Table of Contents
- The Bottom Line
- About Blue Raven Solar
- Blue Raven Solar equipment
- Where Blue Raven Solar operates
- The Blue Raven Solar process
- Blue Raven Solar cost and financing
- Blue Raven Solar warranty and follow-up service
- What Blue Raven Solar customers say
- Blue Raven legal issues
- Final thoughts on Blue Raven Solar
Our Rating: 3 / 5 (See: How Leaf Score is calculated)
The Bottom Line
Blue Raven Solar is a tricky company to review. The solar installer seems decidedly hit and miss, depending on where you live. As it stands, we only recommend BRS in a handful of states and would be wary of going with the company elsewhere.
In well-established markets, Blue Raven Solar appears to have efficient, friendly, and professional installation crews and a fairly smooth process for installing residential solar. The company handles all site surveys, design, permitting and inspections, and installation, and can even help with some tax forms. Blue Raven Solar also offers some innovative financing options to help customers install and own solar even if the upfront cost is out of reach.
In markets new to the company, however, there are numerous reports of missing paperwork, inappropriate designs, aggressive sales tactics, shoddy installations, and missing follow-up to correct errors and damages.
Blue Raven Solar was acquired by SunPower in October 2021, allowing the larger company to greatly expand its service territory. So far, it’s hard to tell what effect this acquisition has had on Blue Raven Solar, especially given that ratings were already starting to drop from a consistent high prior to the purchase.
- Available in 22 states, including 50 cities and surrounding areas
- Uses in-house installation crews, with experienced crews in several states
- Approved to sell highest-efficiency SunPower panels
- Offers innovative financing options
- Some crews appear to be very efficient, friendly, and professional
- Has grown very fast, with signs of being overstretched in several states
- Aggressive sales tactics, with some associated legal issues in Idaho and Ohio
- Customers report frequent confusion/poor explanation around BRS’s 3-day cancellation period and contracts
- Issues with communication, design, engineering, and installation crews
- Problems with follow-up after installations are complete
- Everything is run from the company’s Utah base, making for slow, confusing project management
- New to several markets
- Does not typically offer battery storage options, EV charging, or smart home monitoring
Customer experiences with Blue Raven Solar are decidedly mixed. Some folks report smooth sailing and really great customer service while others report an absolute nightmare after signing a contract. Location seems to be the main factor in determining which end of the spectrum a project falls. Overall, however, Blue Raven Solar garnered consistently high customer ratings from 2016 to early 2021, after which ratings took a nosedive.
Blue Raven Solar has also been subject to some legal issues, mainly for aggressive and misleading sales practices.
If you can overlook some bad experiences, BRS is worth a look, depending on where you live.
About Blue Raven Solar
Blue Raven Solar has been around since 2014 and has grown from a three-person team to a company employing around 3,000 people. In October 2021, SunPower acquired Blue Raven Solar as part of its plan to extend its reach in the U.S. residential solar market.
Blue Raven Solar is based in Utah and offers solar installation services in 22 states and counting. The company runs a full-service operation, from pre-sales energy consultations, to design, permitting, installation, and maintenance. It also offers a 10-year workmanship warranty and a two-year production guarantee (though this isn’t quite as good as it sounds – more on that below).
The company partners with loan companies to support customers in accessing financing for solar. It also offers its BluePower Plus+ purchasing plan which has many of the upsides of a power purchase agreement without most of the downsides.
SunPower and Blue Raven Solar
As one of the fastest growing solar installers in the U.S., with impressive reach across 22 states, it’s no surprise that SunPower snapped up this company in October 2021 for a cool $165 million. BRS performs most (around 90%) of its installations in just 14 states, and those happen to be ones that account for just 5% of SunPower’s sales. As such, the larger company stands to gain significant market access through its acquisition of the smaller company.
The effect of the buyout on Blue Raven Solar’s operations remains to be seen. The company’s CEO joined SunPower’s executive team and SunPower plans to build on BRS’s staff and partner base. According to a SunPower press release, the plan is to combine SunPower’s quality solar products and digital marketing tools with BRS’s direct sales model.
