If you’re noticing more solar panels popping up on roofs around your neighborhood, you’re not imagining things. Rooftop solar installations have been consistently increasing, with the Solar Energy Industries Association predicting 15% of homes will have solar panels by 2030.
If you’re looking to join that 15%, you’re going to need a reliable solar installer (unless you’re one of the few who can do it yourself). One of the largest in the US, Freedom Forever installs quality solar panels, solar batteries and inverters, while also highlighting newer ways to pay. The company has had some customer service concerns but says that new tools and processes have recent internal satisfaction numbers trending up. It was the third-largest residential installer by market share in 2022, according to consulting firm Wood Mackenzie.
Whether you’re interested in solar panels for climate, electricity reliability or energy cost reasons, you’ll want to know about the federal tax credit, the installation process and how much you can save. But experts tell us that locking in a reliable installer is the most important thing. We’ll get you started by telling you what we know about Freedom Forever.
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This review shouldn’t take the place of you getting multiple quotes before you move forward. Installation costs and incentives change state to state and city to city. Getting quotes from multiple installers in your area is your best defense against a bad deal. Reviews like this one can get you started, so here’s what you need to know about Freedom Forever.
What do I get from Freedom Forever?
What solar equipment does Freedom Forever install?
Freedom Forever installs a wide range of the most installed solar panels on the market, company representatives said. Those include models from LONGi, REC and Silfab. It’s also offered Canadian Solar, JinkoSolar, Qcells and Trina and will again in the future, said Rob Angell, Freedom Forever’s vice president of sales operations. (REC and Canadian Solar both claimed spots on CNET’s list of best solar panels.) The company has also offered the Freedom Forever Solar Panel, which it works with tier one manufacturers to construct.
You can also get a battery from Freedom Forever, which installs batteries from Tesla (which appears on CNET’s best solar battery list), Enphase and SolarEdge. These options fit Freedom Forever’s preference for working with reliable manufacturers, Angell said.
Inverters, which make the switch from the direct current electricity your solar panels generate to the alternating current electricity most of our electronics use, come in two types: string inverters and microinverters. String inverters do the job for a group of panels at once, while microinverters work on each panel individually. Microinverters generally get more electricity out of the system, but most string inverters come with optimizers that accomplish the same thing. More than 90% of installations have microinverters or optimizers, according to the Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory.
Freedom Forever offers SolarEdge and Enphase inverters, as well as Tesla inverters on a limited basis. Each of those brands appear on CNET’s list of best inverters.
What warranties does Freedom Forever offer?
All of the solar panel manufacturers used by Freedom Forever offer at least 25-year production warranties. These warranties guarantee a certain level of production at the end of the term, generally from about 85% to 92% of the solar panel’s rated capacity. Some degradation is normal but shouldn’t be a significant worry.
Freedom Forever extends a 10-year warranty to cover the installation labor on your project and a 10-year warranty against leaks caused by the penetrations in your roof made during that installation. These numbers are pretty normal for the industry, though several companies say their standard labor warranties are longer. In my experience, it’s rare to see weatherization warranties against leaks longer than 10 years, though it’s not unheard of.
Freedom Forever also offers a production guarantee to customers who purchase their systems. Upon installation, the company guarantees a certain level of production from the system. If you believe your system is performing below that level, you can file a claim and, if you’re correct, the company will cut you a check. The amount is often connected to your local cost of electricity, so it varies by state, Angell said.
Does Freedom Forever offer monitoring service?
Like with other companies, Freedom Forever customers will be able to monitor the app of their inverter’s manufacturer. SolarEdge’s mySolarEdge app gets a 4.6-star rating on the App Store and 3.9 on Google Play. The Enphase Enlighten app gets a 4.6-star rating on the App Store and a 4.1-star rating on Google Play.
Freedom Forever has its own app that lets people who own their solar panels monitor their production. It’s also where customers can track the progress of their project and the documents necessary to keep the project moving. The app garners lower reviews on the App Store (2.6 stars) and Google Play (2.2. stars), but you can access all of this information through a web-based customer portal too. If your experience with the app is poor, you shouldn’t need to rely on it.
Does Freedom Forever use subcontractors?
All installation work is done by Freedom Forever employees, though some additional electrical work may be subcontracted out.
How much do Freedom Forever solar panels cost?
