Diamond Certified Company Report

SolarUnion

Diamond Certified Company Report

SolarUnion

Diamond certified ratings dashboard
CUSTOMER SATISFACTION i
Customer LOYALTY i
Helpful Expertise i
Company Credentials i
  • Workers Compensation
  • Liability Insurance
  • License Verification
  • Business Practices
  • Current Complaint File
  • Legal & Finance
Phone SURVEY RESPONSES FROM 103 VERIFIED CUSTOMERS i

Vanessa H.

VERIFIED SolarUnion CUSTOMER

1 of 103

Quality 10
10 10
Loyalty Yes
CRITIQUE

They'll get the job done.

They're knowledgeable, responsive, and upfront. There were no surprises, and I was always kept up-to-date with what was going on.

Michelle G.

VERIFIED SolarUnion CUSTOMER

2 of 103

Quality 10
10 10
Loyalty Yes
CRITIQUE

They worked very closely with me around my specific needs and worked to insure that I got the best system for me now and in the future.

The directness and ability to explain what I would be getting, if they haven't heard from me, they have good follow-up.

Manuel R.

VERIFIED SolarUnion CUSTOMER

3 of 103

Quality 10
10 10
Loyalty Yes
CRITIQUE

They are inexpensive, and they are good.

The price

Read All 103 Survey Responses at Ratings View
Diamond certified company
Diamond certified company PROFILE

SolarUnion provides a complete range of solar services for residential and light commercial clients throughout California. The company designs, sells, installs and operates photovoltaic (PV) solar systems using proven technology from manufacturers with strong warranties. Its certified solar technicians are trained to conduct solar-readiness audits, savings estimates and roof inspections; perform electrical panel upgrades; install solar electric vehicle charging stations; and more.

Executive Director Renzo Castillo says SolarUnion’s emphasis on solar ownership under a comprehensive performance guarantee has been critical for the company’s success. “We educate our clients to approach solar as an investment. To maximize their rate of return, we advise them to own a high-performance system for permanent electric consumption offset. While the impact on the electric bill is immediate, the most significant gains (savings) occur over time.”

SolarUnion proactively monitors every system to ensure it hits the company’s annual guaranteed kWh (output) number. “If we don’t hit the contractually required kWh number, we fix the system and compensate (pay) the client for any lost output,” explains Mr. Castillo. SolarUnion also provides a 25-year, bumper-to-bumper performance guarantee, which beats competitors who only offer manufacturers’ warranties or limited 10-year workmanship guarantees.

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COMPANY REPORT NAVIGATION

Diamond Certified Companies are Rated Highest in Quality and Helpful Expertise.

  • Why this rating is the most accurate.
  • Our editors gather deep company info.
  • Performance is Guaranteed.

DIAMOND CERTIFIED RESEARCHED CAPABILITIES ON SolarUnion

COMPANY CONTACT
Service AREA

Northern,
Central and
Southern California
Headquartered in
San Francisco

SERVICES PERFORMED

Engineering, Procurement, Construction and Operation of Solar Systems
(Rooftop and Ground Mount)
Solar-Readiness Audits and Roof Inspections
Electrical Panel Upgrades
Solar EV Charging Station Installations
Platinum Battery Storage/Backup Solutions

BRANDS Supported
  • Trina

  • LG

  • Sunpower

  • Tigo Energy

  • ABB PowerONe

  • SMA

  • QuickMount

  • SnapNRack

DIAMOND CERTIFIED RESEARCHED ARTICLES ON SolarUnion

A recent residential solar installation by SolarUnion

Company Profile

SolarUnion provides a complete range of solar services for residential and light commercial clients throughout California. The company designs, sells, installs and operates photovoltaic (PV) solar systems using proven technology from manufacturers with strong warranties. Its certified solar technicians are trained to conduct solar-readiness audits, savings estimates and roof inspections; perform electrical panel upgrades; install solar electric vehicle charging stations; and more.

