Every year, more and more homeowners across the country are starting to appreciate the many practical benefits of using solar energy to power their homes. If you’re looking into getting a residential solar power system for your own home, chances are you’ve heard of the name “Sunrun”
There’s a lot of information available on Sunrun, as the company is among the largest solar installers in the country. But the sheer amount of information can be rather overwhelming, so we at Find Energy streamlined all the important information about Sunrun in this solar review.
Sunrun Solar Review: Key Takeaways
- Sunrun is one of the most prominent residential solar companies in the United States, serving over 250,000 homes in over 23 states.
- Sunrun doesn’t produce its own solar panels, instead it sources its panels from top-tier solar panel manufacturers like LG, SolarEdge, LONGi and Costco.
- Sunrun’s 10-year warranty is relatively shorter than the industry-standard, which is anywhere between 20 and 25 years.
- Sunrun offers two different purchasing options and two different leasing options to its customers: full solar purchase, monthly solar loan, full solar lease, monthly solar lease.
- Sunrun handles all aspects of the solar system installation process from start to finish—from the initial consultation and site assessment to the installation proper and final activation.
- Sunrun has a mixed-bag of customer reviews. It’s likely that your own personal experience as a Sunrun customer will depend greatly on the Sunrun representative in your area.
Top Pros and Cons
- Sunrun is available in 23 states
- Sunrun has 17-year solar experience
- Sunrun has a variety of affordable payment options
- Sunrun residential solar systems are equipped with good-quality panels and batteries
- Sunrun carries decent equipment warranties and performance guarantees
- Sunrun has reported issues of inattentive customer service
- Sunrun offers only 10-year warranties, which is shorter than the 25-year industry standard
- Sunrun lacks of upfront information about pricing
Sunrun Company Overview
Sunrun is one of the most prominent residential solar companies in the United States, serving over 250,000 homes in over 23 states.
Sunrun is a full-service solar company that provides both custom design and installation services, along with a wide array of custom solar solutions, including: backup battery storage, home energy monitoring, and energy control during power outages. All of Sunrun’s services are designed to help homeowners generate, manage, store, and monitor solar energy for their home.
Sunrun was founded in 2007 in San Francisco. Sunrun’s mission was to make residential solar systems and solar service plans accessible to the public. After only a couple of decades, the company appears to have successfully done so, considering that Sunrun now operates in over 20 states, including Puerto Rico
Sunrun offers comprehensive solar services to homeowners who are invested in using solar energy solutions that help save money against rising electricity prices and help save the planet from the environmentally harmful use of non-renewable fossil fuels in generating electricity.
Sunrun handles everything about the installation of their residential solar power systems—from the initial home consultation to the site assessment to the actual installation and final activation of the solar power system. Sunrun also offers extensive panel warranties, as well as solar panel protection services such as panel damage and theft protection. Sunrun appears to have successfully streamlined the entire residential solar energy process.
It’s an understatement to say that Sunrun does a lot of solar panel installations. In 2020 alone, Wood Mckenzie reports that Sunrun has captured 13% of the residential solar market.
Sunrun is quite different from most other solar companies in the way it operates. For one, Sunrun does not manufacture its own solar panels, instead the company sells and leases high-quality monocrystalline panels to its customers as part of its solar-as-service business format.
Sunrun isn’t in the business of producing its own solar panels, but instead, it is a solar finance company that’s in the business of selling and leasing solar panels. Solar leases and power purchase agreements account for the majority of Sunrun’s business. According to a Sunrun investors presentation, solar leases and power purchase agreements account for about 80% to 90% percent of the company’s total business.
So what about the panels that Sunrun uses in its residential installations? Sunrun sources high-quality photovoltaic (PV) panels from its partner companies, which Sunrun then uses in all of its residential installations.
Key Solar System Considerations
If you’re considering a Sunrun residential solar system, then you need to have a good understanding of the main features that Sunrun carries. This will help you decide if a Sunrun solar installation is the right choice for you.
Here we look at the most important metrics for modern solar technology in relation to what Sunrun provides—
Solar Panel Performance
As discussed earlier, Sunrun doesn’t manufacture its own solar panels. Instead, Sunrun sources the solar panels that it sells or leases to its customers from its partner solar panel manufacturers.
Sunrun doesn’t provide a whole lot of public information when it comes to the exact specifications of its solar panels, so it becomes a little tricky to assess. Regardless, if you're going to lease or buy solar panels from Sunrun, you're likely to get top-tier equipment. Sunrun uses only monocrystalline panels in all of its residential installations. Monocrystalline panels are the premium industry-standard, offering the highest levels of efficiency at 15%–20%, thanks to their silicon purity. Additionally, monocrystalline panels are widely considered to be attractive because of the sleek dark black appearance that results from the panels’ pure silicon composition.
