How to Find the Best Solar Installation Companies in Texas
With 300 solar installers, finding the best solar companies in Texas is kind of like finding a needle in a haystack. But we’ve got you covered.
Texas probably isn’t the first place you think of for solar energy. The state has low electricity prices, no state-wide net metering program, and no state tax credits, so it can seem much harder to save money going solar in Texas than in states like California, Arizona or New York, where homeowners have high electricity prices, net metering, and a few rebates lingering around.
But that’s not the whole story. With the state’s sunny skies and the federal tax credit, rooftop solar is still a great way to save money. The state ranks 6th in the country for most solar, with 30 GW installed – that’s enough to power almost half a million homes!
As of 2019, there are 275 solar installers operating in Texas, so finding the best solar companies in the state can be difficult. The best way to get started is to get multiple quotes from local Texas installers – for free – from our trusted partner marketplace:
Average Texas Home Solar Installation Costs
Installation costs in Texas are far lower than most states. Installing solar in the Lonestar State costs just $2.80 per watt, about 6% lower than the national average. A 6% difference probably doesn’t sound like much, but that’s about $1,100 in savings for an average-sized installation.
Thanks to this low installation cost, as well as the state’s clear skies and the 30% federal tax credit, solar saving are pretty good, even with the low electricity prices. Take a look below for cost and savings estimates for some common solar installation sizes:
|System Size||$/watt Cost||Total Cost||Total Cost (with ITC)||Total Savings|
|6 kW||$2.80 per watt||$16,800||$11,760||$20,125|
|10 kW||$2.80 per watt||$28,000||$19,600||$33,542|
|15 kW||$2.80 per watt||$42,000||$29,400||$50,314|
You can see that bigger installations can help save you more money, so you might be tempted to go as big as possible. However, most homeowners generally try to cover 80% to 100% of their energy use with their solar installation, so your installation size is dependent on your energy use. Look at the chart and you’ll also notice just how powerful the federal tax credit (aka the ITC) is at lowering your installation costs. This credit begins phasing out at the end of 2019, so make a move quickly if you want to take advantage of this powerful incentive!
The 3 best solar installation companies in Texas
Like we mentioned, Texas has almost 300 solar installers. To help you out, we looked at dozens of companies and narrowed our list down to just three, based on customer experience, customer service, and equipment:
- NRG Clean Power: Most Experienced
- Longhorn Solar: Best Customer Service
- Freedom Solar Power: Best Equipment
NRG Clean Power: Most Experienced
Quick Look: 4,000 installations, founded in 2000, 40-year workmanship warranty
While we generally try to find local companies to recommend on our lists, we just couldn’t overlook NRG Clean Power. While based in California, NRG also installs in Bexar and Travis Counties in Texas, which covers Austin and San Antonio.
NRG has been around since 2000 – a veritable dinosaur in the solar industry – and in that time has installed 4,000 residential installation and 150 commercial installations, making them one of the most experienced installers working in Texas.
While we named NRG the most experienced solar installer on our list, they’re equally deserving of ‘best warranty’, ‘best variety of offerings’, and maybe even ‘best customer service’.
NRG Clean Power offers a staggering 40-year workmanship warranty – the longest we’ve ever seen by a good 15 years. They’re an authorized Panasonic Dealer, which makes some of the most efficient panels on the market. They also install HVAC, insulation, roofing, windows, attic fans, and more – so they’re your one-stop-shop for both solar and efficiency upgrades.
All of these offerings and the company is still able to give out great customer service, as evidenced by the hundreds of 5-star reviews across a variety of platforms. Look no further for one of the most well-respected, experienced companies in the state.
Longhorn Solar: Best Customer Service
Quick Look: 1,850 installations, founded in 2009, 25-year workmanship warranty
With offices in Austin, Plano, and San Antonio, Longhorn Solar is all Texan. They’re also one of the best reviewed solar installers in the whole state.
While other companies install insulation or roofing, Longhorn focuses exclusively on solar. Their electricians are all on staff and the company claims to have more NABCEP-certified employees than any other installer in Texas. With so much training, customers repeatedly report that Longhorn’s staff is knowledgeable and communicative, while their systems are well designed to produce the right amount of electricity.
