he solar industry has grown rapidly over the years, with residential installers playing a vital role in bringing clean energy to homes across the country. Sunrun, one of the most prominent players in this space, has dominated the residential solar market for five years in a row, accounting for 13% of the total market share in 2022. However, recent reports show that the company's market share has been declining for the past two years, causing many to wonder what is behind this trend. In this article, we will explore the installer's history, products, and services, as well as take a closer look at customer reviews to understand why the company is losing popularity despite its initial success.
A brief background of the company
Sunrun was founded in January 2007 by Lynn Jurich, Ed Fenster, and Nat Kreamer with the mission to revolutionize residential solar financing. The trio introduced the Power Purchase Agreement (PPA) model, a financing option letting homeowners run their homes on the energy of the sun without having to buy the system outright. This approach democratized access to residential photovoltaics (PV), making it accessible to homeowners across a broader economic spectrum.
The company partnered with solar installers to run the installation process while they were responsible for ensuring the quality of the installation, equipment maintenance, monitoring, repairs, and replacement. This arrangement gave homeowners peace of mind and encouraged them to embrace the power of the sun.
Sunrun recognized the financial challenges faced by many solar companies and focused on maintaining a solid financial position. They secured venture funding, significant project financing, and tax equity investments from U.S. Bancorp and Pacific Gas & Electric (PG&E). In 2015, the company went public on the Nasdaq stock exchange with an initial market capitalization of $1.36 billion.
In 2015, Sunrun achieved a significant milestone by launching the Brightbox solar battery backup product in Hawaii. This was a groundbreaking event as it was the first of its kind to be economically feasible for homeowners in Hawaii and provided reliable backup power solutions.
Following its success in Hawaii, the company introduced Brightbox in California in 2016. Brightbox is an exceptional product that offers protection against power outages and assists California customers in shielding themselves from the changes in Net Energy Metering 2.0 and Time-Of-Use rate structures imposed by Southern California Edison (SCE), San Diego Gas and Electric (SDG&E), and Pacific Gas and Electric (PGE).
This move made Sunrun the leading provider of residential solar solutions nationwide, with Brightbox as the first step towards becoming a leader in energy storage.
In 2020, Sunrun acquired Vivint Solar, one of the largest companies in the nation, for $3.2 billion, creating a valuation of approximately $22 billion. They have continued to innovate and expand, with their most recent partnership being with Ford in February 2022. Sunrun is the official installer of Ford's bidirectional charging station for the F-150 Lightning, allowing customers to charge their truck at home and use the vehicle battery for backup power during a grid outage.
Throughout its sixteen-year history, the installer has evolved with the solar industry and has played a significant role in transforming the residential solar market. The company’s innovative PPA model has made residential photovoltaics accessible to a wider range of homeowners, and its continued growth and innovation demonstrate its commitment to running towards a sustainable future.
Where does Sunrun operate?
Based in San Francisco, Sunrun has a presence in a number of areas, including Washington, D.C., Puerto Rico, and the following states: Arizona, California, Colorado, Connecticut, Florida, Hawaii, Illinois, Maryland, Massachusetts, Nevada, New Hampshire, New Jersey, New Mexico, New York, Pennsylvania, Rhode Island, South Carolina, Texas, Vermont, and Wisconsin.
Solar services and products offered
Most Sunrun customers opt for monthly panel leasing fees, which account for 80-90% of their customer base. However, if you decide to purchase panels directly from the company, you can expect to receive top-notch, high-efficiency monocrystalline panels from reputable and popular brands. In the past, the provider's preferred panel manufacturer was LG, but since they stopped producing solar panels in early 2022, Sunrun has partnered with other module manufacturing leaders to provide tier-one panels. Typically, tier-one panels are made by well-established companies with a proven track record of quality. Presently, the installer offers panels from highly respected brands like Costco and LONGi, which boast a lifespan of 25-40 years and efficiency rates of up to 26.3%.
Before making a purchase, it's essential to peruse through the purchase agreement and warranty. This becomes even more critical when it comes to “solar as service” customers, who enjoy comprehensive coverage, maintenance, and monitoring. However, if you decide to purchase PV arrays from them, you'll have to rely on the manufacturers' warranties, which may not be uniformly set at 25 years. Nevertheless, Sunrun has got you covered with a 10-year workmanship warranty that protects against any roof damage or installation issues.
