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Should You Buy a Solar Generator from Costco? – Everything You Need to Know…

Should You Buy a Solar Generator from Costco? – Everything You Need to Know…

    Should You Buy a Solar Generator from Costco? – Everything You Need to Know

    As solar equipment becomes more mainstream and an ever-growing number of Americans begin turning to renewable energy systems to fulfil their power needs, it seems inevitable that solar tech, like solar generators, will begin appearing on the shelves of the nation’s largest retailers.

    Over the last couple of years, Costco has begun stocking several solar generators, as well as a few different solar panel kits. Given Costco’s impressive reputation for fair and excellent customer service, it only makes sense that this decision has caught the attention of the solar industry.

    While having a major retail chain branch out into the world of solar is certainly a step in the right direction for the renewable energy movement, it is still worth taking some time to consider whether purchasing solar equipment from a “big-box” store that does not specialize in this sort of equipment is a good decision.

    How Can We Help?

    To help you decide whether or not you should consider purchasing a solar generator from Costco, we are going to take a close look at some of the pros and cons of choosing Costco for your solar equipment needs.

    We will also explain what they actually sell and offer our recommendations for retailers that we believe offer a superior alternative.

    Interested in more articles related to solar power? Check more on our site.

    What Solar Equipment Does Costco Actually Sell?

    As mentioned, Costco has recently branched out into the world of solar by offering their customers several solar generators, as well as a few solar panel kits. While greater exposure for residential solar equipment to the mainstream population is always a good thing, there is no getting around the fact that Costco’s selection is severely limited.

    While this is certainly understandable, especially given that they just began stocking solar equipment and generators, it is not a good thing for anyone that is looking for solar products that has more than even a casual interest in solar power systems. One of the most important factors when building your own solar power system is customization, as it is important that the equipment you buy matches your own unique power needs. When you shop through a retailer that only stocks a few entry-level components, your ability to find what you need is severely compromised.

    Solar Generators Offered by Costco:

    When you actually take a look at what Costco sells, you are basically limited to three solar generators – the Lion Energy Safari ME. the EcoFlow Delta PRO. and the EcoFlow River PRO.

    While there is nothing inherently wrong with any of these solar generators, especially the EcoFlow Delta PRO, we found that they are regularly listed as being out of stock, or, in some cases, they are even temporarily removed from Costco’s website completely! So, not only is the product selection very limited, the solar generators are often difficult to find through Costco in the first place!

    Other Solar Equipment that Costco Offers:

    Costco also offers a variety of solar panel kits; however, all of their kits and solar power systems use Grape Solar panels. While Grape Solar is a brand that is known for reasonable prices, their solar panels are considered mid to low range, meaning they are not overly efficient and are often seen as a no-frills, basic option.

    While these solar panels might be a good fit for those on a tight budget, or anyone that is just looking to assemble a basic, entry-level solar power system, we would not recommend them for anyone that is looking for more of a long-term solar power system.

    Home Depot is another major retailer that is known for carrying solar panels from Grape Solar. This really tells you something when you consider the fact that very few specialized solar equipment retailers carry Grape Solar products.

    Pros Cons of Buying a Solar Generator from Costco

    To make things as straightforward as possible, we are going to go over some of the pros and cons of purchasing a solar generator from Costco:


    As you can see, when it comes to buying a solar generator from Costco, the cons outweigh the pros. While we certainly believe Costco is an excellent company and feel that their Rapid growth is a testament to the fact that they usually offer fair and outstanding customer service, we just cannot recommend purchasing a solar generator from a retailer that has so little experience with solar equipment.

    Solar equipment is fairly complex and can be quite an expensive investment, which is why we firmly believe you should always go with a specialized solar retailer that can be relied upon to have knowledgeable staff, a dependable warranty and returns system, and a large product catalogue.

    You probably wouldn’t consider buying a car from Wal-Mart, or an expensive computer from your local grocery store, as these retailers cannot offer the expertise you would expect when making such a large purchase. This is the same reason you should not purchase a solar generator from a big-box store like Costco, Home Depot, or Amazon.

    What is the Alternative?

    As mentioned, we always recommend purchasing your solar equipment from a well-established and specialized solar retailer. These companies understand the products they are selling, which means they can offer far superior customer service and product knowledge than you would ever experience by going through a non-specialized retailer.

    Not only can they answer questions about the products they sell and make personalized recommendations, they will have a much larger product catalogue, which means you will actually have the ability to find a solar generator that matches your unique needs and budget.

    The best solar retailers also follow up with their customers and help them through the installation process. Costco simply lacks the product knowledge to be of any use to you after you have purchased a solar generator from them.