There’s also mention of adding new best practice capabilities to SunPower’s national dealer network and using Blue Raven Solar’s sales volume to expand SunPower’s suite of financial products and increase the number of solar loans sold by the company.
It’s interesting that this sale went through a year after BRS signed an agreement with the Attorney General of Idaho to cease certain misleading sales practices and revise other company policies. Here’s hoping SunPower will honor those agreements, even though complaints continue to come in against Blue Raven Solar in certain markets.
Blue Raven Solar equipment
Blue Raven Solar specializes in monocrystalline solar panels, especially the highest efficiency panels currently available (courtesy of SunPower). The company sales model ensures that all customers own their panels outright, instead of leasing the products.
Blue Raven Solar doesn’t typically offer solar storage options, although the partnership with SunPower will likely change that, given the bigger company’s storage range.
BRS doesn’t list its preferred brands on its site, so homeowners remain in the dark about available equipment until they contact the company for a consultation. In some cases, customers may have already signed a contract before discovering that BRS doesn’t offer certain panels, inverters, or other equipment. As such, if you have a strong preference for certain brands or models, confirm in writing that these will be available through BRS before signing a contract.
BRS does offer a remote monitoring smartphone app that provides real-time electrical production (current and cumulative).
Where Blue Raven Solar operates
While based in Utah, Blue Raven Solar now operates in at least 22 states and more than 50 major cities and surrounding areas. These include:
- North Carolina
- South Carolina
Many of these markets are new to Blue Raven Solar, which may mean projects are subject to some teething problems. BRS has in-house installation crews, but in new markets these crews may lack experience. There’s also some indication from customer reviews that the company may initially outsource engineering and installation services in new markets, which can lead to confusion and poor accountability.
Similarly, because everything is run out of the company’s Utah office, local knowledge of permitting and building codes, associated trades, and other key information may be lacking. These can all slow down and problematize a solar installation.
I trawled through thousands of reviews of Blue Raven Solar across sites such as SolarReviews, EnergySage, Better Business Bureau, and Consumer Affairs. From what I can see, between July 2021 and July 2022, some states and cities were a much better bet than others for a Blue Raven Solar installation.
For instance, Colorado is a well-established market for the company and appears to get almost entirely positive reviews across several cities. The same goes for Idaho, North Carolina, Oregon, Ohio, and Utah.
|Overall positive||Overall negative||Not enough info|
The Blue Raven Solar process
Blue Raven Solar has a direct sales model and is very proactive (verging on aggressive and straying into illegal) when it comes to signing up homeowners for solar. Once you are in touch with the company, expect a consultation call to discuss the installation process, pricing, and financial options.
BRS appears to ask prospective customers to sign a contract for a credit check and site visit at this point. This could affect your credit rating, so be sure about what you’re signing. They will then schedule a company technician to visit and assess your roof, electrical panel, and current energy usage. Let the team know if you expect our energy needs to change considerably in the coming years, due to EV charging and so forth.
Read any small print carefully as there is a very strict 3-day window for cancelling this visit. If it goes ahead, expect to be on the hook for a site assessment fee (some reports state this is as high as $1215) even if you choose not to go with BRS to install solar.
If you are happy with the site visit, you may be asked to sign a full contract at this point, even before seeing a design. The BRS team will then design a custom solar energy system to meet your needs. Check all specifications carefully as customers frequently report typos, missing details, and other paperwork errors. If something is missing, vague, or confusing, ask for clarification in writing before signing off on the design.
At this point, you will also discuss financing with Blue Raven Solar. The company offers several options for paying for solar installations, all of which result in you owning the system outright. This means you may qualify for tax credits, rebates, SRECs, and net metering in certain states and cities. Do the math yourself though, as there are reports of Blue Raven Solar representatives struggling to fully explain these issues to customers, resulting in huge financial stress in some cases.
