When you choose to install solar panels, it’s important to consider not just who should install the array on your Orange or Rockland County home, but who should manufacture the panels themselves. Your decision will affect your utility costs and overall satisfaction with your solar installation for the next few decades. Clearly, this is a decision you want to research and feel comfortable with before you act.
Here’s a look at two popular solar panel providers in New York: SunPower vs SunRun. By learning more about each company’s history and the quality of their solar panels, you can make a more informed decision about which company to purchase from.
While SunPower was officially incorporated in 1985, the company was a long time in the making. Back in the 70s, co-founder Dr. Richard Swanson was inspired by the solar cells used on satellites. He thought this technology might be the key to dealing with the oil crisis.
It has now been 30 years since SunPower got its official start in Silicon Valley, and the company has grown in leaps and bounds. Here are some memorable accomplishments the company has seen along the way:
- In 1993, SunPower manufactured high efficiency solar cells to power a Honda, which won a race across Australia.
- In 1997, NASA enlisted SunPower to produce solar cells to power Pathfinder, a remotely piloted high-altitude aircraft.
- In 2001, SunPower set its first world record by producing solar cells to power NASA’s Helios aircraft, which achieved a record 96,863 feet.
- In 2007, solar cells with recording-breaking 22.4% conversion efficiency went into mass production.
- In 2009, President Obama dedicated a 25 megawatt SunPower solar power plant in Florida.
- In 2013, Solar Impulse, an airplane powered entirely by SunPower solar cells, successfully flew across America.
- In 2015, SunPower still holds the record for the most efficient solar panels in production at 21.5% efficiency.
SunPower vs SunRun: Panel Technology
A company is only as good as its products, so what makes SunPower panels some of the best in the industry? It all comes down to the technology the company utilizes and its dedication to continuing innovation. Even after all these years, SunPower has yet to settle. The company has never said, “That’s it, we’ve reached the highest efficiency that will ever be possible. We can stop innovating now.” Instead, SunPower has continued to raise the bar as the leader in the solar industry.
Every company strives to overcome SunPower’s solar cell and panel efficiency ratings, but the company continues to stay one step ahead. World record efficiency combined with a lower degradation rate allows SunPower panels to produce 70% more energy in the first 25 years of use than conventional 14% to 16% efficiency panels.
It’s all thanks to energy-efficient features, which include:
- No gridlines so the sun can fully penetrate the cell.
- Unique light-grabbing surface to extract more power from the sun.
- Solid copper foundation to provide matchless strength and durability.
- Special design that eliminates 85% of the reasons solar panels fail prematurely.
- Cells made of ultra pure monocrystalline silicon for optimal power conversion.
- Anti-reflective coating for higher energy production.
SunPower vs SunRun: Business Growth
Founded in 2007 in San Francisco, SunRun currently operates in 15 states, including New York. The co-founders, two Stanford Business School graduates, got into the business – not because they were inspired to make a difference in the world of solar – but because “the numbers worked.”
SunRun’s claim to fame is the concept of “solar as a service,” commonly called solar leasing. Company leaders pioneered this financing option, which is available from most solar installers today. Solar leasing is the most convenient way to go solar and is certainly the ideal financing option for some, but SunRun also offers prepaid leasing, solar loans and an upfront ownership option for people with other financing needs.
SunRun has installed more than $2 billion in solar systems since the company launched and currently has over 100,000 customers across the country. Support for investors such as JP Morgan, US Bancorp and Credit Suisse have made this possible.
Unfortunately, some say SunRun’s business plan is not sustainable. True, the company has been growing rapidly for the past few years, but once the Investment Tax Credit (ITC) expires at the end of 2016, the number of new solar leases signed is bound to plummet.
While SunRun is based in the US, the company purchases a significant portion of its solar panel components from Chinese suppliers. With the late 2014 implementation of tariffs on solar products from China and Taiwan, the price of SunRun solar panels have gone up, a trend that could spell disaster for the company once the ITC expires and new solar installations are cut in half.
Stepping away from the company itself, SunRun solar panels are actually not all manufactured by the same company. The SunRun website claims, “We use only the best panel manufacturers,” but doesn’t give any specifics about who these manufacturers are. This prevents you from comparing SunRun panel technology with other solar companies. And since solar panels are clearly not all created equal, this is a huge setback to any company that wants to attract educated consumers.
Now that it’s clear which company wins in the SunPower vs SunRun debate, you can start looking for solar companies in Rockland and Orange County that install SunPower panels. The combination of a great solar panel and an experienced installer is what you need to ensure your complete satisfaction with the end product.