    Luckily, there are plenty of reputable solar equipment retailers out there that we believe offer a greater degree of expertise than you would ever get by shopping for solar equipment through Costco.

    Our Top Choice –

    When it comes to buying a new solar generator, or a complete solar generator kit, we usually recommend They were founded in 2018 and in just a few short years, the company has grown to become one of the largest retailers of off-grid solar equipment in the United States.

    While their massive product catalogue and extremely competitive partially explain their Rapid growth, it is actually their impressive reputation for offering outstanding and ongoing customer support that is the real reason why they are our top recommended solar retailer.

    If you are new to solar and have never owned a solar generator before, can be extremely helpful, as they offer setup instructions, wiring diagrams, and after-sale customer assistance through their knowledgeable and friendly support team.

    What Do They Offer?

    Where Costco tends to sell solar generators as standalone units, offers a wide range of solar generator kits, which bundle a state-of-the-art solar generator with an appropriate number of solar panels, cables, connectors, and accessories to ensure that the solar generator will perform to its full potential.

    For comparison, when Costco has them in stock, they sell the EcoFlow River PRO as a standalone unit. While also offers the EcoFlow River PRO on its own, they also offer a variety of EcoFlow River PRO solar generator kits, which package the unit with a number of foldable solar panels and expansion batteries. This transforms a basic solar generator into a complete solar power station!

    Their EcoFlow River PRO 1,440Wh Double Kit is a perfect example of how takes basic solar generators and uses it to create a customer-friendly and budget-friendly bundle.

    They also do the same with Costco’s other best-selling solar generator, the EcoFlow Delta PRO. While offers the EcoFlow Delta PRO at a great price on its own, it is their Delta PRO complete kits that really catch our eye!

    For example, their EcoFlow Delta PRO 7,200Wh Nomad Kit combines the Delta PRO with 1,200W worth of monocrystalline solar panels, a Delta PRO Smart Expansion Battery, and all of the extension and charging cables you would ever need! On top of that, customers also receive custom installation and maintenance guides from themselves! doesn’t just offer the same solar generators you can find at Costco, they also offer a wide range of other kits from outstanding solar brands, such as EcoFlow, Bluetti, Lion Energy, Titan, and more. They also offer an incredibly impressive range of off-grid and grid-tied residential solar power systems and battery banks, which is great news if you are looking for more power than a solar generator could offer.

    Final Words

    If you want our advice, avoid the potential headaches that often result from buying solar equipment from a non-specialized retailer. Go with a company that understands solar equipment and has the ability to offer a wider range of products, convenient package deals, and extensive product knowledge!

    For more related topics, check out our other articles.

    Solar LED umbrellas sold at Costco recalled due to fire hazard

    The following is a post by the Consumer Product Safety Commission about the recall of SunVilla Corporation Solar LED umbrellas due to fire and burn hazards.

    • Hazard: The lithium-ion batteries in the umbrella’s solar panels can overheat, posing fire and burn hazards.

    Description: This recall involves all 10’ Solar LED Market Umbrellas sold in a variety of colors. The umbrellas have LED lights on the arms of the umbrella and a black solar panel battery puck at the top of the umbrella. The solar puck has a black cover marked with “YEEZE” or “YEEZE 1.”

    Remedy: Consumers should immediately stop using the umbrellas, remove the solar panel puck containing a lithium-ion battery from the top of the umbrella, store the puck out of the sun and away from combustible material, and do not charge the puck with the AC adapter.

    Consumers can return the umbrellas and solar puck to any Costco Warehouse nationwide for a full refund. Consumers unable to return the product to Costco can contact the firm for instructions on how to receive a refund. SunVilla and Costco are contacting all known purchasers.

    Incidents/Injuries: The firm has received six reports of the lithium-ion batteries overheating. This includes three reports of solar panels catching fire while charging via the AC adapter indoors and two reports of umbrellas catching fire when the solar panel puck overheated and caught fire while attached to the umbrella and one smoke inhalation injury.

    Sold At: Costco warehouses nationwide and online at from December 2020 through May 2022 for between 130 and 160.

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    Sunrun Solar Panels Review: Does Biggest Mean Best?

    In 2021, Sunrun performed 13% of all residential solar panel installations in America. Should they put in your rooftop solar panels?

    Andrew Blok has been an editor at CNET covering HVAC and home energy, with a FOCUS on solar, since October 2021. As an environmental journalist, he navigates the changing energy landscape to help people make Smart energy decisions. He’s a graduate of the Knight Center for Environmental Journalism at Michigan State and has written for several publications in the Great Lakes region, including Great Lakes Now and Environmental Health News, since 2019. You can find him in western Michigan watching birds.