For a long time, Sunrun was predominantly using LG Neon R solar panels, which are some of the highest-quality panels in the market, perhaps second only to SunPower's Maxeon 3 solar panels. Depending on your location and budget, Sunrun tends to use a few kinds of LG Maxeon 3 panels, each with different prices and efficiency ratings. These LG panels have an efficiency rate of 15%-20%, meaning between 15% and 20% of sunlight is actively converted into usable electricity.
Earlier this in 2022, however, reports came out that Sunrun has started partnering with other top-tier solar panel manufacturers instead of LG. Names like SolarEdge, LONGi and Costco are being mentioned as Sunrun’s new partner solar panel manufacturers. Every single one of these companies has an established and proven track record of producing high-quality solar panels with high efficiency ratings, as well as extensive warranties.
Sunrun also designs custom solar panel layouts that could accommodate more demanding roof shapes via satellite imagery. Likewise, Sunrun is also known to accommodate a homebuyer’s preference for a particular solar panel. Additionally, Sunrun provides Brightbox solar battery service to its customers, which is an integrated battery service that stores electricity, to be used during power outages and low-sunlight hours. Altogether, these Sunrun offerings give homeowners more control over the appearance and efficiency of its residential solar power system.
All Sunrun residential solar systems, whether leased or purchased, come with a 10-year system warranty and a 10-year performance guarantee, which covers system repairs, equipment replacement, and labor costs, although with particular limitations and exclusions.
Sunrun’s 10-year warranty is relatively shorter than the industry-standard, which is anywhere between 20 and 25 years. Sunrun’s 10-year performance guarantee will guarantee the annual energy production of your solar panels. It’s worth noting, however, that the panels’ guaranteed production output decreases each year to account for the panel degradation that happens over time.
Likewise, all Sunrun installations come with a 10-year roof warranty that guarantees that roof penetrations are watertight up to 10-years after solar panel installation. It should be noted, however, that Sunrun’s roof warranty tends to vary depending on the location, as Sunrun actually allows locally vetted installers to install their panels rather than an in-house Sunrun team.
While Sunrun advertises a 10-year roof warranty, the actual coverage can be anywhere between 1 and 10 years, typically 5 years, depending on your location and where you lease or purchase your Sunrun panels. During this period, Sunrun will repair leaks associated with the solar panel installation, as well as any incidental damage from the said leak.
Costs and Financing
According to the Solar Energy Industries Association (SEIA), the cost of residential solar power systems in the country averages at $2.94 per watt, which prices a 5-kilowatt (kW) solar system at about $11,000 before installation costs. It is industry standard for most solar companies to charge an installation fee that amounts to 100% to 200% of the total solar system cost.
Sunrun’s prices run 14% higher than the market average because Sunrun is a way bigger company that carries way bigger overheads than its smaller competitor solar companies. Sunrun offers two different purchasing options and two different leasing options to its customers. Here are the four solar payment options that Sunrun offers in more detail—
Full Solar Purchase
Buying the panels outright is generally the most cost-effective payment option for a Sunrun residential solar system, as you will not be paying any interest rates on financing. Immediately upon purchase and installation, the solar panels start adding market value to your property, and you as the homeowner will be eligible to receive a number of local and federal solar tax incentives. A full purchase will qualify you for Suntrust warranties and rate-hike protection as well.
Monthly Solar Loan
Purchasing Sunrun solar panels through a third-party loan provider will allow you to own the panels outright and enjoy all the benefits associated with its ownership, including: equipment and performance warranties, rate-hike protection, solar tax incentives, long-term energy savings, and market-added value to your property. Sunrun solar loans typically have a 5-10-year payback period, where you will make amortization payments, including interests, which makes the residential solar system more expensive.
Full Solar Lease
In a full solar lease, you will pay Sunrun an upfront fee to rent the panels for the duration of the term, usually around 25 years. Rather than paying Sunrun in monthly increments overtime, you get to save more money by paying a fixed amount for 25 years worth of energy costs up-front. In this arrangement, you still get to enjoy reduced electricity bills, but Sunrun retains ownership of the solar panels.
Monthly Solar Lease
Leasing a Sunrun residential solar system requires the least money up-front at $0 (depending on your credit score), but also provides very little overall value, outside of reduced energy expenses. You will pay monthly leasing fees, which Sunrun guarantees to be lower than your normal electricity bills. Sunrun has rate-hike protection on its leases, so monthly payments do not increase over time. Ultimately, Sunrun retains ownership of the panel and enjoys solar incentives and subsidies associated with its ownership.