Executive Director Renzo Castillo says SolarUnion’s emphasis on solar ownership under a comprehensive performance guarantee has been critical for the company’s success. “We educate our clients to approach solar as an investment. To maximize their rate of return, we advise them to own a high-performance system for permanent electric consumption offset. While the impact on the electric bill is immediate, the most significant gains (savings) occur over time.”

SolarUnion proactively monitors every system to ensure it hits the company’s annual guaranteed kWh (output) number. “If we don’t hit the contractually required kWh number, we fix the system and compensate (pay) the client for any lost output,” explains Mr. Castillo. SolarUnion also provides a 25-year, bumper-to-bumper performance guarantee, which beats competitors who only offer manufacturers’ warranties or limited 10-year workmanship guarantees.

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Company Philosophy

“We want to be a reliable, long-term partner for our clients, so we focus on providing them with quality installations, strong guarantees and timely maintenance for their solar investments. Ultimately, our goal is to make sure every Californian has access to clean, Green energy at an affordable rate.”

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Comparative Summary

Solar companies are constantly looking for ways to differentiate themselves from their competition, and those that have earned the prestigious Diamond Certified award are already several steps ahead. In addition to its Diamond Certified status, SolarUnion sets itself apart by offering solar ownership from day one under a comprehensive performance guarantee that covers components, workmanship and, most importantly, output for 25 years. “Unlike standard solar installers that offer limited product or workmanship warranties (five to 10 years), we operate under a solar developer business model, with all sites carrying a 25-year, bumper-to-bumper performance guarantee,” says Executive Director and Founder Renzo Castillo. “We recognize that the value proposition of solar ownership is not driven solely by the installation of the system, but by its long-term operation and maintenance. In order to mitigate the risk of underperformance, we use quality components and install them with solar electricians with decades of experience in the industry. Once we interconnect the system to the grid, an Operations Agreement goes into full effect. Under this agreement, we define a performance guarantee that translates into predetermined minimum annual production numbers (kWhs) for the useful life of the system. For complete transparency, both parties gain immediate access to a mobile application that tracks system performance at the module level in real time. If we fall short of the required output as stated in the agreement, we must bring the system back to optimal performance and indemnify (pay) the homeowner for any lost output during the time of underperformance. When the system overperforms (which is likely with our high-efficiency systems), the homeowner takes the extra output at no extra cost. Under this solar development model, the homeowner enjoys the upside and we, the solar developer, absorb and mitigate the risks of the downside.”

SolarUnion has been providing comprehensive solar services for residential and light commercial customers throughout California since 2011. The company sells, installs, services and operates photovoltaic (PV) solar systems utilizing proven technology from manufacturers with some of the strongest balance sheets in the industry. The SolarUnion team conducts energy audits, savings estimates and roof inspections; runs and pays for electrical, building, and fire permits; performs electrical panel upgrades; installs electric vehicle charging stations; and more. “We’re a true one-stop shop for our customers’ solar needs,” says Mr. Castillo.

Unlike mainstream solar companies that focus on leasing systems or installing peak-shavers to partially and temporarily lower electric bills, SolarUnion takes a radical, long-term approach and designs systems for permanent electric consumption offset. “With a SolarUnion system, our clients fully monetize the value of their roofs and real estate,” explains Mr. Castillo. “We educate homeowners to look at Solar as an Investment (“SaaI”) and advise them to attack their electric bills completely and on a permanent basis. With ownership of a SolarUnion system, homeowners effectively lock their electric rates at a fraction of what they would pay to their utility company. The impact on the electric bill is immediate (savings from day one) while the most significant gains occur over time, as homeowners become fully insulated from the periodic rate increases imposed by the utility company. We train our energy consultants to justify the investment with hard data (e.g., payback periods and rate of returns) and equip homeowners with the tools to make rational, logical and unbiased decisions. We let the numbers speak for themselves.”