    Sunrun Solar

    Don’t like

    • Lesser warranties for purchase
    • Not upfront with pricing
    • No price match guarantee

    When it comes to residential solar panel installations, one company has put in more renewable energy than anyone else. In 2021, Sunrun captured about 13% of the residential solar market, according to a Wood Mackenzie analysis, about double the share of its two closest competitors, Titan Solar Power and Freedom Forever, combined. Sunrun’s place atop these market share rankings is thanks in large part to its 2020 acquisition of what was the second largest solar installer, Vivint. With the acquisition, the company has a footprint in 21 states, Washington, DC and Puerto Rico.

    Most of Sunrun’s business is in solar leases. That means you can rent panels from it for a monthly fee, though it’ll sell you solar panels too. While there are dozens of solar panel providers and installers around the country (experts recommend getting multiple quotes), it’s worth looking at the major players. Sunrun provides strong offerings among the national players.

    Sunrun’s warranties are top of the line if you’re going the route of power purchase agreement or lease. While it hasn’t named a new preferred panel after LG left the market, it’s looking to fill that space with tier one panels. They also offer strong battery options with Tesla’s Powerwall and LG’s RESU batteries.

    Can solar panels save you money?

    Interested in understanding the impact solar can have on your home? Enter some basic information below, and we’ll instantly provide a free estimate of your energy savings.

    Sunrun, like most other solar providers, doesn’t give much pricing info up front. It also offers shorter warranties for customers who purchase panels rather than lease or enter a power purchase agreement. These points, and the fact that it doesn’t offer a price match, keep Sunrun’s score lower.

    Below I’ll give you the essential information about Sunrun and, when it’s possible, let you know how it compares to the competition.

    Can solar panels save you money?

    Interested in understanding the impact solar can have on your home? Enter some basic information below, and we’ll instantly provide a free estimate of your energy savings.

    What do I get from Sunrun?

    Sunrun is different from the average solar company in the way it conducts business. Its bread and butter is solar-as-service. This means the vast majority of its customers (80 to 90%, according to a 2021 presentation to investors) lease panels for a monthly fee.

    If you’re going to buy panels from Sunrun, you’re likely to get quality equipment. A Sunrun spokesperson confirmed the company uses multiple suppliers for solar equipment. Its preferred panel manufacturer, LG, stopped making solar panels in early 2022, so Sunrun is now working with their other module manufacturing partners to supply tier one panels, a spokesperson said. Tier one panels typically come from established companies with a long track record of quality. You should receive panels with high efficiency ratings and strong warranties. Likewise, Sunrun should be able to accommodate a preference for a specific panel.

    Before you buy, make sure you read your purchase agreement and warranty. That’s especially important, because while Sunrun offers bumper-to-bumper coverage, maintenance and monitoring for its solar-as-service customers, those who purchase solar arrays from them are left to rely on manufacturers’ warranties. While 25 years is becoming more common, it’s still not ubiquitous. Sunrun also offers a 10-year workmanship warranty against damage to your roof or installation problems.

    Sunrun offers Tesla Powerwall for whole-home backup and an LG Chem battery, which the company says can back up just the essentials, or four circuits (a circuit is everything connected to a breaker in your breaker box or electrical panel). Sunrun also offers battery storage to its solar-as-service customers through its program called Brightbox. Neither of the battery options are exclusive to Sunrun, so it shouldn’t be your deciding factor. Both battery options come with a 10-year manufacturer’s warranty.

    Powerwall batteries can be installed indoors or outdoors. They’re about 6 inches deep, 2.5 feet wide and almost 4 feet tall, so they’ll fit most places. LG Chem batteries are a bit smaller, though they’re also deeper.

    Powerwall holds 12.2 kilowatt hours of usable energy, while the LG Chem batteries offer 9.2 to 16kWh of usable energy, depending on the model. (LG Energy Solutions has recalled some of its batteries for a possible fire risk.)

    It’s not clear which inverters Sunrun will use now that their preferred option, LG again, is no longer available. (Again, be sure to read your agreement and make sure you’re happy with the proposed equipment.)

    Sunrun also has an app through which you can monitor your system’s production. Since I’m not a Sunrun customer, I wasn’t able to test it out. Some reviewers in Apple’s App Store and Google Play (the mySunrun app gets 2.5 stars and 2.2 stars, respectively) say the app is difficult to use and has limited features. Multiple users noted difficulty logging in, poor customer support and no live monitoring of their solar panels’ production, as is available elsewhere.

    Are Sunrun solar panels a good deal?

