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ivint Solar began its journey in the solar industry in 2011 as a subsidiary of the Vivint home automation and security company. From the onset, the Lehi, Utah-based company showed a promising start by offering customers an affordable and eco-friendly alternative to traditional energy sources. Vivint Solar, led by its then CEO, Todd Pedersen, adopted a unique business model that allowed it to rapidly expand within the competitive market of renewable energy. However, as the years passed, the firm faced challenges that eventually led to its acquisition by Sunrun, a prominent player in the American residential solar industry.

During its initial years, Vivint primarily operated by installing solar photovoltaic (PV) energy systems on the rooftops of customers' homes. The company followed a Power Purchase Agreement (PPA) model, wherein it would install and maintain the solar systems for free while the homeowners agreed to purchase the power generated by these systems for a predetermined period. This PPA model was highly attractive to customers because it required no upfront cost, effectively removing one of the main obstacles to solar adoption. By 2013, Vivint had become the second-largest residential solar installer in the United States, an achievement that clearly underscored the effectiveness of its business model.

In 2014, Vivint Solar went public on the New York Stock Exchange (NYSE) under the ticker symbol "VSLR." The initial public offering (IPO) was considered a success, with shares selling at $16 apiece, raising nearly $330 million. The funds from the IPO were used to fuel the company’s expansion and strengthen its operations in the emerging photovoltaic industry. Despite the promising start and the initial public enthusiasm for its shares, Vivint faced significant challenges that hindered its growth in the subsequent years.

These challenges were multi-fold, beginning with the policy uncertainties around solar power subsidies. The Investment Tax Credit (ITC), a federal tax credit for photovoltaic energy systems in the United States, was set to expire at the end of 2016. This looming deadline sparked anxiety among solar companies and investors, who feared that the end of the ITC would harm the industry's growth. Although the ITC was eventually extended, the uncertainty around it resulted in a slowdown in Vivint installations in 2016.

Around the same time, Vivint also faced issues concerning its proposed acquisition by SunEdison, a renewable energy company. In July 2015, SunEdison had announced its plan to buy Vivint for $2.2 billion. However, the deal fell through in March 2016 as SunEdison faced severe financial difficulties that eventually led to its bankruptcy. The failed deal harmed Vivint reputation and caused a significant drop in its stock price.

Despite these challenges, Vivint Solar continued to innovate in an attempt to regain its footing. In 2017, the company launched a retail sales channel, allowing customers to purchase photovoltaic systems outright instead of relying solely on the PPA model. It also introduced a solar + storage system, leveraging the growing interest in energy storage as an essential component of residential solar. Additionally, Vivint expanded its offerings to include energy efficiency products, such as smart home devices and electric vehicle chargers.

As Vivint Solar was making these strategic moves, the residential photovoltaic industry was undergoing significant consolidation. Larger companies were acquiring smaller players in a bid to reduce costs, gain economies of scale, and increase market share. Amid this backdrop, in July 2020, Sunrun, the leading provider of residential solar, battery storage, and energy services in the United States, announced its plan to acquire Vivint Solar in an all-stock deal valued at $3.2 billion.

Sunrun's decision to acquire Vivint was primarily driven by the desire to consolidate its position as the leading residential solar provider in the US. At the time of the announcement, Sunrun and Vivint together accounted for about 17.5% of the U.S. residential photovoltaic market. With the merger, the combined entity aimed to achieve yearly cost advantages of $90 million, positioning the deal as an attractive venture for both companies.

While the acquisition announcement was met with skepticism by some market observers, the deal was eventually approved by the shareholders of both companies and closed in October 2020. Sunrun officially incorporated Vivint Solar into its brand in 2022. The acquisition by Sunrun has allowed Vivint to reach a broader set of customers, improve customer experience, and expand their product offerings.

Customer Offerings by Vivint Solar: What They Delivered to Their Clients

Even prior to its acquisition by Sunrun, Vivint Solar was already well-established as a respected solar installer. Now, let's delve into the details of what made this company a customer favorite in the first place.

Geographical Reach: Where Vivint Solar Operated

Vivint Solar, which operated out of Lehi, Utah, left a notable footprint in the residential solar energy sector across the United States. The company had an extensive reach, covering 22 states, with a particular emphasis on the southwest and northeast regions.

Solar Services Provided

Vivint Solar offered a wide array of solar services to cater to the needs of both residential and commercial customers. Here are some of the key services provided by Vivint:

  • Solar Panel Installation: Vivint Solar employed a team of professionals who would handle the installation of photovoltaic panels for homes and businesses. They would evaluate the energy requirements of the customer and devise a personalized solar panel system to meet those needs effectively.
  • Solar Panel Maintenance: Ensuring the optimal performance of solar panel systems was a priority for Vivint. They provided ongoing maintenance services that included regular inspections, cleaning, and timely repairs whenever necessary. By keeping the photovoltaic panels in optimal condition, customers could maximize their energy generation.
  • Solar Financing: Recognizing that the upfront cost of solar panels could be a barrier for some customers, Vivint offered various financing options. These options included leases, loans, and power purchase agreements (PPAs), allowing customers to choose the payment method that suited them best. This approach made solar energy more accessible and affordable to a wider range of individuals and businesses.
  • Solar Monitoring: Vivint implemented real-time monitoring systems to keep track of the performance of PV panel systems. By closely monitoring energy production, customers could ensure that their systems were generating the expected amount of energy. This feature also enabled customers to monitor their energy usage and savings, promoting a greater sense of control and awareness.
  • Battery Storage: To address the issue of intermittent energy generation, Vivint offered battery storage solutions. These storage systems allowed customers to store excess energy produced by their photovoltaic panels during peak production periods. Subsequently, this stored energy could be utilized during times when the sun was not shining, ensuring a reliable and uninterrupted power supply.

