This startup is linking solar manufacturers, installers directly to homeowners

Haha Smart

After two and half years R&D, privately-funded solar tech startup HahaSmart launched its solar O2O (online-to-offline) platform that gives homeowners the ability to design a home solar system, receive an accurate detailed price list within 2-3 minutes, and purchase a home solar system at a lower price.

Unlike most solar software companies, the HahaSmart platform is funded by and is partnering with solar manufacturers and distributors. This enables the platform to create quotes with detailed price lists based on real-time vendor product and inventory data.

Lowering small solar contractors’ operation costs and customer acquisition costs through newly available technology is the core value of the HahaSmart platform. Allowing multi-device connectivity, HahaSmart also launched a solar installer app available now in the App Store and Google Play Store.

“This was not possible until now because the solar industry was not mature enough. HahaSmart gives installers the capability to instantly prospect, sell and close leads in real-time when buying temperature is high. This is a dream come true in sales and marketing because it can increase sales volume and reduce friction,” said Terence Custodia, Marketing Manager.

Transitioning from Beta testing to being fully operational, HahaSmart’s O2O Solar Platform is already serving 298 solar installers and has designed 2,296 solar projects across the United States.

“By linking homeowners to solar manufacturers and vendors directly, we are able to cut homeowner solar system investment costs by 25%, cut payback period from 8 years in 2010 to 4 years in 2018, and achieve 15%+ IRR,” said Jack Meng, President of HahaSmart.

— Solar Builder magazine

This startup is linking solar manufacturers, installers directly to homeowners

Haha Smart

After two and half years R&D, privately-funded solar tech startup HahaSmart launched its solar O2O (online-to-offline) platform that gives homeowners the ability to design a home solar system, receive an accurate detailed price list within 2-3 minutes, and purchase a home solar system at a lower price.

Unlike most solar software companies, the HahaSmart platform is funded by and is partnering with solar manufacturers and distributors. This enables the platform to create quotes with detailed price lists based on real-time vendor product and inventory data.

Lowering small solar contractors’ operation costs and customer acquisition costs through newly available technology is the core value of the HahaSmart platform. Allowing multi-device connectivity, HahaSmart also launched a solar installer app available now in the App Store and Google Play Store.

“This was not possible until now because the solar industry was not mature enough. HahaSmart gives installers the capability to instantly prospect, sell and close leads in real-time when buying temperature is high. This is a dream come true in sales and marketing because it can increase sales volume and reduce friction,” said Terence Custodia, Marketing Manager.

Transitioning from Beta testing to being fully operational, HahaSmart’s O2O Solar Platform is already serving 298 solar installers and has designed 2,296 solar projects across the United States.

“By linking homeowners to solar manufacturers and vendors directly, we are able to cut homeowner solar system investment costs by 25%, cut payback period from 8 years in 2010 to 4 years in 2018, and achieve 15%+ IRR,” said Jack Meng, President of HahaSmart.

— Solar Builder magazine

SunDAT Web Service is a cloud-based PV design software for any site size

sundat web solar design

In the hyper-competitive PV industry, extracting every cent of value from a project is crucial. The SunDAT Web Service combines the power of FTC Solar and Parallel Works to bring you cloud-based PV design software that enables users to rapidly generate and analyze hundreds of options for a potential site. Starting with only a ground or rooftop boundary, the SunDAT Web Service can model virtually every combination of design parameter: module/inverter types, ground coverage ratio, string size, tracking vs. fixed-tilt, azimuth, and more, producing complete site layouts and energy estimates in minutes.

The SunDAT Web Service is based on SunDAT, FTC Solar’s proprietary solar design automation software developed for the SketchUp 3D environment, which enables automated design and optimization of photovoltaic systems.

RELATED: Products to watch: 9 customer service, proposal tools for the solar installer

Subscribers are able to work with residential, commercial or utility-scale sites, and optimize system layout, equip-ment hierarchy, and energy output based on local site constraints and industry design standards. Featuring unlimited project size, advanced topographic analysis capability, and comprehensive DC electrical design, SunDAT and the SunDAT Web Service generate designs that are more than just numbers in a database…they are real designs that can each be assessed visually in 3D. Additionally, the SunDAT Web Service can be used for site prospecting and selection, for modeling single-axis tracker shading on terrain, and for any complex task where parallel processing can be leveraged to achieve more optimal designs.

— Solar Builder magazine

Remote site assessment cuts solar design time, costs (about $850 per install)

Aurora_remote assessment

There are some solar installation costs we can’t control, such as the tariffs imposed on the industry this year. But when it comes to cutting soft costs, which now comprise more than half of the cost of a solar installation, installers have a valuable tool in their tool kits: remote site assessment and design. NREL has estimated that solar design software that supports remote shading analysis can save installers $0.17/W per 5-kW system (~$850 per install).

