Roofing And Solar Installation: How Roofers Can Get Started With Solar
According to Ibis World, roofing is a $50 billion industry in the U.S. But as a relatively mature industry, the Bureau of Labor Statistics predicts job growth will only be around 2% from 2019 to 2029, which is slower than the national average for most other occupations.
By contrast, solar photovoltaic (PV) installers rank among one of the fastest growing occupational fields – with an estimated 51% growth over that same time period. In just speaking about the residential market, solar is expected to enjoy a compound annual growth rate (CAGR) of 10% over the next 4 years to generate an additional $6 billion in revenues.
These numbers partially explain why a growing number of roofers are repositioning themselves as “solar panel” roofing companies.
Why Roofers Should Look Into Roofing And Solar Installation
Many businesses diversify their products and services – either to reach a larger market or to hedge their bets in a rapidly changing world. And any time you add additional services to your own offerings, you potentially benefit from doing so.
However, the unique marriage between roofing and solar energy delivers several other benefits beyond simple diversification:
Roofers are qualified to gauge how structurally sound a customer’s roof is – and whether that property is a good candidate for PV panels. In fact, many solar power contractors bring in certified roofers to examine homes before installing PV systems on older rooftops.
Roofers are well positioned to convert potential solar customers. PV installers spend a fortune trying to book on-site property inspections, but you’re already there interfacing with solar prospects in person. This makes the conversion process much easier – whether your goal is to design a new roof with solar panels or retrofit an older home with PV technology.
Roofers already have most of the equipment and safety gear required for solar installations (including the ability to add PV shingles). And the more experienced ones are familiar with the complex permitting and approval processes that accompany home construction and re-roofing.
Against this backdrop, it’s clear that solar panel roofing companies have a huge advantage over businesses that offer only one service or the other.
Ways To Get Started As A Solar And Roofing Company
Solar power is largely an unregulated industry, meaning anyone can legally install PV panels on a rooftop. There are even home solar kits designed for the DIY crowd. However, connecting PV systems to the utility grid requires having an electrical license in your state. In addition, there are industry-recommended training and accreditation guidelines – like those provided by the North American Board of Certified Energy Practitioners (NABCEP).
While it’s possible to secure the above credentials and begin offering solar installations right away, many roofers choose to ease into the industry. Below are some of the more common strategies for testing the waters to see if solar is a good fit for your own roofing business.
1. Collect And Sell Solar Leads To Partners
When in the field conducting roofing inspections or making repairs, you can easily talk up the benefits of solar with your customers. And when homeowners show interest, you can then sell these warm solar leads to reputable PV installers in your service area.
Remember that most PV contractors are dying to get their hands on qualified prospects. Solar lead generation is arguably the lowest-touch way to jump into the industry. As an added benefit, you stand a better chance of becoming the roofing contractor on call whenever PV installers need a professional to conduct structural analyses of roofs.
2. Partner With Solar Installers Or Wholesalers
Once you have a better feel for market demand in your area, another great strategy involves purchasing PV equipment from wholesalers or your solar installation partners. Thereafter, you can outsource new installations to contractors who have the licensing and certification to grid-connect solar systems to the utility network.
3. Offer Solar Panel Installations As A Core Service
The final step is to offer solar panel installations as one of your core services (along with roofing). Making this transition requires electrical certification. And though optional, NABCEP training is highly recommended. But whether to make these investments depends on how much traction you’ve made with the previous steps.
If the market demand is clearly there, becoming fully certified as a solar PV installer is a justifiable expense. And in fact, not offering this service could severely limit your growth in a market that’s only expected to increase 2% over the next decade.
Important Considerations For Roofers Looking To Add Solar To Their Services
Whether you’re still on the fence about becoming a solar and roofing company or you’re already sold on the idea, below are a few important considerations that should factor into your decision-making.
1. Know Your State’s Laws And Get Certified
Adding solar to your portfolio will help you reach a larger audience. But the installation industry itself is becoming increasingly saturated. One of the best ways to distinguish your offerings as an installer is to become fully licensed within your state.
If your initial forays into the solar industry prove successful, it’s worth starting the certification process as early as possible. That way, you can move more swiftly from selling leads to converting leads.
2. Understand The Overlap of Roofing And Solar Panel Warranties
Although most modern solar panels come with 25 years of warranty protection, installing new PV systems can sometimes void a homeowner’s roofing warranty.
Similarly, repairing roofs that already have existing PV systems can sometimes void whatever warranty protections are provided by the panel manufacturer or original installer.
Combining roofing and solar installations together allows you to better navigate this tricky terrain. That’s because you can warranty both services and provide homeowners with more comprehensive coverage. This combination also means you’ll be the go-to contractor for any future servicing and upgrades.
3. Update Your “Roofer” Marketing Materials With “Solar”
Because you already interface with roofing customers, you have a built-in advantage when it comes to convincing homeowners to go solar. But it’s important you walk into these on-site inspections with updated marketing materials outlining how solar panels work and what benefits they provide once installed – from utility bills savings to carbon offsets to property value increases.
These solar marketing materials should also convey why your company specifically is the right one for the job. This is a good time to highlight credentials like roofing expertise, NABCEP training and the comprehensive warranty coverage you offer.
Expand Your Roofing Services With Solar
The roofing industry is already competitive. And with low growth opportunities, it will only become harder to protect dwindling margins. Expanding into solar is a no-brainer given the huge growth potential as more homeowners transition away from fossil fuels to clean sunshine. In addition, you already have boots on the roof – not to mention extensive knowledge of the permits and safety regulations involved with home construction projects.
Simply put, adding solar to your services represents a fantastic opportunity to generate more business, future-proof your operations and do something positive for the planet.
If you’re interested in taking the next step, visit GreenLancer’s solar marketplace to find partners, get stellar drawings and start building relationships.