Best Solar Companies in Rhode Island

We compared 51 brands and chose the top solar energy companies

    • Ongoing customer support
      SunPower
      3.6(2,279)
    • Top overall
      Sunrun
      4.2(2,894)
    • Performance guarantee
      Palmetto Solar
      3.7(3)

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      Best Solar Companies in Rhode Island

      With high electricity rates and plenty of financial incentives encouraging renewable energy, more and more Rhode Island homeowners are finding solar panels are worth it. A residential solar panel setup typically pays for itself within a decade, and you can expect to save thousands of dollars over the system’s lifetime.

      The ConsumerAffairs Research Team compared popular solar companies on ratings and reviews, equipment options, warranties, availability, and other factors to choose the top solar companies for this guide. Read our full methodology for all the details. Our picks may be Authorized Partners that compensate us — this does not affect our recommendations or evaluations but may impact the order in which companies appear.

      Our top solar company picks

      1. SunPower
      2. Sunrun
      3. Palmetto Solar
      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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      The 3 best solar companies reviewed

      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 is a top national company with high-efficiency solar panel technology. We like that its SunVault storage battery is excellent for maximizing energy savings during peak rate times.

      But what really sets SunPower apart is its seamless solar panel installation process. Local reps take care of basically everything for you. They evaluate your home energy needs, design a custom system, help secure any necessary permits and work out financing options. SunPower’s monitoring app lets you track the system’s performance once the project is complete.

      SunPower benefits

      • 35+ years of experience
      • Comprehensive 25-year warranty
      • Battery storage options
      • Ongoing support

      SunPower is a reliable solar company with comprehensive services, but it’s not the cheapest option. Your upfront costs tend to be a little higher than other companies. After all, you get what you pay for.

      SunPower’s “Complete Confidence Warranty” covers your entire solar energy system for 25 years, including the panels, inverter, racking and monitoring. The company repairs or replaces equipment at no cost to you (including labor and shipping).

      Financing options

      • Loans: Qualified customers can find reasonable rates with no money down. All financing approvals and processing happen through the mySunPower online portal.
      • Leases: Customers pay a monthly fee to use solar panels that SunPower owns. SunPower reimburses you if your solar system doesn’t perform as guaranteed. If you sell your home, you can transfer the agreement to a new buyer.
      Our pick for leasing

      Sunrun

      Max. panel efficiency
      22%
      Payment options
      Cash, loan, lease
      Warranty
      25 years
      Year founded
      2007

      Sunrun is a leading full-service installer. Its solar battery storage system is a great way for Rhode Islanders to protect themselves from inevitable power outages. You can get a Brightbox with a Tesla Powerwall or LG Chem solar battery system to back up your entire home.

      We like that Sunrun’s solar lease program lets you go solar without a huge upfront investment. There’s no initial charge for any solar equipment, installation or permitting. Sunrun owns the system, and you pay a fixed monthly fee to use it. Sunrun also stands out by offering roof leak warranties.

      Customers have generally positive feedback about the enrollment and installation process. For example, Darlene in Johnston said she had an “amazing experience” with Sunrun. “The customer service was outstanding, from beginning to end. The permit process, reinforcing our roof, having the inspector approve what was done, they were all very pleasant and easy to work with,” she said.

      Another local customer, Elliott in Providence, told us the company’s reps are very nice and polite.

      “This dealer explained everything to me, like how it would come and do the work,” Elliott said. “If it ever goes wrong and I hear strange noises coming from the equipment outside of the house, I could notify them and they would come right away and do what they have to do. So far, everything is going smoothly.”

      Sunrun benefits

      • Flexible payment options
      • Custom solar designs
      • Daily system monitoring
      • Solar storage battery and electric vehicle charging solutions

      In general, monthly lease payments can seem cheaper at first but add up over the long run, sometimes costing more than buying the system outright. Leasing also makes you ineligible for the 30% federal solar tax credit and can complicate home sales.

      We’ve also heard some grumblings that getting in touch with customer service can be hard after the installation is complete. For instance, Bertha in Pawtucket told us that when she called about a billing issue, reps directed her to the company website.

      “But, I don't wanna do that,” Bertha said. “I want to talk to somebody.”

      The Sunrun includes warranty coverage, system maintenance and a performance guarantee. The warranty covers workmanship and equipment for 10 years. The performance guarantee lasts 25 years. Leased systems typically come with free maintenance and repairs.

