This article isn’t about what you think it is…
… I’m not here to talk about physical technologies like higher efficiency photo voltaic panels, thin film, or plastic- moldable- anode- coating- slices- your- bread- and- makes- delicious- fruit- juices leaps in technology. I have a major beef with the way the media overstates the benefits and understates rollout timeframes of new solar technologies. Why? ‘Cause all it does is make Joe and Jane Solar Considerer wait another decade for the new articles that will make them wait yet another decade… but that’s too much to get into here. Please come back for that article here next week.
I’m talking about the web. Believe it or not, the wonderful series of interconnected tubes that allows us to order milk, RickRoll your parents, or see how far you can hit a penguin can also help more people install solar on their homes. Here are a few of these innovators:
CH2MHILL and the San Francisco Dept. of the Environment have created a site where you can type in your address, and BANG! You now know how much solar you can put on your roof and how much it will save you month over month. Are the numbers perfect? No, but CH2MHILL is fixing that right quick. Google mashups like this get users excited about solar. You can even find a local installer or talk about the installation you have already made. While it only works in San Francisco, CH2MHIL plans to roll it out nationwide.
As a solar salesperson, I meet with homeowners daily and can see the confusion and frustration written all over their faces. When people start thinking about solar what’s the first thing they do? They go to the internet! Then they proceed to follow link after link, reading a glut of poorly researched, outdated misinformation until they can’t take it anymore, go make a martini, and forget about the whole thing altogether.
Let’s say Joe Solar Considerer in Orlando goes to the web, and somehow we get in front of his eyeballs first. He ends up on our Florida Incentives Page. Pow! He knows that he can get $4/watt in free money from the state to put solar on his house. Zap! He sees an example system quote. Bang! He goes to the end of the page and finds a few local solar installers. Kapow! He knows what he should be looking for in a solar installer and what types of things can significantly inflate the cost of his installation. He fills out a simple form and 6 months later he’s producing clean, renewable energy and is freed from the shackles of his ever-increasing electric bill. Or so we hope.
Also a San Francisco outfit, these guys have nailed down a giant gaping hole in the solar industry: web based financing and integrated quote making. The company I sell solar for hired a genius IT guy who took us out of the stone ages with an excel spreadsheet we call NextCalc. For the guys that don’t have a John (or Hal9000 as I like to call him), Clean Power Finance has a quick and painless web-based solution for generating proposals for solar installers everywhere, and it’s cheap!
Not only does it yank all the current utility rate schedules and photovoltaic module efficiencies to produce extremely accurate quotes, but it integrates financing into the proposal, so Joe Solar Considerer can see that his monthly payment is less than his power bill, instead of the $30,000 price tag which will make him balk. They recently worked out a big deal with Conergy. Goof around with a free trial.
Sometimes legislation changes for the worse with respect to solar or gets hung up in politics. Who has our back? The non profit VoteSolar.org, YET ANOTHER San Francisco player. Please go there and sign up so that you can get updates on when to call politicians, or donate. Your environment will thank you.
Solar works and it works now. Check it out for yourself, it doesn’t cost anything. Unless you’re a huge drive from the nearest solar installer, it’s typically free to get a quote.
Last modified: February 28, 2018