Services Installers Should Provide

July 21, 2023

The electric future is here – and solar panels are only one part of the puzzle. The world of solar is evolving, incentives are expanding, and customers are demanding more options to supplement their electric-first life.

Consumers have been anticipating the construction of all-electric homes for some time, and results from the SolarReviews Solar Industry Survey paint a clear picture. If your solar installation company isn't providing EV charger installations or battery installations, you could miss out on future jobs. Other ways to thrive include offering electrician services and roof repairs and investing in training for your current and future workers. 

Here are the top tips for thriving as a solar installer in 2023:

EVs are in: install chargers for your customers

Image source: Canary Media

EVs make up 8.4% of new car sales. While this number may seem small, the chart above indicates that EV sales in the U.S. are growing fast.

California kicked off the trend of states planning to ban the sale of gas-powered cars by 2035, which means that installing at-home chargers is a job that will be in high demand in a few years. Regardless of states banning gas cars, EV sales have been on the rise for years, increasing the percentage of new cars sold by about 4% since late 2022.

Our 2022 Solar Industry Survey found that of the respondents, 67% of residential installers offer EV charger installations as a service. Interestingly, 15% of installations were oversized, meaning additional panels were added to prepare for future EV charging needs. 

Customers who have already installed solar are also returning to their solar installers to request additional solar panels. At least 9% of customers asked for additional panels in 2022. 

Charging an EV with solar is the most cost-effective. SolarReviews crunched the numbers, and charging an EV at home is the cheapest option – it can cost as little as $219 a year.

Providing EV charger installation services can add another job to a solar installation project or create repeat customers. It allows an installer to return to a former customer's home to install an EV charger or additional solar panels to provide car charging power. 

Be a provider of round-the-clock reliability with battery installations 

Batteries are becoming incredibly popular as a reliable source of power and an alternative to an unreliable grid – and because net metering benefits are being reduced nationwide while utility prices are increasing. 

Typically, when net metering is not an option, installing a battery to capture excess power makes more financial sense. This stored power can then be used when your panels are not producing power, overnight, or when the grid is down. 

Again, the Solar Industry Survey showcases the rise in popularity surrounding batteries. The graph above shows that 81% of residential installers offer battery storage as an additional service. 

Over 2022, respondents said that 21% of their solar jobs were paired with energy storage, and about 5% simply added a battery to an already exciting solar system. 

California stands out as a key state for battery storage because new net metering rules make the payoff time for a system with a battery about the same as just paying for a solar panel system alone. California also has notoriously high utility prices and an unreliable grid, making storage batteries an attractive option. 

Side hustle as an electrician 

At the risk of oversimplifying it, you can't install a solar system without updating the electrical wiring. Chances are, a solar installer has an electrician on staff, as a sub-contractor, or is an electrician themselves.

Almost half of the respondents to the Solar Industry Survey answered that they provide electrical services in addition to solar installations. 

Offering electrician work outside of solar-only jobs can act as an added service. Across the U.S., there is a shortage of electricians. So, if you are one or know one, there will be plenty of jobs. Being an electrician can help fill the slower winter months when fewer people add solar to their houses. 

Do potential customers need their roof replaced before they install solar? Do it yourself

At SolarReviews, we consider the roof's age before recommending a quote to homeowners. If it is over 10 years, replacing it before solar installation is the best option. Of course, roofing work and installing solar panels are not exactly concurrent jobs and require different skills. 

But, if a solar installation company can offer both roof replacement and solar, it puts more money in their pocket. It can speed up a job because you only need to rely on yourself, not a separate roofing company.

28% of respondents in the Solar Industry Survey said that they offer roofing services in addition to solar panel installations. It is not many, but it can be a great service because it makes the decision easier for consumers if they only need to deal with one company to get everything done.

Attract and retain workers by paying for NABCEP certification credits

42% of Survey respondents said that Continuing Education Credits, or continued solar education via NABCEP, is required - and 74% cover the costs of these credits. This signals that NABCEP-certified installers are important to companies and that being certified is an attractive quality for a solar worker.

Not enough skilled labor in the industry was cited as one of the most prominent weaknesses in the workforce by 40% of people. Attracting potential workers by advertising the cost of their training will be covered can help set installation companies apart from competitors who are not investing in their employees.

Why should installers consider offering these services? 

Because more customers are seeking out EV chargers and battery installations, installers should adapt to this trend. Unless maintenance or updates are needed, a solar system is often installed, and that's the last interaction an installer has with a customer.

But with new service offerings, one-time customers can turn into repeat customers. It can be helpful to call or email former customers asking if they would like to schedule an EV charger to install, more panels added for EV charging, and/or battery storage.

As for electrical work, repeat customers or even wholly new ones may only need electrical work separate from solar. Same with roofing, unless customers need a new roof prior to installing solar. 

As an example, these different services can add value to your job. A typical solar installation job that includes battery storage is about $30,000 compared to solar only at $20,000. EV charger installation services will not bring in thousands, but it is an excellent opportunity to keep customers happy and engaged with your business.

An electric home is the future of solar 

Solar is not an industry to sit back and be comfortable in. It is filled with constant change as the renewable energy industry expands. But change and growth offer ample opportunity for installers to build their offerings, increase their expertise, and branch out to new customers. 

By offering roofing and electrical work, EV charger installations, and energy storage installations, solar installers will remain competitive as interest in each of these areas grows. Either you evolve and offer what customers want, or our business risks becoming a less desirable option.

This content was originally published here.

Services Installers Should Provide