Sunrun vs. SunPower: Which Solar Company is Better? (2022)

By Jacob L.

There are many companies that sell solar panels these days, so it can be hard to know which companies are for real and which ones are just hopping on the solar bandwagon. Two of the biggest firms selling and manufacturing solar panels in the United States are Sunrun and SunPower. Even though these companies have similar names, they offer very different products and services. Keep reading to find out what each company has to offer and which one we think is better.

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Sunrun vs. SunPower

Key Specifications Sunrun SunPower
Solar Panel Manufacturers Third-Party Suppliers Maxeon Solar Technologies
Solar Panel Brands Carried Costco and LONGi Maxeon Solar: A Series, X Series, E Series, and P Series
Average Installation Cost $3.93 per watt $4.60 per watt
Financing Options Lease, loan, PACE programs Loan or mortgage
Power Rating/Efficiency 15 to 22% 19.8% to 22.8%
Output Rating 250W to 400W 330W to 545W
Warranty 10 years 25 years
In-house or Contracted Installations Contracted Both

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Sunrun Profile: Cost, Warranties, and Solar Panels

How Sunrun works

Sunrun is a unique company when it comes to the way it does business. Instead of selling solar panels, the vast majority of its customers lease panels for a monthly fee. By leasing panels, homeowners can receive the financial benefits of solar energy without having to buy a home solar system. Sunrun offers two different types of rental options: a solar lease which requires you to pay a fixed monthly “rent” to use your home solar system, and a Power Purchase Agreement (PPA) which requires you to pay a fixed price for the power the system produces. Sunrun also gives homeowners the option of purchasing home solar power systems outright.

Sunrun Cost

Sunrun installation costs average at $3.93 per watt. If you want a wall battery for extra storage, Sunrun will provide you with a Tesla Powerwall for an additional $10,000.

Financing Sunrun Solar Energy

Sunrun offers monthly loans that enable you to enjoy the benefits of solar energy without having to pay the full cost of a home solar system at once. You can become a solar owner with $0 down, thanks to Sunrun’s partnerships with trusted loan providers. When you decide to purchase a Sunrun system, you’ll continue to enjoy all of the incentives for which you may qualify, such as any tax credits, tax exemptions, and solar rebates available in the federal government and your home state.

Output Rating, Product Warranty, and More

Sunrun solar panels have an average output rating of around 320W, though their panels can range from 250W to $400W. At Sunrun, the products and services that you purchase are covered with a 10-year warranty. This warranty includes free equipment replacement and system repairs. As well, Sunrun’s warranty guarantees you watertight roof penetrations — the method by which they mount your system — for 10 years.

Incentives, Specials, and Partnerships

Sun reduces the waiting and paperwork when it comes to incentives and special offers. Although it doesn’t offer rebates specific to any of its brands, it will work with you to find which tax incentives and rebates are available in your state. Sunrun will additionally encourage homeowners to make the most of the federal solar tax credit, which stands at 26% in 2022.

Moreover, if your state doesn’t offer solar rebates, Sunrun will help to see if you are eligible for Solar Renewable Energy Credits (SRECs), which you can earn and sell for the electricity that your solar system produces.

Solar Panel Manufacturers and Brands

Sunrun provides a number of services, including solar panel installation and solar storage. All of Sunrun’s solar panels are monocrystalline, which are the most efficient panels on the market. They have an average efficiency rating of 15% to 20% and an average lifespan of 25 to 40 years.

Some of the panels used by Sunrun, such as LONGi’s solar panels, have above-average efficiency rates of 26.3%. All of Sunrun’s panels are photovoltaic, which are the most common residential solar panels. They convert sunlight into electricity using semiconducting materials.

Although the brand of solar panels you receive will depend on your location, new Sunrun customers will get the Brightbox Home Battery powered by LG. The Brightbox enables customers to harness extra solar energy generated by their system to use when it is most needed, like during a power outage.

While the Brightbox Home Battery will cover part of the home during an energy shortage, Sunrun offers the Tesla Powerwall battery, which can hold up to 13.5 kilowatt-hours (kWh) of capacity, bringing electricity to your home until power is restored. Sunrun additionally has an app that you can use to monitor your system’s production.

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  • Offers national coverage
  • The installation comes with a 25-year warranty
  • Branded solar panels: SunPower manufactured by Maxeon

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Sunpower Review

SunPower Profile: Cost, Warranties, and Solar Panels

How SunPower works

SunPower has been in the business of selling solar panels since 1985 and is now one of the biggest players nationally in the solar panel industry. It designs, markets, and sells solar power-related products and services. SunPower will sell, install, and finance everything from panels and batteries, to mounts and software.

