The Best Solar Companies in Southern California

California homeowners considering solar for their home will enjoy the peace of mind and additional benefits that accompany working with the best solar companies in Southern California.

Best Overall

The Best Solar Companies in Southern California Option SunPower

SunPower

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Runner-Up

The Best Solar Companies in Southern California Option ADT Solar

ADT Solar

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Best Bang for the Buck

The Best Solar Companies in Southern California Option Tesla

Tesla

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There are many reasons for homeowners to consider going solar in Southern California. First, the great weather ensures that there’s plenty of sunshine to hit those panels after installation. Also, with utility prices constantly on the rise, going solar can help homeowners offset their energy costs. Finally, the Golden State is home to many trustworthy pros that can make solar panel installation easier for the homeowner and provide them with peace of mind that the solar installation was completed correctly.

Homeowners who are looking into solar panel installation will appreciate this guide on some of the best solar companies in Southern California, which also covers what to look for when homeowners are shopping for companies on their own.

  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: Sunlux
The Best Solar Companies in Southern California Options
Photo: istockphoto.com

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

There’s more to choosing a solar company in Southern California than simply typing “local solar companies” into a search bar. This section will cover all of the most important considerations for homeowners to keep in mind when choosing a solar company to install a roof- or ground-mounted array.

Home Location and Roof Type

When considering solar companies, homeowners will want to start by looking for companies that offer service in their area. While many companies cover Southern California, they might not perform installations throughout the whole region. Some companies may have a service area that they work in, such as a 50-mile radius of their home shop. Others might be willing to travel farther.

Homeowners will also need to consider whether or not their home is suitable for solar panel installation. Ideally, the home will have a south-facing roof with little to no shade, which will allow the sun to start energizing the solar panels as soon as it rises in the morning and continue until it sets. But solar may still be worth it even if the home only gets sunlight through part of the day. However, if the home is in a valley, surrounded by trees or tall buildings, the options are much more limited.

Also, roofing material matters. Asphalt shingles are the easiest to install solar panels on, but some companies also specialize in installing them over clay shingles, slate roofs, metal roofs, and other materials. If the home has a specialty roof material, the homeowner will want to find a company that knows how to work with that material.

Types of Panels and Efficiency

There are several types of solar panels to choose from, and some are more efficient than others. The three main types of solar panels are monocrystalline, polycrystalline, and thin-film.

  • Monocrystalline solar panels are the most efficient options. However, they’re also the most expensive.
    • Within the monocrystalline category are also PERC panels, which stands for Passivated Emitter and Rear Cell, which are even more efficient and better performers.
  • Polycrystalline panels are the least expensive options for homeowners. Their drawback is that they offer lower performance and efficiency.
  • Thin-film solar panels are flexible and portable, but they’re not very efficient and they can be expensive.

Manufacturers rate their solar panels based on their ability to transform the sun’s energy into usable electrical energy. Typical ranges are between 15 and 20 percent, with high-efficiency panels reaching more than 22 percent. Excitingly, technology does exist for solar panels to start reaching as high as 50 percent efficiency.

On-Grid vs. Off-Grid

The two main types of solar panel systems are on-grid and off-grid. There is a significant difference between the two, and some solar panel companies in Southern California might not offer both options.

An on-grid system ties in with the main electrical distribution system in the area. When the solar panels take on solar energy and convert it to electricity, that energy passes back through the home’s electrical system and back into the grid. This allows the homeowner to pay lower rates on electricity by supplementing the utility company’s supply. In some cases, the home may even store excess energy in a battery bank for emergencies.

Off-grid systems do not tie into the main electrical distribution network. Instead, all of the energy absorbed by the solar panel is either available for immediate use (meaning they’re only useful during the day when the sun is out) or stored in a battery bank system. In many cases, off-grid systems don’t come with rebates or incentives, so some solar installers (especially a commercial solar company) might not offer them.

Financing, Rebates, and Tax Incentives

There are a few ways for a homeowner to pay for a solar panel system. One is to pay outright for the whole system. Another option is to finance the system, and many solar companies will help by connecting homeowners with third-party solar financing companies to finance the job. The final option is to lease the solar panels from the solar company, which is attractive since ongoing maintenance and repairs aren’t the homeowner’s responsibility, and the rates are usually relatively affordable.

