Sun. Jul 14th, 2024

6.5

Sunnova

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25-year service assure

Numerous financing choices

Buyer-centered strategy
Do not like
No value match

Attainable customer support issues per the BBB

In the event you’re in search of a customer-centered strategy to getting photo voltaic panels, it might be value getting a quote from Sunnova. It affords assurances that your system is working because it ought to with a easy course of for rectifying any issues together with your photo voltaic panels.

Sunnova’s pitch is designed for these in search of a set-it-and-forget-it strategy 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 telephone quantity to name with any questions for all the length. 

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


Can photo voltaic panels prevent cash?

Eager about understanding the impression photo voltaic can have on your property? Enter some fundamental data beneath, and we’ll immediately present a free estimate of your vitality financial savings.


One of many newest evolutions on the planet of photo voltaic is the notion of “vitality as a service” supplied by a number of the larger gamers. The concept is to simplify going photo voltaic and make the transfer to renewable vitality — whether or not you are occupied with preventing local weather change, chopping your vitality payments, or hopefully each — so simple as switching web suppliers. An internet of tax credit and different incentives, to not point out the free vitality produced, additionally makes it an attractive proposition for shoppers. 

Eloi_Omella/Getty Picture

Sunnova is a number one energy-as-a-service supplier and has been a public firm traded on the New York Inventory Change 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 greatest 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 have the ability to entry such financing by an initiative known as Venture Hestia. The federal authorities has dedicated to offer mortgage ensures on as much as 90% of $3.3 billion in loans originated by Sunnova. 

“Venture Hestia would make attainable a historic personal sector funding in deprived American communities and vitality infrastructure,” Sunnova CEO John Berger stated in a press release. 

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

CNET has not gone by the method of ordering from Sunnova, having a system put in or testing the tools talked about right here. As a substitute, we have now studied the {industry}, had an in-depth dialog with the corporate, and, to a restricted extent, considered exterior opinions from those that have interacted with the corporate.

With this in thoughts, it’s 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 their very own analysis. (You are off to an excellent begin by studying this evaluation.) Yow will discover loads extra photo voltaic corporations right here at CNET as effectively.

What do I get from Sunnova?

Over the previous few years, Sunnova has targeted on creating what it calls the Sunnova “adaptive residence,” which fits past simply placing a number 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 client for 25 years,” Hultberg defined.

What tools does Sunnova provide?

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

“Nothing’s occurring a roof that we’ve not already vetted and authorised,” Hultberg stated.

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

Does Sunnova provide system monitoring?

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

One fascinating beta function is the flexibility to see when the client is pulling vitality from the grid and the way “soiled” the grid sources are (i.e. coal vs. renewables). The corporate did not provide a particular timeline for when the function can be totally purposeful.

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

What warranties does Sunnova provide?

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

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

How a lot do Sunnova photo voltaic panels value?

Sunnova declined to offer pricing data, which is fairly customary follow industry-wide. Hultberg stated the corporate would not make it a follow to cost match, however that installers do have value thresholds that they don’t seem to be allowed to go above or beneath. 

In the event you have a look at the common value on tools and set up earlier than factoring within the federal clear vitality credit of 30%, the US nationwide common value is roughly $18,073 for a 5-kilowatt system and $3.60 per watt, in response to FindEnergy.com. 

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

In fact, the above figures merely mirror nationwide averages. You’ll want to examine costs in your personal space earlier than signing a contract. 

To get an concept of what photo voltaic prices appear like in every US state, this is a have a look at the common whole value, system measurement and price per watt of photo voltaic panels, in response to information from FindEnergy.com. The states shaded in grey had no information obtainable. 

What financing choices does Sunnova provide?

Sunnova affords energy buy agreements and quite a few methods to buy, lease or finance photo voltaic methods. Hultberg famous that not all states enable leases and different program choices might range by locale. 

Sunnova says it might typically get prospects up and working with a brand new photo voltaic system with no upfront value, although the lifetime financial savings of a bought system are sometimes greater than they’re with leases, energy buy agreements or different zero-money-down choices.

