U.S. Solar Installer Confidence is Up Despite Headwinds from New Administration

Solar Installer Survey
Image courtesy of U.S. DOE

EnergySage released the results of its second annual Solar Installer Survey, the largest and most comprehensive business climate survey of solar companies nationwide. The report captures key observations of local, regional and national solar installers in both residential and commercial markets. More than 360 experienced solar installers across the United States responded to the survey.

solar installer confidence

Solar installer confidence varied across leading state markets, but the nationwide average revealed that confidence increased among more solar installers (47%) than it decreased (29%), as compared to one year ago. Image courtesy of EnergySage.

Among the central findings, over half of solar companies surveyed (53%) report that their largest obstacle in closing sales is the confusion created by their competitors and its impact on consumer confidence overall. Similarly, the survey reflects an increasing trend noted in last year’s report: customer acquisition has become more challenging due to increased competition and consumers reviewing more quotes before buying. However, the study also reveals that installer confidence levels have increased nationwide in the last year.

“Looking back, 2016 was a year of ups and downs for solar,” said Vikram Aggarwal, CEO and founder of EnergySage. “Despite the welcomed extension of the Investment Tax Credit and the reaching of one million residential U.S. solar installations, some of the industry’s largest companies struggled to stay afloat and our political climate became more uncertain. Looking into 2017, we encourage all solar installers to collaborate more and seek out new ways to improve consumer confidence. As the expression goes, ‘a rising tide lifts all boats’.”

More insights from the EnergySage Solar Installer Survey include:

  • Competition heats up – Installers report that competition in the industry continues to build. Over 50% of installers said their customers see three or more quotes before making a decision, and also reported that customer acquisition became harder in 2016 as compared to 2015.
  • Installer confidence climbs – Despite headwinds, installer confidence was up in 2016. According to the nationwide average, more solar installers said that their confidence increased (47%) than decreased (29%), as compared to one year ago.
  • Batteries charge ahead – Energy storage is the number one new offering planned for next year. While three out of five solar installers report offering battery installs today, another 16% plan to offer this in 2017. No other new product or service was nearly as popular.
  • Ownership reigns – 74% of installers surveyed said that they do not use leases or power purchase agreements (PPAs), which is up significantly from 50% in last year’s report. Though ownership dominates, no available financing options scored well in installer satisfaction ratings.

“This is an important study for the industry and we are excited that EnergySage is asking the right questions” said Raghu Belur, Co-Founder and Vice President of Products and Strategic Initiatives at Enphase Energy. “Often, little information is available about these local, privately-held companies that are driving so much of the growth of residential solar. This report reveals what it’s like to be a solar installer in the U.S. and what their needs are, which helps us to figure out the best ways to support them through our own unique products and services.”

“There has never been a better time to work in the solar industry and that’s reflected in the findings in this report,” said Justin Baca, vice president of markets and research for the Solar Energy Industries Association (SEIA). “As the solar industry continues to grow in this competitive marketplace, solar companies are looking for ways to fine-tune their businesses to offer customers the best value, while still improving their margins.”

EnergySage fielded this survey between November 9th and December 31st, 2016. In addition to EnergySage, pv magazine, a leading solar publication, as well as several large manufacturers, distributors, and industry associations sent the survey to their own installer networks. Over 360 solar installers located across 42 states and the District of Columbia participated.

The latest report can be downloaded for free at: www.energysage.com/data/#2016-survey. All solar installers who download this survey will be invited to participate and have their voice heard in the 2017 edition.

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