Solar energy is a relevant yet easily misunderstood concept, making it hard to grasp. For most people, solar energy isn’t necessarily conventional, nor is the science behind it well known. It can be intimidating to try and purchase one– too many questions and not many answers. As an aspiring salesman and promoter of alternative energy, you may ask yourself, “Can I sell solar energy?”
If you have home solar power on or can build a solar farm, you can sell power to users and power companies using a process call net metering. You can also become a solar panel or system sales person. Understanding costs, power requirements, production, regulations and tax benefits will be needed.
There are ways to sell solar energy– each equally complex. As a general guide, we will talk about the two ways to sell solar energy: one of which is to sell solar panels physically; meanwhile, the less talked about the method is net metering.
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Is Solar Energy Hard To Sell?
The quest to sell solar energy has moved beyond just answering the “does it work” question. Solar energy is far removed from the days when people questioned its value and importance, and there is plenty of proof for people to easily accept that it does indeed work.
The Concept Of Selling Yourself
One thing to understand is that when you sell solar energy, you are more than sharing the concept of such. Unless you live in an area where solar energy is a thing of wonder, it is of no use to introduce solar energy as something that’s novel in its entirety. Instead, be a middle man that bridges the gap between the client and the concept of solar energy.
Science and objective data are intimidating concepts to grasp, so it is your job to assure them that you can help them in times of confusion and misunderstanding. Instead of asking yourself, “Can I sell solar energy?” know that solar energy is always an attractive option to anyone. Solar energy sells itself, and the vital thing to wonder is if you can sell yourself.
Moreover, inform your clients that what you offer is more than solar panels. You are also providing ease of use and personal service. Solar energy is not hard to sell, but one’s confidence and charisma might be.
How Is Solar Energy Sold?
One can sell solar energy in two different methods, both of which have other prospective clients. These methods involve numerous variables, and that can seem pretty intimidating at first. The primary modes of selling solar energy are
- Through physical means (i.e., by selling solar panels)
- Through corporate means (i.e., net metering)
Both methods are complex, and both need entirely different skills. For this article, we will tackle the selling of solar panels first.
The Basic Concepts Of Selling Solar Panels
The most significant barrier and the primary reason the adoption rate of solar panels is still slow across the United States is the initial lack of understanding. Solar panels require large chunks of hardware that can intimidate many, and the initial upfront cost is also no joke.
In fact, according to the United States Energy Information Administration, using preliminary data gathered in February 2022, solar energy accounts for the production of 115 billion kilowatt-hours of electricity in the United States. While it may seem like a lot, this number only accounts for approximately 2.8% of all electricity production in the United States, well behind significant energy sources such as fossil fuels at an astonishing 60.8%. (source)
The Future Of Solar Energy
There’s a long way for solar panels and solar energy to become mainstream. However, that does not mean that there is no market for selling such a product.
In a report by Moneywatch business reporter Megan Cerullo, the adaptation of solar energy will triple by the year 2030. The adaptation of solar energy might not be incredibly high at the moment, but there is an untapped market that needs YOU to sell it to them. (source)
In a world of online shopping and next-day delivery, solar panels still have a vastly untapped market waiting for them. Selling solar panels personally gives clients the comfort they need whenever they feel confused, something Amazon sales agents cannot provide.
Your expertise is critical here, and your stored knowledge is integral. When trying to convince someone to consider solar energy, here are a few things you can do, starting with money.
Points And Tips When Selling
- Assure financial viability
- Promote ease of use
- Increase environmental awareness
- Assert energy security
- Know your client
Solar Panels: Are They Financially Viable?
Can I sell solar energy? Humans have an inherent attraction to money, and every product wherein one can promote financial ease is a product that’s bound to sell. When selling solar panels, your main competition is the electric company, and the most obvious hurdle is the upfront cost of purchasing solar equipment.
A report from the same CBS article earlier stated that Massachusetts homeowner Peter Samsel has huge prospective savings. Despite the initial $21,000 cost, they have $3000 a year in savings from generation alone. (source) And, while regulations and tax laws are always in flux, typically there are tax benefits built into the IRS code to improve financial return on investing in solar equipment.
