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Trinity Solar serves the east coast and has a lengthy history of installing solar. Here’s how it compares to the competition.
While the residential solar industry is not in its infancy, a company that started installing solar less than 20 years ago in 2004 is one of the old guard. That’s Trinity Solar, which started a decade earlier focused on HVAC. It’s now one of the 10 largest solar companies installing residential solar panels in America.
The solar panels, inverters and battery options Trinity offers are of good quality with strong warranties (and popular choices for other companies as well). All available signs point to it being a company that delivers strong customer service, too. Where Trinity trails some other companies is in the warranties it offers customers who purchase its system, though lease and power purchase agreement customers receive coverage for the duration of their agreement.
Trinity Solar scores what it does because it offers choice in quality equipment and customer service that appears to be strong. However, Trinity doesn’t share pricing information (many companies are dinged for this in our scoring methodology). Since it’s likely you’re looking to solar at least in part for savings, it’s hard to give a full-throated recommendation without pricing information.
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This review doesn’t rely on any hands-on testing or firsthand experience with the ordering and installation process, so don’t rely on it to be a perfect guide to whether or not Trinity fits your specific situation. When you’re shopping for solar panels, you should get multiple quotes, including from local, smaller solar companies, which may have less overhead and be able to offer you a better deal. Talk to neighbors with solar and understand your energy needs before choosing an installer. Our review of Trinity, and of all the solar companies we review, can be part of your shopping process, but shouldn’t be all of it.
What do I get from Trinity Solar?
When you’re shopping for solar panels, the panels, inverter and (possibly) battery are important pieces of the puzzle. If you buy from Trinity Solar, you should get quality equipment.
What equipment does Trinity Solar install?
Trinity Solar installs Qcells solar panels, though it could procure something else if a customer requests them, said Kristen Drigon, a spokesperson for Trinity Solar. The widely used residential solar panels from Qcells, one of the largest solar panel manufacturers in the world, have top efficiency ratings from 20.6% to 20.9%. Efficiency measures the amount of sunlight the panels convert to electricity. Qcells’ ratings mean the panels are near the most efficient panels, but come up just shy of a few of the most efficient offerings from other companies, like SunPower.
Trinity prefers to install SolarEdge inverters, Drigon said. SolarEdge makes a string inverter that can connect to power optimizers. SolarEdge inverters have high efficiencies (up to 99% depending on the model) and come with a 12-year warranty that can be extended to 20 or 25 years. For certain projects Trinity uses Enphase microinverters, which operate at 97% to 97.5% efficiency.
Trinity also installs a variety of batteries, including from Tesla and Generac. Tesla Powerwall batteries hold 12.2 kilowatt-hours of usable energy, though you can add multiple batteries. Tesla Powerwall is a battery widely used by solar installers. It can provide 13.5 kilowatt hours of energy in total at a rate of 5.8 kVA continuously or 7.2 kVA for 10 seconds at a time. Powerwall promises 70% capacity over 10 years, regardless of how much the battery is used as long as it’s used just to back up your house.
Generac PWRcell batteries start at 9 kilowatt-hours and can be increased in 3-kWh increments up to 36 total. Generac’s batteries can discharge about 1.1 kilowatt continuously per battery module. For example, a 9-kWh setup (3 battery modules) can discharge continuously at a rate of 3.4 kilowatts. The batteries can discharge at a peak of 1.5 kilowatts, so a 9-kilowatt setup will discharge at a rate of 4.5 kilowatts. PWRcell batteries also come with a warranty that’s good for 10 years or until 7.65 megawatt-hours cycle through the battery per module. (A 3-module, 9-kWh battery would be under warranty for 10 years or until 22.95 megawatt hours cycle through it.)
While Trinity Solar favors certain equipment and manufacturers, supply chain issues have impacted the solar industry. Trinity may install other equipment as limited availability remains.
What warranties does Trinity Solar offer?
Aside from the battery and inverter warranties mentioned above, you’ll receive additional warranties on panels and the installation.
Because solar panels are long-lived purchases and do deteriorate over time, panel quality is also measured by long-term performance. Qcells panels are guaranteed to produce at 86% of their capacity at 25 years. This is also a near-the-top rating, but it ranks below just a few other panels, like those from SunPower, which can guarantee 92% at 25 years. At the same time, Qcells’ 25-year warranty does match the longest mainstream warranties on the market.
Trinity offers a 10-year workmanship warranty to those who purchase solar panels, Drigon said. The company also said it offers a warranty against leaks from the solar panel installation ranging from five to 25 years. About 97% of Trinity’s customers purchased their panels with a loan in the last 18 months, which comes with a 10-year warranty against leaks.
Ten-year workmanship warranties are not unusual in the solar industry, though some companies are starting to offer 25-year options. A 10-year warranty against leaks is pretty common, though ADT Solar offers a 25-year warranty. The workmanship for leases or power purchase agreements from Trinity are fully covered for the life of the deal.
Does Trinity Solar use subcontractors?
Most installations are handled by the in-house teams, though the company does have subcontractors on hand.
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Does Trinity Solar offer monitoring services?
