Best Solar Companies in Montana

We compared 48 brands and chose the top solar energy companies

    • SunPower
      3.6(2,279)
    • ShopSolar
      4.7(149)

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      Best Solar Companies in Montana

      To choose our top solar panel installers in Montana, we compared popular solar energy companies on ratings and reviews, equipment options, warranties 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

    • Our pick for professional installation: SunPower
    • Our pick for DIY solar projects: ShopSolar
    • Why trust ConsumerAffairs?
      • Our recommendations are based on what reviewers say.
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      • Our moderators read all reviews to verify quality and helpfulness.

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      More details about Montana's top-rated solar companies

      SunPower

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

      SunPower takes care of almost everything: evaluating your electricity needs, customizing a solar panel system, figuring out financing, helping with permits and coordinating the installation team.

      We like that SunPower uses high-efficiency solar panels and has a strong reputation from an equipment standpoint. Its manufacturing company, Maxeon, makes one of our favorite black roof panels. They are reliably efficient and durable, built on a solid copper foundation.

      After installation, SunPower’s monitoring and maintenance services maximize your solar system’s efficiency and, if necessary, diagnose any issues. There’s also solar battery servicing and energy auditing to help you see how your power usage changes over time.

      SunPower benefits

      • Available nationwide
      • 38 years in business
      • Comprehensive 25-year warranty
      • Good monitoring app
      • Battery storage options
      • Ongoing support
      • Available in Montana

      One customer we talked to, Diane in Billings, described her experience: “The SunPower salesman came out, explained things to me and I filled out the paperwork. Then I got a phone call saying when they would be out there. A few days later, they turned the system on.”

      Diane also said that the reps were “very nice,” and she recommends SunPower to anybody.

      Quality solar equipment comes at a premium price. On the higher end, we’ve talked to SunPower customers who spent $100,000 or more installing a residential solar panel system.

      SunPower’s warranty covers the entire solar energy system, including the panels, inverter, racking and monitoring, for 25 years. During this time, the company will repair or replace equipment at no cost to you (including labor and shipping).

      Financing options

      • Loan: Qualified customers can get solar loans with no money down. All financing approvals and processing are handled through the mySunPower portal.
      • Lease: Customers pay a monthly fee to use SunPower solar panels. The company offers reimbursements if the system doesn’t perform as guaranteed. Lease agreements are transferable to a new buyer if you ever sell your house.

      ShopSolar

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

      ShopSolar is best for do-it-yourselfers who want off-grid or hybrid energy systems and for homes, RVs and outbuildings. You can buy new and used solar panels, solar storage batteries, inverters, charge controllers, cabling and hardware, mounts and racks — everything you need for an off-grid or hybrid setup.

      The online company stocks brands like REC, Renogy, Panasonic, Canadian Solar and EcoFlow and also sells custom solar kits. ShopSolar ships throughout the continental United States. Orders typically arrive within five to 10 business days.

      ShopSolar benefits

      • Complete solar packages
      • Free shipping
      • Lifetime customer support
      • Price-match guarantee
      • 30-day return policy
      • Ships nationwide

      ShopSolar also has great reviews.

      “The enrollment process with Shop Solar Kits was very easy and customer service was good,” according to Erik in West Glacier. Erik also said that “there were plenty of instructions on how to set it up. There were a lot of detailed videos that came along with the setups.”

      ShopSolar provides detailed instructions, but the company doesn’t offer professional installation services. The installation process is supposed to be easy, but customers have occasional difficulties with the setup, especially if they have little experience with solar systems.

      ShopSolar equipment is covered by individual manufacturers’ warranties. Since it’s an authorized distributor of all the brands it sells, you get the full manufacturer warranty on each product.

      Payment options

      • Financing: ShopSolar partners with Affirm. You can make payments every two weeks or once a month for up to 36 months. As of publishing, annual percentage rates (APRs) range from 0% to 36%.
      • Online payments: ShopSolar accepts Visa, Mastercard, American Express, Discover, Venmo, PayPal, Apple Pay, Google Pay, Shop Pay and Diners Club International.

      Montana solar panel buyers guide

      If you've been thinking about switching to solar power but feel overwhelmed by the many options in Montana, you're not alone. We’re here to help you compare your options and get the best deal.

      Key insights

      • Residential solar panel installations cost anywhere from $10,000 to $30,000 or more. The size of your solar panel system is the biggest factor in total costs.
      • The federal solar investment tax credit (ITC) is the most significant way to lower the cost of installing solar panels. Montana also has statewide tax breaks and loan programs to help make going solar more affordable.
      • If you want to minimize your initial cost, you can typically lease your solar equipment. However, you won’t be eligible for the federal solar ITC if you lease or enter a power purchase agreement because you won’t own the system.

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

      The average cost to install solar panels in Montana is $22,860 before any incentives or tax credits. That price drops to $16,002 after the full federal solar investment tax credit (ITC).

      The size of your solar panel system is the biggest factor in total costs. Not surprisingly, bigger systems that produce more power are more expensive. Other cost factors include the types of panels you choose and if you need a battery for storage. Permitting, utility fees and maintenance also add to the cost of going solar.

      Average cost by system size in Montana

      Source: EcoWatch

      How can I pay for solar panels?

      You can pay upfront with cash, but most people finance solar panels. A solar loan works a lot like any other type of loan — there’s an application and approval process, and you pay it back over time (with interest).

      If you are considering a solar loan or lease, always ask:

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

      » SOLAR PANELS: Lease vs. buy

      What solar incentives are available in Montana?

      The federal solar investment tax credit (ITC) is the most significant incentive making solar power more affordable in Montana. If you set up solar panels for your home before 2032, you will receive a federal income tax credit equal to 30% of the total cost, which includes equipment, labor and permits.

