Best Solar Panel Installation Companies in Indiana – CNET

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If you live in the Hoosier State and want to lower your electric bill, solar panels could be the solution. Electricity rates in Indiana have seen a slight dip in 2023, but solar is still viable option for those looking to spend less on their monthly electric bill, reduce their reliance on the grid and power their home with clean energy. 

Rising electricity rates happen because of fluctuating prices of fossil fuels and plant shutdowns. Since Indiana’s electricity generation comes mostly from coal and natural gas, your utility bill can sometimes be unpredictable. One way to take control and become energy independent is to go solar — and federal and state incentives make solar an appealing option for Indiana residents.

One potential obstacle: Indiana phased out its net metering policy in 2022, which had allowed residential solar owners to send excess solar generation back to the grid and receive a credit on their next electric bill. Those who installed solar panels prior to 2023 will continue to have access to net metering. Indiana residents making the clean energy switch still have access to the federal residential clean energy credit, as well as sales and property tax exemptions for their solar panel system.

Here’s what you should know if you’re thinking about getting solar panels on your home in Indiana — starting with the best solar panel installation companies operating within the state.

Best national solar panel companies in Indiana

There are 91 solar companies in Indiana, including 26 installers. CNET has reviewed the best national solar installers; here are some to consider.

SunPower Solar

Best solar panels

If you’re looking for top-of-the-line solar panels, SunPower is your best choice. But don’t write it off if you’re looking for a less flashy installation that will get the job done. This year it started installing Qcells panels, which should make an installation from the longest-tenured company on our list available to more people.

Tesla Solar

Most affordable

Tesla’s solar branch seems to be the least loved of Elon Musk’s ventures. Even Tesla’s Solar Roof seems to get more love.

If price is the thing you won’t budge on, consider Tesla. By all accounts, Tesla installs quality panels and makes the closest thing there is to a household name in solar storage: the Powerwall.

Where you might miss out is customer service. Discussion online seems to suggest Tesla’s service is a bit of a gamble.

Local solar panel companies in Indiana

You don’t have to choose a big national brand. Here are some local companies we identified that operate in Indiana.

Advanced Solar provides residential, commercial and agricultural solar services in Indiana ranging from solar system design to inspection and post-installation customer support. Advanced Solar doesn’t publicly provide information on whether it offers solar leases or PPAs or the terms of its warranties.

Based in Bloomington, Indiana, Whole Sun Designs installs solar systems and batteries for residential, group and commercial customers in Indiana, Kentucky and Illinois. While the company focuses on residential, grid-tied solar systems, it also installs solar heaters and off-grid solar power systems. The company installs Q Cells solar panels and SolarEdge inverters for its residential solar customers. While Whole Sun Designs provides a 25-year product warranty, it doesn’t specify if it gives a performance or quality of work warranty.

YellowLite operates in eight states, including Indiana. This Ohio-based company provides customers with solar installation, repair and maintenance. YellowLite also offers online monitoring of your solar system’s performance. It provides a 10-year quality of work warranty, but does not specify warranty information for components. YellowLite provides solar financing services in partnership with GreenSky Credit, Clean Energy Credit Union and traditional banks.

How to determine which solar company in Indiana is best for me

Your choice of solar panel company should be like choosing any other contractor for a big project: You want a company that has a good reputation, a good price and a history of quality work. That means, most importantly, that you need to get multiple quotes

Have representatives from several companies give you estimates of what kind of system they can install and choose one that best fits your wants, needs and budget.

Talk with your neighbors who have solar panels to see what companies they used and what their experiences were like. Ask around and find plenty of options to consider.

Cost of solar panels in Indiana 

Here’s a look at the average cash price for a typical solar panel system in Indiana before factoring in tax credits and incentives, according to data from FindEnergy.com.

Average cost of solar panels in Indiana

Typical system size (kW) Price per watt Total installed cost Cost after 30% federal tax credit
Indiana 8 $4.10 $32,800 $22,960
National average 8.6 $3.67 $31,558 $22,091

The map below shows the average total cash price, cost per watt and system size for a typical solar panel system in your state, according to data from FindEnergy.com. The prices displayed don’t factor in tax credits or state incentives. Certain states don’t have any FindEnergy solar data and are grayed out on the map.

Indiana solar panel incentives or rebates

Despite the end of net metering, Indiana homeowners have several other solar incentive programs to reduce the cost of solar. The residential clean energy credit, a federal solar tax credit program, is one of the essential incentives available to all American homeowners. With this tax credit, you can claim 30% of the cost of a solar system from your federal income taxes. The credit is 30% through 2032. After that, it drops to 26% in 2033, 22% in 2034 and expires in 2035. 

