How we rank for
We score solar companies based on 9 criteria points:
Consumer Reviews – 25%
Expert Review – 20%
Payment Options – 15%
Warranty – 10%
Availability – 8%
Contract Length – 6%
Mobile App Ratings – 6%
Online Monitoring – 5%
BBB Score – 5%
Through polls, consumer reviews, and industry research we have identified these 9 criteria points as being the most important points to consider when scoring and ranking solar companies. Below, we breakdown each criteria point in detail.
25% Consumer Reviews
This site is designed to help consumers find the best company possible. When selecting a company, some of the most important opinions come from real customers and their experiences with that company. That’s why we have allocated 1/4 of our overall rating to the voice of our validated customer reviews.
The Consumer Reviews Score is broken down into three metrics:
- The Average User Score
- Total Number of Reviews
- Total Number of Reviews in the last 12 months
These 3 metrics not only help us understand what consumers are saying, they also help us gain an understanding of volume and recency. All of which are critical to understanding the value of a company in the eyes of the consumer.
Note: this is different from the user score that is displayed on each company profile. The “user score” that is publicly displayed is the average of all user scores published for a given profile.
20% Expert Review
Our “Expert Score” is a score assigned by the industry expert at BestCompany.com and contains the following criteria points:
- The Company’s ability to scale – The current number of employees and online search-volume metrics
- Transparency – The Company’s clarity and transparency toward the consumer via their own personal website. Does the company require the consumer to contact them in order to learn details about equipment, locations, payment options, prices, etc.
- Industry Experience – The number of years of experience the company’s upper management has in the industry
- Lawsuits – How many times the company has been in litigation during the past 3 years
- Social Media Presence – Does the company utilize social media regular to target their target market and does the company respond to consumer posts on a regular basis?
15% Payment Options
The Solar industry offers 4 main payment options:
- Purchase – the consumer purchases the solar equipment upfront. Though upfront costs are considerably higher, the discounts and tax breaks are the greatest with this option.
- Loan – similar to purchasing the equipment outright, the loan option is a way for the consumer to work toward solar ownership without all of the capital upfront. Consumers receive financing either through the company, a solar financing company, or a third party financial institution. Loan lengths and interest rates vary greatly based on location, credit score, size of the solar system, etc. Because the consumer is working toward owning the solar equipment, consumers qualify for tax breaks with the loan financing option. However, it may take a few years for you to receive the full tax credit based on how much you spend up front.
- Lease – with leasing, consumers need very little to no money down. The solar company remains the owner of the solar equipment, the consumer simply pays a small fee to essentially rent the equipment as well as the cost of the energy produced. The consumer does not get a tax break with the lease option.
- Power Purchase Agreement (PPA) – PPA is similar to the leasing option. With PPA, the solar company remains the owner of the solar equipment, and thus they receive the tax credit, not the consumer. This option is great for the person who wants to pay less on their energy bill without a desire to own a solar system, and without the need for a lot of money upfront.
Companies who offer more payment options receive a higher score as they can meet more consumers’ needs.
Solar ownership is often a consumers second largest investment, behind a home mortgage. Having a comprehensive warranty provides consumers with the peace of mind they need to commit to a solar contract. Across the industry, warranties vary greatly, from 10 year limited warranties to comprehensive, no questions asked lifetime warranties. Companies with more comprehensive warranties receive a higher score.
Because of new tax-break solar initiatives, the solar industry is growing tremendously and many new companies are created all the time. With that being said, their aren’t any “national” solar companies. In fact, there are few companies that service more than 15 states. This makes it hard for consumers to find the best provider in their state. This is why we give companies who service more states a higher score.
6% Contract Length
Most companies require consumers to sign a service contract, depending on the financing option you select. The contract states the number of years that the consumer will utilize that company as their solar provider and spells out the terms of the agreement. We weigh these options for you and score the company accordingly. The shorter and more lenient the contract, the higher the score the company receives from us.
6% Mobile App Ratings
A key feature for consumers in the solar industry is the ability for them to monitor how much energy their solar system is generating, as well as the amount of energy they are expending. This empowers the consumer to understand their energy needs and enables them to save money accordingly. Many companies have created mobile apps to monitor their systems. We look at the overall app rating to determine how accurate, efficient, and user-friendly the app is. If the app has a low score, we score them low on mobile app rating, and vice versa.
5% Online Monitoring
A key feature for consumers in the solar industry is the ability for them to monitor how much energy their solar system is generating, as well as the amount of energy they are expending. This empowers the consumer to understand their energy needs and enables them to save money accordingly. Companies who have poor monitoring systems or who do not allow their consumers to monitor their systems receive a low score, and vice versa.
5% BBB Score
Traditionally, the Better Business Bureau (BBB) has been viewed as a service that offers an unbiased location where customers can raise official complaints. We take into account these complaints and how they are resolved with the business. The BBB offers a grade based on how the company conducts business and their customer service. We factor in the BBB’s grade that reflects the general integrity of a business.