Sunnova Photo voltaic Evaluate: Set It and Overlook It for 25 Years


6.5

Sunnova

Like


  • 25-year service assure

  • A number of financing choices

  • Buyer-centered method

Do not like


  • No worth match

  • Doable customer support issues per the BBB

When you’re not a tech-head and as a substitute simply on the lookout for a customer-centered method to photo voltaic panels, Sunnova is likely to be price investigating. It is centered on ensuring your system is working because it ought to for many years, quite than pushing difficult gear specs.

Sunnova’s pitch is designed for these on the lookout for a set-it-and-forget-it method to photo voltaic: No want to fret about cash upfront, an settlement that ensures your photo voltaic system is producing for 1 / 4 century and a single cellphone quantity to name with any questions or issues for the whole length. 

“Whether or not it is a lease, a mortgage or an influence buy settlement, we’re guaranteeing that buyer’s energy flows for 25 years,” mentioned Kelsey Hultberg, Sunnova’s government vp for company communications and sustainability.

One of many newest evolutions on this planet of photo voltaic is the notion of “power as a service” supplied by a few of the greater gamers. The thought is to simplify going photo voltaic and making the transfer to renewable power — whether or not you are taken with combating local weather change, chopping your power payments (or hopefully each) — so simple as switching web suppliers. An online of tax credit and different incentives — to not point out the free power produced — additionally makes it an attractive proposition for customers. 

Overhead photo of solar installers attaching solar panels to a tile roof.

Eloi_Omella/Getty Picture

Sunnova is a number one energy-as-a-service supplier and a public firm traded on the New York Inventory Alternate since 2019. The Houston-based outfit has been round for 10 years, and with 300,000 prospects throughout the US, it is one of many largest photo voltaic corporations within the nation. 

It is also partnering with the US Division of Power to supply photo voltaic loans to communities that will not in any other case be capable of entry such financing by means of an initiative referred to as Undertaking Hestia. The federal authorities has dedicated to offer mortgage ensures on as much as 90% of $3.3 billion in loans originated by Sunnova. 

“Undertaking Hestia would make potential a historic personal sector funding in deprived American communities and power infrastructure,” Sunnova CEO John Berger mentioned in an announcement. 

The general public funding is supposed to extend entry to photo voltaic for households with credit score scores which may in any other case disqualify them. 

It is necessary to be specific that CNET has not truly gone by means of the method of ordering from Sunnova, having a system put in or testing the gear talked about right here. As an alternative we depend on learning the {industry}, having an in-depth dialog with the corporate and to a restricted extent, exterior opinions from those that have interacted with the corporate.

With this in thoughts, it is vital that any residence or small enterprise proprietor contemplating a photo voltaic system get a number of quotes from installers of their space and do your personal analysis. You are off to begin by studying this assessment. You will discover lots extra photo voltaic corporations right here at CNET as nicely.

What do I get from Sunnova?

Over the previous few years, Sunnova has been centered on creating what it calls the Sunnova “adaptive residence,” which works past simply placing a couple of panels on a roof, to incorporate integrating batteries, load controls and EV chargers, amongst different choices.

“We’re packaging that up for the house owner so they do not have to fret concerning the burden of bringing collectively all these expertise items, after which we’re managing that for the shopper for 25 years,” Hultberg defined.

What gear does Sunnova supply?

Sunnova works with a community of prevetted installers to supply its photo voltaic packages nearly anyplace within the nation. Native installers additionally work from a listing of kit producers and particular merchandise which were accredited by Sunnova, together with a big selection of panels, inverters, batteries and EV chargers. 

“Nothing’s occurring a roof that we have not already vetted and accredited,” Hultberg mentioned.

The corporate makes use of panels from a wide range of producers, inverters from SolarEdge and Enphase and batteries made by Tesla, Enphase, Generac, SolarEdge and FranklinWh.

Does Sunnova supply system monitoring?

The Sunnova net portal and app offers data on how the shopper’s system is performing, the state of battery cost and extra. 

