Residential solar installation industry: Major short-term threat and long-term challenge

The U.S. residential solar industry has experienced phenomenal growth on the back of fast decreasing solar panel costs and solar-friendly incentives and regulations, both at the local and federal levels. For this trend to continue one major short-term threat needs to be avoided while another long-term challenge needs to be overcome.

On the short-term: Solar Trade Case

There is one major threat looming over the U.S. residential solar installation business which has the potential to effectively reverse the upward market trend seen so far. The U.S. International Trade Commission (ITC) is currently expected to decide on a trade dispute case involving two bankrupt U.S. solar panel manufacturing companies. The original petitioner Suniva, joined later by SolarWorld, argue that they have been “seriously injured” by imports. They propose a blanket tariff on all foreign made solar cells and modules. What they propose are duties of 40 cents per watt on imported cells and a floor price of 78 cents per watt on modules. This is to be compared to some ~30-40 cents per watt for current module pricing. The petition could result in doubling or tripling the cost of solar panels used in residential solar. A cost of $3 per watt for a roof-top installation could easily become $3.8 per watt, an increase of 27% that rooftop-installers will have to pass to customers! If the U.S. ITC agrees with the petitioners, it will be up to President Donald Trump to decide on what the remedy should be. Unsurprisingly, the U.S. Solar Energy Industry Association (SEIA) and related industries have expressed their strong objection. Nevertheless, it will probably take an outrage at a much larger scale to protect the U.S. residential solar installation industry.  The decision of the ITC is expected to be announced around the end of September.

On the long-term: Customer Acquisition

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Although hardware costs of rooftop solar systems have been coming down steadily, soft-costs, especially customer acquisition costs have been stubbornly high. In some cases, they have been increasing. This could be attributed to many reasons such as non-optimal business models, rush for market share at the expense of profitability, capital intensive sales approaches etc. Debates (or non-debates depending on how you see them) whether climate change is happening or whether solar can save you money have created psychological barriers to the expansion of solar which in-turn make customer acquisition even trickier. Add to that unsatisfied solar adopters who didn’t see the expected savings from their solar installation due to high system cost, poor installation practices or poorly performing panels are warning friends, family and neighbors from going solar. Besides these unfortunate experiences and some ideological barriers, incumbent industries such as utilities have also fought hard to resist rooftop solar regulations and incentives every step of the way. When all these challenges are combined with self-inflicted wounds where major residential solar players are pushing customers towards financial or hardware choices that benefit their business’s short term goals at the expense of their customers best interest, it is hardly surprising that customer acquisition costs remain high.

If the residential solar installation industry is to avoid any short-term threat and overcome persistent challenges, it will need to do some soul searching and connect back to the original noble vision of a better world, that has prompted so many early adopters to go solar. Unless, the solar industry maintains its reputation as vanguard in the fight against climate change and unfair business practices, it will not keep the overwhelming popular support it has been enjoying. The winner solar companies of the future will be those understanding this reality today and adapting, quickly.

Andenet Alemu, PhD

Senior Solar Consultant, PMax Solar Inc.


3 ways PMax Solar Inc helps you save money

PMax Solar Inc strives to leverage in-depth technological expertise to enable the widespread adoption of solar electricity in the United States at the most competitive cost to the customer.

PMax Solar Inc

Here are 3 unique ways we are doing that: a close look at the value provided by PMax Solar Inc.

1. Using over thirty years of experience to provide exclusive solution

The founders, backed by around three decades of solar energy expertise, have developed something wonderful for anyone and everyone interested in solar.

We are experts in the field, with an expertise that is matched by only a few other solar industry professionals in the world.

Our combined experiences have helped us create something unique and important for property owners in the United States who want to stop wasting money: a platform offering one-of-a-kind customizable online tools that are much simpler compared to the tedious options that others offered before PMax Solar was established.

The bottom line is we have created a platform that benefits both property owners and solar rooftop panel installers: a true win-win.

2. Helping Homeowners save money $$$

For homeowners, PMax Solar offers a free, fun, informative and user-friendly online platform that greatly simplifies and customizes the evaluation process of a property’s solar potential.

The site empowers solar customers to evaluate their solar potential and obtain free solar reports available to them after sign-up. See the video below and on YouTube to learn more.

3. Helping solar rooftop installers do their job more easily

For Solar PV System Installers, PMax Solar substantially reduces installers’ customer acquisition and system design costs.

PMax Solar focuses on the generation of well-informed and educated rooftop solar customers that represent high-quality, close-ready leads to solar system installers of any size. image of PMax Solar Inc interface for solar rooftop panel installers
How PMax Solar Inc helps solar rooftop panel installers find property owners who want to go green.

In addition, the company provides proprietary tools that greatly facilitates the acquisition of new customers and rooftop solar electricity system design.

PMax Solar Inc tools
How the PMax Solar Inc tools helps solar rooftop panel installers develop and implement solar energy solutions for property owners.

Some of the currently available tools are:

Energy Yield Prediction Tool

Cost of Energy Calculation Tool

Technology Selection Tool

Financial Option Selection and Comparison Tool

PMax Area Calculator™

PMax Savings Optimizer™

Other Partners such as solar loan providers, banks and realtors also can have access to these tools and opportunities for partnership. For investors, PMax Solar represents a hassle-free, worry-free entry point into the solar industry for smart investment that can propel this business further.

PMax Solar has the vision to better harness the power of the sun for the benefit of current and future generations!

Sign-up as customers and join us as installers or simply write to us!


Address: PMax Solar Inc.
P.O. Box 2472
Taylor, Michigan 48180

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Read our other blog posts below to further educate yourself about this amazing opportunity that we are providing you!


Saving money with Solar – PMax Solar Inc.

Unleashing the full potential of the residential rooftop solar industry – PMax Solar Inc.

Introducing PMax Solar Inc. : Your Honest Solar Guide – PMax Solar Inc.