To further differentiate itself from its competition, SolarUnion designs systems to accommodate different budgets and aesthetic preferences. “We offer value, premium and platinum efficiency options, so each client can choose the best solution for her specific situation,” affirms Mr. Castillo. “We design under the smart module-optimizer-central inverter configuration, which is the most robust and reliable technical solution in the market. Our CEO and founder, Ivan La Frinere-Sandoval, has overseen large scale installations (with millions of modules at play) worldwide. He has done extensive research and narrowed down our offering to the best possible options in the market. We bring that additional value to the table, and our customers deeply appreciate it. After comparing for weeks or even months, our prospects come back with absolute conviction that with SolarUnion, they will partner with a team of solar and project finance experts, own a state-of-the-art system with guaranteed performance, fully offset their electric bills, and maximize savings for the long run.”

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Industry Info

California homeowners have a lot to gain by investing in clean solar energy. The residential solar industry is booming across the United States, but experts say residents of California are uniquely situated to reap more benefits from solar ownership than people living in other parts of the country. “The attractiveness of Solar as an Investment (SaaI) is a function of the quality of the sunlight and the prices imposed by electric companies,” explains Renzo Castillo, co-founder of SolarUnion in San Francisco. “Based on those two simple criteria, California is a great market. The quality of the sunlight is excellent and utility prices are extremely high compared to other areas in the continental U.S.”

On average, California homeowners see more sunny days and clearer skies than people living in the rest of the country, so, all else equal, solar systems in California perform better and produce more energy (kWhs) than those in other states. Because those same systems are offsetting higher energy costs from local electric companies, homeowners enjoy a much better return on their investment and faster payback periods.

Mr. Castillo says this presents a clear and immediate call to action. “Based on these positive factors, California homeowners should start looking at the savings they can get now instead of waiting three to five years to invest in their solar systems. If you wait and see under the assumption that technology will improve in a few years, you’re passing up an opportunity for tangible savings now. Would you rather take $1 in savings now versus $1 in savings in five years? If done right, homeowners will enjoy payback periods on their solar investments of six years or less. I see no compelling to reason to wait. The only caveat is that homeowners need to do their homework to protect their investments by selecting a solar company that offers a quality system with a reliable, credible performance guarantee. If the solar company does not guarantee output or just carries a limited workmanship warranty, keep looking. After you properly control for execution and warranty risks, the sooner you install your system, the sooner you’ll start seeing results. It’s on you. If you want to convince yourself about the need for action, just go through a quick exercise. If you didn’t own a system the past five years, do the math and estimate how much cash you burned during that period by not exercising your option to save with solar. Or just call your electric company, ask them to give you the year totals, and sit down and reflect. You could have transferred all that cash to your kids’ college funds while going Green…a double-bottom line approach.”

Current rebates, incentives and financing plans mean any solar-curious homeowner should explore the option to own a solar system. “Today, even lower-income families are able to own a solar system and, as a result, secure more savings in the process,” says Mr. Castillo. “Owners of solar systems own all rebates and incentives that effectively lower the price of and the bar for ownership. A few nonprofits allow these low-income families to take solar loans and finance the systems, $0 down, with average monthly payments set under what these homeowners would typically spend on electricity otherwise. Where should the industry go? With these federal and local financing tools in place, the industry should gradually transition from third-party ownership (leases) to a model geared towards direct ownership, which guarantees the highest savings for homeowners. Ownership should be an option regardless of the credit quality of the homeowner. Then, we will approach solar savings as an issue of social justice. Solar companies’ executives and boards should not just focus the conversation on serving premium, affluent zip codes. This is pervasive and weakens the spirit of solar and its pioneers. It makes solar regressive, not progressive. Let’s change our mindset and be more inclusive.

“Consider, for instance, that in many California zip codes, families earning minimum wage allocate at least 15 percent of their income to the electric company,” he continues. “With no action, they will see their income erode as time goes by. Look at historical data. We know their income will hardly ever increase. We know their utility rates will likely always increase. With solar ownership, these families may effectively lock their electric rate at a deeply subsidized (and clean) rate and become insulated from the periodic, lawful rate increases imposed by their utility company. These are the families that will benefit from solar ownership the most. They will save from day one and free up cash to address other pressing needs in their budgets. Their savings with solar will be in the tens of thousands of dollars. As an industry, we should make a concerted effort to empower these families and give them the option to embrace the clean energy, financially savvy option as well. What are we waiting for?”

