- Options for after-installation support
- Top-of-line equipment
- Financing marketplace
- Some warranties could be stronger
- No consistent price match policy
Palmetto is CNET’s highest rated solar company of 2024, thanks to its strong marks for both customer care and solar equipment.
Palmetto’s suite of after-installation monitoring and support, while not the only such option in the industry, offers some peace of mind for people laying down a large amount of money for an unfamiliar technology. Even if you’re unfamiliar with solar technology, you can be sure that Palmetto installations come with excellent equipment. It offers some of our favorite solar panels and batteries.
We feel Palmetto, like the rest of the industry, could find ways to share more pricing information with customers earlier in the process, though they do offer a rough estimate of the savings you might see on your energy bill. That’s more than some other companies.
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If you’d like to save some money on electricity, take part in the energy transition or charge up your electric vehicle on the cheap, rooftop solar might be a good fit. But even with the help of a 30% federal tax credit and other local solar incentives, going solar requires research, careful thought and a significant amount of money. Navigating the highly competitive solar industry requires avoiding the less-than-honest companies out there.
One of the most important things you can do is get multiple quotes from companies in your area, including local ones, but it’s worth knowing the national players who conduct much of the residential solar business in the US.
Even though this review is as thorough as possible, it shouldn’t be the end of your research. Shop around and get multiple quotes before moving ahead with one company or another. Make sure you get all your questions answered and that you’re proceeding with confidence. We didn’t go through the ordering process with Palmetto (or any other company we’ve reviewed), so your experience may differ from what’s reported here.
What do I get from Palmetto?
Palmetto solar customers can buy solar panels or enter into a lease or power purchase agreement, although the majority of its customers purchase their panels. While purchasing solar panels outright will often save you the most money in the long run, third-party ownership models like leases and power purchase agreements have helped spur residential solar growth by removing much of the upfront cost.
What equipment does Palmetto install?
Regardless of how you get solar panels on your roof, Palmetto is likely to offer quality ones. While the company is “equipment agnostic,” as Jason Conrad, Palmetto’s vice president of product marketing told CNET in 2022, Palmetto’s main offerings for solar panels and inverters are quality ones.
Palmetto currently installs Qcells panels and REC Alpha Pure Black panels, though more Qcells panels these days, Conrad said in a 2023 email. It only installs all-black panels that have low-profile mounting systems, 25-year warranties and certain supply chain ethics assurances. Qcells solar panels are the most widely installed in residential applications. The Qcells panels Palmetto highlights online have a maximum efficiency rating of 21.4%, a top-tier mark, and the REC panels have a maximum efficiency rating of 21.6%.
Palmetto installs Enphase microinverters and SolarEdge inverters with power optimizers, both of which allow for monitoring the system at the panel level. The two companies provide the majority of inverters used in residential solar installations.
Palmetto offers batteries from two manufacturers. The current offerings are from Sonnen and Tesla. A sonnenCore battery has 10 kilowatt-hours of capacity and can discharge at a peak of 8.6 kilowatts or continuously at 4.8 kilowatts. You can stack at least two batteries for a capacity of 20 kWh. Sonnen’s Ecolinx has a capacity of 12-20 kWh and can push out electricity at a continuous rate of 8 kilowatts. It’s also 100% recyclable, according to Sonnen. Tesla’s Powerwall holds 13.5 kWh and can deliver a steady stream of energy at five kilowatts or a peak of seven kilowatts.
What warranties does Palmetto offer?
Solar installations from Palmetto are covered by a 10-year workmanship warranty and a five-year warranty that the holes drilled in your roof won’t leak, Conrad said. Those warranties are a bit shorter than some other companies.
Both REC and Qcells panels are guaranteed by the manufacturer to produce at 86% of their rated capacity after 25 years (some REC models have a 92% guarantee). These production warranties are near the top of the field for both length and the level of production.
Tesla and most Sonnen batteries offer 10-year warranties, though some Sonnen batteries carry 15-year warranties, the longest I’ve seen in the residential industry. SolarEdge inverters come with a 12-year warranty, while Enphase inverters come with a 25-year warranty.
Palmetto’s lease and power purchase agreement receive additional benefits — a production guarantee and labor coverage — under the Palmetto Protect Performance plan. Customers who purchase their panels with either cash or a loan can add this additional coverage for a fee. Customers who opt out of the Performance plan receive the standard warranties and proactive monitoring of their system under the Palmetto Protect Essentials plan.
Does Palmetto offer monitoring services?
The Palmetto app for monitoring, maintenance requests and customer service has a 3.9 star rating on Google Play and a 4.4 rating on Apple’s App Store.
Palmetto customers also receive proactive monitoring and communication of any problems that arise with their panels.
Does Palmetto use subcontractors?
Palmetto operates on a marketplace system, which means that it brings customers and installers together. The company says this brings the price down by fostering competition, although you should still get multiple quotes. It also means that Palmetto doesn’t have installers on staff, though Palmetto will be your main point of contact throughout. Adding a performance guarantee on top could reduce concerns you might feel over installations not being handled in-house.
How much do Palmetto solar panels cost?
Palmetto, like many solar companies, doesn’t make its average prices per installation public. For some locations, it does give you a few basic pieces of information about your potential solar array. For my address, I got a potential solar array projected onto my roof. It included the number of panels needed to offset my energy usage, but not a price.
The average cost of solar installations is $2.99 per watt for an 8-kilowatt system, according to an analysis done by Wood Mackenzie, though other estimates put the number higher. The map below uses state-specific pricing data from FindEnergy, which reports prices before incentives. States without data are shown in gray.
