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4 Industry Insights for Solar Installers & EV Charging Station Contractors

Updated: May 2

solar sales

EnergySage, an online marketplace for consumers to shop for home solar systems and clean energy upgrades, unveiled the findings of its eighth annual Contractor Survey this week. For the first time, the survey has broadened its scope to encompass professionals operating in solar-adjacent fields, such as whole-home electrification, energy storage, and electric vehicle (EV) charger installations. The 2024 Electrification Contractor Survey provides numerous insights for solar energy and EV charging station installers on how to boost solar sales and overcome challenges. 

At GreenLancer, we are dedicated to accelerating clean energy adoption and helping solar and EV charging station contractors thrive regardless of the market and potential obstacles.

Read on to gain our perspective on the direction of the home clean energy industry based on our expertise combined with the insights of the EnergySage survey, so you can help make strategic business decisions and capture potential growth opportunities. 

1 - Clean Energy and Solar Contractors Predict Future Growth in Installations

The EnergySage survey provides an optimistic outlook for future clean energy and solar sales, with over 80% of respondents expecting their annual installations to increase by more than 30% on average over the next three years. The average growth predicted by respondents is 38%, with a median growth of 30%. This indicates a positive trend and a strong belief amongst solar installers and clean energy contracts that demand for their services will continue to grow.

Unfortunately, a notable exception to this optimistic outlook is solar installers in California. In our experience, most California solar installers are concerned about the transition to Net Energy Metering (NEM) 3.0 because it reduces solar energy savings on California electricity bills for new customers. 

While most survey respondents anticipate growth, a significant 56% of those who predict a decrease in solar sales are based in California. This suggests that the California solar market conditions from NEM 3.0 are impacting the solar sales growth expectations in the state.

2 - Labor Market Is Difficult for Clean Energy Contractors

The survey revealed that the labor market for installers is a significant challenge. Nearly 50% of contractors reported a lack of experience or industry-specific knowledge in the labor pool. In addition, more than one-third face an issue with a small applicant pool. The survey also found that labor rates have increased by 15 to 20% in 2023, increasing business costs. 

These labor constraints make fulfilling demand difficult and exacerbate the challenges of hiring employees with the expertise necessary to carry out complex installations. We expect that clean energy installation companies are likely compensating for the lack of experienced labor with on-the-job training, which can be time-consuming and expensive. 

“Many contractors struggle to meet permitting and interconnection requirements because it is so time-consuming to create solar or EV charging station plan sets and complete utility interconnection applications,” says Jay Stewart, VP of Sales Operations. “A backlog in permitting and interconnection can delay installations, reducing revenue.”

One strategy to help overcome staffing shortages is to use trusted partners like GreenLancer. Our expertise in clean energy permitting, interconnection, and engineering can free up your team to focus on installations instead of meeting regulatory requirements.

solar system sales

3 - Solar Contractors Face Numerous Challenges

A large part of the survey was dedicated to examining solar market conditions for contractors and it identified a variety of issues. Solar installers must overcome various difficulties to thrive in the current business market. Let’s examine the top issues that respondents identified and potential solutions. 

Solar Equipment Costs Increased in 2023

The survey found that nearly three-fifths of solar installers experienced increased equipment costs in 2023; among them, they said costs rose by an average of 15%. This rise in equipment costs can impact the overall cost of installing solar systems, affecting solar system pricing and profit margins for the installers. One potential solution is for solar contractors to reduce other expenses, such as customer acquisition, permitting, and other soft costs. 

High Interest Rates Impact Solar Financing Costs

The survey also highlights the impact of increasing interest rates on solar system financing, often necessary to purchase a system. Four-fifths of solar installers believe that increasing interest rates have led to a decreased interest in solar, and three-quarters of installers stated that increasing interest rates adversely impacted their solar businesses. At GreenLancer, we are hopeful that if interest rates decrease in 2024, it could help boost solar system sales. 

Drop in Solar Sales in California

In our experience, most California solar installers are concerned about the transition to NEM 3.0, which survey respondents predict will lead to a 22% reduction in solar sales volume in 2024. 

