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Founded in 2006 by Lyndon and Peter Rive, SolarCity is a solar power company that strives to help people take control of their energy costs and decrease their carbon footprint. In fact, to date, the company has provided more than 300,000 homeowners with solar panels, helping them to generate their own clean, renewable energy and save money on their electricity bills. In 2016, SolarCity merged with Elon Musk's Tesla, giving the company access to a variety of innovative energy equipment and technology.

Although SolarCity is one of the largest installers in the solar industry, is bigger always better? Read on to discover The Good, The Bad, and The Bottom Line about SolarCity, as well as view SolarCity reviews from real customers. 

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The Good

  • Payment Options to Best Fit Customer Needs
  • Quality Solar Panels
  • Contract Transparency
  • State Availability
  • Solar Roof
  • Battery Backup
  • Opportunity to Invest in Solar Bonds

Payment Options to Best Fit Customer Needs

SolarCity offers a variety of payment options to help homeowners take advantage of solar energy in a way that fits their unique needs and budget. Available payment options include solar leases, power purchase agreements (PPAs), outright purchases, and loans.

The SolarCity lease program, SolarLease, allows customers to rent their solar panel system from SolarCity and pay a fixed amount each month. Solar leasing provides customers with access to net metering (where available) and free system maintenance for the entire length of their solar lease.

SolarCity's power purchase agreement program, SolarPPA, gives customers the opportunity to lock in a fixed monthly rate per kilowatt hour for the term of the agreement without any price hikes. One advantage of choosing SolarPPA is that SolarCity will install the system at no upfront cost to the customer. However, keep in mind that with this payment option, SolarCity owns and maintains the system, which prevents the customer from claiming federal and state tax credits and incentives.

Customers who decide to purchase their system outright or with a loan will most likely receive long-term savings, as well as any available tax credits, net metering, and 20 years of monitoring and maintenance for their system.

Quality Solar Panels

SolarCity solar panels outperform some others by 10 years due to rigorous testing beyond industry standards. The company's panels feature integrated front skirts, redirected plumbing vents, and hidden clamps and rail-ends for a polished, aesthetically pleasing look. Additionally, with SolarCity solar panels, all roofing work and system repairs are covered by the company at no extra cost.

Contract Transparency

SolarCity has an open book philosophy in regards to contracts, which is helpful for customers who would like to have all the information before they consider working with SolarCity. Similar to many other solar installers, SolarCity's contract terms include locked-in rates once the agreement is signed, roof repair in the event of damage while the equipment is being installed or removed, and moving options if a customer decides to sell their home before the contract expires.

State Availability

SolarCity is considered one of the largest solar companies in the country and currently offers residential solar systems to customers in 20 states, making it possible for consumers across the nation to enjoy the benefits of solar energy through SolarCity. Operational states include Arizona, California, Colorado, Connecticut, Delaware, Washington D.C., Hawaii, Maryland, Massachusetts, Nevada, New Hampshire, New Jersey, New Mexico, New York, Oregon, Pennsylvania, Rhode Island, Texas, Utah, Vermont, and Washington.

Solar Roof

As mentioned above, because SolarCity merged with Elon Musk and Tesla in 2016, the company has the ability to sell and install Tesla's Solar Roof, which helps to set it apart from other solar installers in the industry. The Solar Roof product, which is a good alternative for consumers who would like to take advantage of renewable energy but do not like the look of traditional solar panels, is comprised of smaller solar cells designed to look like roof tiles and complement a home's architecture, all while turning sunlight into electricity. 

Battery Backup

For consumers interested in battery backup, SolarCity sells Tesla Powerwall batteries, which provide backup power so that homeowners can still have electricity during utility outages and natural disasters. The Powerwall is compact, stackable, has a built-in inverter, and comes ready to integrate seamlessly with SolarCity solar power equipment.

Opportunity to Invest in Solar Bonds

SolarCity provides individuals with the ability to support a cleaner, brighter energy future by investing in solar bonds, which are designed to offer interest rates higher than typical savings accounts, CDs, money market funds, and other comparable investments. The company's solar bonds program is open to anyone, including both individual and institutional investors, who meets the basic qualifications.

The Bad

  • Solar Installation Issues
  • Customer Service Complaints

Solar Installation Issues

Many of the SolarCity reviews left on our site by customers of the company have expressed dissatisfaction with their system installations. The problem seems to deal more with delayed and incorrect installations rather than issues with the product itself. Check out the user reviews below for more information.

Customer Service Complaints

Customer service is another area where SolarCity has received several customer complaints.  Many customers claim that they have had trouble trying to get email and phone responses from SolarCity, which can be frustrating for those who need assistance. Please see the user reviews below for more information.

The Bottom Line

Overall, SolarCity is a large, well-established company in the solar industry that offers innovative equipment options and a wide variety of payment choices, including outright purchase, loan, lease, and PPA. Consumers in 20 states have the option to have their solar energy system installed by SolarCity, but many customers have reported issues related to the installation of their solar systems, as well as dissatisfaction with the company's customer service.

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