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Best Solar Panel Installation Companies in Fresno

Fresno is the centerpiece of California’s Central Valley, an area whose bright, hot sun helps it produce abundant harvests of almonds, grapes and pistachios. That sun also makes this a great location for solar panels.

“It’s very hot in the Central Valley and you have high electricity bills because your air conditioning needs are much higher,” said Bernadette Del Chiaro, the executive director of the California Solar and Storage Association.

The Golden State is the largest solar market in the United States and prices have dropped by 42% over the last 10 years, according to the Solar Energy Industries Association.

Can solar panels save you money?

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Overall, there are nearly 70,000 residences now using solar energy in Fresno County and almost 2,000 non-residential uses such as businesses, schools and governments, according to the California Distributed Generation Statistics. If you’re interested in joining those ranks, here’s what to know about the costs, installers and incentives.

Best national solar panel companies in Fresno

NRG Clean Power brings one of the solar industry’s most confident approaches to its work, offering a price match and 40-year warranty. NRG Clean Power is a solid bet as long as you live in Texas and California. NRG Clean Power does not offer leases or power purchase agreements, but they do provide solar panel cleaning and roofing services as well as a reliable equipment menu.

Solar panels are typically low maintenance equipment, but they’re also unfamiliar. If you want to reap the benefits of solar but will have a bit more peace of mind if someone else is making sure it’s working, Palmetto might be a good fit for you. Just remember to add the cost of Palmetto’s monitoring service in to your payback period calculations.

If you’re looking for top-of-the-line solar panels, SunPower is you best choice. But don’t write them off if you’re looking for a less flashy installation that will get the job done. This year it started installing Qcells panels, which should make an installation from the longest-tenured company on our list more available to more people.

Elevation’s focus on your home’s energy efficiency isn’t the norm in the industry. If you’re planning on addressing energy efficiency first, working with Elevation allows you to keep the whole process with one company. Elevation’s solar equipment comes from well-established and well-regarded companies. Elevation’s warranties on workmanship and weatherization could be a bit longer.

Include Freedom Forever in your search if you want the backing of a national company that installs a wide variety of the most popular solar equipment available. Freedom Forever also extends a couple of products that take some of the pain and risk out of going solar, like a production guarantee and an escrow option with cash purchases. Online reviews say customer satisfaction has been low of late, though the company says that’s changing.

Tesla’s solar branch seems to be the least loved of Elon Musk’s ventures. Even Tesla’s Solar Roof seems to get more love.

If price is the thing you won’t budge on, consider Tesla. By all accounts, Tesla installs quality panels and makes the closest thing there is to a household name in solar storage: the Powerwall.

Where you might miss out is customer service. Discussion online seems to suggest Tesla’s service is a bit of a gamble.

Momentum installs in 11 states without using subcontractors. While using in-house installers doesn’t guarantee a better experience, it does suggest you’re likely to get a more uniform experience from them. The fact that Momentum backs its installations with a 25-year workmanship warranty hints at a strong belief in their crews’ ability. If Momentum is part of your search, consider the warranties against leaks that other companies offer. Momentum’s is five years, which can be beat.

Local solar panel companies in Fresno

SunPower by Quality Home Services has offices in both Fresno and Bakersfield. The company offers warranties between 20 and 25 years along with regular inspection and cleaning services. It also has an A-plus BBB rating.

SunMade Energy started operating in 2009 and has an A-plus rating from the Better Business Bureau. It offers a 25-year warranty for its panels, microinverters, racking and power production and a 10-year warranty for its monitoring hardware.

How to determine which solar company is best for me?

You’ve got choices. Making a good one entails doing some work.

Del Chiaro suggests you thoroughly examine potential contractors and make sure they are properly licensed with the state. Once you have put together a list of qualified companies, the next step is to get more than one bid for a potential project. 

“Make these contractors work for you,” Del Chiaro said.

How much do solar panels cost in Fresno?

Del Chiaro said installation costs are generally around $4 per watt. That leads to about $24,000 for a 6-kilowatt system. With a 30 percent federal tax incentive provided through the Inflation Reduction Act, the initial costs decrease to $16,000. That means with the energy savings, a standalone system can be paid for in about 11 years.

