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Massachusetts — EnergySage and NABCEP released the results of the sixth annual Solar Installer Survey, the largest and most comprehensive business survey of solar companies nationwide.

Over 650 residential and commercial installers across the country participated in this year’s survey, which was fielded and authored by EnergySage in partnership with the North American Board of Certified Energy Practitioners (NABCEP).

As was the case for every person and every sector, the story of 2020 for solar was dominated by the COVID-19 pandemic. This 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. With that in mind, here are several key findings from the 2020 Solar Installer Survey:

Despite the pandemic, installers reported an all-time high in industry confidence
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 stated being 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.

The shift to 100% online selling is permanent for some, but temporary for most
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.

One in five solar installations nationwide included a battery
2020 was the best year ever for residential energy storage installations in the US, 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%. Resilience, better known as emergency backup power, remains the primary driver for battery demand, as evidenced by what we’re witnessing in Texas after the state’s devastating February power outages. Registrations for solar and battery quotes on EnergySage increased 392% in Texas, with interest remaining very high in the weeks following the storms.

EnergySage fielded this survey throughout January 2021.

In addition to EnergySage, NABCEP, as well as several large manufacturers, distributors, publications, and industry associations, sent the survey to their own installer networks. In total, 651 solar installers participated across 48 states and two territories: Washington DC and Puerto Rico.

Derick Lila
Derick is a Clark University graduate—and Fulbright alumni with a Master's Degree in Environmental Science, and Policy. He has over a decade of solar industry research, marketing, and content strategy experience.

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