      Payment options

      • Monthly plan: You can lease Sunrun panels for $0 to little down. Then, you pay a fixed monthly payment for the term of your leasing contract, typically 25 years.
      • Full amount lease: You can prepay for up to 25 years of solar energy.
      Our pick for performance guarantee

      Palmetto Solar

      Max. panel efficiency
      Varies
      Payment options
      Cash, loan, lease
      Warranty
      25 years
      Year founded
      2015

      Palmetto Solar is a company that connects Rhode Island homeowners and local solar energy installers to offer premium all-black solar panels with 19.8% or higher efficiency ratings. Happy Palmetto customers tell us about helpful reps and competitive pricing.

      We also like that Palmetto handles the permits and preparations with your energy provider and local building department. You can check the progress online. Once all permits are ready, Palmetto schedules the solar panel installation at your home. You can get started with an in-person or virtual consultation. The company partners with Omnidian to provide proactive monitoring and performance insights.

      Palmetto benefits

      • Free consultations
      • 95% production guarantee (optional)
      • Active system monitoring
      • In-house project management

      Maintenance and service are only included if you lease through Palmetto. Optional service plan upgrades are available for those who purchase or finance.

      Palmetto’s Essentials warranty package covers panels for 25 years, inverters for 12 years, workmanship for 10 years and roof penetration for five years.

      The upgraded Protect Performance powered by Omnidian warranty includes everything in the Essentials plan plus a 95% performance guarantee and coverage for parts and labor.

      Payment options

      • Lease: With the “LightReach” plan, you pay a low fixed rate for solar power generated by panels that Palmetto owns. Terms last 20 to 25 years, with a buyout option after the fifth year. Credit card fees may apply.
      • Loan: A credit application is required. As of publishing, the annual percentage rate (APR) is between 4.49% and 11.99%, and terms are between seven and 24 years. Additional financing fees may apply.
      • Cash: You pay in three installments. There is a deposit due at signing and the final payment is due when the system is activated. As of publishing, there is a 2.9% processing fee.

      Rhode Island solar panel buyers guide

      If you've been thinking about going solar in Rhode Island but aren’t sure where to start, you’re not alone. We’re here to help you compare your options and get the best deal. Our team has talked to thousands of solar customers across the country — here’s what to expect and what to look out for.

      Key insights

      • A professional solar panel installation can cost anywhere from $10,000 to $30,000 or more. The size of your system and whether or not you need a storage battery are the biggest cost factors.
      • The federal solar tax credit is the most significant way to lower the cost of buying solar panels. You can also lease equipment with minimal upfront costs, but you won’t be eligible for this tax credit if you do.
      • It is important to choose a reputable company. Many Rhode Island residents have had positive experiences going solar, but some told us about issues with installation, communication and unresolved problems.

      How much does it cost to install solar panels in Rhode Island?

      Average solar panel costs in Rhode Island are comparable to the national average of around $18,000 for a 6-kilowatt system (that price drops to $12,600 after factoring in the full federal solar investment tax credit).

      Solar panel installation costs in Rhode Island have dropped 47% over the last 10 years.

      The size of your system plays a big role in how much it costs overall. It also depends on how you pay, whether you want a solar storage battery, if you need to replace your roof first and other factors.

      How can I pay for solar panels?

      There are a few ways to pay for a residential solar energy system in Rhode Island. You have the option to pay the full cost upfront, but many people choose to finance their system through a solar loan.

      Leasing is often cheaper upfront, but you’ll be disqualified from some of the best financial incentives, like the 30% federal solar tax credit. It could also (potentially) make it harder to sell your house.

      » COMPARE: Solar costs in other states

      What solar incentives are available in Rhode Island?

      The federal solar investment tax credit (ITC) is the most significant way to make installing panels more affordable. The ITC is a federal income tax credit worth 30% of your solar system’s total cost, including equipment, labor and permits. The ITC is not a rebate or a refund, and any unused amount rolls over into the next tax year.

      Rhode Island homeowners may also take advantage of local grants and performance-based incentives.