Samuel Adeyemo and Christopher Hopper experienced directly how time-consuming and laborious solar design can be when they partnered on a commercial solar installation to power a school in Kenya in 2012. Installing the system took only a few weeks, but designing the system from across the world required months of planning. After talking to other solar installers, Adeyemo and Hopper realized time-intensive solar design processes were a common struggle.

With the goal of providing a more efficient way to design solar projects while maintaining precision and accuracy, they set about building Aurora Solar in 2013. Today, tools like Aurora’s solar design software are modernizing the design process and offering significant benefits to installers that utilize them.

Save time, effort and money

One of the most tangible benefits of using solar design software is the time and money saved from reduced truck rolls. Traditionally, site visits have been an important step in the solar design and sales process, as a starting point for installers to accurately assess the shading on the roof and determine the appropriate PV system size.

When you or your team have to spend hours driving to prospective customers’ homes and businesses, climbing on the roofs and taking manual measurements, it can be costly—especially during the pre-sale stage. However, with software that enables you to get a detailed understanding of the project site as well as the solar access and shading, you can drastically reduce the need for costly site visits.

Residential installer Solarponics experienced this benefit firsthand. After switching to Aurora for their solar designs, the company has been able to reduce their pre-sale site visits by 90 percent while doubling installations and keeping their closing rate constant.

Improve sales with faster proposal turnaround times

Streamlining your solar design process through remote site assessment also offers important sales benefits. Being able to quickly send an accurate design and quote for a customer, rather than waiting on a site visit, can make a significant difference in closing the sale.

Hans Frederickson, owner of Cascadia Solar, learned this when a company used remote site assessment to close a deal with one of his prospective customers while he was completing his onsite assessment. Soon after that experience, Cascadia Solar switched to remote site assessment and now can send customers a quote within an hour of talking with them on the phone, their solar sales have doubled month over month and more than doubled year over year.

Having a more efficient assessment and design process also makes it possible to pursue leads that might previously have been too costly. “It used to be that proposals were so time-consuming that I would focus on carefully qualifying each lead, but Aurora has allowed us to respond in a much more effective way to every solar lead we get,” says Frederickson.

Bankable accuracy

Of course, in order for remote site assessment to truly be valuable, your solar design, production and bill savings estimates must be accurate and precise to avoid change orders down the line. Thankfully, with the application of cutting edge technologies, remote solar design tools like Aurora offer accuracy that companies can be confident putting their name behind. NREL has validated the accuracy of both Aurora’s performance simulations and its remote shading analysis, which was found to be statistically equivalent to onsite measurements.

Rebate authorities around the country, such as CT Green Bank, NYSERDA, and the Energy Trust of Oregon, accept Aurora’s remote shade reports as an acceptable replacement for time-consuming and costly onsite inspections previously required when applying for rebates.

Data on change orders: Cost and prevalence

Aurora aims to give installers the tools to design and sell better solar, including reducing errors that lead to change orders. Recognizing that there is limited data on the prevalence and cost of change orders in the industry, Aurora surveyed solar professionals about the impact of change orders in a recent webinar. Download our data on change order cost and prevalence to see how your experience stacks up against others in the industry.

— Solar Builder magazine

SolarEdge launches new web-based PV system design tool

SolarEdge

SolarEdge Technologies is launching a new Designer tool to enable faster, easier planning of solar energy system designs. The new web-based tool with an intuitive graphical interface helps installers lower PV design costs and increase conversion rates by creating compelling customer proposals. The free Designer tool is part of SolarEdge’s comprehensive vision to support the entire PV process, including design, quotation, installation, and monitoring in one, end-to-end, cloud-based platform.

What’s new?

Designer uses satellite imagery and provides instant validation of a site’s design. The tool also simplifies the electrical design process with product recommendations and a Bill of Materials report. By creating attractive and informative homeowner offers, which include intuitive 3D site modeling and monthly energy simulations, SolarEdge’s Designer supports the sales process for PV installers.

RELATED:  How to design a perfect solar system — then sell it — with Aurora Solar COO

“Software is playing a more pivotal role in the PV industry, from the local level of each residential system all the way up to the macro level of grid management,” stated Lior Handelsman, VP of Marketing and Product Strategy, founder of SolarEdge. “With the release of our new easy-to-use Designer, SolarEdge is further enhancing its software suite to provide added value to installers throughout the PV process.”

Now available around the world, Designer is hosted in the cloud with access from any Mac or PC, enables multi-user access, and offers seamless integration with the SolarEdge monitoring platform for quick creation of site layouts.

— Solar Builder magazine