Sunrun Solar Review: Rating, Overview, Pros and Cons

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Our Take
3.4
WattHive rating
3.4/5
The final say:

Sunrun's power purchase agreement makes savings instant and solar simple.

Sunrun Solar Logo
Founded
2007
Headquarters
San Francisco, CA
Services
Solar lease, solar PPA, solar purchase & battery storage
*directly from Sunrun
  • Over 16 years of solar experience
  • Current Sunrun CEO is Mary Powell
  • Flexible options for homeowners, including leasing and purchase options
  • Sunrun provides free Tesla Powerwall maintenance
  • Solar system monitoring included with all plans
  • Sunrun fully insures their system on their lease plans
  • Retail partnership with Costco
  • $5.6 billion net earning assets as of 12/31/2022

Pros and Cons

ProsCons
Flexible optionsLimited battery options in certain states
Quality system monitoring Customer service quality and communication
Reputable partnershipsAvailability limitations in specific areas
Insurance available for damage/theft

Sunrun Solar Company History

Sunrun is a publicly traded company based out of San Francisco, CA. The company was originally founded by Lynn Jurich, then CEO, and has since grown into a powerhouse in the United States residential solar market. Offering a variety of financing options to go solar, Sunrun is most known for pioneering the power purchase agreement (PPA).

Solar Equipment

Like many other solar companies, Sunrun doesn’t have it’s own solar panels, but rather uses industry trusted equipment that customers can trust and more importantly, afford. In the following section, we’ll check out the types of solar panels, inverters, and other equipment offered by Sunrun solar.

Solar Panels

The top two brands that Sunrun currently works with are REC solar and LG. Hanwha QCell is another solar panel manufacturer that Sunrun likes to work with. All panels are of course top quality and are monocrystalline solar panels. This seems to be the preferred type of solar panel homeowners prefer because of their efficiency, durability, and of course aesthetics. Major brands offered by Sunrun, along with their key features, include:

  • REC: Known for their aesthetically pleasing design, efficiency rating and durability, REC solar panels were created to allow for higher energy outputs with their unique cell design. Considered by many to be one of the more popular panels homeowners choose when deciding to fit their home with solar to get the most out of their solar system (source).

  • QCell: Manufactured in China, Malaysia and South Korea – QCell boasts a 25-year efficiency rating with one of the industries best solar panel degradation rates. QCell produces monocrystalline panels, so they’re sure to last for decades without compromising on efficiency. They also opened up one of the largest solar panel manufacturing centers located in Dalton, Georgia in 2019.

Outside of REC and QCell, Sunrun also likes to work with Candian solar cells and Panasonic, although Panasonic recently announced as of 2023 that they would be leaving the solar panel manufacturing industry.

Additional Equipment

Sunrun also works with Tesla and even offers Tesla Powerwalls as one of their home energy storage solutions within the United States (source). This allows homeowners to integrate their solar system with back up power all in one bundled option.

Sunrun solar has a reputation of being the largest residential solar company in the United States. With reputable partnerships with big name brands such as REC, QCell, Major League Baseball and Costco – they’ve certainly made a name for themselves as a powerhouse in the solar industry.

Products and Services

Solar Installation

Sunrun offers solar installation as a service for residential homeowners. They handle the entire solar process from start to finish so that homeowners can focus on saving money through clean energy.

Homeowners can expect a customized solar design based on your homes historical 12-month electrical usage. From here, a Sunrun representative will size your solar system accordingly based on past and any potential future energy usage.

They’ll handle the monitoring, maintenance, and even insure the solar system up to 25-years. Overall, Sunrun aims to provide an overall high qualify customer experience and service that homeowners can depend on long term.

The average cost of your solar system will vary depending on which state you’re located in. It’s always best to get a quote from Sunrun as each home solar project is going to vary in cost based on unique household energy usage.

Brightbox

Sunrun’s BrightBox is their way of branding energy storage. No, Sunrun doesn’t actually have their own battery called BrightBox. Rather they utilize the LG Chem Lithium Ion battery as their primary energy storage partner.

