Solar Company Review Methodology

By Rachel Newcomb

September 29, 2023
Solar electric panels on a house roof.

Our team aims to provide accurate, helpful, and transparent information to homeowners who are interested in solar energy conversion. We researched dozens of solar providers to obtain data and create in-depth review standards. We then rated companies based on several key factors.

How We Research Solar Providers

We dedicate hundreds of hours to researching solar companies and collecting data on their product catalogs, offered services, warranty coverage, and accreditations. We reviewed each company website for its helpfulness, legitimacy, and policy disclosures.

Below is a more detailed overview of our research process.

Customer Service

We gauge customer service and brand reputation by analyzing thousands of customer reviews from third-party review sites, including:

Secret Shopping

We conducted secret shopping to gain firsthand knowledge of the customer experience. Our shopping experiences included testing the quote process, online tools, and provider apps. We also spoke with customer service representatives to determine their responsiveness and helpfulness when working with customers. 

Expert Interviews and Surveys

Our team interviewed industry experts, company representatives, and government agencies to understand industry standards and best practices better. We also surveyed homeowners considering going solar or who completed the solar conversion process.

Key Factors We Considered to Review Companies

We rated each provider based on six key factors for our comparison. Each factor received a point value that added up to 100 points. Provider scores were then divided by 20 to create a 5-point rating scale. Each provider received a 5-star rating based on the following criteria:

Equipment, Services, and Installation (25 Points)

This category carries the highest points value and accounts for the most important solar company factors. Since each solar company offers solar panels as baseline options, we award points for additional equipment options such as solar roofing or energy storage solutions. We added points for each solar service, including system monitoring, energy audits, and roofing services. We also awarded more points to companies that used in-house installation teams versus third-party contractors.  

System Coverage and Guarantees (20 Points)

We scored providers based on the warranty type and coverage length. We awarded separate points for manufacturer and workmanship coverage. Companies that met or exceeded industry-standard ranges received more points. We added extra points if a provider included a power protection guarantee or roof leak coverage. 

Brand Reputation (20 Points)

Brand reputation scores combined the scores from several third-party review sites and any ongoing legal issues. Companies with BBB ratings of A scored the highest points. Scores of B or lower received lower total points. We awarded bonus points if a company was BBB-accredited. 

We combined the star ratings from at least two other review sites to determine the average customer review score. Companies with an average score of 4.5 or higher received the highest points, with additional point ranges lowering from there. 

We awarded higher points to companies with a North American Board of Certified Energy Practitioners (NABCEP) certification, one of the solar industry’s most prestigious and well-recognized certifications. We deducted points for major ongoing legal issues, or other noted problematic behaviors. 

Financing Options (15 Points)

Solar financing options are major in legal system ownership and potential installation savings. Companies that offered cash payments received the most points, followed by solar loans. Solar leases and power purchase agreements (PPAs) received lower point values. We deducted points for any company that only offered leasing options. In addition, we awarded higher points to solar providers offering in-house financing options. 

Business Experience (10 Points)

Business experience represents a company’s expertise and foothold within an industry. We awarded higher points based on a provider’s industry experience. Companies with 21 years or longer of experience received the highest points. Point values were reduced for less industry experience, with companies with five or fewer years receiving the lowest point value. 

Service Area (10 Points)

We gave more points to companies with nationwide coverage and awarded lower points based on smaller service areas. We employed a tiered scale for smaller service areas, with providers covering a single state at the bottom of our ranking. 

Final Thoughts

This methodology guides our rating process. We aim to compare every aspect of a solar company based on the factors our readers find most important, such as solar equipment options, warranty coverage, and brand reputation. We supplement our research with firsthand experience through secret shopping. We also incorporate proprietary data collected through surveys and expert interviews into our rankings. 

Your home’s energy needs and budget are significant in determining the best solar company for you. Our team recommends requesting three quotes from different providers to compare solar services, equipment, warranties, and pricing. Review our list of the best solar companies nationwide to begin your solar energy conversion.