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It goes without saying that the trend of shifting to a clean and sustainable energy source like solar is steadily gaining momentum.
If you are among the numerous other homeowners, like me, planning to shift to solar, you are probably sweating hard as you do your research before choosing the best solar panels. I am no tech-nerd and reading about solar panels can be a challenge!
Quite simply, I am after solar panels that will last for years and help me reduce our family’s footprint and save big bucks in terms of energy bills.
And Sunrun and Sunpower are the two popular options that you will surely come across in your research. I have also looked into Sunrun and Tesla solar panels.
After a closer look at the Sunrun vs SunPower solar panels, here is what I found out. Hopefully, it will help to make the best choice.
There are many similarities between these two companies. The main points of difference between Sunrun and Sunpower include price – SunPower is more expensive, while Sunrun has more affordable options (including leasing, if you don’t mind third-party ownership). Sunpower offers a longer warranty and its panel are more efficient at generating power. Sunrun has also the ability to offer a more customized product (particularly important for small houses).
Let’s have a closer look at Sunrun and Sunpower Solar Panels.
Sunrun Company Profile
Established in 2007, Sunrun has emerged as one of the top brands in the field of residential solar energy systems. The brand has its headquarters in San Francisco, California.
Sunrun offers a range of plans for residential homeowners ranging from monthly leases to full purchases. However, solar leases form the majority of their business. You can rent solar panels from Sunrun for a monthly fee as a part of their solar-as-service feature.
The best part is, Sunrun can customize the solar panel setup based on the unique needs and the size of each home.
Once you submit some basic information to Sunrun, the company will study your electricity consumption pattern to understand your needs.
In the next stage, a technician will visit your house to study the layout and the roof structure. Once the design details are finalized, installation is usually completed within a day.
Besides, Sunrun also offers energy security during blackouts through its battery storage services. It has paired up with Tesla Powerwall to provide complete home backup systems.
Here are some more features of the brand that are worth noting.
- Sunrun offers high-quality solar panels from top manufacturers. The panels ensure high-efficiency ratings along with durability.
- With Sunrun, you get a “bumper-to-bumper warranty”. This includes all repairs and replacements to make sure that your solar energy system works at its best. Sunrun also offers a 10-year workmanship warranty to cover any problems related to installation.
- It also provides an advanced solar system monitoring system to ensure the best performance at all times. The monitoring team oversees the performance and responds if there is an issue.
Sunpower Company Profile
Sunpower was officially established in 1985 and has been developing solar technology through the past decades. The headquarters of the brand is in San Jose, California.
Note, in 2020, Sunpower was split into two segments- SunPower and Maxeon Solar. Maxeon Solar is based in Singapore and manufactures solar panels that come with the Sunpower branding.
Sunpower sells its panels through authorized installers. It offers complete solar generation and storage solutions for homes and businesses. You can also choose roofs fully integrated with solar panels in a rugged and long-lasting design.
Sunpower monocrystalline solar panels are classified into five categories.
M Series- These panels are made from Maxeon Gen 6 cells. Sunpower claims that these are the most efficient Gen 6 cells in the market. They are available up to a capacity of 440W.
A Series- Made from Maxeon Gen 5 cells, these panels offer up to 22.7% efficiency. They are also the first 400-watt solar panels in the world and deliver more power per square foot than other competitors.
X Series- These panels are better suited for residential use as they deliver more electricity from smaller areas. The efficiency can be as high as 22.8%. You also get premium aesthetics that match any architectural style.
E Series- Sunpower mentions that these panels combine high efficiency with excellent durability to provide decades of uninterrupted service. Overall they are fantastic all-rounders for all types of users.
P Series- The Performance Series (P-Series) is designed for commercial use and comes with a shingled design that enhances panel life.
Here are some other features of the brand.
- Sunpower also offers energy storage solutions for residential and commercial setups. These come in the form of SunVault Storage and Helix Storage.
- The Maxeon solar cells used by Sunpower have a copper foundation. In addition, they use ultra pure silicon to provide high performance and long-term reliability. The cell design reduces problems like corrosion and breakage.
- You get an industry-leading warranty on the workmanship and materials for 25 years with Sunpower panels. All repair or replacement costs are covered under the warranty.
Sunrun vs Sunpower: The Comparison
As you can see both Sunrun and Sunpower have an impressive company profiles even though their business models differ.
However, Sunpower has been manufacturing solar panels for longer periods and has more experience in developing high-end products.
Let us compare the products under the main factors.
Panel design and efficiency
Before you ask, solar panel efficiency is the ability of a panel to convert the sun’s rays falling on it into electricity.
Most modern solar panels offer around 20% efficiency. That means they can convert 20% of the total sunlight falling on them into solar energy.