The installer also provides battery storage solutions such as Tesla Powerwall and LG Chem, which ensure uninterrupted electricity supply in times of power outages or low sunlight hours. These battery options come with a manufacturer's warranty of 10 years. The Powerwall stores 12.2 kilowatt-hours of usable energy, while LG Chem batteries offer 9.2 to 16kWh of usable energy, depending on the model. Powerwall batteries are versatile as they can be installed both indoors and outdoors, and their dimensions of 6 inches depth, 2.5 feet width, and nearly 4 feet height allow them to fit in most spaces. LG Chem batteries are slightly smaller, but they are also deeper.
On top of that, the company offers the mySunrun app - a one-stop-shop for solar customers to track their systems, gain insights into their home energy usage, and manage payment and important documents.
Available payment plans and costs
The company’s website doesn't offer much insight into pricing, but you can expect their offerings to be pretty close to the industry standard. A Sunrun PV system will likely run you around $22,000 to $33,000. Typically, their prices for solar systems are slightly higher than the average.
It's essential to keep in mind that purchasing a photovoltaic system upfront isn't the only alternative. When it comes to financing, Sunrun has four options for its customers. Let's explore each of them.
Full purchase: Opting for the full purchase means you'll own your solar panels, receive the installer's warranty, and be protected against rate hikes. This payment option is the most economical, as you won't have to pay any interest rates on financing and can also avail of a variety of federal and state solar tax incentives.
Solar loan: With a loan, you'll also own your panels and benefit from rate-hike protection, warranty, and tax incentives. Some customers may even secure a loan with $0 down. However, you'll end up paying more over time due to interest rates determined between you and the loan provider.
Monthly solar lease: With this payment option, you can get started for as low as $0, depending on your credit score. Sunrun leases come with protection against any potential rate increases, so you won't have to worry about paying more each month as time goes on. But keep in mind that you won't own the panels and will instead pay leasing fees to the installer, who will also receive any incentives or subsidies related to the panels.
Full solar lease: This lease agreement allows you to pay for your energy costs upfront for a period of 25 years instead of paying gradually. Although you'll pay more initially, you can save money in the future by reducing your utility bills. Just like the monthly lease, the panels will be owned by the company, not by you.
PV panel installation process: essential stages for customers
Now let's check out the customer journey. Just like other solar installers, Sunrun takes care of everything involved in installing your PV system. Here are the key stages of their installation process:
First meeting to discuss the project: When you reach out to Sunrun, they'll get in touch with you to arrange a virtual consultation. During this consultation, you and a representative will work together to decide on the design, appearance, and any additional equipment for your PV system. You'll also provide your savings goals, credit score, and average monthly electricity bill, which the company will use to determine your financing options.
Creating a plan and sharing it with the client: After the consultation, Sunrun will present you with a detailed proposal. This will include a custom-designed solar power system for your home based on their findings, your estimated monthly savings, and any tax incentives that have been added to your quoted price.
Securing any required permits: Sunrun will handle all of the necessary permits and approvals for your PV panel installation. The length of this step can vary depending on your city or county's requirements.
Installing the system: Once the permitting is completed, Sunrun will install your system on a date that works for you.
Conducting a final inspection and activating the system: Before turning on your solar panel system, Sunrun will run a final inspection. Once your municipality and utility company give their approval, they will activate the system.
What are customers saying?
With its attractive financing options and hassle-free installation process, Sunrun has become a top choice for many people looking to harness the power of the sun. However, as with any product or service, there are bound to be some drawbacks. Below, we'll give an overview of Sunrun Solar reviews and examine what customers say about them, exploring both the benefits and potential drawbacks of this popular provider.
The company has received positive reviews from many customers who have found their services easy, seamless, and efficient. One customer appreciated how the company took the time to explain the process, answer their questions, and keep them informed throughout the entire process. Another customer praised the company's prompt handling of issues such as inverter failures and roof replacements.