      For instance, for a typical system in Montana that costs $22,860, you get a tax credit of $6,858 when you do your taxes.

      Montana also has two statewide incentives to help lower the cost of going solar. Residents with solar on their homes get a property tax exemption up to $20,000 for 10 years. The Alternative Energy Revolving Loan Program allows residents who want to go solar a chance at a low-interest loan of up to $40,000 for 10 years.

      » EXPLORE: Montana solar incentives

      Net metering in Montana

      Net metering is the process of sending the excess energy your system produces back to the grid. In Montana, you get compensation for your energy as a credit on your electric bill.

      How much you earn and limitations can vary from utility company to utility company. For example, NorthWestern Energy has a 50-kilowatt (kW) size limit for systems, while Yellowstone Valley Electric Cooperative has a size limit of 15 kW.

      How to choose a solar company in Montana

      Choosing a solar company in Montana requires careful consideration if you want the best value for your investment. Here’s what to keep in mind when hiring a solar company.

      What to look for in a solar installation company

      The best solar energy companies in Montana perform a site inspection to collect all necessary information before providing a detailed estimate. When talking with companies, be sure to look for signs it’s a reputable business, including:

      • Long time in business: Choose a company with plenty of experience installing solar panels in Montana. Local knowledge is valuable in navigating state-specific regulations and incentives.
      • Good local reviews: Research the company's track record and reputation. Look for positive customer reviews, ratings and testimonials.
      • Free consultations: 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.
      • Comprehensive warranty: A reputable company should offer comprehensive warranties to protect your investment. Look for warranties that last at least 10 to 25 years.
      • Transparent 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 ongoing services, ask. Good communication is essential before, during and after the installation process.
      • Ongoing support: Quality solar panels last at least 25 years, so you want a company that’s still around if your system needs service after installation. Some of these newer, less reputable solar companies might not even exist next year.

      Solar brokers vs. solar installers

      A solar broker is a middleman or intermediary who helps connect homeowners with solar installation companies. A solar installer specializes in designing, procuring and installing solar panels and related components.

      Ultimately, deciding between a solar broker and a solar installer depends on how much you want to be involved in the process. A broker 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.

      Are solar panels worth it in Montana?

      Installing solar panels is a good investment for most homeowners. For many, going solar is worth it for the reduction in energy bills.

      Over 25 years, Montana homeowners with solar panels save an estimated $15,189. This is a lot, but not as much as in some other states. For instance, in Hawaii, you could save almost $50,000 in the same amount of time.

      Despite the smaller return on investment, it’s worth it for some residents just for the environmental benefits. Others go solar for the energy independence — getting solar panels plus a storage battery is definitely worth it if you don’t like being reliant on local power companies.

      Montana receives an average of 4 to 5 peak sun hours a day.

      It’s estimated that homes with solar panels sell for 4.1% more than ones without. Another great thing about going solar in Montana is the state’s solar property tax exemption for homes with solar panels. The exemption means that your property tax bill won’t go up because your solar power system increases the market value of your house.

      Going solar is still expensive, though. Some solar customers we’ve talked to are understandably frustrated when equipment doesn’t work and their solar company won’t help them. If you run into a production issue and can’t resolve it quickly, you might end up paying more than you are now — especially if you finance. Your solar loan payment is due whether or not the panels are working. That’s why it’s important to hire a reputable solar company.

      » STILL NOT SURE? Solar energy pros and cons

      FAQ

      Can I get free solar panels in Montana?

      There’s no totally free option to get solar panels in Montana that we’re aware of. Unfortunately, scams that promise free solar panels can cost consumers a lot of money. However, you can lease solar equipment to reduce your upfront cost. You won’t own your panels, though, so you won’t be eligible for the federal solar investment tax credit.

      » FREE SOLAR PANELS: Are they really free?

      Is my HOA allowed to restrict solar panels?

      No laws in Montana prevent homeowners associations from restricting solar panels.

      Do I really need a solar storage battery?

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

      Read Montana solar company reviews

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        Methodology: How we picked the best solar companies in Montana

        The ConsumerAffairs Research Team objectively evaluates solar providers to highlight those best equipped to meet most homeowners' needs. To choose our top picks for this guide, we started with 31 popular providers. First, we narrowed it down to the ones available in Montana. We then weighted several key features to get our final rankings:

        Reviews, ratings and testimonials: 40%
        We analyzed thousands of verified customer reviews and ratings to gauge real-world satisfaction.

        Overall reputation: 20%
        We considered each company's history, mission and value. Companies with generally positive feedback on our site and elsewhere on the internet scored highest in this aspect.

        Warranties: 20%
        A good warranty is important. We compared both product and craftsmanship warranties available from our top picks. All of our top picks have warranties of at least 25 years.

        Equipment selection: 10%
        Companies were evaluated on their selection of solar panels, storage batteries and inverters. Those with proprietary technology or a wide equipment selection from trusted brands ranked highest.

        Monitoring and maintenance: 10%
        We gave preference to companies that offer real-time monitoring, regular maintenance services and solid after-sales support.

        To recap, our top picks for the best solar companies:

        • Our pick for professional installation: SunPower
        • Our pick for DIY projects: ShopSolar

        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. EcoWatch, “ How Much Do Solar Panels Cost in Montana?” Accessed Dec. 12, 2023.
        2. Solar Energy Industries Association, “Montana Solar.” Accessed Dec. 12, 2023.
        3. DSIRE, “Montana Programs.” Accessed Dec. 12, 2023.
        4. Office of Energy Efficiency & Renewable Energy, “Homeowner’s Guide to the Federal Tax Credit for Solar Photovoltaics.” Accessed Dec. 12, 2023.

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