SolarCity doesn’t sell or install SunPower panels, a rival installer told GTM, “and SunPower, it is agreed on, is the best panel. They have the highest cell efficiency and the highest panel efficiency.” SunPower’s panels have “a 20.1 percent efficiency,” the installer, who will remain unnamed, explained, while the other panels on the market “are around 14 percent to 15 percent.”
“SunPower started as a panel maker. SolarCity started as an installer,” he went on. And while SolarCity pioneered the no-upfront-cost lease program for residential rooftop solar installations, “SunPower now has a similar program so consumers don’t have to choose between panel quality and high upfront costs.” But, he added, “they still have different business models because SunPower sells its own panels.”
“There is a really intense competition between them,” the independent installer said. They are “the two biggest players in the market.” He chooses to offer his customers SunPower panels even though they are more costly, the installer added, precisely because of their higher quality. “It’s a big question for everybody now,” he explained. “How much more is the better panel worth?”
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