Sunrun and SunPower are two of the most well-known solar companies in the United States. They both install tens of thousands of residential solar panels per year.
But what do these companies offer? Which one is cheaper? Which one is the better choice? Read on as we dive deep into Sunrun vs SunPower so you are better informed about the companies and can decide which one is best for you.
Let’s start off by helping you familiarize yourself with the two companies.
Sunrun Inc was founded in 2007 in San Francisco, California. The company pioneered the solar as a service business model. Solar as a service makes solar energy systems more affordable for homeowners. Instead of buying the system outright, customers pay low upfront costs and a monthly fee for the solar energy without owning the solar panels.
Sunrun sells residential solar systems, solar storage, and EV charging specifically for the Ford F-150 Lightning. Sunrun does not produce its solar panels and sources most of its materials from third-party suppliers. Sunrun sells the Tesla Powerwall through Sunrun Brightbox.
SunPower was founded in 1985 and is headquartered in Silicon Valley, California. It also happens to be the only solar company that has been around for longer than its warranty (25 years). The company sells solar panel systems, battery storage, and EV chargers through its partnership with Wallbox. In 2020, SunPower split into two different companies: SunPower and Maxeon Solar. The companies said in a press release that the split was a strategic move so SunPower could continue as an energy storage and solar services company, while Maxeon solar would manufacture solar panels. Before the split, SunPower did both.
This is a question that is often raised by customers. The reason for this is Costco has a partnership with Sunrun and sells Sunrun’s products and services.
If you buy a solar panel system through the partnership you will receive a Costco cash card worth 10 percent of your solar equipment costs. Certain payment options disqualify you from receiving a Costco cash card. Costco also does not back the Sunrun warranties and you’ll have to speak with a Costco representative to find out what is covered if you opt to buy a solar system through the Costco-Sunrun partnership.
Sunrun offers four main pricing plans: Monthly Lease, Full Lease, Full Purchase, or Monthly Loan. The most popular plan is the Monthly Lease, which is the solar as a service option. With the Monthly Lease option, you’ll have low upfront costs. Sunrun owns the solar panels. This means Sunrun is responsible for the solar system installation, system monitoring, maintenance, and insurance. You won’t be able to apply for federal tax credits since Sunrun owns the panels. With the Full Lease option, you’ll pay just one upfront single payment for the same options as above. Sunrun owns the solar panels and you won’t be eligible for federal tax credits. In the Full Purchase option, you’ll own the solar panels and pay for them outright. In the Monthly Loan option, you’ll own the solar panels and avoid large upfront costs. You’ll pay a monthly payment to the loan provider. In this option, you’ll be able to claim the solar investment tax credit (ITC), more on this tax credit down below.
SunPower offers three options: Full purchase, Solar loan, and Solar lease. With a full purchase, you’ll buy your solar system outright. You’ll be able to take advantage of federal solar tax credits. With a Solar loan, you’ll pay a low monthly fee to own the solar panels. You own the panels and can apply for the federal solar tax credit. In the Solar lease option, SunPower owns the solar panels and you pay a monthly fee to purchase the solar power they generate. Your monthly payments will be lower than your average electricity bill, but you won’t be able to apply for federal tax credits since you don’t own the solar system.
SunPower is known for its quality products. As we mentioned earlier, the company split into two different companies. SunPower Maxeon solar panels have the solar industry’s longest warranty at 40 years. Most other solar panel companies offer a 25-year warranty. The Maxeon solar panel is designed differently than the standard solar panel. According to Maxeon Solar Technologies, field tests over 8 years and 800,000 sites found their panels had the lowest degradation rates in the industry. Their tests also showed their panels are nearly 4x more reliable than conventional panels.
SunPower Maxeon solar panels score as some of the highest panels when it comes to efficiency. The Maxeon 6 AC solar panel is up to 22.8% efficient.
So if you’re wondering where are Sunpower solar panels manufactured…according to their press release from the company split announcement, Maxeon solar cell and panel manufacturing facilities are located in France, Malaysia, Mexico, and the Philippines.
Sunrun does have a partnership with LG for its Brightbox energy storage systems but sources its products from multiple suppliers with the majority being Chinese manufacturers. There is no way of knowing where your Sunrun solar panels are coming from during the solar installation process. Sunrun solar panels are of lower quality than SunPower solar panels.
Sunrun offers a 10-year bumper-to-bumper solar system warranty. The warranty includes free equipment replacement and system repairs. The warranty also guarantees watertight roof penetrations. The solar panels are covered by the solar panel manufacturer’s warranty for equipment, which is 10-25 years.
SunPower’s warranty is 25 years. It also covers the entire system, not just the panels. SunPower will cover 100% of repair and replacement costs, which conventional solar warranties do not. They only cover monitoring hardware for a 10-year warranty. SunPower does not provide a roof leak protection warranty.
This one may come as no surprise, but Sunrun tends to be cheaper than SunPower since they work with third-party suppliers for their solar panels, which are of lower quality than SunPower’s Maxeon solar panels.
SunPower panels typically cost about $3 – $3.30 a watt. Sunrun is usually about $2.75 per watt, which is closer to the national average.
SunPower consistently has better customer reviews than Sunrun although SunPower does have negative reviews as well. SunPower tends to rank higher for customer service then Sunrun does.
You can scroll through the reviews from many reputable websites and see for yourself.
With the Better Business Bureau, SunPower has an A+ BBB rating, while Sunrun has an A- BBB rating.
With Consumer Affairs, SunPower has a 4.2 out of 5 rating, while Sunrun has a 3.7 out of 5 rating. According to reviewers, the positives of the companies are SunPower has a long warranty and a variety of financing options and Sunrun has flexible payment options and daily system monitoring.
The federal solar Investment Tax Credit (ITC) was extended in 2021 and was once again updated in August 2022. The credit can be claimed on federal income taxes for a percentage of the cost of a solar panel installation. You still have time to claim the credit at the high percentage of 30 percent. Those who install a solar photovoltaics (PV) system between 2022 and 2032 will receive a 30% tax credit. That credit decreases to 26% for systems installed in 2033, and then to 22% for systems installed in 2034.
According to the U.S. Department of Energy, the ITC cuts the cost of a rooftop by more than $7,500 for an average system.
When it comes to the ITC both companies have solar systems that are eligible for the tax credit. Yet, you are only eligible for the credit if you own the solar system. Since most of Sunrun’s customers opt for a solar as a service payment option, they don’t own the system but Sunrun does. If you opt for this option you cannot claim the tax credit and Sunrun does. One way Sunrun generates revenue is by selling tax credits to banks.
Sunrun and SunPower are both good options for your solar system installation, but when it comes down to which one you should choose depends on what you’re looking for in your residential solar system. If you are looking at costs alone, then Sunrun would be the better choice, especially with their solar as a service option. If you’re looking for better quality solar products with a more robust warranty, then you should go with SunPower.
A solar panel installation is a great way to increase your energy efficiency and helps you depend less on fossil fuels and instead rely on renewable energy. Adding a solar energy system to your house is also a great way to cut down on electricity costs.
In the end, the best solar company for your solar panel installation is the one that listens to you. While the choice between Sunrun and SunPower can be a difficult choice, you may want to consider WattLogic, a solar installer that can install your solar system wherever you are in the United States. WattLogic provides a solar turnkey package that provides all the financial benefits with quality solar panels.
WattLogic is brand agnostic, which means it doesn’t just offer one brand of solar panels but instead provides the best panels for your home and your preferences. Click here to speak with a WattLogic Residential Solar Expert.
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Installing solar does not have to be hard or cost a lot of money.