Despite the pandemic, solar installers reported an all-time high in industry confidence, according to the results of the sixth annual Solar Installer Survey recently released by EnergySage and the North American Board of Certified Energy Practitioners (NABCEP). Over 650 residential and commercial installers across the country participated in this year’s survey.
As was the case for every person and every sector, the story of 2020 for solar was dominated by the COVID-19 pandemic. The report captures key observations about the U.S. solar industry from local, regional and national solar installers and provides a detailed look at the current state of affairs, as well as the mentality of installers going forward and their plans for growth.
Over half of respondents reported that their businesses were negatively impacted as a result of the pandemic. Still, installers expressed more confidence in the industry than in any previous Installer Survey, with just 18% of installers saying COVID-19 decreased their confidence. Nationally, three-fifths of installers said they were more confident in the solar industry than in 2019. Additionally, when asked about their three-year plans for growth, 67% of respondents continue to place a greater emphasis on gaining market share than on increasing the gross margins of each installation.
When asked when they plan to resume selling solar in person, the majority of respondents stated that they are already doing so, or plan to soon, while many don’t expect to sell in person for several more months – if at all. However, 12% of solar installers plan to continue selling 100% remotely moving forward as a result of adjustments made during the pandemic.
Last year was the best year ever for residential energy storage installations in the U.S., a trend that solar installers confirm. According to survey respondents, both consumer interest and the storage attachment rate jumped by over 30% between 2019 and 2020, resulting in a nationwide average attachment rate of 20%. Registrations for solar and battery quotes on EnergySage.com increased 392% in Texas, with interest remaining very high in the weeks following the recent storms.
“Like so many solar installers across the country, we too are excited for the industry’s future and about our abilities to help people feel secure and resilient,” says Vikram Aggarwal, founder and CEO of EnergySage. “With extreme weather events and subsequent power outages now a common occurrence – not to mention an aging electrical grid – consumers are turning to our industry for solutions and we’re well-positioned to deliver.”
EnergySage, an online comparison-shopping marketplace for rooftop solar, solar financing, energy storage and community solar, fielded the survey throughout January. In addition to EnergySage, NABCEP, a certification organization for renewable energy professionals, sent the survey to their own installer networks.
The latest Solar Installer Survey can be downloaded for free, here.
Photo: Vikram Aggarwal