WindMar Solar Review: A Long Track Record in Florida and Puerto Rico

Solar panels installed on a roof over a front porch.

7.1

WindMar Solar

Like


  • Quality equipment

  • Stronger warranties for most customers

  • Long track record in the region

Don’t like


  • No price match

  • Cash purchases get short warranties

In sunny Florida and Puerto Rico, solar power can provide year-round renewable electricity. Solar energy and storage can also keep the power on when a hurricane topples the grid, as Puerto Rico is banking on after the devastation of Hurricanes Maria and Irma.

WindMar Solar has been installing solar since 2002. After adding residential solar installations to its repertoire in 2017, it’s been adding solar panels to rooftops and attaching batteries in sunny Florida and Puerto Rico ever since.

If you’re in Florida or Puerto Rico and looking to buy solar panels, WindMar installs quality some of the most highly regarded solar equipment but doesn’t offer the choice of some other installers we’ve reviewed. The vast majority of its customers finance through Sunnova and receive strong warranties, but if you buy in cash, you’ll be stuck with shorter than average protection. (The above score takes into account the warranties extended to customers who finance through WindMar’s partner, Sunnova. Over 90% of customers finance or lease through Sunnova, WindMar told CNET.)

Below we’ll lay out what WindMar offers and how it stacks up against other solar companies in the industry. Even though we try to get you the most accurate and helpful information possible, you should never let a review take the place of speaking with multiple companies in your area and comparing multiple quotes before signing a contract. The first quote you get might be the best available, but you won’t know for sure without comparing it against others.


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What do I get from WindMar?

WindMar customers will get some of the most widely installed solar panels and solar batteries and can acquire them via purchase or lease. 

What solar equipment does WindMar install?

When it comes to the equipment that makes up a solar panel system, your options with WindMar are simple but solid. The firm installs one brand of panels (with one small exception), one battery and one type of inverter, said Aaron Myers, WindMar’s assistant director of sales. Each is among the most widely used in the industry.

WindMar installs solar panels from Qcells, many of which are manufactured in Georgia. Qcells solar panels have a maximum efficiency of 20.9% and come with 25 year manufacturer warranties that guarantee the panels will produce at least at 86% of their rated capacity after 25 years. If you live in Miami-Dade County, you’ll likely get different solar panels, thanks to the county’s permitting requirements, Myers said.

For batteries, WindMar opts for Tesla Powerwall. It’s a leading battery and one of the most recognizable in the space. It backs up its name recognition with performance. With strong marks for both efficiency and depth of discharge, it earned CNET’s top spot for solar batteries. A new, more powerful model was announced in September and will be available in 2024. The current Powerwall 2 comes with a 10-year warranty that guarantees at least 70% of their capacity after that span.

All of WindMar’s residential solar installations are equipped with microinverters from Enphase. Inverters turn direct current solar electricity into the alternate current electricity the devices in your home use. Microinverters do that conversion at each solar panel, as opposed to string inverters, which do it for a group of panels at once. Microinverters offer a few advantages, including longer warranties (25 years for Enphase) and, often, greater energy production, especially when partial shading is a concern. 

What warranties does WindMar offer?

Aside from the equipment warranties noted above, WindMar offers a 10 year workmanship warranty that covers the labor on the project and a one year warranty against leaks anywhere the solar panels are placed. That workmanship warranty is fairly standard, but the one-year warranty against leaks is short compared to what we’ve heard from other installers.

However, customers who finance or lease with WindMar’s partner Sunnova can sign up with Sunnova Protect, a program that covers repairs and offers proactive monitoring of your solar panels. It also extends the weatherization warranty to 10 years. Carefully read the details of any long term agreement before signing it.

More than 90% of WindMar’s residential customers have Sunnova Protect available to them because they finance or lease with Sunnova, Myers said.

Does WindMar offer monitoring services?

Besides Sunnova Protect, customers can monitor their system’s production through the Enphase Enlighten app connected to their microinverters. That app scores a 4.1 on Google Play and a 4.6 on the App Store.

Customers with a Tesla Powerwall will also be able to monitor their batteries through the Tesla app, which scores a 3.7 on both Apple and Google Play. CNET hasn’t tested either of these apps.

Does WindMar use subcontractors?

WindMar uses exclusively in house installers except for the occasional job in Miami-Dade County, Myers said.

A company’s use of subcontractors doesn’t factor into CNET’s scoring of the company.

How much do WindMar solar panels cost?

Like much of the industry, you won’t get much pricing information until you request a quote. This makes sense, since the cost of a rooftop solar installation varies because of a bunch of factors. The complexity of your roof, your local permitting costs, the number of panels and whether you’re also installing batteries or an EV charger are just some of the factors that can affect the cost (by thousands of dollars in some cases). Still, we’d like to see greater price transparency from most companies.

A Wood Mackenzie report (PDF) said residential solar cost $3.28 per watt in the US at the beginning of 2023. Another estimate from the Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory put the average at $4.20 per watt. The Berkeley Lab suggests (PDF) estimates like these can vary for a number of reasons. Loan fees may be included or excluded or the group of systems these averages measure could be different. You won’t know what’s a good price for you until you get multiple quotes from installers in your area.

