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Local solar contractors. Other Business Members

Local solar contractors. Other Business Members

    National vs Local Solar Installers: Who’s Better?

    When you’re looking for a solar installer, you’re going to want a company that provides great service, does quality work, and offers a fair price. You’ll have your choice between large companies that operate on a national level, and smaller companies that are local and regionally based. Of these two types of solar installers, which one is more likely to give you a great deal on a great system?

    In this blog, we’ll take a look at how the size of the solar company can determine how much you’ll pay for your system, the level of workmanship you can expect, and what financing options are available.

    Before we jump in, it needs to be stated that Paradise Energy Solutions does fall in the local solar installer category. But you can be confident this blog is written based on experiences and research not our biased opinion.

    How do national and local solar installers compare?

    Who Will Be Less Expensive?

    While there are several factors that create an appealing solar proposal, more often than not, the installation price is one of the most significant. All things equal, you’d much rather go with the company who can install your system for less. Studies have shown that there is often a trend in the price differences between local companies and national companies. And the type of company that typically is more expensive may be surprising.

    While national companies have more resources, more projects, and the benefit of economies of scale, they typically won’t be offering the lower price. According to a study by National Renewable Energy Laboratory (NREL), larger solar installers gave customers a higher quote 70% of the time compared to smaller, local installers. And these quotes were about 10% more on average.

    Why is this? Unlike smaller companies, many are publicly traded and are held accountable to their shareholders and investors to maintain a specific profit margin. So we can speculate that national firms are more likely to base their pricing on the company’s market share and financial goals.

    Smaller local companies, however, face less pressure and less red tape regarding pricing and profit criteria than larger companies. Each project is important to a local installer. While a handful of 10 kW residential systems are just a drop in the bucket for large, national companies.

    Who Will Do Better Work?

    The larger installers have more projects associated with their company than the local guys. But does that mean they’re more experienced or capable of doing better work? After all, even if it ends up costing a little extra, some solar customers are more comfortable going with a company they feel will give them the best system.

    But if you opt for a national installer, they may not be the ones doing the installation. While they may have regional offices across the country, they don’t always have a team of installers that can service these locations. Oftentimes, large installers will hire subcontractors to do their installation work. And while they’ll surely do a great job selecting and managing experienced subs, the accountability is a little different than with a local company.

    Local solar installation teams may have one central office or a handful of offices spread across a region. They are more likely to fully staff those office locations with their own installers. Unlike subcontractors, these installation teams are held accountable by the owner of the company that sold you your system.

    In these smaller companies, even the newest solar installation technician could know the owner of the company. This tight-knit environment fuels teamwork and motivates employees to do a better job. If they don’t perform up to the company’s expectations, they’re answerable directly to the leadership of the company.

    When choosing a solar installer, one way to see how experienced and qualified an installation company is is to take a look at their industry certifications and registrations. Look for certifications from the North American Board of Certified Energy Practitioners, or NABCEP. NABCEP is one of the leading professional development and accreditation organization in the solar industry.

    Companies may also mention if they’re affiliated with any other solar energy education organization, such as Solar Energy International (SEI). Take a look at the company’s about us or team page on their website to see how highly they value training and continuing education.

    Another thing to take a look at is the company’s online reviews. From Google to to sites like, learn from people who have been in your shoes and made the decision. Many customers enjoy the personal, relationship-based approach that working with a local company offers.

    Who Offers Financing Options?

    When it comes to installing solar, you’ll have a few different options for financing: solar ownership, or solar leasing. The most beneficial in the long term is typically solar ownership. This is where you purchase and own your solar system and get 100% of the tax benefits and free electricity throughout the lifespan of the system.

    With local solar installers, this is often the only option. Ownership pays off really well in the long term, but it does require a significant upfront investment.

    With larger, national installers, you may have the option for a lease, or a Power Purchasing Agreement (PPA). With a PPA, a company will pay to have a solar system installed on your property. In return, they’ll offer you the electricity generated by their solar system for a price lower than your electric bill. So there’s still a solar system on your property, and you’re still getting power from it, but instead of paying the utility company, you’re paying the leasing company for that electricity.