When it comes to rebates, Sunrun does not offer any. However, Sunrun can work with you in determining the tax incentives and rebates available to you. This includes the federal solar tax credit, which amounts to 26% of the total cost of any residential solar system installed on or before Dec. 31, 2022.
Sunrun holds an A- rating from Better Business Bureau (BBB), which evaluated Sunrun according to the company’s interaction with customers and its management of customer complaints.
Sunrun has a dedicated customer support department that can be reached via chat, email, or phone, supposedly 24/7. Sunrun has also developed a solar panel monitoring app that allows Sunrun customers to get in touch with customer representatives within the app.
Sunrun has mixed reviews from its customers. Positive customer reviews usually reflect a hassle-free installation with little-to-no maintenance and quick energy savings. While negative customer reviews usually reflect inattentive customer service. Sunrun is one of the biggest solar companies in the country and makes it very challenging for the company to promptly troubleshoot panel issues for their massive customer base.
Sunrun’s response time depends heavily on the urgency of the issue. Issues that risk serious home damage, like a roof leak, are often given priority and are addressed within a day or two. Less pressing issues like minor equipment repair, on the other hand, can take up to two weeks on average to be resolved.
Sunruns handles all aspects of the solar system installation process from start to finish, so you don’t have to worry about securing the necessary permits or talking to your utility company. Here’s what a typical solar system installation with Sunrun looks like—
Consultation and Site Assessment
Once you contact Sunrun, a Sunrun representative will get back to you to schedule a virtual consultation. You will be asked to provide preliminary information such as your address, monthly energy costs, credit score, and your savings goals. Sunrun will then determine your financing options, give you a free quote, and set a schedule for a site assessment.
During the site assessment, Sunrun professionals will visit your home, and together, you will work out the details of your Sunrun system design, panel specifications, and appearance.
Design and Proposal
Sunrun will design a residential solar system according to your energy requirements, as well as any preferences you might have indicated during the site assessment. Sunrun will send you a solar proposal detailing your custom solar system design and appearance, projected energy savings throughout the course of the panel’s lifespan, and any local and state solar incentives available to you.
Permitting and Inspection
Once you’ve approved the solar system proposal from Sunrun, the company will then start to gather all the necessary permits and approvals for your solar panel installation, activation, and connection to the electrical grid. Sunrun will handle everything for you, but you should expect the entire permitting process to take some time, typically a few weeks. During the permitting process, Sunrun will also check with your utility company if you’re eligible for net metering programs
Within five days of securing all the necessary permits and approvals, Sunrun will install your residential solar system on the date of your choosing. Given Sunrun’s resources and expert experience, the installation proper will likely be the easiest part of the entire process. During installation, Sunrun will talk with your utility company to connect your residential solar system to the grid and, if you’re eligible, establish net metering.
Final Inspection and Activation
Finally, Sunrun will conduct a final inspection on your freshly installed residential solar system. Both your city and local utility company will also conduct their own final inspections. Once your city and utility company give the go-ahead, Sunrun will activate your system, and you can start powering your home using your Sunrun solar system.
Sunrun Solar Review: The Bottom Line
Not everybody can afford to pay for a residential solar system up-front. Sunrun, being a solar giant, definitely does make solar energy more affordable and therefore more accessible to more homeowners in the US. Sunrun may be a good and practical choice if you’re looking for a quick, practical, and cost-effective way to go solar, as the company provides a variety of customizable payment options. It’s worth noting, however, that there are concerns over a lack of details and transparency with regards to Sunrun payment options, so it’s best to reach out to a Sunrun representative directly.
Sunrun's 10-year warranties are also on the shorter end when compared to the 20-25 year warranties that a lot of its competitor companies are offering. If warranties are particularly important to you, as it should, then you can definitely find better warranties elsewhere. In spite of its short coverage period, however, Sunrun does a fairly good job at providing maintenance for its system, along with a unique theft and damage protection for its panels.
Sunrun is one of the most prominent solar companies in the US today. However, its mixed-bag of customer ratings and reviews may be a little worrying, especially if you’re just getting into solar. It’s likely that your own personal experience as a Sunrun customer will depend greatly on the Sunrun representative in your area.
A residential solar system is a major investment, and as with most investments, it's best to do your research, shop around, and seek expert advice, if you can. Try to get as many different quotes from as many solar providers in your area. It may also be worth considering one of Sunrun's top competitors by checking out our SunPower Review page.