Reviews

Sunrun vs. SunPower: Which Solar Company Should You Choose in 2023?

Homeowners looking to install solar panels have probably seen these two company names pop up. But in the battle of Sunrun vs. SunPower, which company should a homeowner choose?
Sunrun vs. SunPower
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Homeowners looking to install solar panels in their homes may feel overwhelmed by choosing an installation company. How do they know which company is right? Which company will deliver the biggest savings? Which company has the best products? Two companies that homeowners will likely have come across during their search are Sunrun and SunPower. Both companies are reputable and have years of industry experience. But when it comes to comparing Sunrun versus SunPower, one company comes out on top. Interested homeowners will want to keep reading to learn which company is the best choice for solar panel installation.

How We Compared Solar Companies

Sunrun vs. SunPower
Photo: istockphoto.com
  • Service area: The first step in vetting a solar company will be determining whether a company performs installations in a customer’s area. Even if a company has a nationwide presence, it may not operate in every ZIP code.
  • Panel efficiency and performance: A solar panel’s efficiency rating measures how much sunlight is converted into usable energy. Efficiency ranges between 15 and 22 percent. The higher the efficiency, the more effective the panel is at turning light into energy, and the lower the homeowner’s bills will be.
  • Additional products and services: Many solar companies will also install battery storage, electric vehicle chargers, or monitoring systems. Customers interested in one of these features (or another one not listed) will want to consider a company that offers it.
  • Cost and financing options: The cost of solar panels can be tens of thousands of dollars, and many homeowners will want a way to make that purchase more manageable. Loans, leases, and power purchase agreements (PPAs) can be attractive options.
  • Warranties: Warranties in the solar industry can cover the panels themselves, the performance or energy output, and the work done to install them. Robust warranties assure customers that a company stands by its products and work and will be there to remedy the issue should anything go wrong.
  • Customer reviews: Reading reviews is a helpful way for customers to identify a company’s strong and weak points. While reviews are to be taken with a grain of salt—customers who have had negative experiences are much more likely to take to the internet to complain than customers who have had positive experiences are to share a glowing review—recurring issues that show up among reviews can raise a red flag. Likewise, repeat compliments on a company’s service or product can instill customers with confidence.
SunrunSunPower
Service Area21 states; Washington, D.C.; and Puerto Rico50 states and Washington, D.C.
Panel EfficiencyUp to 20.9 percentUp to 22.8 percent
Additional Products and ServicesSolar batteries, electric vehicle chargers, system monitoringSolar batteries, electric vehicle chargers, system monitoring
Financing OptionsBuy, loan, lease, power purchase agreement (depending on the state)Buy, loan, lease, power purchase agreement (depending on the state)
Warranties25-year performance and product warranty; 10-year roof-leak warranty25-year performance, product, and labor warranty
Better Business Bureau RatingA+A+

Sunrun vs. SunPower: Service Area

One of the first things a customer will want to do when considering a solar company is to see if the company operates in their area. Assessing the rest of a company’s attributes isn’t worth much if the customer can’t hire that company to begin with.

Sunrun has 41 office locations, operates in over 175 cities, and has over 4,000 employees. Sunrun solar company installs solar panels and battery storage in 20 states, including:

  • Arizona
  • California
  • Colorado
  • Connecticut
  • Florida
  • Hawaii
  • Maryland
  • Massachusetts
  • Nevada
  • New Hampshire
  • New Jersey
  • New Mexico
  • New York
  • Pennsylvania
  • Rhode Island
  • South Carolina
  • Texas
  • Vermont
  • Virginia

Sunrun also operates in Washington, D.C. and Puerto Rico, and although Wisconsin residents can have Sunrun solar panels installed, battery storage isn’t available. Even though Sunrun has a presence in all of these states, that doesn’t mean that Sunrun is available in every ZIP code. Interested homeowners will still want to check Sunrun’s website to ensure that there are Sunrun installers or Sunrun subsidiaries near them.

SunPower has a presence in all 50 states, meaning more homeowners can take advantage of SunPower’s installers and services. In the fall of 2022, SunPower also launched a partnership with IKEA to sell solar installation services to California customers. This partnership makes solar more accessible to homeowners and signals a commitment on SunPower’s part to bring solar energy to more customers. This partnership has appeared to be advantageous for SunPower as the company has continued to increase its profit, and the program may be available at more IKEA stores in the future.

Verdict: Sunrun is available in 21 states; Washington, D.C.; and Puerto Rico. Conversely, SunPower is available in all 50 states, so more customers can take advantage of SunPower’s services. 