    Which Solar Installer Is Best For You?

    The information we touched on are general trends often seen in the industry, but not telling for every situation. It’s always a great idea to get quotes from several companies. The more information and options you have, the more likely it is that you’ll get a great system for a fair price.

    There are fantastic solar installation companies of all sizes that can install an efficient, long-lasting system that will meet your energy and financial goals. Likewise, there are companies of all sizes that you may be better off avoiding. The best way to find out is to start requesting your quotes!

    local, solar, contractors, other

    If you’re not ready just yet for a quote, the next best step is to download our solar buying guide. This guide answers many of the common questions people have when examining a solar investment.

    Best Solar Installation Companies

    Affiliate Disclaimer: All products and services featured are independently selected by our editors. However, when you buy something through our retail links, we may earn an affiliate commission.

    Solar energy is one of the most innovative industries paving the future. Not only does it help you reduce your environmental impact, but it also saves you money on your electric bills and boosts your home value.

    There are many solar companies to choose from, and you may not be sure where to start. We carefully researched more than 20 of the best solar companies to see how they compared on product selection and performance, price, customer service, availability, financing options, and warranties. We also read more than 100 customer reviews for each provider to see what real customers had to say about doing business with the company. Here are the seven solar providers that came out on top.

    Compare Solar Companies

    Available in 50 states Has been in the industry since 1985 Provides its own monocrystalline solar panels

    Available in 23 states 25-year warranties for the product, labor, and inverter Power protection guarantee

    25-year workmanship and product warranty Perks for new construction homeowners Available in 20 states

    The 7 Top Solar Installation Companies of 2023

    SunPower is one of the first solar panel companies and holds the most experience of any installer on this list. It was founded in 1985 and provides some of the highest-efficiency solar panel systems available, with efficiency rates up to 22.8%.

    The company’s SunPower Design Studio allows you to design a custom solar system created specifically for your home. It offers monocrystalline solar panels from Maxeon, which started as its own manufacturing company but has since become its own brand. SunPower’s solar components are all produced in-house, meaning your solar system is fully integrated with all parts designed to work together. SunPower offers an above-average combination system-and-labor warranty.

    The 100 most recent Google customer reviews for SunPower’s headquarters in San Jose, California, are overwhelmingly positive. Only 5% of reviews are less than four stars and were critical. However, these reviews call attention to SunPower’s high leasing rates or scheduling difficulties.

    Other reviews mention long waiting periods to get a SunPower solar system up and running, but they find the savings and easy monitoring through the mySunPower Monitoring App worth the wait.

    • State availability: 23
    • Warranty options: 25-year Power Production Guarantee
    • Panel options: Monocrystalline (LG)

    ADT Solar partners with electronics industry giant LG to offer high-quality, efficient solar panels backed by a comprehensive warranty. It includes a 25-year labor warranty, a 25-year energy production guarantee, a 25-year solar panel manufacturer warranty, and a 25-year Enphase microinverter warranty.

    ADT Solar also provides free home-energy audits, and it connects you with roof replacement experts if any roofing needs arise. Additionally, the company promises that if another solar company offers comparable products and benefits for less than ADT’s price, it will refund the difference and then some.

    We analyzed the 100 most recent Google Reviews from ADT Solar’s Tampa branch and found that 82% of reviews were positive. Its overall score from more than 230 reviews was 4.1 out of 5 stars. Many customers noted the company’s professionalism and said that it resolved issues with little to no hassle if something was wrong.

    local, solar, contractors, other

    The few complaints focused on how long and noisy the installation process was or that their electricity bill did not decrease as much as expected.

    Available in Arkansas, Arizona, California, Colorado, Florida, Georgia, Illinois, Iowa, Kansas, Louisiana, Maryland, Mississippi, Missouri, Nebraska, Nevada, New Mexico, North Carolina, Ohio, Oklahoma, South Carolina, Tennessee, Texas, and Virginia.

