The Best Solar Companies in Massachusetts of 2023

Even harsh New England winters can’t stop the sun, and homeowners are ready to install solar in the Bay State. One of the best solar companies in MA can make it happen.

Best Overall

The Best Solar Companies in Massachusetts Option SunPower

SunPower

See It

Runner-Up

The Best Solar Companies in Massachusetts Option ADT Solar

ADT Solar

See It

Best Bang for the Buck

The Best Solar Companies in Massachusetts Option Tesla

Tesla

See It

We may earn revenue from the products available on this page and participate in affiliate programs. Learn More ›

Massachusetts doesn’t come to mind as the sunniest state—but it’s ranked 10th in the country for adopting solar power, and Boston is one of the greenest cities nationwide. With the state’s 197 days of sunlight, Massachusetts residents can still benefit from reduced energy bills and reduce fossil fuel dependency by installing a solar array. But solar is a fast-growing industry, and it’s wise for homeowners to research their options before signing a contract with a solar company in Massachusetts. Here, we’ve compiled a list of the best Massachusetts solar companies, along with some tips to help Massachusetts homeowners navigate the solar installation process.

  1. BEST OVERALL: SunPower
  2. RUNNER-UP: ADT Solar
  3. BEST BANG FOR THE BUCK: Tesla
  4. BEST CUSTOMER EXPERIENCE: Momentum Solar
  5. ALSO CONSIDER: Boston Solar
The Best Solar Companies in Massachusetts Options
Photo: istockphoto.com

What to Consider When Choosing One of the Best Solar Companies in MA

There’s a lot to consider when assessing the top-rated solar companies in Massachusetts. Here, we’ve noted some of the most significant factors homeowners will want to think about during this process.

Home Location and Roof Type

The first factor for a homeowner to consider when contemplating installing a solar array is their home—specifically, the direction their home faces, the roof angle, and the roof material.

In the northern hemisphere, it’s best to install solar panels on a south-facing roof. Because of Earth’s tilt, the sun travels in a slightly southern direction, not straight across the sky. A south-facing roof ensures that a home receives the maximum amount of sunlight year-round. Southeast-facing and southwest-facing homes are also good possibilities for solar, as roofs on those homes will still capture some of the southerly path of the sun. Although it’s possible to mount panels on roofs facing other directions, the power generation may not be as high.

A 30- to 45-degree mounting angle ensures ideal sun exposure for solar panels. If a roof is flat, solar panels are often mounted on a bracket that tilts the panels up to 30 degrees. Extremely steep roofs can still have solar panels mounted, but the panels may not be able to capture enough sunlight for the home to become energy independent.

It’s possible to mount a solar array on any kind of roof material—but some types may be easier to work with than others. Durable composite shingles hold up well to the installation process, and standing seams on metal roofs minimize the amount of drilling and modifications needed. Tile roofs can present a bit more of a challenge; since each tile is not perfect, it may take more time (and cost more in labor) to install a solar array.

Type of Panels and Efficiency

The two primary types of solar panels used for powering homes are monocrystalline and polycrystalline. Monocrystalline is more efficient (meaning it is able to turn more sunlight into usable electricity) but also costlier, while polycrystalline is more affordable but compromises power production. It’s possible to tell the difference between the two by the color: Monocrystalline panels will be pure black, while polycrystalline panels appear blue. The type of panel a homeowner opts for will predominantly come down to their budget and power-production goals. An experienced solar installer can help a homeowner make the right decision.

One discrepancy to note is that the efficiency of an individual solar cell is not the same as the efficiency of a panel. A solar cell is part of a solar panel, and a cell could have over 40 percent efficiency on its own. However, entire panels will have lower efficiency. Monocrystalline panels usually max out around 23 percent efficiency, while polycrystalline panels can reach an efficiency of about 16 percent. Researchers at the NREL (National Renewable Energy Laboratory) have created a solar panel with almost 40 percent efficiency, but this technology hasn’t been mass-produced yet.

There’s another type of panel to note: thin film. These panels are (as the name suggests) thin, flexible, and lightweight, making them one of the best portable solar panels. However, they’re even less efficient than polycrystalline. Thin-film solar panels also have the shortest lifespan of 10 to 20 years compared to the 25-year-plus lifespan of their crystalline counterparts. Because of their lower efficiency, more thin-film panels would be required to power a home fully—and most roofs won’t have the space to accommodate the number of panels required. However, thin-film panels can be used as supplementary power production and are useful for homes that have unusually shaped roofs that may not be suitable for traditional panels.