If you sign off on financing and the design, be aware that this will result in a credit check, which may affect your credit score even if you don’t ultimately go through with installation.
For homeowners who move onto the next step, BRS will begin submitting paperwork for permitting. Once that’s in hand, the company will schedule your installation.
During installation, one of Blue Raven Solar’s in-house crews will mount your solar panels on your roof, rewire your electrical panel, and connect your new system to your existing utility meter. If you need a new meter, this will be arranged with the utility. Most installations take one to two days.
After the installation is complete, BRS will arrange for a city inspector to come and check that everything is to code. The utility company will also need to visit to inspect the system. After these inspections, you will (all being well) get Permission to Operate and can turn on your energy system.
Be aware that BRS aims to design a system that will offset 100% of your average utility bill. That means you will still have some months where you pay for electricity. Ideally, your utility will offer net billing or net metering, so you can use production credits to offset energy costs in other months.
Blue Raven Solar cost and financing
Blue Raven Solar is not transparent about pricing, offering no details on its website. To get a quote, you’ll need to contact the company and give their sales representatives information about your home, energy needs, and how you plan to finance the installation.
The cost of a BRS installation will also vary depending on your system’s size, where you live, and the types of panels you choose. Costs will likely be higher if there any complicating issues such as roof obstructions or electric service panel or meter problems.
Blue Raven Solar has been warned by attorneys general about misrepresenting savings, tax credits, rebates, and loan payments in both Ohio and Idaho. As such, be very clear about what you’re signing and what you can expect to pay for your system.
BRS’s website still claims that you can buy a solar energy system for $0 down with 18 months of free solar power. In actuality, you will almost certainly have to pay site inspection costs, and the 18 months of ‘free’ payments are just deferred payments you will catch up on later.
Financing options with Blue Raven Solar
BRS offers two main ways to pay for a solar installation: BluePower Plus + and SmartStart. You’ll need a minimum credit score for both products.
With BluePower Plus +, you’ll sign a contact for a fixed monthly payment at a set interest rate for the life of the loan. Payments start 18 months after installation (note, this doesn’t necessarily mean after your system starts producing energy you can use). Under the agreement, you can pay off the loan without penalty at any time. You also get a 25-year manufacturer warranty and a two-year power production guarantee.
BluePower Plus + is a little like a solar lease or power purchase agreement, except you own the solar energy system. That means you get the potential tax credits, rebates, and SRECs, as well as net metering benefits (where applicable) and you have an asset you own outright once the loan is repaid in full.
With the BRS SmartStart financing option, you pay a low cost to the lender for 18 months after installation. BRS sends you a monthly check to cover this cost for the full 18-month period. Your lender then increases your monthly payment amount after 18 months, but BRS will send you a monthly check for another 42 months to keep your payment at the initial low-cost.
A great deal? Perhaps. Confusing? Yes. Read the small print and know exactly how much you’ll be on the hook for, especially if BRS misses a monthly check and you don’t realize any immediate savings on your utility bill.
Remember, too, that you can always finance a solar installation using a loan from a company you choose. You don’t have to go with Blue Raven Solar’s financing options, it just might be a bit simpler if you do.
Blue Raven Solar warranty and follow-up service
Blue Raven Solar offers a rather stingy 10-year workmanship warranty that covers free repairs on any install or workmanship errors. It also offers a manufacturers’ warranty, covering solar panel manufacturing issues for 25 years. The warranties don’t appear to cover the inverter, wiring, mounting and racks, or other components. To me, this strongly suggests that BRS cares little for the quality of installs and how they perform long-term.
BRS proudly advertises its production guarantee, but this isn’t quite what it seems. The guarantee is only for two years after installation and only guarantees production up to 85% of the initial estimate. You’ll also have to wait at least 18 months before BRS will accept that production isn’t as expected.
Let’s say, then, that you signed up for a system estimated to produce 600 kWh per month. If, after 18 months, your system is producing an average of 516 kWh monthly, this satisfies the production guarantee and BRS will not do anything to enhance production. Depending on where you live, this could be a difference of around $100 to $200 a year.
