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Residential solar installers more confident in business than ever despite COVID impact

Written by: Leonard Parker | solar news | March 30, 2021

Despite the pandemic, installers reported an all-time high in industry confidence in the sixth annual Solar Installer Survey conducted by EnergySage and NABCEP. Over 650 residential and commercial installers across the country participated in this year’s survey, and over half of respondents reported that their businesses were negatively impacted as a result of the pandemic — and yet installers expressed more confidence in the industry than in any previous years.

Just 18% of installers say 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. 

“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,” said Vikram Aggarwal, CEO and founder 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.”

Some other trends from this year’s results:

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 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, 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, 651 solar installers participated across 48 states and two territories: Washington DC and Puerto Rico.