- Solar power has become one of the fastest-growing industries, generating 4.5% of the world’s electricity.
- Vermont offers a variety of solar tax rebates, including a 30% federal tax credit and net metering to reduce energy bills.
- The best solar companies for Vermont residents include SunPower, Green Mountain Solar, SunCommon, Tesla, and LGCY Power.
Vermont is a land of bucolic green and trees as far as the eye can see. It is the 14th state incorporated into the union, and outside of Canada, it is one of the world’s largest maple syrup producers. For a state that prides itself on its unfettered, natural landscape, residents need to uphold those values and destroy the environment as little as possible. Investing in solar power is one of the best ways to do that.
Solar Power is put simply, the conversion of sunlight into electricity. Using semiconductor materials (photovoltaics), light converts into an electric current. This is done through the use of lenses, mirrors, or condensing a large swath of sun into a concentrated spot. Though solar power was first theorized and tested in the 1860s, it took nearly a century for it to become a viable source of energy. Even then, the costs were prohibitively high for consumers. Thanks to advancements in technology, solar power has become one of the fastest-growing industries. Estimates from last year showed that solar power generated 4.5% of the world’s electricity, with half of those systems being rooftops. This trend shows no signs of slowing down.
Vermont has over thirty solar installation companies. This does not include national and regional installers that service the state. For residents looking to reduce their carbon footprint and save money on energy bills, it can be hard to find the best company to pick. Luckily, Vermont offers a variety of solar tax rebates that can drop energy bills even further.
The federal solar tax credit for all U.S. residents provides a 30% of solar installation costs tax credit. Vermont, specifically, also offers net metering. This is a billing policy to reduce energy bills by transferring excess energy generated to the state power grid. Contracts vary depending on the local utility company rate and the amount of solar power produced. Other Vermont-specific solar rebates include the Home Solar System Sales Tax Exemption. This means residents are exempt from the 6% sales tax on solar equipment. There is also the Renewable Energy System Property Tax Exemption. Since solar power indisputably boosts the value of a home, it also boosts property taxes. The Renewable Energy System Property Tax Exemption conveniently gets rid of these additional property taxes.
Here are five of the best Solar Companies for Vermont residents that will save money and reduce the impact on the state’s lush environment.
Compared to all other solar companies in Vermont and beyond, SunPower is one of the oldest and best. Not only does it offer nationwide availability, but SunPower also makes all its materials in-house. This gives it a leg up on competitors and allows for some of the most efficient solar systems on the market — which exceed 25% efficiency — that can be fully customized to a specific building or location’s needs. Beyond that, SunPower offers more solar options, including independent solar batteries as well as electric vehicle chargers. All systems purchased from SunPower include a 25-year warranty plus a 92% power output production guarantee. The company also offers a variety of financing options including full purchase, lease, loan, and power purchase agreement.
SunPower’s systems, however, are notoriously expensive even compared to other providers. Plus its offer of full customization is limited to associated brands such as Maxeon (its forming manufacturing wing).
Green Mountain Solar
For those looking to keep their solar acquisition “in the family”, look no further than Green Mountain Solar. Headquartered in South Burlington, Vermont, Green Mountain Solar offers a more local experience. The company boasts extensive knowledge of the types of rebates and tax incentives offered to Vermont residents acquiring solar power. Green Mountain Solar also offers a more cultivated, quick-to-respond service than a larger, nationwide company can provide. Beyond that, Green Mountain Solar is partners with the New England Federal Credit Union to provide solar loans to make the acquisition of such a system more affordable. The company offers a wide variety of products including electric vehicle chargers as well as solar heat pump installations.
Like any smaller company, Green Mountain Solar has fewer customization options than the bigger solar outfits. It also has arguably less experience than more established providers. Plus, Green Mountain Solar is not certified by the North American Board of Certified Energy Practitioners (NABCEP).
A reputable Vermont solar company, SunCommon has its headquarters in Waterbury, Vermont. It offers a range of solar products from a wide variety of manufacturers. SunCommon is B Corp certified, which means it meets high standards of verified performance as well as transparency on everything from supply chain practices to employee benefits. SunCommon offers some of the best photovoltaic panels on the market. This is a must to soak up sunlight in the low-sun conditions Vermont typically sees.
