Titan Solar Power: The complete review and consumer guide
Operating in 11 states and growing fast, Titan is one of the largest solar installers in the country. If you're thinking of hiring them for your project, read this guide to learn more about them.
Titan Solar Power is among the very largest solar installers in the United States. According to Solar Power World, they are ranked #1 in the nation for residential solar installation by kilowatts installed.
This list is little misleading however, because it excludes Sunrun, which doesn’t report its numbers to Solar Power World. Nonetheless, Titan is a huge company that operates in 11 states. If you’re shopping around to find an installer for your home solar project, there’s a very good chance that you’ll come across Titan.
Titan Solar Power: company basics
Titan Solar Power was founded in 2013. They are headquartered in Mesa, Arizona and you can find them operating in these 11 states:
- North Carolina
- New Mexico
- South Carolina
Except for the Northeast, this covers the major residential solar markets in the country. On their website, they have a map that includes several states in yellow, which I assume are those that they will be expanding to soon. (For such a large company, they have a pretty lousy website.)
Titan is a privately held company, so there isn’t any public information about their revenue or other financials.
Titan Solar Authorized Dealers: who is installing your panels?
Small local solar installers often just have one office that they work out of. They take as much work as their crews can handle, and will turn down jobs if they don’t have the capacity for it. There are companies in my network that have been around for decades and haven’t expanded their service areas. That want to stay local and focus on quality, which is why most of the companies that I recommend are small.
It’s different if you want to grow your company quickly. Titan Solar covers 11 states and is expanding to more. While they hire a lot of their own staff for installation and administrative jobs, they also have “authorized dealers”, which is another way of saying licensed subcontractors.
Other big national companies such as Sunrun and Freedom Forever use the same strategy. If you want to expand quickly, it’s a lot easier to partner with an existing company than it is to start a new office, especially in a tight labor market.
This isn’t necessarily a bad thing. If you hire a local company to do some work around your house, you might get a great company, or you might also get a terrible one. It’s not much different when a company like Titan uses subcontractors. While in theory they should be doing quality control to screen out bad subcontractors, you only need to look at the reviews of companies like Sunrun and Vivint Solar to know that consistent quality control is something these large companies can lack.
Part of the reason is that independent dealers aren’t employees of the parent company, making it more difficult to enforce standards and codes of ethics and to discipline employees who fail to meet those standards.
Unfortunately, online reviews seem to suggest that Titan Solar has does have some problems delivering consistently good customer service. More about that later.
Payment options: Lease or cash purchase
Like the other national installers, Titan Solar provides a leasing option. If you’re not familiar with a solar lease, the way it works is that you get solar panels installed on your house for zero money down. You receive credits for the electricity that the panels generate, which reduce your electric bill.
With a lease, you don’t own the solar panels - the solar installer does. Essentially, you are renting the solar equipment. At the end of the lease, which is often 20 years, you have the option to buy the system or have the company remove the equipment.
Even though you are now paying two bills - one to your utility company and one monthly lease payment to the solar installer - in theory you will end paying less for electricity. While this is true at the start of a lease, it’s sometimes the case that you end up paying more in the long run. There are other issues too, such as making a house sale more difficult. I wrote a rather lengthy article about solar leases that you can read.
Many large national installers, especially Sunrun, find that leasing is a profitable business model and push their customers to lease rather than purchase their systems. The advantage for the installer is tax credits and long term revenue that increases over time due to escalator clauses in the contracts. In their quarterly earnings calls for stockholders, Sunrun is very upfront that leases play a huge role in their business model.
Because they’re not a public company like Sunrun is, it’s hard to know how much of Titan Solar’s business comes from leases.
I’m taking to explain this because you should be wary any time a solar installer gives you the hard sales pitch for a solar lease or power purchase agreement. There are rare cases where it makes financial sense: most people are better off with a cash person or conventional loan. If a Titan sales agent is giving a hard pitch about a lease or power purchase agreement, be sure to ask lots of questions and read the contract closely.
Titan Solar Power’s contractor license violations
In most states, you can’t just slap your name on a truck and call yourself a solar installer. You generally need a license, which helps prove that you won’t, for example, do a crappy wiring job that causes a fire.
Some states, like California, have dedicated solar installer licenses but many other states allow electricians or general contractors to do solar installs. The Interstate Renewable Energy Council maintains a state-by-state listing of the credentials that are required.
Fortunately for the consumer, most states allow you to look up a company online to find if they have a correct and up-to-date license for installing solar. Importantly, you can often also check if the contractor has ever been disciplined by the licensing authority. Violations can include minor infractions such as not displaying their license number properly, or more serious issues such as employing unlicensed people or doing improper work. In the most serious cases, the licensing board will even file a lawsuit.