WindMar doesn’t offer a price match guarantee.

What financing options does WindMar offer?

WindMar offers solar panels for purchase and through leases. The vast majority of its customers finance or lease through Sunnova, Myers said.

Purchasing panels outright generally saves more money over the panels’ lifetime, but leases (and their close relative, power purchase agreements) have increased access to solar panels because people can have them installed with little money down.

About 25% of residential systems installed in 2022 were power purchase agreements or leases, according to the Berkeley Lab.

Does WindMar operate in my state? How do I order?

WindMar operates in Florida and Puerto Rico. The installation process is pretty typical for the industry.

If you’re interested in a quote from WindMar, you can start at its website or with a phone call. From there, a WindMar representative will visit your home to provide a more detailed estimate. If you decide to move forward, you’ll finalize a system design with WindMar before the company will get to work on acquiring the necessary permits. Once all the paperwork is in order, you’ll get an installation date. Installation typically takes a day or two. The last step is getting permission to operate from your utility. Myers said the process typically takes anywhere from one to three months.

Is WindMar the best choice?

The best choice for you is the company that best fits your specific energy needs at a price that works for you. Even the top rated companies may not be the best fit for every customer.

WindMar has a long track record of installing solar panels in Florida and Puerto Rico. History in a place can be an advantage when it comes to acquiring permits and navigating local bureaucracy.

If you work with WindMar you’ll get quality panels, batteries and inverters installed. They’re some of the most popular models in their category. If you, like most of WindMar’s customers, finance through Sunnova, you’ll also get extended warranties and proactive monitoring of your solar panel system.

If you buy your panels outright, you’ll be left with less robust warranties. WindMar’s 10-year warranty isn’t as long as some larger companies out there. A one year warranty against leaks is shorter than what every company we’ve reviewed offers.

While useful, empirical customer service data isn’t available for the solar industry, WindMar gets an A grade from the Better Business Bureau. There are too few customer reviews there to draw a meaningful conclusion.

Pros

  • Long track record in Florida and Puerto Rico
  • Quality equipment
  • Most people get strong warranties and monitoring

Cons

  • People who pay in cash get weaker warranties

WindMar Solar Reviews: What are customers saying?

Online reviews shouldn’t be taken as proof of how your installation with a particular company is going to go. They can be useful to identify trends or help you identify issues or questions you might want to ask a sales representative. Customers have only left a few reviews of WindMar with the Better Business Bureau. Below are excerpts from a couple of them. WindMar, for its part, has replied to each review it’s been left.

Five star WindMar reviews

“As a very satisfied customer, I highly recommend WindMar Solar for anyone considering solar installation. Their service was exceptional, from the helpful and informative sales team to their seamless installation process. The savings on my energy bills have been significant since the installation.” Roshen C. 9/18/2023

One star WindMar reviews

“I’m stuck with [an] extremely expensive system that doesn’t work. It is not producing enough.” Vera Z. 8/14/2023

How we evaluate solar companies

Hands on reviewing a solar company would require going through the purchase process, having a solar system installed and then monitoring its performance. Doing this once would be unwieldy. Doing it more than once would be impossible.

Instead, we relied on research and our knowledge of the industry and developed a scoring methodology that judges companies on the equipment, warranties and service they offer customers. We tried to make sure it measures what’s useful to the average customer and ignores what doesn’t. We always speak to someone from the company. If it’s not possible, we’ll note it.

In the equipment bucket, companies get scores based on the panels, batteries and inverters they install, typically getting extra points for offering high performance equipment or multiple options within a specific category. For warranties, we evaluate the manufacturers warranties of the equipment they install as well as the warranties on labor and the weatherization of the penetrations made in your roof during installation. Customer service is difficult to get at in any detail. We opt to use the letter grade the Better Business Bureau gives each company because it’s a useful point of comparison for all the companies we’ve reviewed.

You can read a full breakdown of the scoring methodology on your own.

Because pricing data isn’t readily available, we’ve stopped including that in our scoring, though companies do get points for offering a price match guarantee. We also report but don’t include in the scoring how many states a company operates in.

Frequently asked questions

Is free solar legitimate?

You might come across ads or a solar sales pitch that says you can get solar for free. What’s more likely is that you can get solar for no money down. Under solar leases or power purchase agreements, a company will install panels on your property, but retain ownership. You pay a fee for the equipment or agree to buy the power it produces, typically at less than your utility charges. These arrangements (collectively called third-party ownership) typically save you money, but less than buying the panels yourself. They do come without the large, upfront price tag, though.

How do I choose the right solar company?

The best way to avoid a bad deal is to get multiple quotes and work with established companies. Check in with your friends, neighbors and entities like the Better Business Bureau; compare quotes and make sure the company is willing to answer all your questions before you move forward. A legitimate company won’t be afraid to answer your questions.

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