One reason so many homeowners are considering solar panels for their roofs is the availability of incentives. With the focus on clean energy increasing, the federal government, and often local governments, offer tax incentives and rebates to make the system more affordable. Homeowners who own their own system are eligible for these incentives, but those who lease through a solar company are not—the solar company is. Homeowners who have a solar system installed between 2023 and 2033 can get a federal tax credit of up to 30 percent of their total installation costs, which helps decrease the cost of solar panels. California itself does not currently have a state tax credit or rebate for installing solar.

Guarantees

Guarantees can be a little tricky to make sense of. But they’re a big part of the solar company sales pitch, so it’s worth it to understand.

The simplest guarantee is the warranty on the products that are being installed on the roof. For the most part, solar panels carry roughly 20- to 30-year warranties. While performance will decline over the warranty period, the panels can be replaced if they stop working or break. Other system components may carry 10- to 15-year warranties, depending on the part.

The guarantee that’s challenging is the power production guarantee. A power production guarantee is a promise from the solar company that the system will produce within a certain percentage (typically 90 percent) of a specific amount of kilowatt-hours. If the system does not meet that mark, the homeowner may be entitled to compensation. Also, this does not promise 90 percent efficiency, and there may be clauses in the agreement that state any obstructions built after installation negate the guarantee.

Customer Support

Solar installation companies show up, install their systems, and leave. Hopefully, they never have to come back because the system is working flawlessly, but if there is an issue, the homeowner needs to be able to get in touch with customer support easily.

Most companies offer phone-based customer support. Others might offer both phone and email, while others might offer live chat options. Homeowners will want to consider each company’s customer service options before making a final decision.

Our Top Picks

With that baseline of solar company knowledge covered, homeowners can start looking into solar companies. The following are some of the best solar panel installation companies in Southern California.

Best Overall

SunPower

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Why It Made the Cut:

With multiple purchasing options, high-efficiency panels, and an interactive design studio, SunPower is a top choice for Southern California homeowners.

SunPower is a great choice for homeowners in the Southern California area. SunPower installs Maxeon-branded monocrystalline solar panel systems that boast a high energy efficiency of 22.8 percent—the highest energy efficiency in the industry. This efficiency rating means that SunPower’s panels will produce more energy using fewer panels—ideal for homeowners without a lot of usable roof space.

The panels feature a sleek design with built-in inverters to keep them low-profile and help them blend in with the roof. They also come with a generous guarantee: a 25-year complete-system warranty which includes power production. SunPower also offers buying, financing, and leasing options, allowing homeowners to choose the option that works best for them.

SunPower has some other noteworthy features for homeowners to consider as well. The company is Cradle to Cradle certified, which signals its dedication to sustainability. This certification means the panels do not contain materials that pose any significant health risks and that SunPower uses renewable energy during the manufacturing process. Customer service is only available over the phone, which may be a pain point for some customers, but the company does offer other perks that can offset this potential con, such as an online design studio that allows potential customers to see what solar panels would look like once installed on their home.

 

Specs

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

Pros

  • High 22.8 percent efficiency rate
  • Generous 25-year complete system and labor warranty
  • Cradle to Cradle–certified equipment
  • Interactive online design-studio feature
  • Sleek design with built-in microinverters

Cons

  • Customer service only available by phone

Runner-Up

ADT Solar

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Why It Made the Cut:

With roofing services nailed down, techy monitoring, and a generous guarantee, ADT Solar is worth considering for a homeowner’s solar installation project.

One of the benefits of going with ADT Solar is the company’s impressive 25-year power-production guarantee. This guarantee gives homeowners peace of mind that their solar panel system will produce adequate energy to partially or fully power their home, saving them money on utilities. Unfortunately, warranty information on ADT Solar’s batteries is not readily available on the website, so homeowners will need to speak to a representative to find out this information. However, the additional benefits of working with ADT can more than make up for this. One example is the 24/7 monitoring that allows homeowners to check on their system’s health and performance and identify any potential issues early.