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Frequently Asked Questions

Q: How long will it take to install my solar power system?

A: The physical installation takes one day for small systems and two to three days for midsized systems. You should allow six to eight weeks from the time you sign the contract until your SolarUnion system gets interconnected to the grid. This is fast execution and also gives us a competitive edge. Other solar development companies take longer…sometimes twice as long.

Q: Will you protect my roof during the installation?

A: Absolutely. Our solar installers have decades of experience on all types of roofs. We wrap the roof areas compromised by the solar installation and offer a 25-year workmanship guarantee on the attachments and waterproofing sealant. In the unlikely event of subpar installation/execution, we have an active insurance policy of $5 million per event to protect your real estate.

Q: How long until I see a return on my investment?

A: With SolarUnion, the deal is never underwater. You will start recovering your investment from day one by effectively locking your rate at a fraction of what you currently pay to your utility company. The overall, cumulative payback period is a function of the performance of the system you choose to own and the utility company’s electric rates you intend to offset. Depending on the electric tariffs imposed by your utility company and their growth rates, you should expect to completely recover your investment no later than six years from the time of installation. In PG&E, SDG&E and SCE territories, the payback period of a high-efficiency SolarUnion system could be even lower. On a rate of return (%) basis, ownership of a SolarUnion system beats the rate of return of the stock market, with lower risk than that carried by the stock market…a situation we call arbitrage (low risk, high return). Owners of SolarUnion systems are clean tech investors who enjoy a very attractive rate of return.

Q: Can you help me with rebates and incentives?

A: Yes. We offer a turnkey solution, which means we handle everything for you, including applying for local rebates, which you own since you own the system. With ownership of a SolarUnion system, you also own the federal incentives in connection with the clean tech investment. We give you and your tax advisor all the tools to apply for and get 30 percent of your solar investment back in the form of federal tax credits.

Q: Do you offer any financing options?

A: Yes. We work with several credit unions that offer financing to own your system from day one, with no money down. We also help those with credit challenges secure financing for solar ownership through different nonprofits across California.

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Diamond Certified RATINGS ON SolarUnion
Diamond certified ratings dashboard
CUSTOMER SATISFACTION i
Customer LOYALTY i
Helpful Expertise i

Each surveyed customer was asked, “If you needed any helpful expertise, did this company provide that expertise?” To calculate this score, total “Yes” responses were divided by total responses (excluding those that stated they hadn’t needed any expertise).

Company Credentials i
  • Workers Compensation
  • Liability Insurance
  • License Verification
  • Business Practices
  • Current Complaint File
  • Legal & Finance
Phone SURVEY RESPONSES FROM 103 VERIFIED CUSTOMERS i

Vanessa H.

VERIFIED SolarUnion CUSTOMER

1 of 103

Quality 10
10
Loyalty Yes
CRITIQUE

They'll get the job done.

They're knowledgeable, responsive, and upfront. There were no surprises, and I was always kept up-to-date with what was going on.

Michelle G.

VERIFIED SolarUnion CUSTOMER

2 of 103

Quality 10
10
Loyalty Yes
CRITIQUE

They worked very closely with me around my specific needs and worked to insure that I got the best system for me now and in the future.

The directness and ability to explain what I would be getting, if they haven't heard from me, they have good follow-up.

Manuel R.

VERIFIED SolarUnion CUSTOMER

3 of 103

Quality 10
10
Loyalty Yes
CRITIQUE

They are inexpensive, and they are good.

The price

Karissa G.

VERIFIED SolarUnion CUSTOMER

4 of 103

Quality 10
10
Loyalty Yes
CRITIQUE

Overall, they did a good job and they were fast in executing the project.

I liked the customer service and attentiveness to answering all of my questions.

Melyssa B.

VERIFIED SolarUnion CUSTOMER

5 of 103

Quality 10
10
Loyalty Yes
CRITIQUE

They were efficient and quick. They provided a lot of experience and education throughout the process and everything was on time and on budget.

They finished everything within a day and a half.

