Best Solar Panel Installation Companies in Montana – CNET

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In 2021, Montana ranked in the top 10 for states with the largest share of electricity from renewable sources. Montana also receives an average of 4.93 peak sun hours — the daily recommendation for solar panels is 4 hours of direct sunlight, making Montana a great location to install them.

Installing solar panels means you’ll be less dependent on the traditional energy grid, which is especially helpful during power outages and can lead to lower energy bills. Significant decreases in solar prices and increases in solar incentives make now the perfect time to consider solar panels for your home.

You’ll be able to take advantage of a number of federal- and state-level incentives to lower the cost of your solar panel system. A major federal tax credit provides a 30% rebate on the cost of your solar panels during tax season. Additionally, in the Treasure State, you’re exempt from property tax increases spurred by the value of your solar panels for up to 10 years. Net metering policies will also allow you to send excess energy produced by your solar panels to the grid, gaining credits that can be used up off of peak production hours.

Here’s what you need to know if you’re considering solar panels in Montana — starting with the best solar panel installation companies operating within the state. (Just looking for an emergency backup? Check out the best portable solar panels and solar generators.)

Best national solar panel companies in Montana

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.

Freedom Forever

Best for cash customers

Include Freedom Forever in your search if you want the backing of a national company that installs a wide variety of the most popular solar equipment available. Freedom Forever also extends a couple of products that take some of the pain and risk out of going solar, like a production guarantee and an escrow option with cash purchases. Online reviews say customer satisfaction has been low of late, though the company says that’s changing.

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 Montana

There aren’t many national solar companies in Montana, so you might have better luck with a local solar installer. We pulled a few local solar installers with some high Google review scores, but it’s still important to do some independent research. If you know someone who already has solar installed, get recommendations from them. Here are a few local installers in Montana that might be worth considering.

Locally owned and operated in Missoula, Big Sky Solar’s certified installers and electricians will analyze your home, compare current energy consumption and solar potential then provide a proposal. What stands out the most about Big Sky is its accessible and transparent pricing. Unlike other solar companies we’ve come across, Big Sky lists its pricing on its website without having to make a call or fill out forms. Big Sky also installs popular name-brand solar batteries from Tesla, Panasonic and Enphase. A 25-year warranty backs the company’s products and work.

Located in Bozeman, OnSite Energy installs solar systems across the state, including projects for residents, businesses, farms and more. The company says it advocates for more solar energy systems in the state and 1% of the cost for each solar system is donated to a partnered conservation organization of the customer’s choice. OnSite Energy installs a variety of well-known brands to fit your needs, including REC Alpha panels and the Tesla Powerwall solar battery.

Since 2014, SBS Solar has provided solar services throughout western Montana. The company installs a variety of solar panel mounting options, including rooftop, pole and ground-mounted solar. SBS Solar says it will provide a free solar estimate and site analysis or you can send in a copy of your utility bill for an estimate. The company’s website offers an extensive photo and video library to see past examples of their work.

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

Solar is a costly, long-term investment. And you’ll want to make sure you’re picking the right installer for the job. Finding a trustworthy installer can be a tricky process, but there are a few general things to look for during your search. Here are some tips to help you find a reputable installer.

  • Understand federal, state and local solar incentives. Make sure your installer can accurately explain how tax credits and incentives work.
  • Read online reviews from multiple sources. Google and Yelp are a good place to start.
  • Get recommendations from neighbors who have solar installed.
  • Check an installer’s licensing and certifications. Look for installers who are certified by NABCEP
  • Compare multiple solar quotes.
  • Ask your installer all your questions, even the difficult ones.
  • Assess your potential savings cost and your solar payback period. Your installer should be able to explain this to you.

Cost of solar panels in Montana

There is insufficient data to determine average Montana-specific solar system costs, but the average size, total cost and price per watt in the US, based on 2023 data from, can give you an idea. Expect to pay a bit more for installation, roof repairs and optional equipment like solar batteries.