    • State availability: 21
    • Warranty options: 25-year product and workmanship warranty
    • Panel options: Monocrystalline (various manufacturers)

    Building a new home or installing a new roof is the perfect time to invest in a solar system. Sunrun features perks for both commercial and residential home builders. For example, the company helps install solar systems for new construction homes through its BuilderChoice New Homes Program.

    This program is designed for code compliance and features a dedicated team to handle all complicated paperwork required to interconnect with local utilities. It also works with your roofers to subcontract labor and activate the system before permission to operate (PTO).

    While analyzing the 100 most recent Google reviews for Sunrun’s San Francisco and Austin locations, we noted that Sunrun’s customer experiences are mixed. The company has an average rating of 3.1 out of 5 stars from approximately 185 customer reviews. Many people were critical of the company’s customer service and said it was difficult to get in touch.

    We called Sunrun to ask about responsiveness issues and why it emphasizes solar leases despite the fact that this disqualifies customers from accessing incentives. We were transferred twice, and representatives were unable to provide an answer. The final transfer did not answer the call.

    Solar Contractors

    Decorah Electric

    563-382-9473 Decorah, Iowa Decorah Electric, Inc. was founded in 2001. In 2003, we moved 2400 Stone Hill Road to expand our shop and inventory areas to better serve our customers. We have expanded our staff of trained and licensed electricians and continue to bring you cutting edge technology and expertise in order to provide you with the best service.

    Massman Construction and Solar

    A builder of sustainable homes, Massman Construction has added solar installations to their services.

    Blake Electric

    (563) 568-3686 Waukon and Postville, Iowa

    Blake Electric, Inc. specializes in providing high-quality turnkey residential and commercial solar electric systems. Our number one priority is to exceed our customers’ expectations with superior service at an excellent value. Our goal is to offer a single source for the design, installation, and service of solar electric projects resulting in a more satisfying customer experience.

    Blue Sky Solar Company

    Blue Sky Solar Co. partners with local farmers, businesses, residences, and utilities in providing custom renewable solutions. With over 20 MW of install experience, we have the skills and knowledge needed for your solar system. We work with local utilities in providing locally sourced clean energy.


    800-8080-SUN Fairfield, Iowa

    Simpleray has a mission to “FOCUS on creating simple, sustainable investments that provide security and returns for decades to come.”

    Perry Novak Electric

    (563) 382-2179 Decorah and Charles City, Iowa

    Perry Novak Electric has been serving the electrical and equipment needs of Northeastern Iowa since 1980, making it Decorah’s longest-established electrical company. Family owned and operated, we know and appreciate the value of hard work and integrity, and strive to give our customers only the best in service and satisfaction.

    Perry Novak founded the company, providing electrical services to Decorah and the surrounding communities. As the company has grown, so have our services and expertise. In 2008 Perry Novak Electric expanded with the addition of our Charles City branch, adding several electricians and significantly expanding our service area.

    ( 563) 382-0300

    GEO is a progressive, quality-conscious geothermal driller and installer of all types of geothermal loops, specializing in the drilling and installation of geothermal loops for geothermal heating and cooling systems.

    Learn as much as you can about solar, talk to home or business owners that have been through the process, and always do EFFICIENCY FIRST! Efficiency and renewables should be part of every integrated energy analysis and plan.

    Start LOCAL, but get at least two, possibly more, bids for your project so you can compare quotes, recommendations, and ask for clarifications.

    Ask each installer to include in their bid/report:

    • Site assessment regarding shade, roof, mounting, and interconnection issues
    • Identification information on brand/models of hardware, including panels, inverter, racking, etc.
    • Warranty information on hardware components, labor, maintenance (and what happens if the manufacturer goes out of business?)
    • Itemized quote including panels, inverter, other hardware, permitting/connection, and labor
    • Proposed system size in kilowatts DC, and estimated annual production in kilowatt-hours AC
    • All-inclusive price per DC Watt installed cost to you – this is the bottom line figure for comparison, you’ll want to know any caveats, and how “firm” the price is, NOT counting incentives
    • Financial/economic summary showing how available incentives will likely impact your final outlay IF you’re able to take advantage of them, and what your final simple payback MAY be
    • Ask your installer if they are NABCEP certified– (North American Board of Certified Energy Practitioners). If they aren’t certified, you may want to ask for references from other clients to verify the quality of their work.

