Best Solar Panel Installation Companies in Minnesota – CNET

11 minutes, 39 seconds Read

Minnesota is known more for lakes than it is for the sun. But with falling solar panel costs, accessibility of solar power in the North Star State is growing.  

The price of solar panels has dropped by 52% in the last decade, according to the Solar Energy Industries Association. Solar incentives, rebates and tax credits can bring the cost of solar panels down further. 

There are a couple solid state-level incentives in Minnesota. Net metering policies allow you to gain credits from sending the excess energy generated by your solar panel system back to the grid. These credits allow you to pull energy from the grid outside of peak sunlight hours. The state also offers sales and property tax exemptions for solar panel systems.

Before you make a decision about going solar, we suggest doing your research, comparing quotes from multiple solar installers and thinking through whether your home is a good candidate for solar panels. Here’s what you need to know — starting with the best solar companies operating within Minnesota.

Best national solar companies in Minnesota

Minnesota currently has 58 solar installers and developers, according to the SEIA. As solar panels grow in popularity, the number of installers in the state will likely increase to keep up with demand.

Finding the right solar installer for your home is crucial. You should search for an installer that fits within your budget, can meet your timeline and offers the products you want. It’s also important to read customer reviews and get several quotes from different installers. We’ve compiled a list of solar panel installers that stand out in the market, but be sure to do your own research before signing a contract. 

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 Minnesota     

Located in St. Paul Minnesota, All Energy Solar offers commercial services US-wide and residential installations in Iowa, Illinois, Massachusetts, Minnesota, New Hampshire and Wisconsin. The company can provide all-around service including solar panel installation, roofing repair, battery storage and EV charging. 

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

Here are some tips when choosing a solar installer:  

1. Get multiple quotes and compare: This is possibly the single most important step. You can’t know if you’re getting ripped off without checking a quote against something else. 
2. Ask you installer
 questions: A reputable installer shouldn’t be afraid of questions. If you feel you’re getting the run-around, ask other installers the same questions and compare their answers.
3. Talk to your neighbors who have solar panels: Ask your neighbor how well their chosen company communicated, stuck to the schedule, navigated the permitting process and supported them after installation. If the company has a referral program, you could kick a few hundred dollars your neighbor’s way, too.
4. Understand your local incentives: Make sure you know whether your local government and utility have solar-friendly policies that can make solar a safer financial bet.
5. Read reviews and complaints: Online reviews aren’t the gospel truth, but they’re useful for educating yourself on the issues that might crop up and common experiences that customers have had with a company.
6. Check licenses and certifications: You can check the North American Board of Certified Energy Practitioners for certified installers near you. There are other certifying organizations though, so ask installers where their licensure comes from.
7. Calculate your savings: If a company seems to be promising too much, don’t commit and investigate further. 

Cost of solar panels in Minnesota

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

Average cost of solar panels in Minnesota

Typical system size (kW) Price per watt Total installed cost Cost after 30% federal tax credit
Minnesota 7 $4.03 $28,210 $19,747
National average 8.6 $3.67 $31,558 $22,091

The following interactive map provides the average total cash price, cost per watt and system size for a solar panel system in your state, according to data from Prices shown do not represent rebates from tax credits or state incentives. Certain states don’t have any FindEnergy solar data and are grayed out on the map.

How to pay for solar panels

There are several ways to finance solar panels for your home, each with its pros and cons. Here are the most common financing options:

Purchase the system upfront: This option requires you to have the cash available to pay for the system, and with an average cost of more than $20,000, that’s not easy. If you do have the cash, you can make the purchase more seamless and avoid financing costs. If solar panels are in your future, consider saving up for them with a high-yield savings account.

Finance the system with a solar loan: Solar loans are often offered by the solar installer, usually in partnership with a financial institution. This option might be quicker to access than other types of financing, but you should make sure you’re getting the best deal.

Other types of financing: You can use other types of loans to pay for solar panels. Home equity loans and lines of credit are often used to pay for home improvements, and may have better rates than solar loans. They’re secured by your home, so make sure you can pay them back or you risk foreclosure. Personal loans are generally unsecured, but often come with higher rates and shorter terms.

Sign a solar lease or power purchase agreement: If you sign a solar lease or PPA, you won’t own the solar panel system. This means you won’t qualify for incentives or tax credits and your long-term savings will be lower. However, solar leases and PPAs are more affordable than purchasing the system outright.

Minnesota solar panel incentives or rebates

While the cost of solar panels has decreased significantly in recent years, a solar panel system is still a big investment and you should consider all angles before committing to a system. Those angles include the incentives, rebates and tax credits solar panels qualify for. 

At the federal level, the residential clean energy credit offers a tax credit worth 30% of the cost of a system to residents who buy and install solar panels on their home. This credit, formerly known as the investment tax credit, was increased and extended when the Inflation Reduction Act passed in August 2022. To apply for the federal solar tax credit, fill out IRS form 5695 (PDF). The IRS provides instructions for how to fill out this form.