Longhorn also offers a 25-year workmanship warranty for its installations, on top of the product warranties for the solar panels and inverter.
Considering its excellent customer reputation, highly-trained workforce, and long-term warranties, Longhorn is hard to beat using any yard stick.
Freedom Solar Power: Best Equipment
Quick Look: 3,000 installations, founded in 2003, Sunpower dealer
Freedom Solar Power is headquartered in Austin, but has offices in San Antonio, Arlington, and Houston. Since starting in 2003, the company has installed 3,000 residential installations and 150 commercial installations, including at Whole Foods, Office Depot, and the University of Texas.
With close to two decades of experience, Freedom Solar has the long history and deep experience you want from a solar company.
They are also a Sunpower premier dealer, which makes the most efficient solar panels on the market. On top of that, Freedom also installs Enphase microinverters and SolarEdge inverters, the two most efficient inverter products on the market, and energy storage systems from Tesla and sonnen, a well-respected German manufacturer.
Freedom has hand-picked some of the most efficient solar products on the market, ensuring your installation will not only produce as much electricity as possible, but also last as long as possible, as these companies offer some of the longest product guarantees in the industry. Both Sunpower and Enphase, for example, offer 25-year product guarantees, as opposed to the industry standard of 10-15 years.
And like the other installers above, Freedom Solar Power offers a long-term workmanship warranty for all its installation, at 25 years.
How to Choose a Solar Installer in Texas
When choosing a solar installer, always remember to talk to several installers about your project, but also their equipment, experience, and history. Here are a few tips to help you find the best solar companies in Texas.
If you’re only going to do one single thing in your whole installation process, let it be this: talk to multiple installers. Your neighbor might have had the best experience in her life going solar with one company, but other installers might have better customer service, better equipment, or better prices – or even a mix of all three.
Some companies have far more collective knowledge and experience than others, so cast a wide net at the beginning of your search. Whether you’re looking for the lowest price or the best equipment, talking to at least three solar companies will provide you with a much better understanding of your equipment and cost options so you can move forward confident in your choice of installer.
To install solar in Texas, installers must be licensed electrical contractors, not a general contractor.
While this ensures your chosen solar company can install a safe, functioning solar installation, it doesn’t necessarily mean the installer understands the intricacies of solar equipment or that the system will be as efficient as possible. That’s why it’s so important to reach out to multiple installers to assess their experience and knowledge.
If you’re planning to enroll in a net metering program or receive utility rebates for your installation, most utilities require you to choose an installer from their pre-approved list. Before moving forward, make sure that your potential installers are already listed on your utility’s list of approved service providers, which can typically be found online.
Texas homeowners benefit from low solar installation costs, which help lower your installation costs and increase your lifetime solar savings – an important consideration since Texas homeowners have additional few incentives to help lower those installation costs further.
While finding the best price is important when choosing a solar company, it’s not the only consideration. You also need to assess each company’s experience (How many installations have they performed? How long have they been in business?) as well as available equipment.
Comparing costs, experience, and equipment of each installer will help ensure you install the system with the best value, not just the lowest cost.
Financing options in Texas
Texas homeowners can pay for their installations in cash, with a loan, or via a Power Purchase Agreement.
If you want the best return on your solar investment, try to pay in cash. You’ll need to invest pretty heavily, as an average system requires about $18k, but you’ll also see the greatest return on your investment over the life of the installation – far more than financing with a loan or PPA.
And of course, you’re not on your own. The 30% federal tax credit and state-wide property tax exemption help lower the cost of your installation during the very first year.
If you can’t or don’t want to invest that money upfront, consider taking out a loan to pay for your installation. Solar companies tend to have a preferred lender that specializes in green energy, but you should call up a few local credit unions as well, as some offer special solar loans and you can pay for your installation with a Home Equity Line of Credit (HELOC) or Home Equity Loan (HEL). Credit unions can offer pretty low interest rates as well.
By financing your installation with a loan, your total lifetime financial savings will be smaller than simply paying in cash, but loans can still be a great investment as long as you lock in a good interest rate and loan term.