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

Zooey Liao / CNET

Sunnova works with native sellers in all US states and territories. The order course of begins with getting related to an authorised Sunnova supplier or installer, both by the Sunnova web site or from direct contact with a supplier. 

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

The supplier will talk about choices comparable to batteries and EV chargers as effectively. The ultimate system design is then reviewed by Sunnova for a quality-control verify, then authorised. This triggers the method to provoke new photo voltaic service, together with allowing, set up and, lastly, account activation and flowing electrons. 

“Then we’re working with you for the following 25 years to ensure that system is working and producing vitality the way in which during which we promised that it could,” Hultberg stated.

Is Sunnova the only option?

Solar and photo voltaic panels means electrical energy.

narvikk/Getty Pictures

Sunnova affords a straightforward strategy for including photo voltaic to your property and guaranteeing your system’s manufacturing for 1 / 4 century. 

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

The Higher Enterprise Bureau has additionally flagged a sample of complaints in opposition to Sunnova that provides us pause. The corporate assures us that the broad majority of its prospects are happy, and it says it has moved to deal with all complaints. Sunnova does additionally seem to have quite a few happy prospects from what we will inform.

Bear in mind, CNET has not really gone by the ordering or set up course of with Sunnova. You’ll want to do loads of analysis earlier than making a 25-year dedication.

Professionals 25-year service guaranteeLots of financing optionsCustomer-centered approachRecipient of DOE funding for individuals with decrease credit score scoresConsRequired to undergo community of installersA sample of complaints in response to BBB.orgNo value match 

Sunnova critiques: What are prospects saying?

It may be onerous to place a lot inventory in on-line critiques right this moment. It is easy to seek out each optimistic and destructive critiques of Sunnova. Nonetheless, we do take particular be aware of the Higher Enterprise Bureau’s “sample of grievance” for the corporate. 

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

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

“Client’s complaints acknowledged Sunnova assigned decision specialists who’re unreachable by way of telephone 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.”

Photo voltaic panels turning daylight into electrical energy.

Getty Pictures

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

Sunnova and the BBB confirmed that almost 99.9% of the above circumstances are presently marked as resolved. “We’re working carefully with the BBB to have our accreditation reinstated,” a Sunnova spokesperson advised CNET.

The corporate additionally says it has made latest investments in a brand new nationwide operations management middle that “offers real-time monitoring, optimization and management of over our whole 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 of photo voltaic corporations. You possibly can even ask them what they’ve performed to deal with the problems you noticed on the BBB web site. It additionally would not damage to coach your self about present scams within the photo voltaic {industry}. 

How we consider photo voltaic corporations

Reviewing photo voltaic corporations in a hands-on approach is troublesome. Accounting for all of the variations from undertaking to undertaking is inconceivable. To supply a useful evaluation, we targeted on what we will measure and meaningfully examine amongst corporations.

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

Throughout the tools class, corporations obtain scores for the panels, inverters and batteries they set up. Warranties embody the ensures on the panels, workmanship and weatherization in opposition to leaks. Corporations earn factors for service if they provide a value match, a significant degree of value 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 at all times be detailed within the evaluation.

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

We do not take into account the common value of an organization’s installations of their rating. This data is troublesome to seek out and onerous to check throughout service areas, and even roof to roof. Corporations are sometimes gradual to reveal it, too. We additionally omit simply discovered data that’s of restricted use, like what number of states an organization operates in.

Doubtlessly. In the event you’re in search of a “set it and neglect it” photo voltaic answer, Sunnova guarantees 25 years of worry-free residence vitality manufacturing. 

What panels does Sunnova use?

A range. You’ll want to ask detailed questions on what they will give you in your scenario.

Does Sunnova provide financing choices?

Sure, in addition to leases and energy buy agreements. The corporate likes to pitch a financing plan that gives photo voltaic set up with no cash down. You’ll want to run the numbers and skim the nice print earlier than signing something, although.

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