Product Lineup

Vivint Solar provided customers with a diverse range of top-notch solar panel brands, including LG, SunPower, Canadian Solar, and Hanwha Q Cells. The selection of a particular brand for a customer's installation was based on their energy requirements, available roof space, and budgetary considerations.

Moreover, alongside solar panels, Vivint also offered a comprehensive array of photovoltaic equipment, such as inverters and batteries. The choice of inverter brand was determined by the specific solar panel system being installed. The provider offered various reputable inverter brands, including Enphase, SolarEdge, and SMA.

When it came to battery storage solutions, Vivint Solar presented customers with the LG Chem RESU and the Tesla Powerwall. These cutting-edge batteries allowed customers to store surplus energy generated by their solar panel system for use during periods when sunlight is not available.

Cost

Vivint Solar presented attractive pricing options for their photovoltaic systems, which could fluctuate depending on variables such as system size, equipment type, and installation location. Typically, their prices were in line with the national average for solar installations. On occasion, their prices deviated slightly from the average, depending on the circumstances.

It's important to highlight that Vivint Solar cost of a photovoltaic installation could vary significantly based on individual circumstances. Factors such as system size, equipment type, and installation location all impacted the overall expense.

Solar Financing Options

Vivint Solar had an impressive array of financial solutions that catered to various customer needs, ensuring their solar panel system was affordable and accessible. Here is an overview of these options:

  • Solar Loans: In collaboration with financial partners, Vivint provided solar loans. This convenient arrangement allowed customers to distribute the cost of their solar panel system over a duration, usually between 10 to 20 years. The company offered a diverse range of loan terms and interest rates, providing flexibility for customers to select the most suitable options for their circumstances.
  • Solar Leases: Another alternative the company presented was solar leasing. In this scenario, the company maintained ownership of the solar panel system while customers leased it for a fixed monthly fee. This approach provided an economical means for users to tap into the sun's energy without shouldering the entire burden of ownership expenses.
  • Power Purchase Agreements (PPAs): Vivint Solar also facilitated power purchase agreements, whereby customers bought the energy generated by the solar panel system at a set rate per kilowatt-hour. Under this arrangement, the company remained the owner of the
  • system and assumed responsibility for its regular maintenance and upkeep, allowing customers to enjoy worry-free access to solar power.
  • Cash Purchase: For those who preferred complete ownership of the system, Vivint offered the option to buy the solar panel system outright. This method allowed customers to reap the full benefits of energy savings and various other incentives associated with solar power, making it an attractive choice for customers with the necessary capital.

Warranty Details

Vivint Solar was well-recognized for its robust warranty plans, which provided customers with peace of mind when investing in their solar installations. The company offered an impressive 10-year workmanship warranty covering the quality of the installation process itself and providing reassurance to homeowners that any issues that may arise due to workmanship would be duly addressed.

Not only did Vivint Solar back their installation service, but it also stood behind the long-term performance of the photovoltaic panels. The company offered a remarkable 25-year linear performance warranty on their products. This long-term warranty was designed to ensure the efficiency of the solar panels over their expected lifespan.

Exploring Vivint Solar Reviews: What Customers Shared

Praise from customers has played a substantial role in bolstering Vivint Solar standing as a top contender in its industry. Yet, amidst the accolades, there is a notable number of critiques concerning the customer experience. Let's dissect both sides of the coin, examining the good and the bad feedback about the company.

Positive reviews

Quality of Solar Panels

Vivint Solar has consistently drawn positive reviews for its top-tier photovoltaic panels and associated solar equipment. A common theme threading through these reviews is an enthusiastic approval of the panels' efficiency and dependability, coupled with the simplicity of the installation procedure.

Numerous customer reviews have highlighted the top-notch quality of the solar panels, along with a hassle-free installation experience. These reviewers emphasized that the exceptional performance of the solar panels resulted in a substantial reduction in their overall energy expenses.

One specific review encapsulates the general sentiment of satisfaction among Vivint customers. The installer received high praise from the customer for their expert and successful solar panel installation process, as the system has exceeded performance expectations.

The accolades don't stop at photovoltaic panels themselves. The inverters and batteries supplied by the company also received glowing reviews. One reviewer effusively praised the Enphase inverters utilized in their system, noting their superior efficiency and user-friendly interface.

Another positive review highlighted the flawless functioning of the Tesla Powerwall battery installed by Vivint. According to this reviewer, the battery operated impeccably, providing them with maximum energy savings and thus playing a significant role in helping them reach their energy conservation goals.