Trinity confirmed you’ll monitor your solar system through the SolarEdge or Enphase app, depending on which inverter brand you have. Both apps are well-rated (SolarEdge receives 4.2 stars on Google Play and 4.6 on Apple’s App Store; Enphase receives 4.1 on Google Play and 4.7 on the App Store).
How much do Trinity Solar panels cost?
Because Trinity Solar is a privately owned company and not required to release information about its business to investors, getting a clear answer about cost and value is harder than it is for companies such as Sunrun and Tesla. Trinity Solar declined to share an average price for a purchased system because pricing “is market-dependent and ranges broadly depending on the regulations and associated costs in any given area.” According to consulting firm Wood Mackenzie, the average cost for residential solar panels is $2.99 per watt for an 8-kilowatt system ($23,920 for the whole 8 kw system).
Trinity’s customers can go solar either by purchasing panels or entering into a lease or power purchase agreement. While buying solar panels often results in better financial savings over the lifetime of the panels, third-party ownership arrangements, such as leases and power purchase agreements, eliminate the up-front costs of going solar.
For that reason installation price isn’t always the best metric to judge its products, Drigon said. If you opt for a lease or a power purchase agreement, installation costs are covered by the installers. Then, the important metric for customers is the escalator, or the rate at which the annual fee increases compared to the cost of electricity from a local utility. Since these numbers vary by location, it requires some guesswork as well as careful consideration before entering into an agreement.
A typical escalator rate from Trinity is 2.9%, Drigon said. Every year, there are a few customers who pay more for their solar energy than they would with their utility (something we heard from other providers, as well), but Drigon called those instances “quite rare.”
Over the lifespan of the system, however, Drigon noted: “We expect all of our customers to show savings because of the very nature of solar energy’s predictability when compared to their utility.”
Does Trinity Solar operate in my state? How do I order?
Trinity Solar operates in nine states, all on the east coast:
|Florida||New Jersey||Rhode Island|
You can reach out to Trinity via its website. Trinity will contact you using the information you provide to start the process.
Trinity Solar has in-house installation teams in all the states it services, according to Drigon, though the company does have subcontractors on hand.
Is Trinity Solar my best choice?
- Offers quality equipment
- Signs point to strong customer service
- You can find longer workmanship and weatherization warranties elsewhere
- Little pricing transparency
As with any major purchase, it’s important to shop around for multiple estimates and read all the fine print. Doing a bit more legwork could save you thousands of dollars. Keep in mind that Trinity offers leases and power purchase agreements, which can help you go solar for little up-front cost, though your long-term savings are likely to be lower than if you purchase outright. You should get several quotes and check out smaller, local installers for your solar purchase, and the same goes for leases and power purchase agreements.
Trinity’s preferred providers for panels, inverters and batteries are all respected brands that should perform well over the lifetime of your system. At the same time, remember that Trinity’s workmanship warranty is typically 10 years, which is fairly typical, though longer workmanship warranties exist. There are also some visible signs, like a responsive Better Business Bureau page, that Trinity takes customer service seriously. While customer satisfaction is difficult to judge without survey data, it’s encouraging to see the company quickly respond to complaints. Trinity has an A-Plus grade with the Better Business Bureau.
And it has to be said again: Without pricing data, it’s impossible to give an unqualified recommendation. Be sure to compare multiple prices.
While I approached this research practically and thoroughly, I haven’t actually purchased or tested Trinity Solar in any empirical way. Since solar services vary regionally and are difficult to review, make sure to do your own research before you decide which way to go.
How we evaluate solar companies
Reviewing solar companies in a hands-on way is difficult. Accounting for all the differences project to project is impossible. To provide a helpful review, we focused on what we can measure and meaningfully compare among companies.
We focus on three buckets of criteria: equipment, warranties and service.
Within the equipment category, companies receive scores for the panels, inverters and batteries they install. Warranties include the guarantees on the panels, workmanship and weatherization against leaks. Companies earn points for service if they offer a price match, a meaningful level of price transparency and a well-rated app for monitoring solar production. They lose points if there are major issues pertaining to customer service (lawsuits, investigations or clear reputations for shoddy service). These issues will always be detailed in the review.
We don’t consider the average price of a company’s installations in their score. This information is difficult to find and hard to compare across service areas (and even roof to roof). Companies are often slow to disclose it, too. We also leave out easily found but not useful information like how many states a company operates in.
Trinity Solar FAQs
Who owns Trinity Solar?
Trinity Solar is a family-owned company. It claims to be the largest, privately held solar installer in the US.
What type of solar panels does Trinity Solar use?
How long has Trinity Solar been in business?
Trinity Solar has been installing solar panels since 2004, though it existed as a heating and air conditioning company beginning in 1994.
Is Trinity Solar reliable?
Trinity Solar has been in business for nearly two decades and is responsive to customer complaints on the BBB website, indicating solid customer service. The company installs hardware from trusted national brands.
Correction, May 10, 2023: An earlier version of this article misstated the Better Business Bureau’s grading process. Any company can receive a grade from the Bureau, regardless of whether it has paid to go through the accreditation process.