Palmetto also hosts and operates a financing marketplace, where different lenders offer competing loans. This drives down the lending cost, Conrad said, though he couldn’t say how much it saves people. These include loans that allow you to lump in other energy efficiency or solar-related home improvements like new windows, roofing, panel upgrades, battery storage and more.
Again, it’s important to explore your options for paying for solar. Avoiding a loan can save you a lot of money because you won’t pay lending fees or interest.
What financing options does Palmetto offer?
You can get solar panels from Palmetto via purchase, lease or power purchase agreement. While purchasing panels, either with cash or using a loan, will deliver the greatest savings over time, a lease or power purchase agreement removes much of the upfront costs. Depending on the terms of your agreement, you might save money on your energy bill immediately rather than after a few years, like solar purchases.
Palmetto’s leases and power purchase agreements come with an option to buy out your system starting after five years. This setup allows you to get solar savings right away while keeping open your option to buy (and likely accessing greater savings). It’s a provision that doesn’t seem to be common but helps alleviate some concerns you might have over entering into a 25-year contract.
Leases might be a more attractive option, as interest rates are high.
“The consumer value proposition on buying solar through a loan is really impacted by higher interest rates,” Jason Conrad, senior vice president of Palmetto, told CNET in September.
Does Palmetto Solar operate in my state? How do I order?
Palmetto operates in 25 states, according to its website. While you’ll interact with Palmetto throughout the process, Palmetto is “100% percent driven by vendors in our network,” Conrad said. Palmetto may sell, install or finance panels (or some combination of the three) in the states below, according to a company spokesperson.
To order, you’ll contact the company through Palmetto’s website to get quotes and connect with a solar advisor. That process includes an introductory meeting, a site survey, contract signing and system design, mostly online. From there, the company lays out a timeline for operating solar panels that will take two to four months.
Is Palmetto Solar my best choice?
The short answer for a purchase this big is “it depends.” Before you purchase solar panels, you should gather multiple quotes and carefully consider what’s best for your home and energy use.
Palmetto does offer quality equipment that’s widely used across the industry. Its stated standards for solar panels mean they will be top tier and under strong warranties. The inverter and batteries on offer are strong candidates too.
The warranties Palmetto offers vary from strong to lower than average. Because it offers quality equipment, the equipment warranties are strong. Its workmanship warranties match many of the others in the field, but the five-year warranty for roof penetrations could be longer.
Palmetto’s promise to proactively monitor is a nice addition that can offer peace of mind for people who feel intimidated by the technology they’re buying. I can see the production guarantee doing the same thing for cautious customers.
Palmetto does have an A+ rating from the Better Business Bureau.
While this review is researched to the best of my ability, it cannot be overstated that each solar situation is different. Roof construction, local climate and your energy use all impact how solar panels best fit your needs. Getting multiple quotes and negotiating with solar companies is the best way to ensure you’re getting a good deal; this review can’t replace that.
- Strong commitment to support after installation
- Quality equipment on offer
- Financing marketplace could drive down prices
- Some warranties could be longer
- No firm price match policy
Palmetto reviews: What are customers saying?
Online customer reviews can be helpful in a few ways. While it’s likely not a good idea to expect your experience with a company to follow point for point with any individual review, they can be a useful place to identify trends in the customer experience and figure out what questions you ought to ask of installers.
Here’s a small sample of the good and bad from the Better Business Bureau, which has been lightly edited for spelling and punctuation.
5 star reviews
“Incredible service. Everyone was so nice and they were very helpful and there was no pressure. They installed them very fast and did an excellent job. I would recommend!” Nick L. May 2, 2023
“Palmetto has kept me well informed about the project and the next step the entire process. I am very happy with the end result. It did take a bit longer than I anticipated but well worth it! Palmetto is always quick to respond to any questions. My solar panels are producing above my expectations.” Kay G. April 1, 2023
1 star reviews
“My system has been dead for a while and am currently waiting for them to approve the 3rd party to remedy this incompetent install (+-$790), but they are just leaving me hanging.” Sheldon B. March 3, 2023 (Palmetto responded that it’s working on a solution to this complaint.)
“Eight months ago, I started the process of getting solar panels installed on my roof with Palmetto. Over 5 months ago, I gave a deposit for my project. About two months ago, I reached out to my project manager and a number of other Palmetto agents that I reached via their customer service line, inquiring to understand what the hold-up was as I had heard nothing (and still had no solar). Well, since then, no one has returned a phone call. I filed a case to have my project canceled and my deposit refunded.” Christine B. Feb. 1, 2023 (Palmetto indicated it would reach out to the customer to provide an update shortly.)
How we evaluate solar companies
Reviewing solar companies in a hands-on way is difficult. Accounting for all the differences from project to project is impossible. To provide a helpful review, we focused on what we can measure and meaningfully compare among companies.
We focus on three buckets of criteria: equipment, warranties and service.
Within the equipment category, companies receive scores for the panels, inverters and batteries they install. Warranties include guarantees on the panels, workmanship and weatherization against leaks. Companies earn points for service if they offer a price match, a meaningful level of price transparency and a well-rated app for monitoring solar production. They lose points if there are major issues pertaining to customer service (lawsuits, investigations or clear reputations for shoddy service). These issues will always be detailed in the review.
You can read a detailed look at how the scoring breaks down.
We don’t consider the average price of a company’s installations in their score. This information is difficult to find and hard to compare across service areas (and even roof-to-roof). Companies are often slow to disclose it, too. We also leave out easily found but not useful information like how many states a company operates in.
Read more: Want something smaller than a whole-home solar system? See our picks for the best portable solar panels and solar generators.
Frequently asked questions
Correction, Jan. 31, 2023: An earlier version of this article misstated the Better Business Bureau’s grading process. Any company can receive a grade from the Bureau, regardless of whether it has paid to go through the accreditation process.