Essentially, any energy produced from your solar panels feed back into the battery before going back down into the utility grid. This means homeowners can store excess power that can be utilized later on during times when your solar isn’t producing electricity. This could be at night time or during cloudy days when your system is getting little to no production.

Additionally, Sunrun’s BrightBox gives homeowners added peace of mind during power outages or natural disasters. With some states offering incentives for batteries, this can be a huge incentive both economically and financially.

Tesla Powerwall Partnership

Sunrun has also partnered with Tesla to offer the Tesla Powerwall as an alternative solar storage option to their BrightBox. Designed to store up to 12.5kWh of usable energy, Tesla’s Powerwall is considered by many to be one of the best in home energy storage.

This collaboration enables Sunrun to offer a variety of options when homeowners ask about battery storage, keeping them flexible and competitive in today’s ever changing solar market.

As with the BrightBox, the Tesla Powerwall stores excess energy directly from the solar panels and then backs up the home during power outages. Monitoring is done through the Tesla application, showing you how much energy is available, and other real time data all from the palm of your hand.

We can say with confidence that Sunrun aims to offer professional installations and a high-quality tech centric customer service experience.

Financing and Incentives

One of the cool things about Sunrun is that they are a full service solar installation company as well as finance company. They also work with other lenders just in case you don’t qualify with their in-house financing.

Sunrun’s current solar products are as follows: Lease, Loan, and Power Purchase Agreement (PPA). Let’s review these options and then go over some incentives you might be eligible for depending on the state you’re located in.

Lease

Sunrun’s lease option gives Sunrun access to install solar panels on your roof with little to no upfront cost. This means that the homeowner opts to pay for any upfront costs and in turn Sunrun will maintain and monitor the system for 25-years as well as ownership of the system. More often than not, this option doesn’t require any up front payment and the homeowner still gets all the benefits of solar.

Loan

Want to purchase your solar? No worries, Sunrun also offers financing to buy your system and own it. Ownership is a great option for homeowners with federal tax liability as they can also benefit from the solar investment tax credit of 30% of the overall gross cost of the system. Homeowners may also be eligible any available state incentives. Sunrun’s solar style loans can be financed with zero up front cost depending on the homeowners credit score and other underlying factors.

Power Purchase Agreement

Sunrun’s Power Purchase Agreement (PPA) is their hybrid of a purchase and lease models. Sunrun will install the solar system, monitor, maintain and provide 25-year protection of the system. Rather than buying your electricity from the power lines, you now buy your electricity from Sunrun. Their PPA’s are usually best for homeowners who want immediate day one savings, as their price-per kWh usually comes in lower than your local utility rates. They offer both escalator rates which increase year-over-year for 25-years, or a fixed price per kWh over the 25-year term – although this cost is usually at or slightly above your utilities current rate.

Incentives and Rebates

Depending on where you live, you may be able to qualify for state and local incentive for going solar. As it stands, the federal government is offering a 30% tax credit for purchasing solaronly. Leasing and PPA’s do not qualify. This solar investment tax credit can offset the gross cost of going solar significantly.

Homeowners may also qualify for state wide net energy meting programs. Some utilities will actually buy back excess power generated from their solar system. For more information on what type of solar incentives are available in your area when going solar with Sunrun, we encourage you to visit their incentives page.

Sunrun Solar Availability

As the largest residential solar company in the United States, Sunrun currently operates across 20-states. These states include: Arizona, California, Colorado, Connecticut, Florida, Hawaii, Illinois, Maryland, Massachusetts, Nevada, New Hampshire, New Jersey, New Mexico, New Jersey, New York, Pennsylvania, Rhode Island, South Carolina, Texas, Vermont and Wisconsin.

They also serve United States territory Puerto Rico and Washington, D.C. Overall, Sunrun operates in nearly half of all states across the country, making their services available to a huge percentage of the population nationwide.

Installation Process and Timeline

Permitting and Inspection

Before every solar project, Sunrun makes sure to get permits from local authorities. This is something every solar company is required to do by law. This ensures that all building codes and regulations are being followed during the installation.