One fascinating beta characteristic is the flexibility to see when the shopper is pulling power from the grid and the way “soiled” the grid sources are (i.e. coal vs. renewables). The corporate did not supply a particular timeline for when the characteristic could be absolutely useful.

The app has additionally been comparatively nicely reviewed on Google (3.8 stars) and Apple’s (4.1 stars) app shops.

What warranties does Sunnova supply?

Sunnova guarantees to service and in any other case maintain its methods for 25 years. Hultberg identified that when Hurricane Maria devastated Puerto Rico, the corporate mounted each broken Sunnova system on the island territory at no cost to prospects. 

When service or guarantee issues come up through the 25-year interval, prospects would name Sunnova and are prone to see a Sunnova truck roll as much as make repairs.

How a lot do Sunnova photo voltaic panels price?

Sunnova declined to offer any pricing data, which is fairly commonplace apply industry-wide, sadly. 

When you have a look at simply the typical price on gear and set up and think about federal clear power credit of 30%, the typical price of a bought photo voltaic system within the US is $22,091 in keeping with saveonenergy.com, which is owned by CNET’s father or mother firm. 

Different incentives from state, county and municipal governments and generally even banks and credit score unions would possibly deliver that complete out-of-pocket expense down even additional. One evaluation from Wooden Mackenzie reveals the common buy price of put in solar energy was $2.99 per watt for an 8-kilowatt system.

After all the above figures merely replicate nationwide averages, and the US is a rustic of very numerous geographic and financial situations. Make sure you examine costs in your personal space earlier than signing a contract. 

Hultberg mentioned the corporate does not make it a apply to supply a worth match, however that installers do have worth thresholds that they are not allowed to go above or under. 

What financing choices does Sunnova supply?

Sunnova provides energy buy agreements and various methods to buy, lease or finance photo voltaic methods. Hultberg famous that not all states permit leases and different program choices could range by locale. 

Sunnova emphasizes that it could possibly typically work to get prospects up and operating with a brand new photo voltaic system with no upfront price, although the lifetime financial savings of a bought system are usually increased than leases, energy buy agreements or different zero-money-down choices.

Does Sunnova function in my state? How do I order?

Sunnova works with native sellers in all US states and territories.

The order course of begins with getting linked to an accredited Sunnova vendor or installer, both by means of the Sunnova web site or from direct contact with a vendor. 

The native vendor has a dialog with the shopper, checks out the property utilizing satellite tv for pc imagery, places collectively a package deal of kit from Sunnova’s accredited listing and presents it to the shopper for approval. 

The vendor will talk about choices like batteries and EV chargers as nicely. The ultimate system design is then reviewed by Sunnova for a high quality management test and accredited. This triggers the method to provoke new photo voltaic service, together with allowing, set up and at last account activation and flowing electrons. 

“Then we’re working with you for the subsequent 25 years to be sure that system is working and producing power the best way by which we promised that it will,” Hultberg mentioned.

Solar panels on a roof beneath the sun.

Solar and photo voltaic panels means electrical energy.

narvikk/Getty Photographs

Is Sunnova your best option?

Sunnova provides a simple method to including photo voltaic to your own home and guaranteeing your system’s manufacturing for 1 / 4 century. 

All of it sounds fairly nice, however remember that we weren’t supplied with any substantial details about pricing and the vary of kit supplied. We’re additionally not excited concerning the vendor mannequin that basically doubles the analysis requirement — you wish to be sure that each Sunnova and the native installer they join you with are each corporations you are comfy with. 

The Higher Enterprise Bureau has additionally flagged a sample of complaints in opposition to Sunnova that offers us pause, though the corporate assures us the broad majority of its prospects are happy, and it has moved to deal with all complaints. 

Sunnova does additionally seem to have various happy prospects from what we are able to inform, so it is definitely price wanting into. 

Keep in mind that CNET has not truly gone by means of the ordering or set up course of with Sunnova. Make sure you do loads of analysis earlier than making a dedication designed to final at the very least 25 years.