Speed and Ease of Installation

Vivint Solar consistently received high praise from customers for the quick and seamless installation process of their solar panel systems. Many reviewers lauded the professionalism and efficiency of the installation team. The smooth and streamlined procedure underscored the company's dedication to customer satisfaction and their expertise in the solar technology arena.

The installation process of this company has consistently received praise for its speed and efficiency. Customers were particularly impressed by the team's punctuality and attention to detail, which left a lasting impression. Numerous Vivint Solar reviews highlighted the professionalism of the staff and how they completed the installations promptly.

Similarly, an easy, trouble-free experience was a theme that repeatedly surfaced in reviews. One customer highlighted how the process was "smooth and easy," attributing this smoothness to the team's extensive knowledge and readiness to address any questions. This level of convenience and straightforwardness was clearly cherished by many customers and was reflected in the reviews they left behind.

The quality of the installation process itself was another aspect that resonated strongly in the reviews. Many customers detailed the careful attention to detail that was observed during the installation of their photovoltaic systems. Reviewers frequently remarked on the neatness of the installation and the aesthetic appeal of the finished product. One customer had specifically expressed satisfaction with how great the panels looked on their roof.

Reputable Customer Service

Vivint Solar has also garnered positive reviews for their customer service, with numerous customers commending the team's professionalism and promptness in resolving any issues. Many reviewers also praised their readiness to address various concerns.

One reviewer appreciated the team's responsive nature and willingness to go the extra mile to address their needs, while another customer extolled the exceptional customer service they experienced throughout the installation phase. They highlighted the extensive knowledge and timely, professional responses to their questions.

Reviews also applaud Vivint Solar for the high quality of its continuous customer support. The customers affirmed the company's consistent responsiveness and assistance with ongoing maintenance and expressed how they were happy with the overall support and assistance provided by Vivant whenever an issue arose.

Decrease in Electric Bill  

Vivint has been favorably reviewed by numerous customers who have noticed a significant decrease in their electric bills. These customers have expressed their satisfaction with the savings garnered from harnessing solar energy and have commended the ease of the enrollment process with Vivint. Some reviewers have singled out Vivint for their trustworthiness, a stark contrast to their experiences with other solar companies, and have spoken highly of the quality and efficient installation of the solar panels.

Vivint Solar power purchase agreement (PPA) also received positive reviews, mainly because it enables customers to pay solely for the power their system produces throughout the contract's lifetime, often at rates lower than their standard electric bills. Overall, reviewers have highlighted that adopting Vivint  services has benefited both their wallets and the environment.

Negative Reviews

Aggressive and Misleading Sales Tactics

Speaking of the negative feedback, the company has faced criticism for its forceful and misleading sales techniques. Several Vivint Solar reviews have hinted at this concerning pattern, highlighting problems such as spam phone calls and unhelpful customer support. Many reviewers lamented their experiences with sales representatives who were accused of withholding crucial information or giving incorrect details.

There were also customers who claimed they were misled into purchasing photovoltaic panels, being unaware of the true Vivint Solar cost associated with installation. To compound their frustration, customers were often baited with low-price quotes that were later exposed as false.

Poor Customer Service After System Installation

Numerous reviewers have highlighted a significant issue with unresponsiveness and an apparent lack of quality in the company's customer support, especially amid delays in securing permission-to-operate approval from the local authorities. Some customers have expressed concerns about the quality of the installation, noting that it seemed rushed or carelessly done.

Further, some customers reviewed Vivint's support as nonchalant, often ignoring complaints about unstable system connectivity. They claimed that there was a lack of concern for system-related problems and frequent connectivity issues were another common complaint.

Panels Not Providing the Promised Amount of Electricity

Many customers have also reported that the solar panels, touted by Vivint to provide substantial electricity and savings, fell short of these promises. In some instances, customers found themselves entrapped in lease agreements with hefty cancellation charges, contrary to claims of free solar panels or reduced monthly charges.

Another recurrent concern raised by reviewers pertained to the company's lack of transparency on the true costs involved and the absence of credited savings from their usage.

Final Thoughts on Vivint Solar

Vivint Solar made waves with its exceptional solar equipment and efficient installation process, but it wasn't exempt from some negative feedback. The company's reputation encompassed both positive and negative customer experiences, underscoring the complexity of its position within the industry. Customers applauded the effectiveness of its solar panels and the reliability of its customer service but had concerns about its transparency and aggressive sales tactics, which impacted their overall satisfaction.

The story of Vivint Solar, from its inception to its acquisition by Sunrun, paints a vivid picture of the exhilarating roller-coaster ride experienced by a pioneering player in the highly competitive photovoltaic industry. Through a distinctive business model and a wide range of solar services, the company successfully established a notable presence in the market, despite facing significant obstacles along the way. Now as a part of Sunrun, Vivint Solar remains a driving force in shaping the renewable energy landscape.

Sources:

https://www.greentechmedia.com/articles/read/sunrun-announces-acquisition-of-vivint-solar

Posted 
Jul 6, 2023
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