From a consumer standpoint, solar panels’ most significant selling factor is reducing or completely removing electric generation costs. Many clients will initially focus on the $21k upfront cost, but the assurance of $3000 a year savings will sell itself. The very thought of having no electric bill is compelling. At this point, some clients need no convincing, yet many will have doubts.
When you encounter financially aware and literate clients, they will have doubts regarding the financial viability of solar panels. These doubts are incredibly hard to break, and knowing how to present the factual data is critical. At this point, you will have to know the math.
Running The Numbers
Solar panels are financially viable for many, but not for all. For example, if you live in an area with constant hurricanes and twisters, solar panels might not be the brightest idea. However, for most of us, solar panels can be a boon. According to Lauren Schwahn, the upfront cost of selling solar panels ranges from $15,000 to $25,000.(source)
In a separate study focused on energy strategy reviews, solar panels have, on average, 25 to 30 years of lifetime. Now, divide (approximately) $20,000 by 25 years, then again by 12 months. You will get your monthly bill if you have solar panels. Afterward, compare them to your current electric account. (Chowdhury, S. et al., 2020)
Our calculations drop your monthly bill to around $83, compared to the monthly average of $115 in the United States. However, that does not account for the savings you can get due to tax incentives and overall inflation, which will increase electricity prices through the years. (source)
At this point, your client will be able to assess whether or not solar panels are financially viable for them. Below is a list of scenarios that might help evaluate the financial viability of the adaptation to solar energy.
Solar Panels Are Financially Viable To:
- People in areas with high utility costs. These include states like Hawaii, California, New York, New Jersey, and more. See complete list: (source)
- People in areas that have calm weather
- People in the regions receive a lot of sun throughout the year. Solar panels work more efficiently under intense sunlight.
- People in areas with tax incentives for the use of solar energy.
Aside from “Can I sell solar energy?” questions, one needs to know that solar energy usage has multiple benefits, one of which is the United States government’s tax incentives. The federal government filed the solar investment tax credit act (ITC) in 2006 as one of the efforts to push the adaptation of solar technologies in the United States. Such a strategy worked as compared to 2006, the United States solar energy industry has grown by more than 10,000%, having a 50% annual growth rate year per year for the last ten years. (source)
As of writing, if you install solar panels within the year, you can expect a 26% tax credit. If you plan to install solar systems in 2023, expect the rebates to be significantly lower at 22%. In addition, unless Congress renews the ITC, it expires in 2024.
Not sure if you are qualified to receive tax rebates? Below we provide a list of qualifications.
Am I Qualified For Tax Rebates In The United States?
- Your solar energy system must be new and used from January 1, 2006, to December 31, 2023.
- Your solar energy system must be physically in the United States.
- You need to own the system. Leases are technically not qualified.
- The solar energy system should be in your primary or secondary US residence.
State-Exclusive Tax Benefits
Aside from the federal tax incentives, certain states formulated their policies to help hasten the adaption of solar energy. Some states offer upfront rebates, so check with your state and integrate such opportunities into your sales pitch.
Most of these benefits are in states such as New York, Texas, California, Minnesota, and territories such as Puerto Rico. The commonly offered benefits for adapting solar energy harvesting systems include tax incentives (credits, rebates) and renewable energy certificates.
Promoting Ease Of Use
Can I sell solar energy? One of the best ways to sell solar energy is to utilize methods that promote the narrative of ease of use in using solar energy harvesting systems. For example, instead of handing out manuals to your clients, try to be proactive and offer extra services such as free (or discounted) installations.
Moreover, one of the things that can entice clients is offering at-home servicing. Aside from such, produce your instructional materials. For example, aside from useless user manuals that are unappealing, intimidating to look at, and are too complex and convoluted, use colorful graphics to promote the narrative of ease of use.
Moreover, let your client know that solar panels are a “set and forget” system. Aside from maintenance that happens once in a while, most of the time, solar panels are hassle-free. Let your consumers know how to maintain the methods, such as cleaning the panels, monitoring electricity production, and offering them basic troubleshooting materials.