    How we select the best solar companies in Austin, TX

    Our Austin Solar Installer Checklist

    • Installer holds valid Master Electrician and Electrical Contractor licenses in the State of Texas and who have no violations linked with those licenses.
    • Company has at least one NABCEP certified PV Installation Professional (PVIP) on their team, not just PV Technical Sales Professionals (PVTS)
    • Extensive experience
    • Workers compensation insurance and general liability insurance
    • Check for BBB complaints or state consumer protection office for complaints
    • Panel warranties of at least 20 years and, ideally, workmanship warranties to match.

    As far as possible, we also check for any active or previous legal claims against the companies and strongly favor those that have never had a customer make a legal claim against them.

    We also look for signs that the company is a good employer that treats its staff well. After all, a happy team usually means they’re not putting out fires every day and typically deal with satisfied customers!

    NB: The North American Board of Certified Energy Practitioners (NABCEP) is a global certification company that offers several levels of assurance that a solar installer is up to the task. The PV Installation Professional (PVIP) Board Certification is the gold standard for PV professionals. This Board Certification is a good sign that a solar installer is competent at PV design, installation, operations, commissioning and maintenance.

    The Best Solar Installers in Austin, TX: Our Top Picks

    Highlights: Freedom Solar operates in Austin, TX, and is a national installer working with SunPower. The company is our top pick for solar installers in Austin and a top choice in many other places in the U.S.

    Josh Meade, Adrian Buck, Chadwyck Preece, Nicole Lyons, Ben Flynn, and Gordon Gunn are all listed as NABCEP Certified PVIPs for Freedom Solar in Austin, TX. This makes Freedom Solar the solar installer with the greatest depth of PVIP talent serving the city of Austin.

    Because Freedom Solar works with SunPower, it offers the highest efficiency solar panels for home solar installations. SunPower also boasts Cradle to Cradle sustainability certification and excellent warranties. Sure, the panels are a bit pricier, but the higher electricity production soon pays for itself in most installations.

    Other things we love about Freedom Solar include the company’s ability to maintain and service existing systems it didn’t install. This is a great sign that the company’s PVIPs really know solar technology and are eager to help more people gain and maintain access to solar power.

    Freedom Solar has talented in-house crews and well-organized city and regional offices. This all translates to efficient, friendly, locally knowledgeable customer service and timely responses with excellent project management. These guys are in a great position to help Austin residents access utility, city, state, and federal rebates and incentives and to handle any homeowner association and permitting problems.

    Customers report seamless installations and friendly responsive aftercare if issues do arise with installs. Freedom Solar also offers the most comprehensive 25-year warranty of any installer I’ve seen. This includes workmanship and production guarantees.

    The company is a Tesla PowerWall certified installer and offers other battery options. Freedom Solar also offers online monitoring and can retrofit old solar energy systems to include monitoring.

    The only downside to Freedom Solar is that it might be a bit pricier than competitors because it focuses on the highest efficiency SunPower modules (which work out more cost effective over time). If you’re looking for a lower-cost solar installation and don’t mind a little less efficiency, a smaller local outfit that isn’t a Master Dealer for SunPower might be more up your alley.

    Freedom Solar Power Certifications and licenses:

    • NABCEP Certified Solar PV Installation Professionals (PVIP)
    • NABCEP Certified PV Technical Salesmen (PVTS)
    • Texas Licensed Master Electricians (ME)
    • Texas Licensed Electrical Contractors (EC)
    • Tesla Powerwall Certified Installer
    • SunPower Master Dealer.

