Massachusetts & N.Y — EnergySage and NABCEP have released the results of the fifth annual Solar Installer Survey. It is the largest and most comprehensive business survey of solar companies nationwide.
The 2019 report captures key observations about the U.S. solar industry from local, regional and national solar installers. Over 770 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).
Among this year’s central findings is that confidence in the solar industry continued its upward trajectory. Despite market and policy uncertainty, the percentage of nationwide installers who expressed growing confidence in the industry doubled from 2016 to 2019. At the state level, installer confidence remained high in California, with a number of respondents attributing their optimism to amplified consumer interest in solar due to utility power shut-offs. On the flip side, installer confidence waned in New Jersey due to changes in the state’s incentive program.
Other major insights from the 2019 Solar Installer Survey include:
Storage installations rise as consumers seek backup power – The percentage of consumers interested in energy storage has increased steadily over the last few years, as has the number of actual installations. This year, 76% of respondents noted that they install batteries, up from 69% in 2018, while the number of solar + storage installations doubled nationally between 2017 and 2019. According to installers, the primary driver for this is resilience in the face of storms or power outages, but that costs remain the largest barrier to adoption.
Installers are split on decreasing prices post-ITC step down – Although a majority of installers say that the step down of the investment tax credit (ITC) will have a negative impact on their business, installers are evenly split on whether or not to lower prices to remain competitive with the sunsetting incentive.
Customer acquisition remains a barrier to growth – Nearly half of this year’s respondents say customer acquisition remains the primary barrier to growing their business (though about one-third reported it got easier in 2019). It’s also not getting any cheaper, as 37% of installers report no difference in price and 34% say that customer acquisition has become more expensive. However, one notable change from 2018 to 2019 concerned installers’ most frequently used customer acquisition channels: while the use of all other channels remained flat (or declined) year-over-year, installers’ use of online bidding platforms more than doubled.
EnergySage fielded this survey between December 13th, 2019 and January 25th, 2020. In addition to EnergySage, NABCEP, the leading certification organization for renewable energy professionals, as well as several large manufacturers, distributors, publications, and industry associations sent the survey to their own installer networks. In total, 772 solar installers participated located across 48 states and four territories: Washington DC, Puerto Rico, the US Virgin Islands and the Northern Mariana Islands.
“NABCEP is deeply committed to providing Board Certification and credentialing programs of the highest quality and integrity, and having good data from PV professionals is vital to achieving that goal,” said Shawn O’Brien, President & CEO of NABCEP. “Information collected from this annual survey provides valuable insights into the state of the PV industry, which allows us to improve our programs and offer more effective services for people working in the renewable energy industry.”
“Now in its fifth year, we greatly appreciate everyone who took the time to take this year’s survey, as well as those who continue to help us reach as many solar installation professionals as possible” said Vikram Aggarwal, CEO and founder of EnergySage. “By gathering, analyzing, and publishing these insights, we hope to better the industry’s understanding and preparedness for future trends, and most importantly, better serve the solar consumer.”