As mentioned above, Titan Solar Power operates in 11 states. I checked the licensing boards of all 11 states, and found one disciplinary action listed in Nevada:
As you can see from the complaint, the company was cited and fined for knowingly hiring a contractor that wasn’t licensed to do the job.
This is a great example of how - as mentioned at the start of this article - the use of subcontractors can be problematic in companies that are trying to expand very quickly. To be clear, subcontracting isn’t inherently bad, but a small local contractor that needs to subcontract with a local roofer or electrician for some extra help has a lot easier time of maintaining quality control than a company trying to manage subcontractors in 11 states.
A single violation in Nevada by itself isn’t a reason to exclude Titan from consideration. However, given the numerous complaints filed with the Bettwer Business Bureau that specifically refer to Titan’s technicians, this violation could be seen as a revealing red flag.
Consumer reviews of Titan Solar Power
Online reviews are a useful tool for consumers, bu† it’s important to distinguish good review sites from those that are less reliable.
For example, Best Company gives the solar installer Sungevity 4.2 stars out of 5 and calls it “highly recommended”, despite its history of bankruptcy, multiple contractor license violations, and a class action lawsuit. If a company like that can still get a positive recommendation, what does it take for Best Company to give them a bad score?
There are many questionable review sites out there. Instead, I find that the Better Business Bureau is a more objective source of customer feedback. Yelp and Google reviews are also helpful.
BBB has two types of customer feedback: reviews and complaints. Reviews are similar to what you’ll find on Yelp, Google, and other websites. Unlike many other review sites, BBB reviews are moderated and allow companies to respond. For these reasons, the content quality tends to be higher than on other websites.
At the time of writing this article, Titan Solar Power gets a 2.66 out of 5 based on 87 customer reviews. That’s not awful, but not very good either.
Many of the reviews reference the quality of the installation work. Here are some examples:
Those are BBB reviews, but unfortunately the list of complaints listed with the BBB don’t get any better: there were 106 complaints filed in the past 3 years, with 79 of them coming in the past year. The fact that there are more happening recently might be an indication that quality is getting worse at the company rather than improving.
Complaints are a more serious process that affects the company’s letter grade on BBB. The company is notified and is asked for a formal response, and BBB also manages the resolution process. Because it’s more involved, having numerous complaints is a bad indicator for a company.
BBB categorizes complaints. Here are Titan’s:
- Advertising/Sales: 10
- Billing/Collections: 1
- Delivery Issues: 2
- Guarantee/Warranty: 4
- Problem with a Product or Service: 91
As you can see, they are heavily skewed toward problems with their product or service, which mirrors the pattern in their reviews. Here are some examples:
Our house is pretty new and after titan solar installed solar panels the roof started to leak, First two times they came out there were holes left unsealed by previous technicians and installers said by their own people and management themselves, third time they came out they said it was due to having 20 pilot holes unsealed and the 4th visit 1 week later said it was due to bird p*** eating through my house not to mention that the solar panels themselves were not level and not secure to the roof aka can move with a lift of a finger and is basically touching the roof itself which from what other solar companies say is bad and is recommend 4-6 inches and yet every time they send technicians its always a excuse given in contradiction to what was said before. I paid for my roof to be fixed already which I think Solar titan should have known any roofing integrity at the time should have been caught and alerted about which they did not do. Solar titan also promised to replace the dry wall.
Leaks are a main concern for any rooftop solar installation, so reports like this are very concerning. Here’s another:
We contracted with Titan at the end of May 2021 to add an addition to our existing solar panel system. The new panels were installed shortly after that. We were promised that they would reimburse us for any energy bills after the installation was completed. Our next several months of energy bills were much higher than we had received in the past, and realized that they had somehow disabled the original panel system as well. We have made many attempts to have the company finish the installation without any response through to this current date at the end of September 2021. Our energy **** shows on a graph that our solar output is non-existent, and our accumulated energy bills are well over $1200 in this time period. We wish to have pressure put on this company to complete the installation and reimburse us for the high bills.
Again, this sounds like shoddy installation work.
Unfortunately, there are many more examples, which you can read yourself.
Class action suit for telemarketing
In 2017, a class action lawsuit was filed against Titan Solar Power for telemarketing. Jonathan Payton, who filed the complaint, alleged that he received many unwanted calls from Titan even though his phone number was on the Do Not Call Registry.
The case was settled out of court so we don’t really know what happened, or if the company admitted any wrongdoing.
While it’s clear that Titan Solar Power has had many dissatisifed customers, you can still find positive reviews. This means that if you decide to hire Titan, you might get a great experience despite their overall low scores.
One of the main advantages of big national installers is that you can often find them in cities where there are few local companies to choose from. If you find yourself in this position, it might be worth giving them a call just as long as you interview them properly and examine their proposals carefully.
As always with any more home renovation project, get multiple quotes. To make things a little easier, you can get contractor recommendations from The Solar Nerd, which prescreens local solar installers for you.