Discover the Best Solar Panels, Incentives, and Installers in Colorado
Solar power has gained popularity across the United States, including in the state of Colorado. According to the Solar Energy Industries Association (SEIA), Colorado boasts a solar power capacity of 2,268 megawatts, which is enough to power more than 440,000 homes. This capacity includes large-scale installations, but more and more Colorado residents are also installing solar panels on their homes. In addition to saving money on energy bills, installing solar panels also helps to lower household carbon emissions.
One of the reasons for the increasing popularity of solar power is that while traditional energy rates have gone up, the cost of solar panels has significantly decreased. According to the SEIA, solar panel costs in Colorado have decreased by 52% in the last 10 years. Furthermore, a growing number of tax credits and rebates are available to help bring down the cost of a solar panel system even further.
The cost of a solar panel system depends on several factors, such as the number of panels in the system, installation costs, and additional components like solar batteries. According to the Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory, the average solar panel system in Colorado costs more per watt of capacity than the national average. However, several financing options are available to make the upfront cost of solar more affordable. Some people choose to buy their system outright, while others finance it with a solar loan. Additionally, there are solar leases or power purchase agreements available in Colorado. While these options do significantly lower the upfront price of solar, they mean that the system is not owned by the customer and thus, the savings over time may be less.
Several solar tax credits and incentives are available at the federal, state, and local levels to make solar panels more affordable. In Colorado, the residential clean energy credit (formerly called the investment tax credit) offers a federal solar incentive that credits customers with 30% of the total cost of their solar system when they file their federal income tax. This credit can save customers up to $8,308 on the average solar panel system, and there is no cap on the amount that can be claimed. To apply for the residential clean energy credit, customers can fill out IRS form 5695 and follow the detailed instructions provided by the IRS.
Additionally, several state and local solar credits, rebates, and incentives are available in Colorado. The Database of State Incentives for Renewables and Efficiency provides a comprehensive list of these programs.
As solar panels continue to grow in popularity, the number of solar companies operating in Colorado is also likely to increase to meet demand. According to the SEIA, there are currently 384 solar companies operating throughout the state, 149 of which are installers. We’ve compiled a list of some of the top solar panel companies operating in Colorado.
ADT Solar (formerly Sunpro Solar) provides solar and battery installation services in Colorado. The company offers a 25-year labor, power production, and manufacturer warranty, as well as a price-match guarantee on installation costs. ADT Solar partners with top-tier solar manufacturers such as Enphase and Tesla to provide high-quality products.
Blue Raven Solar operates in 17 states, including several cities in Colorado. The company offers a 25-year product warranty and a 10-year quality-of-work warranty. Blue Raven Solar also offers a power production guarantee that lasts for two years, during which the company checks the amount of electricity the solar system produces twice to ensure that the production level is close to the amount the installer originally estimated when the customer signed the contract. While Blue Raven Solar does not currently offer solar leases or power purchase agreements, it has an exclusive solar financing option program called BluePower Plus+.
As more people become aware of the benefits of solar power, the solar industry has experienced a significant growth in recent years. Among the top solar companies in the United States are Palmetto Solar, Sunrun, and Tesla Solar. Each of these companies offers different solar options and warranties to fit the diverse needs of homeowners.
Palmetto Solar, founded in 2010, is one of the largest solar companies in the nation. The company offers solar panel systems for purchase, solar leases, and power purchase agreements. Most of Palmetto’s customers choose to buy their solar panels outright due to the benefits of owning the system. Palmetto Solar’s panels have an efficiency rating above 19.8%, which is impressive. Additionally, their panels come with a minimum 12-year product and 25-year performance warranties. Palmetto’s customer service is another area where they excel. They offer a subscription service called Palmetto Protect, which monitors the performance of a solar panel system. The subscription provides tiered levels of support in the event the panels are damaged or fail, giving customers peace of mind.
Sunrun, the largest solar company in the country, stands out in the industry because of its focus on solar leases. The cost of a solar power system can be too high for some people. Sunrun makes solar power accessible to a wider range of households by offering solar leases. Solar leases, however, come with their own disadvantages, including lower savings over time and ineligibility for most solar tax incentives. Sunrun customers who lease their systems receive “bumper-to-bumper” coverage on system maintenance and monitoring. Sunrun does offer systems for purchase, but customers must rely on the manufacturer’s warranty terms. Sunrun offers a 10-year quality of work warranty, covering roof and installation damage.
Tesla Solar offers two solar routes to choose from: traditional solar panels and the Tesla Solar Roof. The price, warranty terms, and specifications vary between these two options. The Tesla Solar Roof has a higher price tag than the other solar panel options on this list. Tesla offers a 25-year product warranty and guarantees performance at 95% capacity after five years and 85% after 25 years. On the other hand, Tesla solar panels are a more affordable option. Tesla warranties its solar panels at 85% capacity after 25 years, with an efficiency range between 19.3% and 20.6%.
Before signing a contract with a solar installer, homeowners should consider whether solar panels are the right choice for their homes. Several installation factors should be considered, including whether their roof is suitable for solar installation. The age, shape, size, and slope of a roof all impact how efficiently a solar panel system generates energy. The Department of Energy recommends solar panels be installed on roofs with a slope of between 15 and 40 degrees. Older roofs or roofs in need of repairs should be maintained or replaced before solar installation occurs.
Additionally, homeowners should determine if solar panels are allowed in their neighborhoods. While Colorado law allows solar panels, some neighborhoods may have specific requirements or approval processes. Homeowners should also confirm if they can add solar panels to their insurance policies. Most standard homeowner insurance policies cover rooftop solar panels, but checking with the insurance agency is still important.
Another crucial factor is whether the home receives enough sun. While solar panels can generate some electricity in indirect sunlight, direct sunlight of at least 4 hours per day is a general rule of thumb for when they make financial sense. In Colorado, where many residents receive significant snowfall in the winter, solar panels are designed to operate in the snow, although they will produce less power if it remains cloudy. If a roof gets consistent shade coverage, a solar panel system may not generate as much power as homeowners would like.
Are you currently renting your home and interested in using solar power? Unfortunately, you may not be able to install solar panels on your roof. However, you still have an alternative option called community solar programs.
With community solar, you can subscribe to a shared solar system located in a nearby area and receive credits on your energy bills. These programs typically offer lower subscription rates than the value of the credits, allowing you to save money on your energy bills.
This is a great solution for renters who want to take advantage of solar power and support clean energy initiatives without owning a home. Additionally, community solar programs are also available to homeowners who are unable to install solar panels due to various factors such as a shaded roof or homeowners’ association restrictions.