On-Grid vs. Off-Grid

Another major decision that homeowners have to consider when installing a solar system is whether or not they want the home to be connected to the local power grid. A home with a solar panel array still connected to the municipal grid is called on-grid or grid-tied. If there’s cloud cover and the solar system can’t produce enough electricity to fully power the home, a grid-tied home can still pull power from the utility. However, if there’s a local power outage, the home can’t rely on its solar array—a grid-tied home will also experience an outage. This is a safety precaution so that electricity is not flowing into lines that utility technicians may be working on.

Off-grid homes are completely energy independent, so they need to generate all the power the home needs. Off-grid homes also rely on solar batteries to store excess energy and power the home during the night or when it’s cloudy. They’ll also rely on one of the best solar charge controllers to regulate energy flow. Off-grid homes can still have power if there’s a local outage. However, the home will be without power if the batteries are depleted and the panels can’t produce any electricity.

Some regions and homes are better suited for off-grid solar systems than others, and an experienced solar installer can help homeowners make the decision.

Financing, Rebates, and Tax Incentives

The average cost to install a solar system in Massachusetts is about $18,000, but not every homeowner will have that much disposable income on hand. In part, the financing options available to a homeowner depend on where they live. In Massachusetts, homeowners have three options: a solar loan, a solar lease, or a power purchase agreement (PPA).

  • Solar loan: A homeowner borrows money from a lender or solar developer to purchase a solar panel array. In this situation, the homeowner owns the system, but it’s still subject to a lien or lender security interest. Homeowners with solar loans are eligible for tax incentives, unlike those with a lease or PPA. However, not every homeowner will be eligible for a loan. Homeowners are also totally responsible for any maintenance costs.
  • Solar lease: A homeowner enters into a contract with a solar leasing company or developer. The homeowner makes regular payments and receives the energy the panels produce in exchange. Some contracts may require the homeowner to make a down payment. At first, the lease payments are often less than the value of the power being generated. However, payments for solar leases can escalate as time goes on, and eventually the cost of the payment may be greater than the value of the power being produced. Solar leases are appealing to many because there’s little to no up-front cost and the solar developer is in charge of any maintenance. However, homeowners are often not eligible for tax incentives, and there may be restrictions if a homeowner wants to add new construction to the home (e.g., if the homeowner wanted to build a new addition that would block the panels from getting light).
  • Power purchase agreement (PPA): A power purchase agreement is similar to a solar lease. The solar company buys and installs the solar system, and the homeowner pays the company per kilowatt-hour (kWh) for the energy that’s produced. A homeowner typically pays less for the solar energy than they would buying the equivalent amount from the utility. However, the PPA rate generally increases over time. The advantages and disadvantages are similar to those of a solar lease.

The purchase of a solar system can be made even more affordable with federal and state tax incentives.

  • Federal investment tax credit (ITC): For solar systems installed between 2023 and 2032, homeowners can get a 30 percent tax credit. So, for example, if a solar installation costs $10,000, the homeowner can get a $3,000 credit on their federal income taxes. Solar leases and PPAs will not qualify.
  • Net metering: Homeowners can sell excess energy their panels produce back to the utilities.
    Residential renewable energy income tax credit: Homeowners are eligible to receive credit of 15 percent of the cost of their solar system with a $1,000 maximum.
  • Solar Massachusetts Renewable Target (SMART): Customers of energy companies in Massachusetts, including Eversource, National Grid, and Unitil, are eligible to receive 19 to 31 cents per kWh of solar energy produced for 10 years.
  • Solar sales tax exemption: Home solar systems are not subject to Massachusetts’ 6.25 percent sales and use tax.
  • Property tax exemption: The installation of solar panels does not raise a homeowner’s property taxes.

Guarantees

Like traditional home improvement projects, solar arrays typically come with a labor warranty to cover any issues resulting from the actual installation work. These labor warranties can last between 10 and 25 years. The panels also come with a manufacturer warranty, often for about 25 years. Many companies may also offer a power-production guarantee. This means that the solar system is guaranteed to generate a certain level of energy for the length of the term, which is often 20 to 25 years.

Customer Support

The best solar companies with multiple avenues of customer support often have higher customer satisfaction, as it’s quicker to get in touch with a representative when questions or issues arise. Offering customer support over the phone is standard for many of these companies, but sometimes it can be difficult to get a real person on the line in a timely fashion. Some customers may prefer to email the company so there is a digital paper trail of conversation.