Based on the average cost of solar panels in Minnesota, this federal tax credit could save as much as $7,618 and bring the average solar panel price down to $17,778. There is no cap on this credit, so you can claim the full 30% no matter how much your system costs. You can also combine this tax credit with other incentives at the state and local level. After you apply for this credit, you will receive 30% of the cost of your solar system in credit when you file your federal tax return. 

There are several Minnesota solar incentives that you may qualify for, depending on where you live in the state. The Database of State Incentives for Renewables and Efficiency offers a more complete list. Here are a few to know about in Minnesota.

Minnesota solar incentives

Program Description
Minnesota Power SolarSense Rebate Minnesota Power customers with grid-tied solar systems may receive up to 60% of the cost of their solar panels or $5,000 through this lottery-based program. 
Xcel Energy’s Solar*Rewards Residents in Xcel Energy’s service area have been apply for this performance-based incentive since Jan. 3, 2023. The first 75 applicants receive $0.02 per kWh of solar production for up to 10 years, with a waitlist to be created if there are more than 75 applicants.
Dakota Electric Association EnergyWise Rebates Dakota Electric Association offers several rebates to its customers through a partnership with the EnergyWise program. Customers who install solar panels receive a one-time $500 rebate.
Owatonna Public Utilities Conserve & Save Residential customers in Owatonna Public Utilities’ service area qualify for a $500 rebate after installing a 2 kW or larger solar system.
Net metering Residents can send excess solar energy back to the power grid in exchange for credits on their electricity bills. To qualify for net metering, you must own your system and it must remain grid-tied.
Solar energy sales tax exemption Solar panels are exempt from Minnesota’s state sales tax.
Property tax exemption Solar systems may be exempt from property tax under state law.

Installation factors to consider

Before signing a contract with an installer or moving forward with installation, it’s important to consider whether solar panels will be a good fit for your home. Here are a few factors to think about before installation day.

  • Your roof. The age and condition of your roof are important to think about. If your roof is older or needs maintenance, you may need to replace or repair it before it can handle solar panels. The size, shape and slope of your roof affect how efficient a solar panel system can be. The Department of Energy says solar panels will be most efficient on roofs with a slope between 15 and 40 degrees.
  • Your neighborhood. Some states have passed solar rights laws, which prohibit homeowner associations from banning solar panels. However, Minnesota has not passed any laws regarding HOA oversight when it comes to solar panels. Before signing a solar contract, be sure to research whether solar panels are allowed in your neighborhood and if there are specific requirements you need to know about.
  • Your insurance plan. After your solar panels are installed, contact your homeowner’s insurance agency to update your plan so it covers your solar system. Most standard homeowner’s policies can cover solar panels without needing a separate plan, but you should check with your agency to learn about your policy’s details.
  • Your location. Minnesota tends to get less sun and more snow per year than the US average. Solar panels will generate the most electricity if they receive at least 4 hours of direct sunlight each day. Based on the amount of snow and sun Minnesota receives, solar panels in the North Star State likely won’t generate as much power as solar systems in Florida, for example. 
  • Your landlord. If you rent your home, you may not be allowed to install solar panels. Check with your landlord or management company to learn more about what your lease permits. If solar panels aren’t an option for you, consider community solar as an alternative. Community solar lets you pay a monthly subscription to access solar power generated at another location (usually nearby). In exchange, you receive credit on your energy bills. The subscription fee is set at a lower rate than the value of the bill credits, so you end up saving money. Minnesota is one of the leading states for community solar, with 847 megawatts of installed capacity from community solar projects in 2022.

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

How we evaluate 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.

Minnesota solar power FAQs

How do solar panels lower energy bills?

The upfront cost of solar panels is substantial, but once the system is installed and operating, you won’t need to draw as much power from the grid. Instead, you can power your home with the electricity produced by the solar panels, which leads to lower energy bills. You can also receive bill credits when your solar panels send electricity back to the grid through net metering, further lowering your bill.

Are solar panels worth it in Minnesota?

Yes, solar panels can be a good investment for Minnesota residents. Minnesotans normally have lower energy bills than the national average, but the cost of solar panels in Minnesota is also lower than in other states. The amount of energy a solar panel system can produce will depend on location, system size and several other factors. If you live in an area that receives a lot of sunlight and are hoping to lower energy bills, solar panels are a good option. 

How can I find a solar installer in Minnesota?

As the number of solar installers grows in Minnesota, it can feel overwhelming to sort through the options. Take the time to research your options, read customer testimonials and reviews on several sites and get multiple quotes from different installers. You can begin by reviewing CNET’s picks for the top solar companies, although you should confirm whether an installer operates in your area.

This post was originally published on 3rd party site mentioned in the title of this site

Similar Posts