Should I buy Costco solar panels? The pros and cons to the Costco–Sunrun partnership
Published on 10 Jan, 2019 by Andrew Sendy
5 minutes read
On your last weekly shop at Costco, you may have noticed a Sunrun booth advertising big savings on your electric bills from a solar panel system. Are Sunrun’s claims accurate? In this article, we’ll discuss the Costco and Sunrun partnership, as well as the savings offered by residential solar.
Is a solar system a wise investment for my home?
Absolutely. Current incentives mean that solar system owners can save upwards of $100,000 over 25 years in utility bill savings. This is possible because of the 30% federal tax credit and a program called net metering.
Does Sunrun offer the best price?
One user on our sister site Solar Panel Talk was quoted $19,000 for a 5.225 kW system in southern California. This is more expensive than normal. The average price of solar in California is $3.18/watt, or about $16,600, for the same 5.225 kW system.
However, because of the Costco partnership, you can receive $880 Costco cash, which brings down the quoted price to about $3.44/watt. While $3.44/watt is better, it shouldn’t be hard to find a local company offering a much better price.
In the case of this user, he claims the Sunrun sales rep said that the price is not negotiable. This is strange as you should be able to negotiate a fair price with most solar installers.
What are the benefits of the Costco solar–Sunrun partnership?
By going solar, through Costco, with Sunrun you receive an extended roof warranty of 15 years instead of the standard 10 years.
You also get a Costco card equal to 10% of the cost of your system components. Components make up close to 50% of the system cost; in the example above, the components were valued at $8800 out of the total system cost of $19000 cost. Note that to be eligible for the cash card your system can’t be on a PPA or paid for through a loan from Sunrun.
Does Sunrun sell solar battery systems?
Sunrun partner with LG Chem to deliver their Brightbox battery solution. The LG RESU battery used by Sunrun comes in three different sizes depending on how much energy you want to store. Since the LG Chem range has less storage capacity and is more expensive than other battery solutions like the Tesla Powerwall, I wouldn’t count on the Brightbox being a great deal.
Check out a comparison of the top batteries currently on the market – Best solar batteries in 2019: Tesla vs. Sonnen vs. LG Chem vs. BYD.
Should I buy a Sunrun solar battery system — or any battery, for that matter?
If you live in one of the 33 states that offer net metering, there isn’t much point to buying a battery system unless your home experiences a lot of blackouts. The truth is that net metering allows you to store the economic value of your excess solar energy for when you need it — kind of like a battery. Most battery solutions cost over $10,000 and in most cases aren’t worth the money.
Learn more: Grid-tied solar vs solar with battery storage
What is the best way to pay for my solar system? Should I take a Sunrun loan?
For the best deal on a solar system, it’s always best to make a cash purchase. That way, you aren’t stuck paying interest, which will add thousands of dollars to the overall price.
If buying outright isn’t an option for you, most large solar installers offer loans and financing options. This includes Sunrun, which provides solar loans by the name of ‘BrightAdvantage.’
However, the cheapest way to finance a solar system is typically to draw down your existing home loan. That way you will be paying home loan interest rates, which are lower than most solar loan options. Some areas also offer PACE financing on solar systems.
Is Sunrun the best company to buy a solar system from?
If you visit Sunrun’s profile on SolarReviews you’ll see overall their reviews aren’t that great. Many customers claim that their customer service is very poor; however, there are a few other reviewers who seem to swear by them.
Does Home Depot offer better deals on solar systems?
Yes and no. Home Depot sell solar equipment kits (usually from Grape Solar) for around $2.00/watt. While cheaper, you still have the added labor expenses. If you choose to install the system yourself you could damage your roof or injure yourself. The slight financial savings aren’t worth the added hassles and I’d advise you stay well clear of solar panel kits.
How do I find the best solar companies?
If you enter your zip code into the SolarReviews companies section you’ll see a detailed list of installers in your area, with real reviews from their customers. The reviews are not biased in any way and give you a great insight into how solar companies near you do business.
My advice: shop around. If you already have a quote from Sunrun, compare it against quotes from competitive solar marketplaces like this website, Solar-Estimate, and our sister site SolarReviews. Talk to the solar companies providing the quotes and read reviews by real customers about them. Only proceed once you have a competitive quote from a solar company you feel comfortable with.
Follow these steps and you should be all set for 25+ years of clean energy and big financial savings!