Execs 

  • 25-year service assure
  • A number of financing choices
  • Buyer-centered method
  • Recipient of DOE funding for individuals with decrease credit score scores

Cons

  • Required to undergo community of installers
  • A sample of complaints in keeping with BBB.org
  • No worth match 

Sunnova evaluations: What are prospects saying?

It may be arduous to place a lot inventory in on-line evaluations in the present day. It is easy to seek out each optimistic and detrimental evaluations of Sunnova. However we do take particular word of the Higher Enterprise Bureau’s “sample of grievance” for the corporate. 

“Buyer disputes alleged misleading gross sales practices, poor customer support, they usually additional report set up and restore technicians don’t arrive as scheduled,” the BBB experiences

Sunnova’s BBB accreditation was not renewed beginning in 2019 because of the sample of complaints — together with over 500 previously 12 months — and a authorities motion in opposition to the corporate in Puerto Rico that has since been resolved. 

“Shopper’s complaints acknowledged Sunnova assigned decision specialists who’re unreachable through cellphone or electronic mail inflicting delays in diagnosing and repairing under-producing panels or panels that aren’t operational in any respect,” the BBB alert reads. “Whereas Sunnova Power Company has responded to complaints and plenty of of which had been closed as resolved, (prospects) felt their issues had been addressed solely after submitting a grievance with the BBB.”

Sun beaming in the sky over a rooftop covered in solar panels.

Photo voltaic panels turning daylight into electrical energy.

Getty Photographs

Sunnova identified to CNET that it “engaged in roughly 1.3M interactions with present prospects by means of electronic mail and voice calls. Of these interactions, solely 537 (0.041%) had been related to BBB circumstances.”

Sunnova and the BBB confirmed that just about 99.9% of the above circumstances are at the moment marked as resolved. 

“We’re working intently with the BBB to have our accreditation reinstated,” a Sunnova spokesperson informed CNET.

The corporate additionally says it has made latest investments in a brand new nationwide operations management heart that “offers real-time monitoring, optimization and management of over our total fleet of 300,000 photo voltaic and battery storage methods all through 55 states and territories throughout the US, permitting us to establish and reply to points with unprecedented pace and effectivity.”

Do not be afraid to ask pointed questions when talking with photo voltaic corporations. You may even ask them what they’ve finished to deal with the problems you noticed on the BBB web site. It additionally does not damage to teach your self about present scams within the photo voltaic {industry}. 

How we consider photo voltaic corporations

Reviewing photo voltaic corporations in a hands-on means is tough. Accounting for all of the variations challenge to challenge is inconceivable. To supply a useful assessment, we centered on what we are able to measure and meaningfully examine amongst corporations.

We deal with three buckets of standards: gear, warranties and repair. 

Throughout the gear class, corporations obtain scores for the panels, inverters and batteries they set up. Warranties embrace the ensures on the panels, workmanship and weatherization in opposition to leaks. Corporations earn factors for service if they provide a worth match, a significant stage of worth transparency and a well-rated app for monitoring photo voltaic manufacturing. They lose factors if there are main points pertaining to customer support (lawsuits, investigations or clear reputations for shoddy service). These points will all the time be detailed within the assessment.

You may learn an in depth have a look at how the scoring breaks down.

We do not contemplate the typical worth of an organization’s installations of their rating. This data is tough to seek out and arduous to match throughout service areas (and even roof to roof). Corporations are sometimes gradual to reveal it, too. We additionally miss simply discovered however not helpful data like what number of states an organization operates in.

Probably. When you’re on the lookout for a “set it and overlook it” photo voltaic answer, Sunnova guarantees 25 years of worry-free residence power manufacturing. 

What panels do Sunnova use?

A range. Make sure you ask detailed questions on what they’ll give you to your state of affairs.

Does Sunnova supply financing choices?

Sure, in addition to leases and energy buy agreements. The corporate likes to pitch a financing plan that provides photo voltaic set up with no cash down. Make sure you run the numbers and browse the wonderful print earlier than signing something although.



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