There’s arguably never been a more exciting time for solar businesses in the U.S. According to the U.S. Solar Market Insight Report, solar accounted for 56 percent of all new electricity-generating capacity added in the first half of 2021. And this is only the beginning of the solar construction boom.
Nowhere is this growth more apparent than in California, where installers are in a race against the clock to help home builders and homeowners meet the ambitious solar mandate for new residential construction.
But for California-based solar installers, this growth is a mixed blessing. More business means job security and consistency. It also means more competition. In fact, as of September 2021, 2,438 solar companies are operating in the state. So, how do you stand out?
In this blog post, I highlight three offers solar businesses can use to provide customers more value.
Offer #1: Seamless backup power
The common misconception among homeowners is that they believe solar is a form of backup power. As you know, this is typically not the case. That may come as a disappointment to your customers, especially when they see the additional expense of installing battery storage systems or pad-mount generators.
However, the winds of change are blowing in the direction of greater affordability. Lithium battery prices have dropped significantly over the years. That’s part of why the Solar Energy Industries Association projects that 25 percent of behind-the-meter solar installations will include battery storage by 2025. At the same time, as of 2022, Title 24 will require all new single-family homes to come with the infrastructure necessary to add backup power.
The wave of solar plus storage is building, and it’s time to start paddling into the surf. One of the best ways to ride the wave is to make it easier to integrate backup power, without the need for an array of additional gray boxes on the wall.
Fortunately, new split-bus main panel configurations integrate the solar array, battery storage, or generators seamlessly. This design makes the installation process easier for your business. It also enables you to offer your customers a cleaner battery backup solution or a backup-ready solution should they want to opt for storage later.
Offer #2: Smart home energy monitoring
Forty-five percent of homeowners are looking for ways to reduce the amount of energy they use, and 31 percent would like to find an easy way to track their energy use at home, according to our recent report, Transforming homes from smart to smart and sustainable.
Although many homeowners first embraced energy monitoring to reduce their monthly electric or gas bills, there is a growing interest in using the same strategies to get the most out of their solar systems.
Many home energy monitors can track solar productivity, but that’s not all you can do. With some monitoring systems, such as Wiser Energy™ home power monitor, homeowners can track solar productivity and compare it to the home’s real-time energy usage at the device level.
With Wiser Energy, homeowners can track what portion of their total energy consumption is covered by their solar system. They can also identify phantom loads and other energy wasters so that their solar output covers more of their total usage. Whether that tracking is motivated by less carbon or less cost, the monitor enables them to gain more control over their energy.
And when the inevitable happens and the power goes out, Wise Energy enables homeowners to choose and prioritize when backup loads are on or off — right from their mobile phone. This gives them greater control of their battery life, making owning a backup system even more appealing.
Offer #3: Whole-home surge protection
Whole-home surge protection is now required per the 2020 National Electric Code. But even before the regulation, many solar businesses were adding surge protection to their installation package. That’s because lightning strikes and voltage spikes can damage or destroy expensive electronics — including solar panels.
At present, new 200A main panel products can include whole-home surge protection, making it convenient to incorporate this value-add when providing a main panel upgrade.
Including whole-home surge protection within your solar business’ installation package makes sense for both your business and your customer. It expands the scope of your offer; increases your installation’s value; and protects your customer’s electronic, appliance, and solar investments.
Get ahead of the curve with an all-in-one solution
The good news is that you don’t need to evaluate three separate solutions from three separate vendors to provide these offers to your customers. In fact, there’s now an all-in-one solution that delivers seamless backup power integration, smart home monitoring, and whole-home surge protection — in a single panel.
The Square D™ Energy Center smart panel is an award-winning, all-in-one electrical panel uniquely designed to integrate solar and backup power while making energy more digital and intelligent. It combines all those separate gray boxes into one, saving on labor and space. And with a built-in Wiser Energy monitor, it helps homeowners gain more visibility into solar productivity and home energy use.
The Square D Energy Center is about to hit the market for the first time in 2022 — so if you’re reading this, you’re already a step ahead in differentiating your offer.