We have been very happy with our whole experience with Ipsun Power.  Ipsun installed 18 solar panels on our home’s newly replaced roof in the Tysons Corner area.  Their pricing was almost identical to the other company we looked at (Tesla), i.e., about $1,000 per panel installed (or ~$700 after the 30% tax credit).  So we decided between them on the basis of service.  At that point, Tesla had not yet absorbed SolarCity but was selling SolarCity panels and installation.  SolarCity had a lot of bad reviews online for workmanship and customer service.  Ipsun had great reviews, but very few of them, which was a different concern for us.  In the end, Ipsun’s founder, Herve Billiet, won us over with his honest, detail-oriented responses to our questions; he is an engineer by training, not a salesman.  At Tesla we had been working with a salesman who was very responsive and thoughtful but had no on-the-ground experience with solar panels.

As an example of what I mean:  Tesla’s salesperson drafted our project plan by using a Google satellite image of our home’s roof, and filling the roof area with little PhotoShop images of solar panels at the correct scale, as many of them as he could fit, to make the job size as big as possible.  By doing it this way, his “plan” accidentally covered one of our two chimneys with solar panels.  (He also put panels all over the north side of our roof, which gets much less light.)  Obviously Tesla would’ve fine-tuned the project plan after doing a site visit, but we felt nervous about whether the salesman and the site team would interface well, and whether we were being asked to agree to a project before the details were clear.  We also felt a pressure at Tesla to max out the project size.

On the other hand, Ipsun’s owner, Herve Billiet, initially gave us the same type of Google satellite-image pre-estimate, but he insisted on a site visit before going any further, and he did the site visit himself. He ended up coming back multiple times, and answered a dozen detailed emails, before we would commit.  He used a tool that digitally modeled the height of our surrounding trees (because they block our sunlight, but only at certain hours and in certain seasons) and another tool that estimated how much sunlight each part of our roof got on every individual day of the year.  His estimate was based on an individual sunlight model of our specific home. We even compared it to real-life daily photos at certain times of day.  *That* decided our panel placement.

Ipsun took care of all the permitting and the mandatory new utility meter from Dominion Energy (a digital meter that can operate in reverse, for those hours when you are sending power back to the grid).  Ipsun’s installation team was respectful and professional, and in the nine months since our initial install, Herve has responded quickly to the two issues that have come up. Neither issue was Ipsun’s fault, more of a “user error” situation, yet on both occasions they sent a full team out to inspect the system. Our Ipsun system also comes with a phone app that lets us track our solar production hourly, daily, weekly, etc, and lets Ipsun do monitoring from afar.  On a couple of occasions, they have proactively reached out to me to make sure everything was going okay.  (Once was to ask me to re-start the little app-monitoring device, which suggests that someone at Ipsun really is paying attention to all the data.)

We have been very happy with solar in general, and very happy with Ipsun in particular.  We ended up having Tesla install a separate piece of our system (two Powerwall home-backup batteries), and while those have been good products (with solid installation and a fantastic iPhone app), Tesla’s customer service has been erratic, and in a couple of cases downright weird, so I am doubly glad that we had Ipsun do our solar panel installation.

One last thing about solar in general, for anyone considering it: sometimes you hear people say that the “new” solar panels these days will “pay for themselves in just a few years.” That was not our expectation and it has not been our experience. Our Ipsun system consists of 18 panels rated at 350 watts (= max output in full sun), so the total system rating is 6,300 watts (6.3 kilowatts).  Before we signed our contract, Ipsun gave us a month-by-month prediction of how much electricity (solar power) it would produce.  The estimate predicted about 200 kilowatt-hours in the whole month of January (worst month) and about 700 kwh in June (best month), for a yearly predicted total of 5,900 kwh.  Their estimate has so far been very accurate (slightly low).  Dominion Energy charges us about 12 cents per kwh for grid electricity, so this solar system that cost us about $12,600 after the tax credit ($18,000 – 30%) makes about $700 of “free” electricity per *year*, and thus will take 18 years to pay for itself at current electric rates.  Be aware — but we are very happy with our choice!