Winner: SunPower

Sunrun vs. SunPower: Panel Efficiency and Performance

A homeowner may think that all solar companies’ panels are made equally, but this could not be further from the truth. One of the main deciding factors between different solar companies will be the panels that are installed.

SunPower spun off its manufacturing division in 2019 to become the stand-alone Maxeon company, and SunPower still installs this brand of panel. Maxeon panels are a highly efficient monocrystalline design with the highest efficiency currently available on the market at 22.8 percent. This higher efficiency means that more sunlight is converted into usable energy, so homeowners can rely more on their panels and less on the utility grid. Maxeon solar panels have also been tested for durability and reliability and are shown to degrade at a slower rate than conventional panels, thanks to smart design touches like thicker and stronger connectors and solid metal backing.

Sunrun installs monocrystalline LONGi solar panels, which have a still-impressive efficiency rating of about 21 percent. The difference between 21 percent and 22.8 percent may not seem like much, but that efficiency gap can manifest into actual savings or losses on a homeowner’s energy bill. Maxeon says that its panels can harvest up to 30 percent more energy compared with conventional panels in the same footprint. However, 21 percent is still higher than the ratings of other monocrystalline or lower-efficiency polycrystalline panels, and LONGi also prides itself on aesthetically designed panels that maximize roof space without compromising on reliability.

Verdict: Sunrun’s LONGi panels achieve up to 21 percent efficiency, while SunPower’s Maxeon panels boast an impressive 22.8 percent efficiency—the highest in the industry—meaning that a SunPower solar system produces more energy and saves homeowners more money. 

Winner: SunPower

Sunrun vs. SunPower
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Sunrun vs. SunPower: Additional Products and Services

Homeowners interested in solar panels are likely to be interested in other energy-saving technologies, such as electric vehicles. Sunrun and SunPower saw this, and both companies offer EV charging station installation. This is an advantage for homeowners who want to install new charging stations or upgrade their current stations to more powerful ones, as they can bundle both solar and EV charger installations under one company. Sunrun and SunPower also offer solar batteries to store extra power that a home’s solar panels produce. Solar monitoring products are also offered, so homeowners can keep an eye on how much energy their systems are producing and how efficiently they’re doing so. Monitoring can help identify when solar panels require maintenance.

Verdict: Both SunPower and Sunrun offer solar batteries, EV chargers, and system- monitoring products and services so homeowners can maximize their eco-friendly home energy production and use one company to bundle multiple services. 

Winner: Tie

Sunrun vs. SunPower: Cost and Financing Options

Many homeowners would like to make the switch to solar, but the cost of the installation can often seem prohibitive. And with good reason: Installing a residential solar system can cost thousands or tens of thousands of dollars, depending on the home’s energy needs and the region. Interested customers won’t be able to find exact pricing information on the Sunrun or SunPower websites, but there are reviews and surveys that can give potential customers some context on SunPower or Sunrun solar panels cost.

In a survey of 1,000 Sunrun customers, the average Sunrun solar cost was between $15,000 and $20,000 for a 10 kilowatt (kW) system. Sunrun also partners with Costco, and Costco members can get a 10 percent discount on their solar installation. Another survey found that SunPower solar panel prices and installation costs were comparable, if a little pricier—$15,000 to $20,000 or more.

In general, Sunrun reviews appear to note prices that are lower than what SunPower solar panel quotes would suggest, but the final price a homeowner pays will ultimately depend on where they live, how much power they need, and what solar incentives they qualify for. These surveys are collecting information on the total project installation costs, and it’s unclear if these costs include any federal tax incentives or account for Sunrun or SunPower battery costs. Customers will need to reach out directly to get a Sunrun quote or a SunPower solar panels quote.

Both Sunrun and SunPower offer financing, leasing, and PPAs to make installing a solar system more affordable (however, some states may not allow solar leases or PPAs, so homeowners will want to check their state regulations). Additionally, solar systems installed by 2032 are eligible for a 30 percent federal tax credit, and many states have their own incentive or rebate programs to make solar installation more affordable.

Verdict: Both Sunrun and SunPower allow customers to buy, finance, or lease solar panels. Customers will need to obtain a custom quote to receive any pricing information, but according to customer reports, Sunrun’s panels tend to be more budget-friendly. 

