ADT Solar (Sunpro Solar) Aggregate Review
A company that is best known for home alarm systems is now selling solar installations. Should you use them for your project?
ADT Solar is a branch of ADT Inc, a company that is better known for home security products. ADT acquired Sunpro Solar in 2021, and has been expanding ever since.
Why would an alarm company buy a solar company? Here’s what ADT said in a press release:
“The closing of this transaction and the introduction of ADT Solar unlocks our ability to respond to customer desire for sustainable energy solutions they can use independently or combine with ADT’s smart security systems for a safer, smarter, and more sustainable home or business,” said Jim DeVries, ADT President and Chief Executive Officer.
In other words, because ADT is already selling things that are wired into your home - like alarm systems, smart doorbells, and cameras - adding solar to their product lineup seemed like a logical step.
Sunpro was already a large company, but they’ve since the ADT acquisition their footprint is even larger.
Should you choose ADT Solar for your solar installation? A smaller local installer is usually the better option for most people, but in some cases ADT might be worth a look.
The history of ADT goes all the back to 1863, when the founder of ADT invented a telegraph-based stock ticker. According to the company, a burglary in the home of a colleague inspired him to create a telegraph-based alert system that connected 50 neighbors to a central station that monitored the system for alerts.
ADT was formed as American District Telegraph in 1874, which consolidated 50 telegraph-based alert companies in New York City.
Today, ADT is still best known for its alarm systems. It’s now a public company on the NYSE with a market capitalization of $7.5 billion.
Prior to being acquired, Sunpro Solar was Solar Power World’s second largest residential solar contractor in 2021 (with the important caveat that the list doesn’t include Sunrun, which is the largest).
Since the acquistion in November 2021, the number of states that ADT Solar will be available in has increased. They currently operate in these 23 states:
- New Mexico
- North Carolina
- South Carolina
The follow 7 states are listed as “coming soon”:
- New Jersey
- New York
- West Virginia
Reviews of ADT Solar
Here’s a summary of reviews for ADT Solar. These are current as of the “last updated date” of this article.
|Better Business Bureau||1.87 out of 5|
675 complaints closed in last 3 years
461 complaints closed in last 12 months
|Yelp||Varies by location from 1 to 3.5 (out of 5)|
|Varies by location from 1 to 4.6 (out of 5)|
|2.6 out of 5|
|2.4 out of 5|
You’ll notice that I’ve included reviews from Glassdoor and Indeed, which aren’t consumer review sites but sites that let employees review the company they work for. I’ve found that this can provide insights into how well a company is run. Of course, bad reviews might be the result of a few disgruntled employees, but a pattern of reviews that touch on the same themes can certainly indicate a real problem.
Here’s one Glassdoor review that says ADT Solar’s poor BBB reviews are justified:
This company has a complete lack of accountability. When you are trying to help customers come to a resolution on high dollar solar panel projects, and all management can advise is to blow them off, it leads to very angry customers and a miserable work environment in customer service. They are disorganized and have poor leadership. They have despicable business ethics and the company is a vulgar display of contractor fraud. Predatory. I highly recommend you read their BBB reviews. I guarantee all of the angry and bad customer reviews are very well deserved.
Another Glassdoor review is interesting because it mentions issues with permitting:
They don’t care if you have too much work, they’ll keep adding more onto an existing massive queue. The benefits suck. The pay is very low considering their contract prices with homeowners are insanley expensive. They are unethical in regards to leaning forward with projects and installing without AHJ approvals. This comes back to bite PC in the butts because the AHJ’s yell at you rather than the managment team that decided to install.
(AHJ is short for authority having jurisdiction, which is industry lingo for the entity that issues permits for solar installations.)
I think this is notable because if you read through their BBB complaints, there are many that also mention issues with permitting, such as this customer:
We signed our solar agreement 7/2022. It is now 12/2022. We have no solar. Adt took 2 times to install the panels…3 times critter guard. Still did not fix roof tiles…no nv energy meter. Sould of had 2 each solar nest thermostats installed but that fid not happen. So we cannot even energize the panels.. they sent the wrong building inspection permit for my address and install. And I still have no solar meter installed and I cannot operate my solar. So now as of Dec 11, 2022 I am paying my solar panel payment…plus regular electricity. No solar working If you need every phone call record I have it. My solar advocate is *********
The fact that multiple customers and an employee highlight issues with getting permits for their projects would seem to indicate that this is a real issue.
You can find numerous other complaints on BBB.org, including issues with billing, product quality, and installation quality.
The BBB is my first choice for checking consumer reviews because they have a more thorough vetting process than other review sites. Still, there’s value in Yelp and Google reviews as well. With both sites, the reviews are specific to a particular office. I’ve found that their rating can vary from terrible to very good, depending on the location. This makes sense: a major challenge of any multi-state solar installer is maintaing consistent quality, which is something that Sunrun, Vivint, Momentum, and others have all difficulty with.
There are other review sites that you should be wary of because they have a history of accepting payment in exchange for boosting ther reputation of a company. The Truth in Advertising website is a good resource to learn more about this issue.
What equipment does ADT Solar use?
ADT Solar isn’t a manufacturer, so when you get a quote from them, you might see equipment from many different companies. They have been known to work with Canadian Solar, Silfab, QCells, and Enphase.
They also install batteries, including Enphase IQ and Tesla Powerwall.
Why would ADT buy Sunpro?
Here’s a slide from ADT’s Q3 2021 investor presentation, in which the CEO describes why they think Sunpro was a smart acquisition:
Essentially, because ADT has sales and installation crews that sell wired devices into homes across the country, they think that adding solar into their product lineup makes sense. Considering that customer acquistion (ie. sales and marketing) is a big expense for any solar installer, it does seem like this could be a good move for the company.
One area where ADT Solar might be preferable to other large national installers
Most of the large national installers heavily market leases and power purchase agreements. This is a way of financing solar panels that is almost always worse for consumers than purchasing, even if you have to take a loan.
The big installers like leases because locking consumers into 20 year contracts earns them long term revenue. I’ve written the opinion that Sunrun should really be thought of as a financing company rather than a solar installer.
According to CNET, ADT Solar doesn’t offer leases. They also have an article on their website that does give a balanced take on the pros and cons of leasing, but in the end they definitely steer you toward purchasing.
Solar leases are controversial, so the fact that ADT Solar doesn’t push them on consumers is one reason why you might give them consideration that you wouldn’t to another national installer.
Bottom line: should you choose ADT Solar for your project?
If you’re in a location where an ADT Solar office is near you, go ahead and get a quote from them if you’re interested. You’re under no obligation until you sign a contract. Just be prepared to potentially receive repeated sales calls, as many complaints to the BBB have indicated. For example:
They have called me over 500 times in 2 months to sell me solar panels. I have not consented to any communications from this company nor have I ever expressed interest in this company or solar panels.
One thing to do is to check Yelp and Google for reviews of your nearest ADT Solar office. Some locations definitely have better reviews than others, so it’s quite possible that your local office does good work.
They also have some pretty poor reviews, which should give you some pause. However, one situation where it might make sense to work with ADT Solar is if you are in a location where there are few solar installers to choose from. They operate in states like Arkansas, Mississippi, and Louisiana - places where you might have a lot of difficulty finding multiple companies to give you quotes. In those cases, go ahead and give them a call, but make sure you do your due diligence.
On the other hand, if you live somewhere with a robust home solar market - states like California, Texas, and Virginia - you will likely have many high quality local companies you can choose from.