Many reviewers have also appreciated the installer's “solar as a service” model, which allows them to enjoy the benefits of lower-cost photovoltaics without the liability of substantial purchase costs. With this model, the company takes care of government incentives, monitoring, and insurance, making the process hassle-free for customers. A number of clients have complimented the company on their transparent and honest pricing without any sales pressure or gimmicks.
Customers have also highlighted the professionalism and courteousness of Sunrun representatives, such as sales consultants and surveyors. They have praised their patience, knowledge, and responsiveness to customer questions and concerns. Additionally, many customers have been pleased with the quality of the installation work and the timely completion of projects.
Overall, Sunrun has been praised for its customer service, financing options, and “solar as a service” model. Many reviewers have appreciated the professionalism, transparency, and efficiency of the company's representatives and installers. The company has also been commended for its prompt handling of issues and its clear and honest pricing.
Despite receiving some positive reviews, Sunrun has also received a considerable amount of negative feedback, with some customers even labeling the company as a scam. Several reviewers have complained that the Sun run salespeople use misleading high-pressure sales tactics. For example, customers were promised a 30% tax refund that they did not receive because it was a non-refundable tax credit. Other customers complained that they were promised a reduction in their electricity bill, which did not happen. In fact, some customers said their bills went up.
There have also been complaints about poor customer service. Customers have reported long wait times to speak with representatives, and in some cases, their complaints were not resolved even after several follow-up calls. Some customers had issues with their PV panel installations, which led to leaks on their roofs. Sunrun was slow to respond, and in some cases, customers had to hire independent contractors to fix the problems.
The company's failure to make repairs has also been a source of dissatisfaction for some customers. Some customers have reported waiting for months to have their solar panel systems repaired or replaced. In some cases, Sun run was slow to respond or did not follow up with the customers. Some customers also reported poor communication from the company, with representatives not keeping them updated about the status of their repairs or replacements.
Finally, some customers have reported that system set up by Sunrun did not work as promised. Despite being promised lower electricity bills, customers reported no decrease in their bills or that they were paying more than before. Some customers also said that they were promised a PV panel system that would meet their energy needs, but the system was insufficient, and they were required to purchase additional panels at their expense.
Why reading customer reviews is crucial for picking a solar installer
Selecting the right solar installer is a crucial decision that can have a significant impact on your home's energy efficiency, your financial savings, and your environmental footprint. There are several factors to consider when choosing an installer, including cost, equipment quality, and customer service. However, one of the most critical factors to keep in mind is customer reviews. Evaluating them can offer you valuable insights into the installer's reputation, workmanship, and level of customer service.
By reading customer reviews, you can learn a lot about the installer's reputation. If the feedback for the installer is mainly positive, it's a good sign that the installer is reliable and trustworthy. However, if the reviews are mostly negative, it's a clear indication that you should avoid doing business with them. Additionally, the reviews can highlight common issues or concerns that customers have faced with the installer, which can help you make an informed decision about whether or not to work with them.
Another significant reason why reading customer reviews is essential when choosing a solar installer is that it can provide insight into their workmanship and customer service. You want to work with an installer who has the expertise and experience to run an efficient and professional installation and set up a solar system that meets your needs. Customers' opinions can reveal useful information about the installation's quality, including whether the provider was professional, punctual, and efficient. Moreover, customer reviews can offer insight into the installer's level of customer service, including how responsive they are to customer inquiries and how they handle any issues or concerns that may arise during the installation process.
In conclusion, Sunrun has received mixed reviews from customers. Some of them have appreciated the company's “solar as a service” model, which offers lower-cost solar energy without the burden of purchase costs, and have praised the professionalism and efficiency of the Sun run representatives. Some customers have also praised the quality of installation work.
However, Sunrun has also received a significant amount of negative feedback from customers, who have criticized the company for using pushy selling methods, poor customer service, and failure to make repairs promptly. Some customers have also reported that the system installed by the provider did not work as promised, with bills not decreasing or even increasing and insufficient PV panel systems.
Overall, while Sunrun has received some positive feedback for its services, the negative reviews and customer complaints should be taken into account before deciding to use their services. As with any company, it is crucial to research and consider all factors before making a decision and to be cautious of high-pressure sales tactics. The installer may need to address these negative issues in order to improve their customer satisfaction and maintain their position in the solar panel market.