Karen S.

VERIFIED SolarUnion CUSTOMER

6 of 103

Quality 10
10
Loyalty Yes
CRITIQUE

I had a good experience. They were very detailed and gave us periodic updates. It did take a little longer than expected, but that can happen with anything.

They were following up a lot with updates.

Keith W.

VERIFIED SolarUnion CUSTOMER

7 of 103

Quality 10
10
Loyalty Yes
CRITIQUE

They did a good job, followed through with the project in full and really did a good job.

It looks professionally done. All of it looks really good.

Alex Y.

VERIFIED SolarUnion CUSTOMER

8 of 103

Quality 10
10
Loyalty Yes
CRITIQUE

Very good company, I had a good experience and would recommend them.

The timeliness and efficiency

John G.

VERIFIED SolarUnion CUSTOMER

9 of 103

Quality 10
10
Loyalty Yes
CRITIQUE

I have recommended them to a few people already. I told them what a great experience we had and that they should contact them.

Their professionalism and efficiency

Ron E.

VERIFIED SolarUnion CUSTOMER

10 of 103

Quality 10
10
Loyalty Yes
CRITIQUE

The salesman was excellent and the workers were excellent as well.

They were not pushy people.

Rick T.

VERIFIED SolarUnion CUSTOMER

11 of 103

Quality 10
10
Loyalty Yes
CRITIQUE

They did what I wanted.

The way they did it

Feroz A.

VERIFIED SolarUnion CUSTOMER

12 of 103

Quality 10
10
Loyalty Yes
CRITIQUE

I am really satisfied with it and I am happy.

They worked with me and I didn't have cash to put them on, but they put it towards my property tax.

Frank O.

VERIFIED SolarUnion CUSTOMER

13 of 103

Quality 10
10
Loyalty Yes
CRITIQUE

They did a great job.

They told me the truth.

Gregory A.

VERIFIED SolarUnion CUSTOMER

14 of 103

Quality 10
10
Loyalty Yes
CRITIQUE

They were fast, efficient and responsive.

They were responsive.

Eric W.

VERIFIED SolarUnion CUSTOMER

15 of 103

Quality 10
10
Loyalty Yes
CRITIQUE

We were very happy with quality of service beginning with the presentation. Initially, they were able to explain thoroughly and competently exactly what was entailed in getting solar, about the benefits of solar and they provided complete service in taking care of the SF rebate for solar panels as well as any information we needed for the tax benefits as well, and the system is working as promised.

I especially liked the sales consultant, Carissa.

John K.

VERIFIED SolarUnion CUSTOMER

16 of 103

Quality 10
10
Loyalty Yes
CRITIQUE

They provide full service, from estimate to follow through. I am pleased.

There was a problem and came back and rectified it. I was satisfied.

Kevin J.

VERIFIED SolarUnion CUSTOMER

17 of 103

Quality 10
10
Loyalty Yes
CRITIQUE

I recommend them. They should all have solar on their roof. They told me they could put solar on a terra cotta roof without ruining it and they did.

A year later, I see everything they told me was going to happen, happened. They have great people, great sales staff, great office people.

Amy M.

VERIFIED SolarUnion CUSTOMER

18 of 103

Quality 10
10
Loyalty Yes
CRITIQUE

Referred both of her son-in-law and her financial advisor to them, one son-in-law used them at two residences. I don't think you have to worry about us.

They are good at explanations. They are very well trained, are clear and speak well.

Minnie R.

VERIFIED SolarUnion CUSTOMER

19 of 103

Quality 10
10
Loyalty Yes
CRITIQUE

They did the work, were on time and reliable.

They did the job and cleaned up after themselves so I didn't have to worry about it.

Cynthia O.

VERIFIED SolarUnion CUSTOMER

20 of 103

Quality 10
10
Loyalty Yes
CRITIQUE

That if you are looking for comparison or need assistance or questions answered, they are readily available and have a quick response time.

I liked the fact that they were totally engaged when I needed assistance, responded to all of my questions and did follow up.

Read All 103 Survey Responses at Ratings View

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