While they are known to have expensive products, the quality of Sunpower’s panels is very high. Finally, the company also leases solar panels, but it is less common for customers to lease panels from SunPower.

SunPower Cost

At SunPower, you will pay a minimum of $3.30 per watt for a solar system, which adds up to nearly $19,800 before incentives for an average 6 kW system.

Financing SunPower Solar Energy

If you are interested in financing your solar panel purchase, SunPower Financial — SunPower’s financial services branch — offers a 0% Annual Percentage Rate (APR) product for qualified customers. Moreover, SunPower Financial offers up to a $150,00 credit limit for well-qualified customers, expanded eligibility to customers with credit scores of 600 or higher, and financial offerings for shared roofs, leased land, accessory dwelling units, and mobile homes.

Output Rating, Product Warranty, and More

Power output rating, or wattage, is a measure of how much electricity solar panels can produce. Sunpower has a number of different solar panels with different output ratings. The M Series 440 W panel has the highest power output rating of not only Sunpower panels but of any panel on the market today. Additionally, Sunpower’s A, X, and E series panels have relatively strong power output ratings. This means that any solar panel you purchase from SunPower will likely have a strong enough output rating to meet your electricity needs.

The efficiency rating of solar panels measures how much of the sunlight hitting your panel actually gets converted into electricity. Although SunPower’s solar panels have very high-efficiency ratings at close to 23%, this statistic should be taken with a grain of salt because most reputable solar brands have efficiency ratings above 18%. As well, premium efficiency ratings drive up the cost of solar panels, so you should factor this into your decision-making process.

SunPower solar panels have a 25-year product warranty, which means that they will cover the cost of any material or workmanship defects as long as your panels were installed correctly and operated as intended. Most other solar panel manufacturers, on the other hand, only offer a 12-year warranty. SunPower also offers a performance warranty that guarantees your panels to operate at no less than 98% of their original capacity in the first year and that the panels won’t degrade by more than 0.25% capacity per year over the next 24 years.

Incentives, Specials, and Partnerships

First of all, with SunPower, you can take advantage of the 26% federal solar tax credit. SunPower additionally offers United States veterans and active duty military an exclusive $1,000 home solar VISA Reward Card rebate. Finally, SunPower will help you research state and local financial incentives that may offset part of your purchase.

SunPower and Ford have additionally partnered to allow customers that drive Ford vehicles to get a $1,000 rebate with the purchase or lease of a SunPower solar system for their homes. SunPower is also a proud partner of select AAA locations across the United States and offers exclusive member-only rebates.

Solar Panel Manufacturers and Brands

Although SunPower used to manufacture its own solar panels, it now sells solar panels manufactured by Maxeon Solar. SunPower offers lines of solar panels: M Series, A Series, X Series, and E Series. These panels are all made from monocrystalline cells and have efficiency ratings of 20% or better. The M Series uses Maxeon Gen 6 solar cells, which allows these panels to be the most powerful. The A Series uses Maxeon Gen 5 solar cells, the X Series uses Maxeon Gen III solar cells, and the E Series uses Maxeon Gen II solar cells. As a result, each respective Series after the M Series panels is less powerful to varying degrees.

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SunPower vs. Sunrun: Similarities

To begin, SunPower and Sunrun both have fairly similar power tolerance ratings — an indication of how much each brand’s panels will vary under constant conditions. Both SunPower and Sunrun’s panels have a rating of -0/+5, which is a standard rating in the solar power industry. SunPower and Sunrun also share high-efficiency ratings. Both companies produce solar panels with efficiency ratings above the market average of 18%. Finally, SunPower and Sunrun sell all three varieties of solar panels: monocrystalline, polycrystalline, and thin-film.

SunPower vs. Sunrun: Key Differences

Despite their many similarities, SunPower and Sunrun differ when it comes to the cost of buying their products. At SunPower, you will have many low-cost ways to buy and install solar panels. For example, you can use a home equity loan to cover the cost of SunPower solar systems, or you can take advantage of a lease agreement from SunPower. However, SunPower solar panels are among the most expensive on the market because of their high quality and long warranties. Sunrun products are cheaper because it offers flexible leasing agreements, so customers don’t have to pay the full cost of buying new solar panels.