In addition, ADT Solar offers roofing repair services through its sister company, Buildpro. If the roof needs to be repaired or replaced before solar panels can be installed, the homeowner can have both done through ADT Solar and Buildpro. They can even roll their roof repair or replacement costs into their solar panel costs if they’re choosing to finance the project.

 

Specs

  • 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 is not readily available on website

Best Bang for the Buck

Tesla

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Why It Made the Cut:

With affordable prices, slick options, and a price-match guarantee, Tesla has a lot to offer homeowners in the Golden State.

Solar panel systems are an investment, and homeowners may be looking to save money on the project to make it as affordable as possible. Choosing Tesla can help, thanks to the company’s generous price-match guarantee. If the customer can produce a lower quote from a competing company for a system of a similar size and type and with a similar installation timeline, Tesla will match that price.

Tesla is one of the biggest solar companies, and it installs its own brand of monocrystalline panels. Customers can choose between traditional solar panels and sleek solar tiles, which are designed to blend into the roof more easily. Tesla also offers EV charger installation for customers who own a Tesla vehicle. By pairing a solar roof with an EV charger, homeowners can charge their vehicle, as well as their home, with the sun’s energy.

Customers can buy or finance from Tesla, though there is no lease option, which may be limiting for some customers. However, customers can get a better idea of Tesla’s prices by using the instant online quote tool. Homeowners simply need to enter their address and information about their energy costs, and they’ll receive a quote immediately. This can help customers determine whether a Tesla roof is in their budget or not.

 

Specs

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

Pros

  • Both traditional solar panels and sleek solar tiles available
  • EV charger installation available
  • Generous price-match guarantee
  • Instant online quotes available

Cons

  • No solar lease option

Best Customer Experience

Momentum Solar

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Why It Made the Cut:

Momentum Solar sets up each homeowner with a concierge who sees the entire project through, allowing customers to take their hands off the wheel.

Homeowners who’d prefer to be as hands-off as possible with their solar panel system installation will want to consider Momentum Solar. Each Momentum customer is assigned one concierge or customer representative who sees the project through from start to finish. All of the paperwork and permits are handled by Momentum, and the concierge will even help the homeowner sign up for any applicable rebates or incentives.

Although there is limited information online, Momentum Solar lists a 25-year warranty on equipment and labor, which can give homeowners long-term peace of mind. Customers can also call or email Momentum Solar if they have any questions that aren’t answered on the company’s website.

 

Specs

  • 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

Also Consider

Sunlux

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Why It Made the Cut:

With the ability to handle roofing needs before a solar installation or EV charger installations, Sunlux is a local company worth considering.

Sunlux offers a wide range of top-rated solar products, including panels from Panasonic, LG, and Q Cells, and batteries from Tesla, LG, and Enphase. Equipment and labor comes with a 25-year warranty which, along with the name recognition of the available solar products, will assure homeowners that their system will perform for years to come. Although customer service is only available by phone, Sunlux also offers roofing repair services, allowing customers to get any required roof work completed through the same company that installs their solar panels.

In addition, Sunlux offers EV charging station installations and smart-home integration options for homeowners. This is another way Sunlux allows customers to check multiple boxes for their home with just one company, which simplifies things for the homeowner. Finally, Sunlux customers can choose to purchase, finance, or lease their solar panel system, depending on what works best for them.

 

Specs

  • Type of panels: Panasonic monocrystalline, Q Cells monocrystalline, Tesla solar panels
  • Financing available: Buy, finance, lease
  • Guarantee: 25-year equipment and labor warranty
  • Customer support: Phone

Pros

  • Wide variety of top-rated solar products
  • EV charger and smart-home installation available
  • Additional roofing repair services available

Cons

  • Customer service only available by phone

Our Verdict

Thanks to its high-efficiency panels and interactive design studio, SunPower is our pick for Best Overall solar company in Southern California. Homeowners may also want to consider our Runner-Up, ADT Solar, for its impressive power-production guarantee and its available roofing services.

How We Chose the Best Solar Companies in Southern California

A lot goes into choosing the best solar companies in Southern California. To land on our finalists, we drew upon all of our experience in the solar energy industry to come up with a list of features or services we felt were most important for homeowners to shop for. Once we nailed down what to look for, we performed extensive company research to compile a list of the best companies in Southern California.