Since Sunrun doesn’t manufacture its own solar panels, they offer panels from other manufacturers.
Sunrun does not mention the specifics of the panel that they use. That makes evaluating the panel efficiency somewhat difficult. You have to request an online quotation to look into the details.
Previously, Sunrun used panels manufactured by LG. However, after LG stopped manufacturing solar panels, the company has tied up with other high-end manufacturers for procuring solar panels.
On the other hand, Sunpower has some of the most efficient solar panels under its belt. You also get excellent temperature coefficient ratings from their panels. If you have a limited amount of space and want to derive the best solar output, you can not go wrong with Sunpower panels.
When it comes to panel efficiency, Sunrun mentions that average solar panels come with 15% to 20% efficiency. However, the Maxeon Gen 5 solar panels from Sunpower can deliver as high as 22.7% efficiency.
Fact is, Sunpower offers better panel efficiency than brands like Panasonic and JinkoSolar.
In terms of power output, Sunrun provides residential solar panels that offer 250 to 400 watts of output. The M-series solar panels from Sunpower can also deliver up to 440W of power.
Overall, in terms of panel efficiency, Sunpower turns out to be the winner.
Shifting to solar is a big investment. So, the longer the warranty on the products, the better it is.
Sunpower offers a comprehensive warranty on the entire system for 25 years. This also includes the cost of labor, components, and shipping. Beyond that Sunpower also guarantees that the maximum loss in power output for their panels is limited to 8% in 25 years.
Moreover, you do not need any proof of purchase or receipts to claim warranty service from Sunrun.
When it comes to Sunrun, the brand provides a comprehensive warranty on its products and installation for 10 years. Also, the 24/7 monitoring of your solar output is also a great feature
Even so, no prizes to guess the winner in this category. It is Sunpower!
Cost is an important factor that you need to consider before installing solar panels. And with higher panel quality the prices will rise.
Since Sunpower offers high-end solar panels, their costs are higher than the market average. However, the prices are not astronomical.
In general, you can consider Sunpower solar panels to cost $1.52/watt. A competitor like Panasonic will cost around $1.12/watt.
However, keep in mind that solar panels will make up only around 25% of the total installation costs. Besides, if you have sufficient space, you can use panels of slightly lower efficiency to cut down the costs.
Sunrun provides customers with multiple flexible lease options that can fit their budgets. By choosing the monthly lease plan from Sunrun, you can avoid the upfront expense too.
That said, you need to check the lease agreement and compare it with the local energy prices to see if the plan works out for you.
Still, we have to say that Sunrun is the more affordable option among the two.
Keep in mind that Sunpower sells its panels through pre-approved installers. This could be an issue in many states as not all states have the same number of dealers.
Also, this could be a problem for users when it comes to cost and installation time.
Sunrun provides a hassle-free system that works through their online system and virtual consultation sessions. The team will provide a custom-designed solar power delivery system for your home and arrange for all the permits and approvals.
Let me add that there are some reviewers who had unfavorable experiences with Sunrun. Make sure that you do your own research to prevent getting influenced by a sales team.
With the main differences between the Sunpower and Sunrun solar panels clear to you, it is time to sum up the facts.
Sunpower manufactures its own solar panel systems and also offers installation services. But Sunrun mainly works as solar panel installers.
This makes Sunpower the better choice in terms of panel quality and performance. In reality, Sunpower panels are highly regarded by industry experts.
Admittedly, they are the more pricey option. But with higher panel durability and a fantastic 25-year warranty, Sunpower panels will provide more value in the long run.
Sunrun is a good choice when you are on a budget and not willing to pay a higher upfront cost. They also offer more customized solutions that are good for small homes.
Now it is your turn to make the final choice based on your solar energy needs.
Frequently Asked Questions
Is Sunrun better than Sunpower?
Not really. Sunpower manufactures its own solar panels which are some of the best in the market in terms of performance and durability. Sunrun installs panels that are made by other manufacturers. So in terms of solar panel quality, Sunpower is the better option. Sunrun is nevertheless a valid option, particularly if you are after a cheaper deal.
Is Sunrun owned by Tesla?
No Sunrun is not owned by Tesla. In fact, after its acquisition of Vivint Solar, Sunrun has emerged as a major challenger to the solar ambitions of Tesla. That said, Sunrun has also been using the Tesla Powerwall smart home battery as a backup power solution for its customers.
Does NASA use Sunpower panels?
Yes, NASA has been using high-efficiency solar panels from Sunpower since 1997. The panels have been used to power NASA facilities, and solar-powered unmanned vehicles and aircraft. They were also used in exploring the Greenland ice sheet.