If you have a bigger system, the difference will also be bigger. As an example, for a system estimated to produce 1200 kWh per month, the production guarantee would be satisfied even if it only produced an average of 1032 kWh/mth. That could mean homeowners are paying $250 to $500 extra each year in utility bills.
The 18-month window is also, to my mind, a little sneaky. After all, most solar installations are scheduled in summer, meaning the production guarantee window covers two summers and one winter. Hardly representative of an actual yearly and monthly average.
Should your system fail to meet 85% of estimated production, BRS promises to upgrade your system at no charge. However, the company only promises to upgrade to bring it to 90%, not to the full amount initially estimated.
What Blue Raven Solar customers say
Blue Raven Solar customers report a wide range of experiences with the company. Some are absolutely ecstatic with the process and their new solar energy system while others are totally dejected and claim to be considering legal action.
Again, customer experience appears to depend heavily on location. In more established markets, projects seem to go more smoothly and customers tend to be happy with the installation crews and the company overall. In newer markets, there are more reports of pushy salespeople overpromising the product, issues with paperwork, and poor quality installations.
The Better Business Bureau lists 111 total complaints from 2019 to 2022, with 62 of these between 2021 and 2022. The vast majority of complaints (81) were related to a ‘Problem with a Product or Service’. Other major issues including the company’s ‘Advertising/Sales’ (13) and ‘Billing/Collections’ (13). BRS has been accredited by the BBB since October 2015 and is currently listed as an A+ business, based on the number and nature of complaints and how the company resolved these.
Blue Raven legal issues
Blue Raven Solar doesn’t appear to be facing any current lawsuits from customers but it was subject to an investigation by the Attorney General in Idaho and has also faced legal issues to do with telemarketing in Ohio.
In Idaho, the AG’s office provided the Idaho Capital Sun newspaper a file with 16 complaints against solar companies filed in 2020. Of these, five were against Blue Raven Solar.
The Idaho AG had already opened an investigation into BRS in spring 2020, based on complaints that the company used aggressive and possibly illegal sales tactics. The AG found that the company’s training materials included sales methods that could mislead or confuse customers. BRS cooperated fully with the investigation and while it denied violating any laws in the state, it signed a voluntary agreement to resolve the AG’s concerns in October the same year.
The agreement expires at the end of 2025 and requires BRS to discontinue using the troublesome training materials. This includes not telling customers that they are affiliated with any Idaho utility, nor that they will receive tax breaks or refunds, rebates, or payments unless the company has written proof to that effect.
The company has, however, continued to amass complaints since signing the agreement. These include complaints over misrepresentation of potential savings and tax credits, affiliations with utilities, and power production.
Final thoughts on Blue Raven Solar
Blue Raven Solar has its good and bad sides, making it extremely difficult to provide a clear recommendation for or against this solar installer. On the one hand, customers in some states and cities seem to have a great experience with BRS. On the other, there are horrifying, nightmarish tales of unresolved damage to homes and unscrupulous sales tactics burdening homeowners with debt for decades to come.
Because of these issues, I would only recommend Blue Raven Solar in a handful of states. And even here, I would strongly suggest getting several estimates from solar installers before signing any kind of contract.
One huge upside of going with Blue Raven Solar is access to the highest-efficiency solar panels currently available (SunPower). I suspect that the partnership with SunPower will also help BRS expand to offer solar storage options in the near future. The BluePower Plus+ solar loan program is also interesting and could work in your favor as long as you fully understand the terms of payment.
All in all, if you live in Colorado, Idaho, North Carolina, Oregon, Ohio, or Utah, consider getting a quote from Blue Raven Solar. If you live in Illinois, Indiana, Kansas, Missouri, or South Carolina, I’d be quite wary of the company and would look for a more established local solar installer. For installations elsewhere, there’s just not enough information to make a good assessment of BRS’s capacity. We’d love to hear from anyone who has worked with Blue Raven Solar in any of these markets!