    HE Solar LLC

    Highlights: HE Solar LLC operates out of Buda, TX, and is ready and able to install residential solar in Austin. This family company boasts not one, not two, but three Electrical Engineers! The two brothers and their dad are a hit with customers, with zero BBB complaints, a stack of consistently glowing reviews across all major review sites, and Derrick Hoffman holds a valid PVIP certification from the NABCEP. And, as with all our picks, there is a current, valid Electrical Contractor license for the State of Texas and no violation reports or lawsuits against this company.

    HE Solar only operates in Texas currently, but that’s enough to keep the Hoffman Brothers (Eric and Derrick!) busy enough. The family affair means you’ll have a Master Electrician and NABCEP Certified PVIP designing and installing your solar array.

    The brothers deal directly with customers, from sales to installation, to aftercare and warranty claims. Their expertise means your solar installation is much more likely to go smoothly and look amazing. The brothers have a reputation for seamless work with hidden conduits and a pleasing final appearance. And, importantly, their systems work!

    HE Solar favors Enphase Microinverters, which means you can monitor each module’s individual energy output. This helps identify any problems fast and facilitates easier solutions. The company offers a 25-year workmanship warranty, and has general liability and auto and workers comp insurance.

    He Solar, LLC Certifications and Licenses

    local, solar, contractors, other
    • NABCEP Certified Solar PV Installation Professional (PVIP)
    • NABCEP Certified PV Technical Salesmen (PVTS)
    • Texas Licensed Master Electricians (ME)
    • Texas Licensed Electrical Contractors (EC)
    • Tesla Powerwall Certified Installer
    • Panasonic Solar Authorized Installer.

    Solar CenTex

    Highlights: Solar CenTex is a veteran owned and operated solar installer based in Harker Heights. The company also installs residential solar in Austin, TX, and has been in business since 2012, gathering hundreds of consistently favorable reviews along the way.

    The company’s lead PVIP (and PVTP) is Howard (‘Scot’) Arey. Based in Harker Heights, TX, Arey is a veteran and former board director and chairman of the Texas Solar Energy Society, where he advocated for programs and policies to support solar adoption in Texas.

    Solar CenTex invested in training out-of-work veterans several years ago through a partnership with a local college. Many of these trainees are now senior technicians or employees at the company.

    The Master Electrician at Solar CenTex, Scott Shumate, has more than 27 years of experience in that role in Texas. Their installation crew also has at least five years of experience installing residential solar, backed by an experienced project manager.

    Solar CenTex offers flexible solutions for going solar at home, including traditional rooftop arrays, solar pergolas, and prefabricated (in-house!) solar carport structures to maximize panel coverage and make the most of your property’s sun exposure.

    As for equipment, Solar CenTex works with Enphase inverters with a 12-20-year warranty. Solar CenTex uses SolarEdge DC optimizers attached to each panel, helping to increase peak efficiency, improve shade tolerance, and allow for monitoring of individual panel power output. The optimizers come with a 25-year warranty.

    Solar SenTex carries General Contractors’ Liability insurance and is an authorized provider for the Oncor Solar Incentive Program, meaning the company carries worker’s compensation insurance.

    Like Freedom Solar, Solar CenTex offers maintenance and repair services for existing systems installed by other companies. They also do removal and reinstallations and offer home solar inspections for when you’re buying or selling a property with solar already installed. Again, this demonstrates the technicians’ know-how and the company’s overall capabilities and passion for helping folks enjoy clean energy production at home.

    Customers especially seem happy with Solar CenTex’s Director of Sales, Sabrina Arnold, with nothing but glowing reviews of her professionalism, knowledge, patience, follow-up care, and project management expertise. The company operates a customer self-service online portal where you can easily track service requests.

    As a veteran-owned and operated business, Solar CenTex is also happy to help customers who are veterans to access a Texas Veterans Land Board home efficiency improvement loan with generous loan conditions.

    Solar Cen Tex Certifications and Licenses

    • NABCEP Certified Solar PV Installation Professional (PVIP)
    • NABCEP Certified PV Technical Salesmen (PVTS)
    • Texas Licensed Master Electricians (ME)
    • Texas Licensed Electrical Contractors (EC)

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