Our Top Picks

We’ve evaluated dozens of solar installers in Massachusetts to find the best of the best. The following five are the ones we consider to be top solar companies in the state.

See It
  • Type of panels: SunPower Maxeon monocrystalline
  • Payment options: Buy, finance, lease
  • Guarantee: 25-year complete-system warranty
  • Customer support: Phone

Pros

  • High 22.8 percent efficiency rate
  • Cradle to Cradle–certified equipment
  • Interactive online design-studio feature
  • Sleek solar panel design with built-in microinverters

Cons

  • Customer service only available by phone

Why It Made the Cut: SunPower is one of the country’s largest solar installers, and not without reason—the company makes some of the best solar panels in the country. Homeowners who are looking for the highest efficiency solar panels will want to check out SunPower. The exclusive Maxeon monocrystalline panels have a 22.8 percent efficiency rating—the highest on the market. The equipment has Cradle to Cradle certification, which accounts for material health, product circularity, social fairness, water and soil stewardship, and clean air and climate protection. This demonstrates SunPower’s commitment to sustainability. Homeowners can use SunPower’s interactive design-studio feature to plan what a solar array will look like on their homes. The panels are sleek and low profile with incorporated microinverters that don’t add any visual bulk. Interested customers can reach out to the company by phone.

See It
  • Type of panels: Q Cells, Silfab, Canadian Solar
  • Payment options: Buy, finance, lease
  • Guarantee: 25-year power-production guarantee
  • Customer support: Phone, email

Pros

  • Generous 25-year power-production guarantee
  • 24/7 solar monitoring
  • Additional roofing repair services available

Cons

  • Warranty information on battery not readily available on website

Why It Made the Cut: ADT Solar offers the reliability of its parent security company with 24/7 monitoring and a power-production guarantee. ADT is known as a security company, but it ventured into the solar game when it acquired Sunpro Solar in 2021. ADT Solar offers a standout 25-year power-production guarantee wherein the solar system is guaranteed to maintain its energy output for a quarter of a century. The 24/7 solar monitoring feature also ensures that, if the solar system goes down, the homeowner will know about it right away—not when the electricity bill comes and the homeowner realizes that the house hasn’t been generating power. ADT Solar works with top-of-the-line panel brands including Q Cells, Silfab, and Canadian Solar, and it also offers battery storage (however, customers will have to reach out to a company representative to learn about the warranty terms for both panels and batteries). And if the roof needs some repairs before panels can be installed, ADT Solar’s sister company Buildpro can handle them.

See It
  • Type of panels: Tesla monocrystalline
  • Payment options: Buy, finance
  • Guarantee: 25-year performance guarantee, 10-year comprehensive warranty
  • Customer support: Live chat

Pros

  • Traditional solar panels and sleek solar tiles available
  • Generous price-match guarantee
  • Instant online quotes available

Cons

  • No solar lease option

Why It Made the Cut: Tesla might not come to mind first as the most cost-effective brand, but the company’s price-match guarantee makes its solar panels some of the more affordable on the market. Tesla is a powerhouse when it comes to creating innovative and attractive sustainable technology, and its solar offerings are no exception. Customers can buy or finance traditional solar panels or solar tiles, which are much thinner and smaller than panels and are installed like roof shingles. The proprietary solar tiles are ideal for anyone who wants to go solar but doesn’t want to compromise aesthetics. Customers can get an instant quote online, and Tesla offers a price-match guarantee on a per-watt basis for recent quotes on similar systems.

See It
  • Type of panels: Monocrystalline (various manufacturers)
  • Payment options: Buy, finance, lease
  • Guarantee: 25-year equipment and labor warranty
  • Customer support: Phone, email

Pros

  • Streamlined “concierge” service offered
  • All paperwork and permits handled on behalf of the customer

Cons

  • Somewhat limited information available online
  • No solar batteries available

Why It Made the Cut: Momentum Solar’s all-in-one concierge service makes going solar a breeze. Those looking for support from engaged company representatives throughout the process of going solar will want to think about Momentum Solar. This company offers a “concierge” service: homeowners work with one representative from consultation through installation so there is always a company contact aware of all of the project details. Momentum will also handle all of a customer’s paperwork, including applying for rebates and tax incentives, which can make a stressful, overwhelming process much easier to manage. Customers can reach out to a customer support representative by phone or email with any questions about Momentum’s offerings or services.