Once the permits come back, a tech from Sunrun will go out to your home to make sure your roof qualifies for solar. Although many homeowners qualify on paper, the roof itself still needs to pass qualification. Technicians will take roof measurements, condition, roof type, shading and a few other factors before creating a final solar design for your home.

Assuming the roof passes inspection, Sunrun then does the install themselves or outsources it to one of their certified local installers. Once the solar system is installed, Sunrun then handles all of the inspection paperwork and anything else required by local authorities in your area. Inspection completion times vary from each state and county. Overall, these inspections are for homeowners protection to ensure that the solar company installed your solar system correctly, safely, and in accordance with local regulations.

Communication

Sunrun does a great job maintaining a clear line of communication via automated email and text. They handle all aspects of your solar installation and even communicate with your local utility to ensure your system gets interconnected to the grid.

They also provide regular updates as your project progresses through each step of the solar process. From permits acquired, final design, to install scheduling. Sunrun takes the timeline guesswork out of the picture and keeps you in the loop every step of the way.

Sunrun also offers a great online resource in their Solar FAQ. Customer support is also readily available over the phone or through your Sunrun portal to address any questions or concerns customers may have both pre and post installation.

Warranty and Guarantees

Sunrun’s warranty is for 25 years, which in more recent years has become standard across the solar industry. This usually covers the total power produced by the solar panels. They also offer a 10 year “bumper-to-bumper” warranty that includes solar panel and inverter replacement, additional parts, roof penetration warranty, and of course labor.

On top of the warranties, Sunrun also offers a Solar Guarantee. This includes system monitoring, free maintenance, repairs and insurance to cover your solar system. This is specifically available for customers who choose monthly lease or prepaid lease plans as mentioned by ConsumerAffairs.

With strong warranties to back up their installations, homeowners can rest assure knowing they’ve got added peace of mind built into their solar install.

Customer Reviews

Better Business Bureau Rating

Sunrun, Inc. currently is accredited with the Better Business Bureau (BBB) and holds an A+ rating. As of May 2023, Sunrun has resolved 4,084 complaints in the last 3-years. 1,621 of which were resolved within the last 12-months.

Common Customer Complaints

Reading through consumer reviews of Sunrun Solar, some of the more common complaints start to reveal themselves. While there are a lot of satisfied customers who were happy with their solar systems performance, the more frequent issues mentioned were:

  • Customer service: Most of the complaints revolved around getting a hold of someone at Sunrun’s customer service department. This is the most common area that’s highlighted as an area of concern.
  • Installation process: As with any construction based business, delays are inevitable, especially when dealing with building departments. This seems to be another area Sunrun has received lots of negative feedback in. Not necessarily due to any fault of their own, but rather in not clearly communicating to customers what’s going on. This has led to a lot of frustration for many customers and clearly shows in the Sunrun reviews.

  • Billing issues: A lot less frequent were Sunrun customer reviews revolving around billing. Discrepancies in monthly statements or issues with making payments through Sunrun’s online portal were common. Technical issues that can and hopefully have since been resolved.

Despite these common complaints, Sunrun also receives a lot of feedback from happy customers. Recurring comments revolved around system design, various options to lease or own their solar panels, as well as feeling a sense of trust since they have big box partnerships with the likes of Tesla.

Frequently asked questions

Yes, as of 2023, Sunrun is facing multiple lawsuits.

Allegations for these lawsuits involve but are not limited to:

  • Deceptive business practices
  • Consumer protection violations
  • False advertising


Specific details vary from case to case.

Yes, if you decide to sell your home, you can transfer all of the rights and obligations to the new homeowner as long as the new homeowner meets Sunrun’s FICO score requirement of a 650 or higher and agrees to take over the agreement.

If for whatever reason the new homeowner doesn’t meet the credit requirement, they can assume the agreement if they are buying the home outright in cash or if they pay Sunrun a $250 credit exemption fee.

If the new homeowner doesn’t want to assume the agreement, you are required to then purchase the system outright at whatever the fair market value of the system is.

 

No, Costco does not own Sunrun. They do have a partnership that gives Costco members exclusive discounts, cash incentives, and other benefits when choosing to go solar with Sunrun.

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