Like most solar companies, Freedom Forever didn’t offer up specific pricing data for their installations. That makes sense, since prices vary by location and project thanks to differences in labor costs, system sizes, roof complexities and more. On the one hand, we’d like to see more upfront price transparency from the solar industry at large. But on the other, it’s difficult to provide an accurate estimate without looking at your specific home and needs. It’s part of the reason getting multiple quotes is important.
National averages can vary widely and may not give an accurate view of cost in your region. One estimate from consulting firm Wood Mackenzie put the average cost at $3.28 per watt to start 2023 ($16,400 for a 5-kilowatt system). Another estimate from the Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory put the average at $4.20 per watt in 2022 ($21,000 for a 5-kilowatt system).
Freedom Forever representatives said that its finance partners say the company is frequently 20 to 25 cents per watt cheaper than competitors. (I couldn’t independently verify the statement.)
If another company beats their estimate, Freedom Forever representatives can match the price.
“That’s typically not a problem for us to do,” Angell said.
What financing options does Freedom Forever offer?
You can purchase solar panels from Freedom Forever and it also installs for leases and power purchase agreements. In general, owning your panels outright will save you more money in the long run, though a power purchase agreement or lease will deliver savings almost immediately.
High interest rates are making cash purchases without a loan more common. Cash purchases can be a headache for both the installer and the buyer, especially when disagreements about the work arise, Angell said. To get around those challenges, Freedom Forever has started offering cash escrow purchases, where a third party holds the cash while the work is being done and doesn’t release it to the company until it’s completed.
“It protects all parties: [It] makes sure that customer knows their money is not going to disappear. It protects us to know that the money is there,” Angell said.
Does Freedom Forever operate in my state? How do I order?
Freedom Forever operates in 34 states and territories.
To order from Freedom Forever, the process occurs like it does for most companies. A representative of the company will conduct a site audit to take relevant pictures and measurements of your home. The company will pull all the permits and coordinate with your utility. (You can track your project’s progress and see predicted deadlines in the customer portal.)
While the timeline varies from place to place and project to project, an average installation from Freedom Forever goes from the start of the process to activation in about 100 days, Angell said.
Is Freedom Forever the best choice?
As with any major home improvement project, you’ll want to shop around and get multiple quotes before you move ahead with one company. That said, Freedom Forever could be a good fit for you if you’re looking for the backing of one of the largest solar companies in the country. The equipment it installs is quality and among the most widely installed models available.
Freedom Forever’s warranties are pretty much inline with the industry, but a production guarantee, while other companies are starting to offer them, is still a nice perk that adds some protection to your financial investment. Similarly, a cash escrow purchase option might take some stress out of the purchase and installation process.
Online reviewers have rated Freedom Forever poorly (more on that below). While online reviews aren’t necessarily gospel truth, you should look into reviews for any company you’re considering.
- Quality equipment
- Production guarantee
- Price match guarantee
- Cash escrow option
- Customer service concerns
- Some warranties are longer elsewhere
Freedom Forever reviews: What are customers saying?
Reliable, objective customer service metrics are difficult to come by, but Freedom Forever’s page on the Better Business Bureau indicates problems. In my conversations with company representatives, they acknowledged that unsatisfied customers had been a problem for the company but that after some changes their recent internal customer satisfaction numbers are much more positive. Online reviews aren’t a perfect predictor of what your experience will be but can be useful in identifying trends and questions you should ask before signing on with a company.
The excerpts of reviews below come from the company’s Better Business Bureau page. They may have been edited for grammar and spelling.
“Great installation crew. Very efficient. Did an excellent job. Polite, professional, and answered all my questions.” Particia O. 11/18/2023
“They arrived on time, and they finished their part of the installation in one visit. They cleaned up the areas used. All of the workers were professional with a great work ethic. I highly recommend this company.” Judy A. 11/16/2023
“Good until you sign the contract, after that they will drag the project for months. Installed the panels, and still didn’t come back to actually connect them. Every time you call they bring excuses and apparently don’t have anyone they can schedule to come out to finish the job. Very unhappy.” Ramel A. 11/17/2023
“I purchased my panels Aug. 2022… it’s Nov. 2023. I have called, threatened, and pleaded with this company to fix my panels or even make them fully operational. All I get is “we will have someone look into it.” Spoiler alert no one has. Please spend your money elsewhere.” Lupe R. 11/4/2023