The two brands differ when it comes to output and efficiency ratings as well. Whereas Sunrun solar panels have an output of 230 watts and an efficiency of 15% to 20%, SunPower solar panels can reach outputs of 500 watts at nearly a 23% efficiency rating. In fact, SunPower’s M Series 440-watt panels can produce the most power of any residential solar panel that is currently on the market.

SunPower also has far superior service thanks to its large network of certified installers across the country. The company also makes its own solar systems, which makes it much easier for SunPower to fix them or get spare parts for the systems. SunRun, by contrast, doesn’t make its own solar systems and doesn’t have certified installers spread across the United States.

Finally, SunPower’s 25-year warranty is far better than Sunrun’s 10-year warranty.

Sunrun vs. SunPower: Which has Better Quality Solar Panels?

SunPower has overall higher quality solar panels than Sunrun. Thanks to its superior output ratings, efficiency ratings, and warranties, SunPower solar panels dramatically outperform Sunrun panels. The SunPower M Series solar panels are the best solar panels on the market today.

Sunrun vs. SunPower: Which is Cheaper?

Sunrun bests SunPower when it comes to price. At $3.93 per watt, Sunrun’s solar panel installation fee is far less than SunPower’s $4.60 per watt installation fee. Moreover, the fact that Sunrun offers more leasing options helps to bring down its prices. But in paying less for your solar panels with Sunrun, you sacrifice the quality of product offered by SunPower.

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Final Verdict: Is Sunrun or SunPower Better?

So, which brand is better? Both Sunrun and SunPower offer quality solar power solutions that customers will appreciate and enjoy. But this is where the similarities between the two brands stop.

Sunrun offers a great option for people who want to get into solar without spending loads of money or having to put effort into maintaining their own system. Indeed, the upfront costs for Sunrun are lower because you don’t purchase your panels, but you’re backend savings will also be lower because Sunrun’s lease will eat into the energy you save on your utility bills. It is also important to know that leased solar panel systems will decrease your property value.

If you can afford your own solar power system outright, go for SunPower. The upfront costs are massive, but you will end up saving lots of money in the long run because you don’t pay monthly rent for the panels. Plus, solar panels increase your home’s property value.

Expert Solar Opinions on Sunrun and SunPower

Experts agree that Sunrun has several advantages as a solar power brand. First, you get to take advantage of renewable energy without needing to worry about replacing or maintaining your panels and equipment. The option to lease solar panels from Sunrun is also protected against rate increases, comes with a 10-year warranty, and provides customers with access to Brightsave products.

While Sunrun’s warranty is shorter than the market average, it protects against theft and damage in addition to maintenance and broken parts. If you don’t have the financial means to purchase your own solar system, Sunrun is your best bet.

Experts also agree that SunPower produces the best solar panels on the market today. For homeowners that can afford to buy a solar system, SunPower should be their preferred brand. Thanks to its use of microinverters to convert direct current into alternating current, SunPower solar panels perform better than any other panels.

Because of this performance, SunPower panels are better for homes with limited roof space — more efficient panels generate more electricity with less space. Finally, SunPower’s 25-year warranty is unmatched and great for people who plan to keep their solar panels for a long time.

Frequently Asked Questions

Is SunPower going out of business?

No, SunPower is not going out of business, and it continues to sell and lease residential solar energy systems manufactured by its subsidiary Maxeon Solar Technologies. However, SunPower sold its industrial and commercial solar distribution business to TotalEnergies in 2022.

What are the benefits of solar panels?

There are numerous benefits to solar energy:

  • Solar panels produce electricity in cold, hot, and even cloudy weather.
  • They require little to no maintenance after they are installed.
  • Solar panels are recyclable, which means they are even more eco-friendly.
  • The solar industry has and will continue to create thousands of new jobs in the renewable energy sector.
  • The solar energy that reaches the earth far exceeds the amount that humans could use — it is essentially limitless.

How long does it take for solar panels to pay for themselves?

On average, the amount of time that it takes for solar panels to pay for themselves is eight to 12 years. However, this payback period is dependent on a number of factors, including the climate in which you live, local electricity costs, and state-specific financial or tax incentives.

Is Sunrun or SunPower more experienced?

SunPower has been around since 1985 and remains the premier distributor of solar panels in the United States. While “experienced” can be a subjective term, SunPower is older and produces higher quality solar panels than Sunrun.

Is Sunrun owned by Tesla?

No, Sunrun is not owned by Tesla. However, Sunrun has developed into a top player in the solar energy sector and a major rival to Elon Musk’s SolarCity.

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