    Sunrun provides a lot less public information about pricing compared to Tesla, so it’s a bit harder to nail down an answer here. Given that change with location and industry experts suggest getting multiple quotes when you’re shopping for solar panels, including from non-national players, that’s probably OK. Still, we can start to get at that question without a quote in hand.

    In November of 2021, Sunrun reported an installation cost of 3.93 per watt. The median cost in 2022, according to Wood Mackenzie was 2.99 per watt for an eight kilowatt system.

    This is not an apples-to-apples comparison, Wyatt Semanek, a Sunrun spokesperson, said via email. Sunrun’s price per watt includes the cost of batteries with some systems, while many other available averages do not. One Tesla Powerwall can add 10,000 to the cost of a system, a significant addition. Semanek also noted that geography has a significant influence on price.

    Although it’s a different beast than purchasing panels, there are a few things to know about the solar-as-service options that comprise the majority of Sunrun’s business. CNET has looked into power purchase agreements before, and Sunrun’s lease options are a different flavor within the category of third-party ownership.

    According to a November 2021 Sunrun document, while about 70% of residential solar panels nationwide are customer-owned, between 80% and 90% or Sunrun’s business is solar-as-service. That means homeowners don’t own the panels, but agree to rent Sunrun-owned equipment installed on their roofs. Homeowners can get solar panels on their roof for little to no money up front and then pay a monthly fee to use them. When this fee is less than what the local utility charges for electricity, homeowners save money.

    Because the cost of energy changes over time, leases include what’s known as an escalator, a year-to-year increase in the lease fee. Escalators in Sunrun leases vary from customer to customer, but a Sunrun investor presentation in May set the average escalator at 2% with a range of 0% to 2.9%. As long as your local energy price goes up by more than that each year, you’ll continue to save money.

    While electricity vary by region and utility, the average American has seen go up by less than 2% per year, though recent years have seen much higher increases. Some years, utilities have requested much larger rate increases. If your lease increases by 2.9% and your utility rate only goes up by 2%, your lease could be more expensive, or at least less profitable, by the end of your 25-year term. A solar lease is usually cheaper than paying your utility for all your electricity and provides stability in a budget, Semanek said.

    As always, make sure you understand the details of your agreement and how the math will work out for your specific situation, if it does at all.

    Sunrun also offers the option to pay in full for a lease upfront. That financial math is harder to make work. If you can afford to pay the lease in full, it might make more sense to instead purchase a system outright and take out a small loan for anything above and beyond that.

    Does Sunrun operate in my state? How do I order?

    Sunrun operates in 21 states and Washington, DC and Puerto Rico.

    Once you’ve confirmed Sunrun operates in your state, enter some basic information online (name, zip code, address) and wait for a call. While I didn’t go through the process of getting a quote, I did take this first step. I received a call less than two minutes after submitting my information.

    Sunrun asks for a year’s worth of electricity bills to understand your needs and check your roof’s solar panel capacity using satellite images. The company sends someone out to your house to check the quality of your roof and electrical panel. Then you’ll hammer out any design details, get your questions answered and confirm the final design. The company handles permitting, and installation typically takes a day. Sunrun uses in-house installation teams and subcontractors.

    Is Sunrun the best choice?

    As with any major choice, it’s best to follow the expert advice to shop around. Get multiple quotes for systems and financing (if you need to finance), including quotes from local, non-national installers.

    Third-party ownership generally saves you less money over the long haul than buying panels outright, which is usually the best option if you can afford the up-front cost or secure a favorable loan.

    Leases can offer some savings over paying your utility and if buying solar is financially out of reach for you, a lease might be a fine option. This, again, depends on your local energy prices, the terms or the lease, including escalators and your energy usage. In this case, a lease from Sunrun might be your best choice, though you should still compare it with other lease options. Third-party ownership isn’t allowed in every state.

    If you’re looking to purchase, you’ll likely get quality equipment from Sunrun. Likewise, Sunrun’s workmanship warranty matches Tesla’s at 10 years.

    Sunrun’s solar offering gives you a range of options under strong warranties. It also offers choice on batteries. Like most solar providers, unfortunately, it’s hard to get an idea of costs before reaching out for a quote. This makes sense, given the variety of roofs and energy needs, but it would be nice if the industry was more transparent up front. If you enter a lease or power purchase agreement with Sunrun, you should receive quality care. Sunrun’s warranties aren’t as strong for purchases as they are for leases or power purchase agreements. If you decide to buy, you can find stronger warranties elsewhere.

    It’s important to note that, while I researched this as deeply as was practical, I haven’t been through this process as a buyer and I haven’t tested Sunrun’s offerings in any empirical way. Solar services are difficult to review in the traditional sense, so be sure to get multiple estimates from different installers before you make a decision.

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