Winner: Sunrun

Sunrun vs. SunPower: Warranties

Sunrun offers customers a “bumper-to-bumper” warranty for 25 years. If there is an issue with the solar panels or another mechanical part of the system within that time, the company will make repairs free of charge. Sunrun also stands apart with its unique 10-year roof-leak warranty. This protects the homeowner if the solar panels or installation create any roof holes or leaks. A separate roof-leak warranty is uncommon among solar installation companies, and it may provide potential Sunrun customers with some extra assurance that the company’s installers do diligent installation work.

Even though Sunrun offers a relatively comprehensive warranty, SunPower’s is virtually unrivaled in the industry. SunPower guarantees the system’s power production, installation work, and products for a full 25 years. This means that if there are any defects with the products or if there was an issue stemming from installation work, SunPower will repair or replace whatever’s needed for no charge. SunPower also guarantees a certain level of power output from the panels for 25 years. This is upheld by SunPower’s studies on its panels, which show their higher reliability and lower degradation over their lifetime.

Verdict: Sunrun provides a 25-year system warranty as well as a unique additional 10-year roof-leak warranty. However, SunPower’s warranty terms stand apart with a complete 25-year product, workmanship, and performance warranty that assures customers that SunPower stands by its equipment and work. 

Winner: SunPower

Sunrun vs. SunPower
Photo: istockphoto.com

Sunrun vs. SunPower: Customer Reviews

Customer reviews are not always reliable—a disgruntled customer with a negative experience is much more likely to leave a review than a happy customer—but referencing them is an important part of vetting solar companies. Sunrun solar reviews and SunPower solar reviews can be found across multiple sites.

On Consumer Affairs, Sunrun has 3.4 out of 5 stars. Positive Sunpower reviews cite friendly salespeople and technicians as well as fast installation. However, some customers cited that they spoke to a different company representative at every interaction, which made it difficult to ask questions or develop an effective dialogue.

SunPower has 4.3 out of 5 stars on Consumer Affairs, and customers were pleased with the company’s transparency, clear communication, and professional interactions. Customers also say that the SunPower app is easy to use and the company is prompt in answering questions. Some negative reviews noted long installation timelines; however, many of these were from 2020 through 2022, when supply chains were slowed and project delays were expected across home service industries.

Both Sunrun and SunPower have A+ ratings with the Better Business Bureau. SunPower appears to consistently respond to and resolve user complaints. On the other hand, the Better Business Bureau has posted an alert for Sunrun on the company’s page that notes a pattern of complaints that “state delays in response time when contacting the company to resolve issues.” The company responded and cited staffing issues as part of the reason for the delayed customer responses, and it appears that Sunrun is aiming to improve its customer service.

Verdict: Sunrun’s reviews are wholly positive; however, the Better Business Bureau has issued an alert for the company following a series of recurring complaints, which may signal that the company has not been responsive to certain issues. SunPower’s reviews slant more positively across multiple review sites, citing clear communication and smooth installation processes.

Winner: SunPower

Verdict: With its top-of-the-line solar panels and robust 25-year warranty, SunPower is a standout solar power provider for homeowners nationwide. For customers who fall in its service area and are looking for a low price on solar panels, Sunrun is another excellent company to consider. 

Homeowners across the U.S. can’t go wrong with SunPower. The company offers highly efficient solar panels, and customers have been pleased with the service they’ve received. Plus, SunPower’s robust warranty ensures customers that the company stands behind its products and services. However, Sunrun is another solid choice for homeowners who fall in the company’s service area, and Sunrun may be able to deliver a great price on panels and installation.

FAQs

Even after all that information on these two leading companies in the residential solar industry, homeowners may still have some questions. Here are answers to some of the most common questions about Sunrun, SunPower, and solar energy in general.

Q. What are the main benefits of solar panels?

The advantages of solar panels are that they save homeowners money on their energy bills, increase a home’s overall value, and reduce greenhouse gas emissions.

Q. Will SunPower go out of business?

It doesn’t appear that SunPower will go out of business soon. The company is continually increasing its profitability, especially as solar becomes a more popular choice for homeowners.

Q. Which company has more experience: SunPower or Sunrun?

Sunrun was established in 2007, while SunPower was officially incorporated in 1985, making SunPower the company with more experience.

Q. Which company has lower costs: SunPower or Sunrun?

According to reviews, Sunrun’s panels tend to cost less than SunPower’s, but SunPower’s panels are also more efficient, saving homeowners more money in the long run.

Q. Does Tesla own Sunrun?

No, Tesla does not own Sunrun.

Q. Which company has better customer reviews: Sunrun or SunPower?

SunPower generally receives better customer reviews than Sunrun.

Sources: SunPower (1) (2), LONGi, Market Watch (1) (2), Clean Energy Reviews