Solar Builder

NOV-DEC 2018

Solar Builder focuses on the installation/construction of solar PV systems. We cover the latest PV technology (modules, mounting, inverters, storage, BOS) and equip installers/contractors with tips and tools to make informed purchasing decisions.

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Page 14 of 47

SOLARBUILDERMAG.COM | 15 S olar-covered patios are a niche product worth exploring as part of your solar business. The first step in pursuing these projects is knowing they aren't for everyone. Many solar custom- ers are interested in cost per watt, so pitching an addition that comes in around $7 per watt will stop conversations. This doesn't mean it's a dead end, just that they require a different sales and marketing approach and locating the right, easy-to-install solution. What's the market? Andrew Read at Voltage River had high hopes for pursuing solar patios out in south- ern California, considering the high-income customer base and year-round outdoor living in the area, but he found that traditional advertising didn't get the return he needed. "Finding customers for this is not easy," Read says. "I wanted it to be bigger than it is, and I did push it for a bit but have backed off trying to market it." Instead, he lets most of the business come to him via referrals from a cadre of high-end architects and builders. Approaching the market this way has been a success. "We sell them for a high price because of what they are: a statement piece. Anyone looking to get out from under an electric bill, it's not the system for them," he says. Region matters here more than in the stan- dard residential PV business. John Hunter at Florida-based Premium Solar Patios, for example, is a bit more bullish on the current market for the solar patio, calling it "astound- ing." "We have seen a major influx of interest from your average homeowner to track home- builders," he says. "Today we are fulfilling orders from dealers around the country as well as installing sales from our inside sales teams." One angle that has worked for Hunter is in HOA developments that make it difficult for homeowners to go solar. The solar patios they install are often a way around HOA rooftop aesthetic issues. They also can be placed any- where on a property to get the best direct sunlight if the home is shaded. But a word of warning: You think regular solar permitting is annoying, try coordinating

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