We examined each company carefully, looking at its offerings, pricing, product choices, reviews, and more to ensure that it had what it takes. Those that failed were removed from the list, while the solar companies that provided enough real value were given awards based on their strengths or specialties.

Before You Work With One of the Best Solar Companies in Southern California

It’s important to work with a reputable solar company, in Southern California or elsewhere. Sometimes solar companies pop up just to take advantage of the tax incentives. These companies may change their names often, install solar panels, and then disappear into the night. When there is an issue with the system, the company might not be operating under the same name, which can make it impossible for homeowners to reach them.

Although homeowners might assume their roof isn’t solar-eligible due to its orientation, that isn’t necessarily the case. Homeowners could also choose to have ground arrays installed in sections of their yard with unobstructed views. This allows the homeowner to take advantage of solar energy, even if their roof isn’t ideal.

Cost of Working With One of the Best Solar Companies in Southern California

The cost of a solar panel installation in California is around $14,850 for a 5-kilowatt system, though the exact cost ranges anywhere between $12,622 and $17,078. Given the high cost of energy in the region, many homeowners find that solar panels are worth it—especially when they take tax incentives and rebates into account. For systems installed between 2023 and 2033, homeowners can claim a federal tax credit of 30 percent of the installation cost. Different manufacturers and installers may offer further rebates and incentives to entice homeowners to work with them for their solar panel installation.

The size of the system, the number of panels, and even the type of home they’re being installed on can determine the price of the system, so each home is different. Many homeowners who decide the up-front cost is too much, but who would like to benefit from cheaper energy rates and incentives, choose to finance the project through a solar financing company. Others may decide to simply lease the system, which doesn’t allow them to take advantage of all the incentives, but it does allow them to enjoy lower utility rates.

The Advantages of Working With One of the Best Solar Companies in Southern California

The best solar companies California has to offer will be around in the future if there’s an issue. It’s common for the most disreputable or the worst solar companies to fold or change names, so going with reputable solar companies is always a wise idea since the homeowner will be dealing with the company for many years.

When it comes to panel options, the best solar companies in SoCal can point customers in the right direction. They’ll be able to show them panels manufactured by the best companies and compare the differences so they can make an informed decision.

Finally, the best companies know how to work on the homes and architecture in the SoCal area. With so many homes featuring flat roofs, clay shingles, and other materials, it takes a company that knows what it is doing to ensure there aren’t leaks or damage to the home. Solar roofing companies can even replace the roofing beforehand.

The advantages of working with one of the best solar companies include the following.

  • A good reputation to give customers peace of mind that their experience will be positive;
  • A wide range of panels and options to offer customers; and
  • The knowledge of how to work on the common architecture in the area.

FAQs

Even after learning about how to choose the best solar company, homeowners may have some additional questions that need answering. The following are some of the most frequently asked questions about solar panels.

Q. Can solar panels last 40 years?

Yes, some well-made panels can last up to 40 years. However, most manufacturer warranties will only cover them for up to 25 years (though this will depend on the solar company).

Q. Does California offer a solar tax credit?

At this time, there isn’t a state-wide solar tax credit available. However, local counties may offer incentives, and homeowners are eligible for federal tax credits.

Q. How much does it cost to install solar panels in California?

The average cost to install a solar panel system in California is $14,850. However, this can range from $12,622 to $17,078.

Q. How long does it take to get solar installed in California?

The exact answer will depend on each individual homeowner and the company they choose, but the average time it takes from getting a quote to having the panels installed by the best solar companies in California ranges between 2 and 6 months.

Q. Does solar increase property value in California?

Solar can increase property value in California and other regions. A good rule is that the home’s value increases by $20 for every $1 saved on energy bills each year. So, if you save $2,000 on energy bills in a year, your home’s value will increase by around $40,000. This is something for home buyers to keep in mind when buying a house with solar panels.

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Tom Scalisi

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Tom Scalisi is a freelance writer, author, and blogger with a passion for building. Whether it’s a DIY project or an entire website, Tom loves creating something from the ground up, stepping back, and admiring a job well done.

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