Indiana solar incentives

Program Description
Renewable energy property tax exemption Owners of solar systems installed after Dec. 31, 2011, are exempt from property taxes on any added value to their property from the solar panels. The property tax exemptions apply only to residential property owners and mobile homes with solar systems, not public utilities and electricity retailers operating solar systems.
Sales tax exemption Under this Indiana rule, you don’t have to pay sales taxes on many system components, including panels, inverters and mounting equipment.
NIPSCO Feed-In Tariff The utility company NIPSCO pays feed-in tariffs to owners of solar systems between 3 kilowatts and 1 megawatt of capacity. NIPSCO provides a bill credit based on the surplus energy you send to the power grid. The difference between a feed-in tariff and net metering is that feed-in tariffs aren’t tied to the rate you pay for electricity. You must complete an application form on the utility’s website to receive the tariffs.
Solar easements and rights laws Under Indiana’s solar easement and rights laws, you can voluntarily enter a solar easement contract with your neighbors to ensure your solar panels have access to sunlight. The law stops zoning and planning authorities from restricting or banning the use of solar on your property.

Read more: Want something smaller than a whole-home solar system? See our picks for the best portable solar panels and solar generators.

How to pay for solar panels in Indiana

There are various ways to pay for solar panels in Indiana. Each one has its pros and cons. 

Cash: When you buy a solar system with cash, you don’t need to deal with interest or loan fees. While the upfront cost is high with a cash payment, you can reduce the total cost by claiming the 30% residential clean energy credit. 

Solar loan: If cash is not an option, consider a solar loan. A loan requires no expensive upfront payment but you will pay interest and fees, which can add up to a considerable amount over time. Using cash or a loan gives you a more significant return on your investment because you can apply for various incentive programs to lower the overall cost of solar panels.

Other loans: You don’t have to go with a solar loan from your installer or another solar company. You can also finance solar panels through home equity loanshome equity lines of credit and personal loans. These products all have their own advantages and disadvantages. Know the risks, such as using your home as collateral, and shop around and compare to see what gives you the best deal. 

Solar lease: If you choose to lease solar panels, a solar company installs them on your property, but the ownership remains with the company. You pay a fixed monthly price for the electricity generated from the panels. Since you won’t own leased solar panels, you won’t be eligible for tax and other financial incentives, but the leasing company will. 

Power purchase agreement: With a power purchase agreement (PPA), a solar company installs solar panels on your rooftop but owns and maintains the solar panels. You pay a fixed price per kilowatt hour for electricity produced by solar panels. The solar company retains all incentives because it owns the solar system, which means you won’t be eligible for the incentives. You won’t be able to take advantage of any solar incentives if you sign up for a solar lease or PPA, but leases and PPAs are excellent options for those who can’t afford the upfront capital or are ineligible for a loan. 

Installation factors to keep in mind

Many factors can determine whether it makes sense to go solar.  

  • Home insurance: Adding a solar system to your home insurance policy will provide additional protection. Ask your home insurance company if it covers solar panels. 
  • Location: Determine how much tree shading your property gets throughout the day. If your solar panels are shaded most of the day, they will not produce enough power to meet your needs. An installer may recommend removing or trimming trees to provide more direct sunlight to your panels.
  • Rent or own: While homeowners can decide whether to install solar panels on their property, renters may not have that flexibility. Landlords could reject the idea of installing solar panels in their rental property. The best way for renters to go solar is to join a community solar program
  • Roof status: One of the first things you need to do before installing solar is to get a professional assessment of your roof’s condition and age. It’s more expensive to remove solar panels and replace the roof than to fix the roof before solar installation. An experienced solar company can help you determine if your roof needs repairs before installing solar panels.  
  • The type of solar system: You’ll have plenty of choices when it comes to what solar panels you get. Some are more efficient, and you can also choose a solar roof, which looks more like traditional shingles.

How we found the best solar companies

Our Methodology

The companies we listed above as “the best” are curated from CNET’s best solar companies list. Companies making the best list are scored on the equipment, warranties and customer service they offer. Then, we make sure these recommendations are available in your state. You can read a full breakdown of how we review solar companies here.

Companies listed under the local installers were chosen in a less rigorous way. We chose them because they offered something unique or notable to customers in the state, they seemed well-regarded by internet reviewers or because they were one of the few installers we could find information on in the state.

Whether we’ve completed a full review on a company or not, it’s always a good idea to get multiple quotes from different installers before choosing a company.

FAQs

Will my solar panels generate power during cloudy days?

The amount of power your solar panels produce depends on how much sunlight they receive. When conditions are cloudy, the system will produce less energy than when it is sunny.

Will solar panels get rid of my utility bill?

If your solar system is connected to the grid you will still receive electricity when solar panels stop generating power in the evenings or cloudy days, unless you have enough backup energy storage to cover all of your energy needs. If at any point you don’t produce enough or do not store enough, you will still get a utility bill, but it should be lower.  

How can I find out if my roof is suitable for solar panels?

The ideal roof orientation for solar is south-facing with minimal to no shading around it. You must also ensure your roof has sufficient space to accommodate solar panels. A professional solar installer can assess your roof’s condition and angle and guide you on the next steps if you decide to go solar.

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