California solar panel costs

Typical system size (kW) Price per watt Total installed cost Cost after 30% federal tax credit
California 5 $3.47 $17,350 $12,145
National average 5 $3.67 $18,350 $12,845

Fresno solar panel incentives and rebates

The federal solar tax credit represents the largest financial incentive for solar panel installation in Fresno. The State of California cut back its net metering program last year, lowering what you’ll be paid for energy sold back to the grid. There are also property tax exemptions available.

The Golden State also supports an Energy for All Program, designed to assist people with low or limited incomes with energy costs.

California solar incentives

Program Description
Disadvantaged Communities – Single Family Solar Homes This state program provides solar panel installations to residents who meet income requirements.
Property tax exclusion You won’t have to pay increased property taxes because of the increased value of your home after going solar. This incentive is set to expire in 2025.
Self Generating Incentives Program This state program provides incentives for alternative energy sources, including solar panels.
Net metering Net metering policy determines what you’ll be paid for solar energy sold back to the grid. Some recent changes in California have reduced reimbursement levels.

How to pay for solar panels in Fresno

Solar panels are expensive, but you don’t have to have tens of thousands of dollars lying around to get them. Here are some options.

Cash: Installation costs are steep, but if you have the cash available interest rates from a loan and other fees are removed. Therefore, you would see savings earlier in the process.  

Personal loan: You can apply for a personal loan through a financial institution, but beware of higher interest rates.

Home equity loan: Home equity loans or lines of credit may be an option, possibly coming with a better interest rate. However, there are foreclosure risks if you fail to repay the debt, and they come with a lengthy approval process.  

Solar loan: Often tendered by the solar panel installer, solar-specific loans are often available allowing you to finance installation over time.

Solar lease or power purchase agreement: Leases and power purchase agreements are contracts you make with a solar company, with the company retaining ownership of the equipment but leading to lower costs. In a lease, you pay a monthly payment to the company. In a PPA, you pay a set rate for the power the solar panels generate.

Other installation factors to keep in mind

Here are some things to note before deciding to go solar.

Roof condition and angle: You have to factor in the age, condition, size and angle of your roof to make sure solar energy will work at your residence. “You definitely want to make sure you do not have any shading in terms of the west or the south facing parts of your roof,” Del Chiaro said.

Overall energy consumption: Consider whether you spend enough on energy costs to make the sizable initial investment into solar energy worthwhile. “If you are a super conserver and if you never turn on the lights or the air conditioning, it might take a long time for that solar system to pay for itself because you are going to pay for that upfront costs regardless of how much you use it,” Del Chiaro said.

However, Fresno’s hot climate makes it a prime place for solar energy.

“In Fresno even the smallest houses have huge electricity bills because it is so hot during the summer and it is very hard to live without air conditioning during the summer time,” Del Chiaro said.

Permits: California has a reputation for slow processing of permits necessary for solar installation, but there are some efforts at streamlining the process. The City of Fresno has adopted a program, called SolarAPP Plus, in partnership with the National Renewable Energy Laboratory, to speed up the permitting process.

Renting versus owning a home: A renter has to get permission from the property owner to put solar on a home. Del Chiaro said many owners are open to solar installation. “A lot of landlords do put solar panels on their rental properties because it is a good investment and it is good for their tenants,” she said.

Homeowners Insurance: Since solar panels are susceptible to weather and other outside conditions, you have to check with your insurance company on the coverage that will be offered.

How we found the best solar panel isntallation companies

The companies we listed above as “the best” are curated from CNET’s best solar companies list. Companies making the best list are scored on the equipment, warranties and customer service they offer. Then, we make sure these recommendations are available in your state. You can read a full breakdown of how we review solar companies here.

Companies listed under the local installers were chosen in a less rigorous way. We chose them because they offered something unique or notable to customers in the state, they seemed well-regarded by internet reviewers or because they were one of the few installers we could find information on in the state.

Whether we’ve completed a full review on a company or not, it’s always a good idea to get multiple quotes from different installers before choosing a company.

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