As for downsides, SunCommon is notoriously expensive when compared to other brands. What’s more, the company has limited financing options, with no leasing agreements or Power Purchase Agreements (PPAs) offered with its services.
One of the newer players on the scene, Tesla has quickly made in-roads in the solar industry for key reasons. For one, the company provides more transparent online pricing. This means getting a quote for its services without ever having to speak to a sales representative for its products. This is compared to other solar power providers, which may be more specious in their pricing rates (most solar companies require a consultation before giving any sense of cost). And unlike many of the providers, Tesla offers its own industry-leading Tesla Powerwall battery with every installation. What’s more, the company has gained a solid reputation for its unique, top-of-the-line solar roofs that use innovative solar shingle technology. This is a perk none of its competitors offer.
Tesla’s service, however, has just as many drawbacks. There are limits to solar loan options depending on the ZIP code. The customization options are limited to only a few different sizes. Plus, customer reviews point out recurrent challenges for scheduling repairs.
The last company on this list is LGCY Power. Founded in 2014, LGCY Power has quickly grown into a leading solar power company. Though it offers similar products to the other companies mentioned, what sets LGCY apart is its focus on hands-on experience and transparency. The company assigns a dedicated consultant to each of its installations. LGCY also offers full-service system maintenance and 24-hour monitoring, as well as offering a knowledgeable team to help get the best solar incentives. Beyond that, LGCY offers a litany of online resources to help customers find the best solar services for them. LGCY is also a partner with fellow solar purveyors SunRun, which means it offers some of the highest-quality solar products.
A major drawback is LGCY Power lacks industry experience compared to other providers. LGCY also offers a varied warranty agreement depending on the product.
Though quickly growing, the solar power industry is still in its infancy. Plus, with many competitors and just as many technicalities, it can be hard for the consumer to understand the ins and outs. Unlike a state like California which basks in near-constant sunshine, Vermont only receives about 170 full-sun days per year. This means choosing the right solar power company is imperative to get the best efficiency for your system.
Unfortunately, the per-watt price for solar equipment in VT is close to $0.20 higher than the national average of around $2.87. However, Vermont’s energy needs are so low compared to other states — a mere 6 kilowatts to offset energy consumption — which is 3 kilowatts lower than the national average. This means the cost to fully convert to solar in Vermont is around $17,220, nearly $4,000 less than the rest of the United States.
This amount of money is no doubt, a considerable investment for most people. Luckily, Vermont offers a wide variety of tax rebates and incentives to make the switch to solar. Beyond that, solar power is a guaranteed boost to property value. As estimated by Zillow, “property value will increase by an average of 4.1% when you install your PV equipment.” This means that in Vermont, residents can expect an increase in the value of their homes by over $15,000.
Picking a Solar Company
As shown by the information in this brief list, finding the right solar company can become a time-consuming activity. Without proper research and vetting, it can easily turn into a headache. Solar power is one of those things that starts as a costly and complicated investment, but if chosen wisely, can ultimately pay its dividends. That’s why it’s important to research at least three different providers in your area and compare each of those providers’ solar services, warranties offered, payment options, and track record of customer support. However, compared to the leading solar companies in the country, as well as the over 30 offering services in Vermont, these five companies will give you the best service for the least cost.
|SunPower||Offers nationwide availability, makes all its materials in-house, includes a 25-year warranty plus a 92% power output production guarantee, offers a variety of financing options.|
|Green Mountain Solar||Offers a more local experience, boasts extensive knowledge of the types of rebates and tax incentives offered to Vermont residents, partners with the New England Federal Credit Union to provide solar loans.|
|SunCommon||Offers a range of solar products from a wide variety of manufacturers, is B Corp certified, offers some of the best photovoltaic panels on the market.|
|Tesla||Offers its own industry-leading Tesla Powerwall battery with every installation, has gained a solid reputation for its unique, top-of-the-line solar roofs.|
|LGCY||Assigns a dedicated consultant to each of its installations, offers full-service system maintenance and 24-hour monitoring, offers a knowledgeable team to help get the best solar incentives, is a partner with fellow solar purveyors SunRun.|
The image featured at the top of this post is ©Sean Pavone/Shutterstock.com.