      » EXPLORE: Rhode Island solar incentives

      Net metering in Rhode Island

      Net metering lets Rhode Island homeowners get credits for extra electricity their solar panels generate. Solar panel systems up to 10 megawatts in size that are designed to produce up to 125% of your home's annual electricity use qualify for net metering. Here's how it works:

      1. Your utility company measures how much electricity your solar panels export to the grid. They also measure how much electricity you import from the grid.
      2. If your solar panels export more electricity than you imported in any month, you get a credit.
      3. That credit gets applied to your future electric bills to reduce the amount you owe.
      4. If you still have an excess credit at the end of the billing period, it rolls over to the next billing cycle.
      5. Any credits that are more than a year old will expire.

      The goal of net metering is to let you produce enough renewable electricity for your own home's needs, but not drastically more than what you use. It's a billing mechanism that makes going solar more affordable.

      How do I choose a solar company in Rhode Island?

      The best solar energy companies have a few things in common: fantastic reviews, transparent pricing, reliable equipment and comprehensive warranties. When hiring a solar installer in Rhode Island, here is what you'll want to look for:

      • Long time in business: Look for companies with plenty of experience installing solar panels in Rhode Island. It makes it easier to navigate regulations, permits and available financial incentives.
      • Good reputation: Research the company's track record and read reviews. Look out for red flags, including complaints about misleading sales tactics, equipment failures, billing issues and lack of communication. These are common themes in negative solar company reviews.
      • Comprehensive service: Consider if you want a solar storage battery, electric vehicle (EV) charger or a monitoring system to ensure optimal output. It’s also smart to ask about critter guards in Rhode Island.
      • 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.
      • Licensed, insured and certified: Ensure the company is appropriately licensed, insured and has NABCEP-certified installers. This protects you and shows the employees take their business seriously.
      • Transparent terms: Carefully review proposals and financials carefully, understand legal considerations and ask about maintenance before signing an agreement with any solar company. If you don’t understand something about the payment terms, warranty or ongoing services, ask.

      » TIPS: Get the best solar quotes

      Are solar panels worth it in Rhode Island?

      With energy costs continuing to rise, more Rhode Island homeowners find solar power is financially worth it in the long run. The Ocean State has relatively high residential electricity rates. So, your savings go further compared to the national average.

      A lot of residents go solar to lower their electric bills and help the environment at the same time, like Nancy in Jamestown.

      Rhode Island receives an average of 3 to 4 peak sunlight hours a day.

      “We tried to be as earth-friendly as we can be, and we're just so sick of the ridiculous prices that National Grid charges,” Nancy told us. “We knew we couldn't do a wind power thing. But we got a lot of sun here, so solar power was a good option.” She said her utility bill has “has been cut a lot” since making the switch.

      Another resident, Valerie in Newport, said her electric bill went from $322 to $0. “I’m very happy. I love it,” she said.

      It’s a common misconception that solar panels completely eliminate your electric bill. This is not always the case. Still, most homeowners with solar panels end up paying less than they would have with traditional utilities.

      » STILL NOT SURE? Solar energy pros and cons

      FAQ

      Can I get free solar panels in Rhode Island?

      We are not aware of any legitimate programs for free solar panels in Rhode Island. However, you can lease a solar energy system with little to no upfront costs. Just look out for scams that promise free solar panels — they can end up costing you quite a bit of money.

      » FREE SOLAR PANELS: Are they really free?

      What’s the difference between a solar broker and a solar installer?

      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.

      Should I replace my roof before installing solar panels?

      Consider fixing it before going solar if it’s more than 10 years old. Installing solar panels on an old roof might mean you have to remove the panels, replace your roof and then reinstall the panels again. This will cost around $5,000 for a 19-panel setup.

      » SHOULD YOU: Replace your roof before going solar?

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        Methodology: How we picked the best solar companies in Rhode Island

        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 Rhode Island. We then weighted several key features to get our final rankings:

        Reviews, ratings and testimonials: 40%
        We analyzed 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 scored highest in this aspect.

        Warranties: 20%
        A long 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 10 to 25 years.

        Equipment selection: 10%
        We evaluated each company’s 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 in Rhode Island are:

        • Our pick for customer support: SunPower
        • Our pick for solar leases: Sunrun
        • Our pick for performance guarantee: Palmetto Solar

        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. DSIRE, “Rhode Island Programs.” Accessed Jan. 25, 2024.
        2. EnergySage, “The cost of solar panels in Rhode Island.” Accessed Jan. 25, 2024.
        3. Solar Energy Industries Association, “Rhode Island Solar.” Accessed Jan. 25, 2024.

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