Before moving forward with any solar company, call up a few credit unions to see what terms they offer. And don’t forget to ask your potential installers what financing options they offer.
Power Purchase Agreement
Along with the solar lease, Power Purchase Agreements (or PPAs) helped the solar industry explode back in the last 2000s, as solar was still too expensive for most to pay in cash and leases/PPAs allowed homeowners to avoid paying that high cost.
The cost of solar has dropped about 60% since 2010, so purchasing in cash is now much more feasible that it once was. On top of that, more homeowners now understand the benefits of owning your own system, which includes receiving all the tax credits directly and much higher energy savings.
Because of this, leases and PPAs have continually fallen in popularity since about 2015, replaced by solar ownership (via cash or loan). If you’re looking to see the biggest financial return from your solar installation, skip the PPA and opt to own your system instead.
Financial Incentives, rebates and tax credits In Texas
Texas homeowners have a few incentives to help drop the price of installing solar, including the granddaddy of them all, the federal tax credit.
Federal Tax Credit
Like homeowners across the US, Texans installing solar are eligible for the federal tax credit, also known as the Solar Investment Tax Credit. This credit is calculated at 30% of the cost of your solar installation and you’ll apply for the credit the tax season directly following your installation.
The credit is non-refundable, but if you don’t owe enough in a single year to take advantage of the full credit, you can break it down into smaller increments and claim portions over several years.
For a $20,000 installation, you’d be eligible for a $6,000 credit, so needless to say, this credit is worth it. The full 30% value is set to expire at the end of 2019, so better get a move on! Starting in 2020, it drops to 26%, then 22% in 2021. After that, it’s gone forever.
Property Tax Exemption
All Texas homeowners are exempt from paying property taxes on the additional value that solar adds to your home. The average property tax in the state is 1.86%, so adding a $20,000 solar installation to your home would save you $372 in the first year alone!
Of course, this exemption decreases as your installation gets older, but Texas has some of the highest property taxes in the entire US, so it’s still a great incentive.
About 10 municipal utilities in Texas still offer rebates for residential solar installations.
Austin Energy, for example, offers $2,500 rebates for homeowners that take their solar education course and install a solar installation at least 2.5 kW in size. CPS Energy in San Antonio also offers $2,500 per installation, with an additional $500 premium for projects that use locally-made panels.
The Cities of Denton, San Marcos, and Sunset Valley all offer rebates of $750, $1000, and $1000 per kW respectively, with a maximum amount between $2,500 and $3,100. The highest rebate in the state comes from AEP Texas, which offers $600 per kW, up to $6,000.
If you’re a customer of a municipal utility, your installer will know if your installer offers any solar incentives – and they’ll make you aware of it pretty quickly.
State Solar Policy Information
Texas solar policy is unique, and it’s all thanks to Texas’ electricity market, which it restructured back in 2002.
Texas has a deregulated electricity market. In Texas’ deregulated market, local utilities (called TDUs, or Transmission & Distribution Utilities) control and manage the grid infrastructure (the wires and poles), but you’re free to purchase electricity from any company selling power in the Texas electricity marketplace. It’s designed to lower electricity prices by introducing competition into the energy market.
Why is this important to your solar installation? Texas has no state-wide net metering regulations, so it’s left up to energy providers to decide if they want to offer net metering.
Different providers will provide different net metering benefits. In Houston for example, Green Mountain Energy, TXU Energy, and Reliant all offer bill credits for any excess solar electricity sent to the grid.
However, as net metering regulations aren’t standardized on the state level, you’ll need to discuss these net metering options with your installer before moving forward, since some credit amounts can fluctuate month to month, while others are fixed amounts.
No matter your electricity provider, you’ll need to submit an interconnection agreement to your provider (which they’ll share with your TDU) to connect your installation to the grid.
An important note: Not all Texas homeowners live in an area with a competitive electricity market. In some areas, municipal utilities and electric co-ops still own and manage both the electricity generation and transmission infrastructure. As such, if net metering is available, these organizations will offer it directly. Austin Energy, El Paso Electric, and CPS Energy San Antonio all offer net metering.
Ready to go solar? Get multiple quotes from local Texas installers.
Image Source: Public Domain via Pixabay