The solar industry is no stranger to adversity and challenges — like expiring tax credits, supply issues, or even a global pandemic. It’s been through so many ups and downs through the years that we have a term for it: The solarcoaster. And with the drastic changes in energy policies and the economy in the past years, it looks like 2023 is another year of having to adapt to a new reality — for installers, sales reps, and homeowners.
In the webinar, Risk & Opportunities for Solar in 2023, solar experts discuss the current landscape of the industry and share their best strategies for how to navigate the risks and opportunities of solar for the rest of 2023, and beyond.
In this post we’ll explore three of the most significant factors that are shaping the way solar is strategized, pitched, and sold in 2023. We’ll dive into each element, providing you with the insights and knowledge you need to stay ahead of the curve.
Factor 1: The Inflation Reduction Act (IRA)
- Misinformation about benefits
- Supply unreliability
- Form partnerships
- Focus on the value of home projects
- Grow as an industry
The IRA includes an extension of the Investment Tax Credit (ITC), and a return to its original 30%, for homeowners who want to go solar, as well as incentives to help promote the use of electric vehicles and energy storage solutions. These incentives can help offset the cost of purchasing and maintaining electric vehicles, solar panels, and battery storage, making them more affordable for many homeowners.
The IRA has something for everyone, from manufacturers to consumers, and the key to being a reputable advisor is knowing and understanding these offerings, says John Sheldon, Director of New Business Capabilities at Renu Energy.
Doug Pierce, Director of Sales at Sungage, highlights the importance of focusing on solar as part of a home improvement project that’s tailored to the homeowner’s specific energy needs: “It’s an opportunity for us to really learn and sell more on the value of the home improvement project.”
And as the industry continues to grow, forming partnerships and learning from other installers’ strengths can help you stay ahead of the curve and ultimately help grow the industry and your business.
Factor 2: Financing
- “We’ll wait for better rates” objections
- Making the high interest rates a bigger deal than necessary
- Focus on long-term savings vs. short-term savings
- Educate the homeowner on energy spending
Interest rates have gone up on most loans following recent economic changes, and many homeowners may be hesitant to switch to solar in the hopes that rates will decrease. To overcome this objection, the key is to rethink your value proposition. Instead of focusing on monthly payments and short-term savings, consider pivoting to emphasize long-term savings instead.
It’s also important to remember that solar markets are different across the country, and some areas have much higher energy prices than others. The value for the homeowner depends, then, on where they live and their energy usage habits. For some, a loan with little to no dealer fees may be what’s needed to close the sale. Others may just need help understanding where their money is going — like utility service and delivery fees — with a simple explanation of the solar alternative.
Not all buyers have the same reasons for going solar, so it’s important to understand what motivates each homeowner. Be curious and help the homeowner find the solution that benefits them the most.
Factor 3: NEM 3
- Slower paybacks in California
- Higher prices in California
- Lower prices in other states
- Learn about new technologies
NEM 3.0 has been passed in California. While this policy most certainly will have an impact on the solar market in the Golden State, including potentially longer payback periods, other states may benefit from the changes.
In California, the expectation is that solar sales will be strong before the April 14 deadline to be grandfathered into NEM 2.0.
“Sales will definitely slow down on the other side of NEM 3.0,” Doug Pierce explains. “And what we’ve seen in other markets is that sales start to ramp back up once battery attachment rates and stuff like that start to happen.”
In addition to NEM 3.0, the solar industry is still experiencing some supply constraints, which is leading to pent-up demand for certain products. This can result in higher prices for the homeowner.
But it’s not all bad!
NEM 3.0 will drive home the importance of battery storage in California. Storage is an economic way to help the homeowner harness the full value of their system by avoiding adding power back to the grid when TOU rates are low. And adding batteries to more systems increases the overall sale price — giving installers an opportunity to level up their revenue on home solar installations. Learning more about new technologies like batteries will help installers succeed in this new solar landscape.
NEM 3.0 can be great for other states
If sales decline in California due to NEM 3.0, the supply of modules, inverters, and racking is going to naturally increase. With more products available, they can be used in other states that may currently have supply restraints — and maybe even lead to lower prices there.
Education, credibility, and customization
One of the most important roles of a solar installer in 2023 is understanding all the changes that are coming and making sure to offer advice and education to prospective buyers. Each homeowner has unique needs and motivations for wanting to go solar, and it is our responsibility as an industry to expertly guide them in their decision making.
Make sure to understand your customers’ energy use habits and their goals — and help them optimize their system based on those factors. For example, details like advising a homeowner to run their dishwasher at night instead of during the day, when energy prices are highest, can be the difference between the need for two batteries or three. In a competitive and ever-changing market, being a credible and trustworthy advisor will help you close more sales.
As a solar installer, setting the right expectations with the homeowners should be a top priority. Make sure you educate them on the programs they qualify for, what the requirements are, and what their saving profile is going to look like.
Watch the entire webinar to learn more about 2023 solar industry trends, and what they mean for you.