan in Palm Desert told us that “out there in the desert, where all you get is sunshine, 120 degrees in the summer, going solar is worth it.”

      Kup in Fresno is also saving money after installing solar panels. “It is a good move to go solar. We should all do it. Green, green. And green. Save the world," Kup said.

      Average cost for a 5-kW system

      Source: EnergySage

      » STILL NOT SURE? Solar energy pros and cons

      FAQ

      Can I get free solar panels in California?

      The Disadvantaged Communities - Single-Family Solar Homes (DAC-SASH) program offers no- or low-cost solar equipment to income-qualified homeowners in disadvantaged communities.

      Does California require solar panels on new homes?

      The California solar mandate has required all new residential construction projects to have solar photovoltaic (PV) systems installed since 2020.

      The mandate applies to single-family homes, condos and apartment buildings less than three stories high. It doesn’t apply if your roof is too small for solar panels, if you don’t get enough sunlight for them to be productive or if you already have access to a community solar system.

      How are solar costs trending in California?

      Solar costs are trending down in California and the rest of the country. According to the Solar Energy Industries Association, prices have decreased by around 43% over the last decade.

      How do solar batteries work?

      Solar batteries let you store the solar energy you produce to use when your system is not producing power. A solar battery helps you increase your energy independence and is essential if you want to go off-grid.

      Compare California solar companies

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        Methodology: How we picked the best solar companies in California

        To choose our top picks for California solar energy companies, the ConsumerAffairs Research Team compared popular solar companies on several key features, including equipment quality, availability of services and financing options.

        1. Background check: We considered each company’s overall history, current reputation, mission and values. Solar is a booming industry, and there are a lot of fly-by-night companies. We preferred those with a longer time in business and a solid track record of reliability.
        2. Reviews, ratings and testimonials: We analyzed thousands of California solar customer reviews and ratings to gauge real-world satisfaction. The happy ones tell us about an easy installation process, great ongoing support and long-term cost savings on their monthly electric bills.
        3. Solar equipment selection: Companies were evaluated on their selection of solar panels, storage batteries and inverters. Our top picks use proprietary technology or partner with trusted brands to offer a wide selection of quality solar equipment.
        4. Financing options: Most people don’t pay cash upfront to install solar panels. All our top picks offer in-house financing options — such as loans, leases and power purchase agreements — to make it easier for the average person to go solar.
        5. Monitoring and maintenance: Solar panels don’t take very long to install. But then you’re stuck with them for 20 to 30 years. That’s why we picked solar companies that offer solid after-sales support, like real-time monitoring and regular maintenance services.
        6. Warranties: Any good solar panel manufacturer provides a product and performance warranty. We also made sure our top picks give you a warranty on their labor for installation.

        Guide sources

        ConsumerAffairs writers primarily rely on government data, industry experts and original research from other reputable publications to inform their work. Specific sources for this article include:

        1. California Solar & Storage Association, “Thinking About Going Solar?” Accessed Nov. 21, 2023.
        2. EcoWatch, “Solar Panel Cost in California.” Accessed Nov. 21, 2023.
        3. EnergySage, “Solar Panels in Los Angeles County, CA.” Accessed Nov. 21, 2023.
        4. EnergySage, “Solar Panels in San Diego County, CA.” Accessed Nov. 21, 2023.
        5. EnergySage, “Solar Panels in Sacramento County, CA.” Accessed Nov. 21, 2023.
        6. EnergySage, “Solar Panel Cost in California.” Accessed Nov. 21, 2023.
        7. Solar Energy Industries Association, “California Solar.” Accessed Nov. 21, 2023.

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