National average cost of solar panels

Typical system size (kW) Price per watt Total installed cost Cost after 30% federal tax credit
National Average 8.6 $3.67 $31,558 $22,091

The following map shows the average total cash price, cost per watt and system size for a solar panel system in your state, according to data from The estimates 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.

Montana solar panel incentives and rebates

Even with the price of solar decreasing, adding solar panels to your home is still a hefty investment. Montana offers state incentives to make solar more affordable such as property tax exemptions. The federal solar tax credit, known as the residential clean energy credit, could cover up to 30% of the solar system costs.  

The following table shows a few solar incentives available to you in Montana. 

Montana solar incentives

Program Description
Net metering Residents can receive electricity bill credits in exchange for excess energy generated from their solar system for sizes up to 50 kW.
Renewable energy systems exemption Solar systems are exempt from property taxes for up to $20,000 over 10 years.
Residential clean energy credit The federal tax credit for 30% of the cost of a solar system is applied as a credit on your next tax return. Solar systems installed from the beginning of 2022 through 2032 are eligible. 

How to pay for solar panels in Montana

Multiple payment options are available for residents of Montana interested in solar panels. Here are some of the most common ways to pay for your panels.

Cash: Paying in cash is interest-free and allows you to take advantage of solar incentives. If you pay in cash, be ready for a huge upfront investment. If you’re thinking about going solar in the future, consider saving up with a high-yield savings account.

Solar loan: Solar installers will often offer a financing option called a solar loan. Loan terms and rates vary, so shop around and get multiple quotes before signing anything. 

Other loan options: You aren’t limited to just financing options from your installer. Getting a personal loan from your bank or opening a home equity line of credit are other options. Keep in mind that going the HELOC route could mean losing your home if you can’t pay back what you owe.

Solar leases and power purchase agreements: A solar lease means you pay a fee to use the equipment from a solar company, but you don’t own it. A power purchase agreement means buying the electricity generated by third-party-owned solar equipment. These options can help with upfront costs.

Installation factors to consider

Is installing solar panels a good idea for you? Consider these five things first. 

  • Are you part of an HOA? HOAs and other neighborhood associations in Montana may have rules or terms regarding solar panels and placement. Review the rules and contact your association with questions. 
  • Does your insurance cover solar panels? Review your current homeowner’s insurance policy. Contact your agent if the policy does not include solar panels. 
  • Do you rent your home? If you are prohibited from making changes to the property, community solar programs might be the best fit for you. Explore community solar for a subscription-style solar service for renters
  • Is your roof shaded? The location of your home and roof may affect solar panel efficiency. Constantly shaded roofs may result in less energy generation. Panels work best with at least four hours of direct sunlight a day.
  • What is your current roof condition? Before solar panel installation, old or damaged roofs will likely require maintenance and repairs. Repair may result in additional costs.
  • How long do you plan to stay in your home? If you plan to move soon, you will likely leave your solar panels behind because they are difficult to remove and reinstall. The Department of Energy says solar panels can increase the value of your home by $15,000. If you’re not in your home long enough to see a return on investment, the increased home value may not be worth the upfront cost.

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.

Montana solar power FAQs

Are solar panels worth it in Montana?

It depends on your situation and budget. Solar panels are an excellent investment if you’re interested in powering your home with renewable energy. Montana has several incentives available for residents to help make choosing solar more affordable. But it’s still quite expensive and there aren’t many installers in the state. 

How do I find a solar installer?

In addition to the solar companies in this article, review CNET’s top picks for other potential installer options. The Montana Renewable Energy Association provides a directory of solar installers. We recommend receiving multiple quotes from various companies to find the best fit for you.

Will I need a solar battery?

It depends. You will need a solar battery if you wish to have an off-grid solar system or power during an outage. If you plan to stay connected to the electricity grid, you may not need a solar battery. Installing a solar system and adding a battery later is an option but may involve additional costs for installation.

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