Increase Environmental Awareness
The primary reason why the government is pushing solar energy hard on consumers is due to environmental concerns. Electricity generated from non-renewable natural resources is generally dirty and produces a lot of pollution (from air, land, and water to sound pollution). On the other hand, solar panels are an environmentally viable option with a carbon footprint that’s twenty times less than coal sources. (source)
Utilize the global warming narrative as a selling point and an educational point. You enable your clients to learn more about the current environmental climate, but you are also promoting your product as a nice side effect.
What is the concept of electrical security, and can I sell solar energy or promote it through said concept? When it comes to most households, electricity is purchased exclusively through utility companies. However, because most utility companies need to serve a large area, they need to deliver your electricity through grids to maximize availability.
However, it can also create chokepoints wherein a single electrical cut can bring down an entire block of electricity. In fact, in areas frequented by intense hurricanes, electricity can disappear for a few days to a few months.
Other Factors Affecting Electricity Supply
Other variables aside from natural disasters can affect your supply of electricity. Most of the time, pole maintenance can affect your electrical supply. Moreover, as the electrical shortage shows up in rural areas, it can be more comforting to have electrical security.
Solar panels enable consumers to monitor their electrical consumption and are invulnerable to occasional blackouts. Rain or shine, as long as your solar energy unit is adequately maintained, you won’t be encountering blackouts soon.
If your clients live in an area wherein rolling blackouts are common, solar panels with a home backup battery storage and generator system will keep the lights on. Utilize this tactic to its full potential and promote your product through the benefits of electrical security.
Know Your Client
One of the best ways to create a stronger narrative for selling your solar panels is to know your client more. This method does not necessarily require you to start stalking your clients before approaching them. By using observation to gather data, you can start promoting your product.
For example, if your client is a millennial, try to promote the narrative of environmental consciousness first. According to a market study conducted by Nielsen, millennials, when compared to baby boomers, are likelier to change habits to promote environmentally-conscious practices, from 34% of baby boomers to 75% of millennials. (source)
Selling To An Older Demographic
In another case, if you are approaching a family in their 40s to 50s, use a more practical and direct-to-the-point approach. Avoid jargon, use a practical approach, and promote solar panels using the “zero-bill” narrative. Moreover, electrical security will be quite an appealing approach.
Lastly, if you notice that your client is the hustle and bustle type of person, try to entice them with the tax rebates and potential savings. Meanwhile, for older clients, promote ease of use rather than promoting financial viability. If your client is 80 and above, they are not thinking in the long term and want to enjoy life to the fullest.
Now that the solar panel topic is over, let us concern ourselves with net metering. Net metering is a system wherein an individual can sell excess electricity to utility companies. Net metering and solar panels are not necessarily different. Net metering and solar panel selling can go hand-in-hand as an opportunity for you or your potential clients to convert excess energy to cash.
Considerations For Net Metering
Is the net metering plan a full-size operation, or is it a small one? Is it supplemental, or will it be a full-time thing? An issue of net metering is that if you want it to be your primary source of income, you will need to operate it on a massive scale.
To offset the initial investment cost, one will need a minimum of 2.5 acres of cleared land and one million kilowatts of power. However, if you are using net metering to earn a bit on the side, you should know other things you might need to consider.
Net Metering Considerations For Small Solar Farm Owners
- Check with your electric company. Are they still soliciting electricity? Companies at the max load will not pay for your excess energy, so do local research before considering net metering.
- Know if you have enough money to shell out for equipment. Moreover, ask your electric company about what equipments are needed to match the equipment they use.
- Do you have enough energy to sell some? Selling more than you can produce can cause problems with your energy supply. If unsure, contact a professional energy auditor.
- Know that some utility companies will only give you credits and not cash. Ask the electric company about their policies.
One can sell solar power in two ways: selling the equipment to produce solar energy, and the second way is to contact your electric company and do net metering. Net metering is a system wherein one sells extra electricity to the utility company for credits or cash.
If you want to sell solar panels, one can promote their services through many methods. One is by offering client confidence; some entice clients through tax rebates and financial viability assessments, while many buy solar panels for an environmental cause.
Meanwhile, some buy solar panels for the opportunity to do net metering. However, net metering only becomes financially viable at enormous scales for full-time operations.