With most of the country in economic lockdown, fewer people are spending their socially-distanced work-from-home moments thinking about going solar. The solar industry is struggling to the tune of 40 to 60 percent reductions in sales and installations. Solar installers need all of the help they can get to streamline operations and sell remotely.
OpenSolar and UtilityAPI are teaming to offer one such way forward. OpenSolar, from the co-founder of Sungevity, offers free remote solar design and sales software. UtilityAPI lets users request and securely download their customer’s utility bill data. Starting … now: When users sign up with OpenSolar, UtilityAPI will give them three months of free utility data access through the app.
“Now, while we’re in the middle of this, we often ask ourselves how else we can contribute, do something bigger than our individual companies,” says Devin Hampton, UtilityAPI Chief Executive Officer. “That’s why we’re working with OpenSolar to speed our entire industry’s recovery from the coronavirus pandemic. We’re throwing our weight behind collaborative decarbonization, for the good of our industry, local economies and the planet. We (all) need the solar industry to survive.”
We chatted with cofounder Andrew Birch about how their platform works last week:
“With the COVID-19 crisis, the need to be able to sell and design systems remotely is more important than ever,” Birchy says. “The OpenSolar software is an incredibly powerful toolkit that lets users design systems interactively with their customers, integrating the best data and mapping tools to create beautiful and powerful designs and manage their entire business.”
The move away from ‘kitchen table sales’
In order for solar providers to propose projects to their customers, they need to answer a series of common questions. How much will a proposed improvement cost? How much energy will I save? UtilityAPI gives them the data they need in order to answer those questions accurately and quickly. And they can do it all without having to meet with the client in person.
“People who used to do door-to-door sales are finding us now,” notes Lynne Wander, Chief Operating Officer of UtilityAPI.
Now, when providers sign up with OpenSolar, UtilityAPI will give them free unlimited access to that kind of data for three months via their OpenSolar account.
Ultimately, the recovery of the solar industry will depend on its ability to quickly adapt to the new conditions under which they’ll be able to do business but still be able to delight their clients.
“Our tools automate the design process and enable users to amaze their customers online and over the phone,” says Birch. “During this COVID crisis, this is a powerful addition to the solar community.”
The free, cloud-based OpenSolar app is available now at OpenSolar.com. It works on both mobile and desktop platforms. An overview video demonstration of the OpenSolar platform and a preview of the 3D virtual world design tool are also available.
— Solar Builder magazine