See It
  • Type of panels: Monocrystalline (various manufacturers)
  • Payment options: Buy, finance
  • Guarantee: 25-year equipment warranty, 10-year power-production warranty
  • Customer support: Phone, email

Pros

  • Expedited consultation scheduling
  • Commitment to community improvements

Cons

  • No solar lease option

Why It Made the Cut: Boston Solar provides a seamless experience from start to finish, making it a great option for homeowners looking for a local Massachusetts solar company. Boston Solar is a Massachusetts-based company that’s completed over 5,000 solar installations in 11 years. Homeowners can buy or finance residential solar systems. Boston Solar allows homeowners to schedule consultations online, which saves them from making a phone call, waiting for someone to call them back, and negotiating when an appointment can be made. The company also has a strong commitment to giving back to the community through partnerships with Strike Out ALS and the Woburn Boys & Girls Club, meaning customers can feel that they’re doing good by working with Boston Solar.

Our Verdict

With panels that have industry-leading efficiency and state-of-the-art design, SunPower is a standout choice as one of the best MA solar companies. Customers looking for 24/7 solar monitoring will enjoy ADT Solar’s suite of services.

How We Chose the Best Solar Companies in MA

We considered dozens of companies either based or with a presence in Massachusetts. We evaluated the types of panels available, financing options, guarantees, customer support availability, and any unique features that set the company apart from the crowd. Companies that did not meet our criteria did not make the cut. We narrowed down our selections by weighing the advantages and disadvantages of working with specific companies, ranked them accordingly, and provided awards based on individual strengths.

Before You Work With One of the Best Solar Companies in MA

There are a few things homeowners will want to evaluate before scheduling a consultation with a solar installer. The first is whether the roof needs any repairs. Ensuring the roof is in its best condition with no gaps or weak spots is essential to making sure that a solar array is secure and doesn’t cause any damage. It’s also wise to check the homeowners insurance policy to find out if solar panels are covered. Also, homeowners will want to be aware that solar panels will need maintenance (like regular cleaning from one of the best solar panel cleaning services), and they’ll be on the hook for that maintenance if they bought the system outright or took out a loan.

Customers can also consider if they want additional solar-powered home improvements made at the same time their solar panels are being installed. These can include installing one of the best solar-powered water pumps, best solar generators, or best solar flood lights. Many companies that install solar panels can also install these appliances.

Cost of Working With One of the Best Solar Companies in MA

The average cost of solar panels in Massachusetts is $3.51 per watt or between $14,918 and $20,182 for the entire system. This price could be thousands of dollars lower for those who qualify for the federal investment tax credit (ITC) or the residential renewable energy income tax credit. By investing in solar, Massachusetts homeowners can expect to save an average of over $52,000 in 20 years (versus paying for an equivalent amount of energy through the utility).

The Advantages of Working With One of the Best Solar Companies in MA

Even though Massachusetts might not be one of the sunniest states in the country, it’s still one of the most energy efficient, and there are benefits to going solar. On a large scale, investing in solar is good for the state economy. Nearly $22 billion is spent annually in Massachusetts on coal, oil, and gas. But every dollar invested in solar returns $1.20 back to the local economy. And as one of the fastest-growing industries in the Commonwealth, solar installers in Massachusetts are responsible for 15,000 jobs. When homeowners install solar panels, they’re helping to contribute to these statewide advancements. But homeowners can also realize many personal benefits from working with one of the best solar companies, including:

  • Savings from state and federal solar programs
  • Reduced energy expenses
  • The ability to store energy with solar batteries

FAQs

For homeowners from Westfield to Worcester who still have questions about going solar or companies that install solar panels, here are some answers to the most popular questions.

Q. How can I recognize a reputable solar company in Massachusetts?

Reputable solar companies in Massachusetts should be forthcoming and transparent when a customer has any questions, and the solar panels provider should readily communicate with customers.

Q. Can I get free solar panels in Massachusetts?

No, you can’t get free solar installation in Massachusetts.

Q. How much do solar companies in MA charge on average?

The average cost of solar panel installation in Massachusetts is around $18,000.

Q. Do solar panels increase home value in Massachusetts?

Solar panels can increase Massachusetts home values by 2 to 3 percent.

Permits may be required for solar panel installation in Massachusetts. MA solar installers will be aware of the right permits to pull, and homeowners can check with their local building departments.

Q. Can I get a credit for solar panel installation in Massachusetts?

Massachusetts homeowners who install solar may be eligible for certain federal and state tax credits and exemptions. These benefits typically only apply to those who buy their system outright or use a loan.

Sources: EnergySage, Forbes

Share

WHY YOU CAN TRUST BOB VILA