This specific regulatory change is expected to have a direct impact on the solar energy market and likely decrease business for California solar installers. Because many of our customers at GreenLancer are located in California, we saw numerous contractors frantically working to install solar panels in California before NEM 3.0 took effect, followed by a dip in solar sales. However, we expect the solar plus storage market to remain relatively strong due to the California Self-Generation Incentive Program (SGIP), time-of-use electricity rate plans, and the increased demand for energy storage during power outages.

Customer Unfamiliarity with Incentives Can Hinder Solar Sales

The survey found that many solar shoppers are unfamiliar with solar incentives. This lack of awareness and understanding among consumers about incentives could potentially hamper the overall demand for solar installations and impact installers' sales and marketing strategies.

One strategy we recommend is to use solar marketing efforts to inform shoppers about solar energy incentives. Given that the upfront cost of going solar can limit solar sales, awareness of incentives, such as the tax credit, can help boost them. Content marketing, such as newsletters, blog posts, and short videos, can educate consumers about solar energy incentives.

4 - Various Barriers Hinder Solar Sales Growth

The EnergySage survey identified various obstacles hindering the growth of solar system sales within the photovoltaic (PV) solar industry. These barriers pose challenges for solar installers and impact their ability to expand their businesses and reach more customers. 

Here is an in-depth look at many of the key barriers identified in the survey:

  1. Lack of appealing solar financing options: PV contractors have identified the need for more attractive solar financing options for customers. Many consumers are deterred by the high upfront costs associated with solar panels, and the availability of affordable financing can significantly impact the decision-making process. Offering competitive solar financing options can make solar installations more accessible and appealing to a broader customer base, yet high interest rates make this difficult.

  2. Customer acquisition difficulty: Solar companies face challenges acquiring new customers and expanding their client base. With an increasingly competitive market, standing out and reaching potential customers can be a significant hurdle. Implementing effective marketing strategies and solar lead-generation tactics is crucial for overcoming this barrier and attracting new business.

  3. Lack of trained labor: The need for more skilled and trained labor in the solar industry poses a significant challenge for installers. Finding qualified technicians and electricians to handle installations can be difficult, especially in regions experiencing high demand for solar systems. Relying on the GreenLancer network for solar permitting, engineering, and interconnection services can free up time for other critical tasks.

  4. Solar interconnection rules and costs: Regulatory barriers, such as complex utility interconnection rules and high associated costs, can hinder the adoption of solar energy. Installers can find the solar interconnection process challenging, impacting project timelines and costs. Using the GreenLancer platform for PV interconnection services can help overcome these obstacles.

  5. Consumer interest and awareness: Despite the growing popularity of solar panels, many consumers still lack awareness and understanding of the benefits of solar power installations. Educating the public about the advantages of solar energy, including cost savings, environmental impact, and energy independence, is crucial for increasing adoption rates.

  6. Solar permitting rules and costs: PV permitting requirements and associated costs can present additional challenges for solar installers. Delays in obtaining solar permits and compliance with local regulations can prolong project timelines and increase overall project costs. The GreenLancer network specializes in solar permit design and can help streamline the process for PV contractors.

  7. Software tools to scale business efficiency: Solar installers require efficient software tools to streamline operations, manage projects, and optimize business processes. Investing in technology solutions that enable automation, project tracking, solar system design, and customer management can enhance operational efficiency and scalability. Integrating software platforms can help solar installers improve productivity, reduce costs, and deliver better customer service.

Boosting Clean Energy & Solar Sales

The 2024 Electrification Contractor Survey provides valuable insights into the clean energy industry and the challenges electrification contractors face. The majority of contractors predict the future growth of installations of solar systems, heat pumps, and energy storage batteries. Customer interest in diversifying clean energy products beyond solar panels is growing, which presents an opportunity for contractors to expand their business. In fact, many solar contractors that work with GreenLancer are boosting their sales volumes by installing EV charging stations. 

By leveraging Greenlancer's resources and capabilities, clean energy contractors can better navigate the challenges highlighted in the EnergySage survey. Our permitting, design, and engineering services help contractors navigate the regulatory landscape quickly and easily, freeing up time for other critical tasks.

Complete the form below to get in contact with our team today about how you can use the GreenLancer platform to grow your clean energy business.


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